Published on 18 July 2017

In her debut album Season 2, singer Sam Rui pours her heart out writing songs that chronicle a transformative period of her life.

By Melanie Lee

“I don’t like Taylor Swift, but I think I’ve turned into her,” says 21-year-old Sam Rui of her tendency to write songs after break-ups.

In fact, it was her first heartbreak at 16 that had inspired her to write her first song, Blue.

“I was listening to music but nothing cut it. Nothing captured the intensity of all I was feeling. And so, I started writing songs, which has now become my primary outlet,” she explains.

Two years ago, after getting out from a three-year relationship, she found herself back in the position of processing a lot of feelings.

“My ex was the initial catalyst for this album. But I was also in this phase of meeting other people and living another life which I didn’t know existed before,” she explains. At that time, she was listening to a lot of R&B, and her new compositions reflected this musical influence. Rui eventually collaborated with established music producer GROSSE to come up with R&B-influenced tracks that were a departure from her earlier repertoire of indie folk and YouTube covers.

Some of these slick songs were released digitally as singles last year to much acclaim. ‘Boys’ was selected to be on Spotify’s Fresh Finds Playlist in May 2016 and reached 200,000 play counts within a week. Rui has also been performing at high-profile music events such as Laneway Festival Singapore 2017, Raising the Bar Music Festival Malaysia 2017, Ultra Singapore 2017 and SHINE Festival 2017.

Besides her rich, soulful voice and a creative musicality that is infused throughout her genre-defying album, it is Rui’s approach of “being honest in my music” that has helped build a strong rapport with her growing base of fans.

“Because they listen to my stories, many feel compelled to tell me theirs. Earlier this year, during a meet-and-greet at Laneway Festival, a girl came up to me and asked, ‘Can I hug you?’ She cried when she hugged me. She told me she used to have depression and she knew through my music that I had as well. But she saw that I was getting better and this encouraged her. I can’t take any credit for this because it’s a choice she made herself – but it felt surreal that my music could have impact,” Rui recalls.

While other artists draw a line between their personal lives and music careers, Rui admits that this is just not her. “I don’t know how to be that cool. Like with dating, I’m not the type to play hard-to-get. When I have strong feelings about someone, I’m going to write about it. It does make me feel bad about the people I write about. Like, ‘Ahhh! I dated you for a week and now I’m in a song that lasts forever?’”

Nevertheless, Rui sees herself “sticking to this subject matter” while she continues to experiment with different styles of songwriting and sonic arrangements. “There’s so much good music happening in Singapore but it’s all underground,” she says. “I hope to collaborate with more of these musicians and bring these sounds into mainstream consciousness.”

Download Sam Rui’s new album Season 2 from Spotify here or from iTunes here. You can also listen to more of her music on Soundcloud here.

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