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interview: RuCL

It’s been a while between albums for Ruben Campbell, Australian hip hop artist more commonly known as RuCL. He’s just released his new album, Brimstone and Fire, this August, a long time since his debut album in 2005. For Campbell, finally releasing the latest project was a major goal in itself.

‘I think I’m feeling relieved in a way,’ Campbell laughs. ‘I’m excited about it, I’m excited to come out again with a new product and to get a lot of shows happening.’

Brimstone and Fire according to Campbell, comes at a new stage in his life.

‘I think its definitely different. It’s matured a lot. I’ve matured as an artist. I’ve just had time to really just write this album.

‘I think with the other album (Straight Down the Line), [it] happened at a really interesting stage for me. I lost my father, wasn’t long after that I was still grieving, but not long after that I was dying to get into it. Which was really hard for me, but it was an amazing experience as well because I really needed that escapism in a way,’ he says.

‘But I think this time it was a more straight up hip hop album, it’s deliberately meant to be like that. Capturing that kind of classic hip hop feel to make it feel current. I’m really happy with this album and I think I worked very hard on it. I did a lot of songs, chose some of the songs that we thought would work on the album. It’s a new album, it’s always good to have more product, try to get updated and keep it quality.

‘It’s been a different experience really, because this time I’ve really got to stick with it and breathe with it, and just have the beat set, and really work on my mind set.’

RuCL is a heavyweight in the Australian hip hop scene, with his new album enlisting the help of long time friend and collaborator, Katalyst.

‘We work together quite well. We have a few things in common, especially with this album, we had the same sort of thing in mind. We wanted to make a classic hip hop album.

‘We started writing, got the product. It was a long process, this record, we were all very busy doing other things as well. It was an exciting project and we were excited the whole way and we knew we had something. I think it really worked out and we’re both really happy that it’s come to this stage now.’

Campbell’s new track ‘Good Life’, after a few rotations in the internet sphere has been getting some attention.

‘I’ve been getting a great reception on Facebook and reading about it on other things as well… I think it’s going down well. I’m happy because I think people can relate to the lyrics, which its what its all about, the lyrics, the production and things like that. I’m glad people are feeling it, I’m glad about that, that’s what was kind of intended.’

For Campbell, the internet has fostered a booming Australian hip hop scene.

‘I think with Facebook, people are starting to connect a bit more, people are able to see it now for themselves, obviously people can now get into a way where they can market themselves,’ he said. ‘In a way its really healthy. And of course there’s a lot more enthusiasm, and a lot of people coming up …

‘It’s getting recognised a lot more, even though it was recognised back then, now it’s a lot more out there. That’s how I feel about it. Mainly the network media, the computer, the whole internet world, youtube and music, you can do, you’re able to put your music out there, and your creativity out there publicly.’

RuCL in the meantime, since his debut album in 2005, has dabbled in MC’ing and mixtapes, as well as a number of other creative ventures. But what’s abundantly clear is that the self-described ‘Jah-stralian’ (a tribute to his Jamaican and Australian heritage) is hugely influenced by his family and his culture.

‘I’ve always watched my mother perform from an early age … it was very inspiring to me watching that and wanting to do that myself.’

Campbell studied at the Jamaican school of music, something which clearly influences his music today.

‘It was just amazing, not just to be close to my culture, but to be amongst musicians and other creative people. It was a school that specialises in art. It was definitely a huge influence,’ he says.

‘Just watching other people really helped me to see how it works, it was professional musicians and who played with a huge band. I’d see how they work, how dedicated they were, how much practice went into it and it was very inspiring just talking to them, connecting with them.

‘I felt like I was on the right track and I knew what I had to do when I came back, and I’ve never looked back ever since. There were things like, bumping into other musicians and saying, “hey let’s write some songs together”. It helped me in a lot of ways, culturally and musically.’

As for how he sees his own music, his message is simple: ‘I do talk about things that are close to me, that I’m passionate about. Things that people should hear, state the facts about, you should be aware of where you’re living, all that sort of stuff.

‘I don’t tend to be too political, I just want to speak my mind, just speak how I feel about things. … definitely about thinking individually and not following. I think that’s the message – just be yourself, be aware and unfairness isn’t cool.

‘This album I think, people need to listen to it, people need to go out there and check out the work, check out the production and just enjoy it.’

RuCL’s album, Brimstone and Fire is out now.

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