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Today’s Spotlight – Ruben Young. Boasting some impressive accolades for being fairly new to the scene Ruben is touted as being a fresh feeling in the soul/crooner landscape. We chat about his new release TNT with LA Hip-hop artist Buddy. Check it out!

You were raised on classics such as James Brown, Stevie Wonder, and The Spinners. Do you think the passion for 70’s funk style music is still alive or needs new life breathed into it?

I think that’s the funny thing about that era of music, it’s timeless. If you look at pop culture ever since, you’ll see and feel that music laced in it, and I think that’s why a 90s kid like me has been so influenced by it

Your music writing process consists of absorbing ideas from all around you and bouncing lines off friends. Is your creative process taking a hit during COVID when you had to stay at home?

Yes, absolutely! The beautiful part of being an artist is while you’re chasing a dream of being able to pay rent, you’re doing it with friends, in new places, and eventually, with artists, you looked up to, and that is such a genuinely fulfilling process. It’s been very tough over the last year with that entire experience missing.

Your music writing process consists of absorbing ideas from all around you and bouncing lines off friends. Is your creative process taking a hit during COVID when you had to stay at home?

Yes, absolutely! The beautiful part of being an artist is while you’re chasing a dream of being able to pay rent, you’re doing it with friends, in new places, and eventually, with artists, you looked up to, and that is such a genuinely fulfilling process. It’s been very tough over the last year with that entire experience missing.

Tell us about how it was to work with Buddy.

It’s always a blessing when you have the chance to work with some of your favorite artists. I’ve been a fan of his for a minute, and being able to experience and work with him in person was a high I’ll never forget, especially coming out of the pandemic.

Rumour has it, TNT was originally going to be a pitch for a toothpaste commercial. How did the song change from that into TNT?

That’s hilarious to look back at. I can’t remember if it was toothpaste or mouthwash or gum, but the song used to be called “liquid peppermint” So it was a perfect fit, and the money was right so it was very tough to turn down, but at that point the song was just missing something, and even though I didn’t know what that meant at the time, I could feel it. We rewrote it a few times, added horns, and put a lot of work into making it feel as nostalgic as I envisioned. When we were in the studio, Buddy said the song felt like “some old school player shit his grandaddy used to like” and that was mission accomplished. 

How was the vision for the cover art realized? What artist did you collaborate with?

I appreciate this question because I obsess way too damn much over my artwork. I actually paid full price for a version of TNT art that I ended up scrapping and started over with a new artist, which hurts when you’re indie-broke. My vision was to capture the old-school essence of the song, and flex to the world that an independent R&B artist from Calgary just made a record with one of the baddest hip-hop artists in the world. Coming from where I’m from, that’s a moment worth celebrating. @akshay.raghavan killed it and made it eternal.

What themes can we expect for the new EP when it comes out? Any music videos in the works for future tracks?

I would expect a whole lot of nostalgia, both in the sounds and in the stories… I reflect too much on a regular day, never mind COVID Ruben lol.

You seem to travel a lot. Do you have a favourite place you've been? Anywhere you still want to go?

I’ve definitely been lucky and worked hard to travel, and I can’t wait to get into more. Belize is like a home away from home for me & I’m really focussed on investing in real estate down there. As for next steps, that’s a tough one to answer. I don’t believe it’s where you are; it’s who you share it with – so I just want to go everywhere and do everything I can with the people that I love.

You had some massive accomplishments from early on in your career that just kept building. Working with JUNO award winner Classified and being nominated for a Western Canadian Music Award. What is the achievement you are most proud of? Do you have any ultimate goals?

Late 2019 was special. I dropped my first EP, got the nod as Apple Music’s New Artist of the Week in Canada, and toured opening for Keisza at home in Calgary and my first US show in San Francisco, where half of my family is from.

 

I hadn’t seen them in years, so that was a real life Netflix show moment. There are so many ultimate goals, but in a nutshell, I want to be remembered as a dude who worked harder, persevered through (and enjoyed) the struggle, and inspired people to do the same. Most of all I want to create a happy, healthy and wealthy life for my family.

Who are the biggest supporters of your career?

I wouldn’t be able to do this without my mom, my brother, and my closest friends, who all keep me in check, lift, and push when I don’t know I need it. I’m also so grateful for the fans I’ve been lucky enough to gain on this journey.

If you never became a fantastic Canadian R&B artist, what do you think you would be doing?

I would probably be working in venture capital or brands/marketing – MadMen-ish. I love the process of creating/being a part of a vision and bringing it to life.

You interact with the Los Angeles Lakers quite a bit on Twitter. Are you a big fan?

I bleed that purple and gold! My big brother always had Shaq and Kobe Laker games on when I was growing up, and basketball was kind of my first love so it feels like it’s in my DNA at this point. Rest in peace Mamba.

We love supporting our very own Canadian artists so tell me, who are your favourite Canadian artists?

To name a few: Terrell Morris, LOONY, Jessie Reyez. 

Finally any small business, causes or charities you feel need a shout out right now?

Shout out to 10 at 10 and to their founder, Beni Johnson in Calgary, who created a scene and culture for me to grow in as an R&B artist in a country music town. Also, a huge shout out to Eddie Richardson and Genesis basketball, who create an opportunity for thousands of kids to grow and achieve dreams on and off the court every day, even if they can’t afford to.

Spotlight – Ruben Young is a wrap. Big thanks to Ruben for taking the time to chat.

Check out the new release with Buddy – TNT

Keep up with Ruben Young right here

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