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From a major label deal with Dreamworks at 15, to 2 years work with Leftfield, a spell with trance outfit Younger Brother, collaborations with British jazz and electronic collective the Cinematic Orchestra, and now his debut solo album, Ruu Campbell will release his debut solo album this August.
Infused with his natural warmth and spirit, his debut solo record is one that will be loved by any devotee of the bucolic charms of Nick Drake and John Martyn. Already ahead of its release three tracks from it — ‘The Call,’ ‘Crossroads’ and ‘Mathereal’ — have been featured in NBC’s smash hit series ‘Parenthood,’ while others have been employed for shows on MTV and ABC.
One day, back when Ruu Campbell was still a reluctant city dweller, his house got robbed. For many, it would have been a moment of physical and emotional trauma. But for Ruu, in the wider scheme of things, all was well. They didn’t steal his guitars.
Such is the unswerving spirit of this captivating English singer-songwriter that as long as he can keep his music and the people he loves close to him, that’s all he needs. Especially since that break-in was one of the catalysts for Campbell and his family to leave the city for the pastoral inspiration of the West Country. The result is the album ‘Heartsong,’ and it’s guaranteed to be one of this year’s most delightful acoustic pleasures.
Infused with his natural warmth and spirit, and with its gorgeously deft use of guitars, flute, cellos and violins, ‘Heartsong’ is a record that will be loved by any devotee of the bucolic charms of Nick Drake and John Martyn, but with Campbell’s stamp gently embossed on every elegantly-crafted track.
Born in Shrewsbury, he moved to London with his family, including two brothers and a sister, at an early age. By seven, in an early showing of his independent self, he started running away. “I’d pack my toothbrush and pretty much head out, so the police were always bringing me back,” he smiles. His first public performance was not inauspicious, either: singing ‘White Christmas’ in a choir for the Queen at Buckingham Palace.
“The big moment for me in music was at about ten,” he says. “I sat down at a piano and just felt a sense of complete departure from everything I’d known to that point. A sense of peace, calm, gentleness. My dad had been like ‘You can’t play anything you can’t carry,’ and almost shut the thing down on my fingers. But I’d steal into the music room at school all on my own and play every piano, I loved it.”
By 15, Campbell was landing his first label deal, with Funky Peace Productions. A publishing pact with Warner Chappell followed, after which he travelled the world for some time. When he returned, he secured that major label deal with Dreamworks, overseen by UK industry figurehead Geoff Travis. “It was one of those last huge signings where you got a big advance that they were never going to make back, unless I was going to have to massively compromise who I was,” he remembers. “I wanted to protect my English pedigree somehow, that sense of the green hills, but they were going more for the manufactured sort of thing.”
Campbell emerged all the wiser and went into Leftfield, working with the electro trailblazers for close to two years. “I was loving it, still very much trying to combine electronica with organic, if that mix could happen.” That combination then led him to a spell with the trance outfit Younger Brother, as co-writer and vocalist on their 2011 album ‘Vaccine.’
All of those experiences were steps along the route to where Ruu Campbell lives now. ‘Heartsong’ is the album he has always wanted to make, and one memorable recent sell-out solo performance at Ashley Wood Farm, in the heart of the Wiltshire countryside, has only whetted his appetite to play it everywhere. “I’m so happy now in the sound palette I’m in now, which is essentially woody and acoustic,” he says. “I want to share beauty with you as a listener, and I’m so happy that I can do it.”