Cincinnati, Ohio native Justin Ruff is a true rising star to look out for. He recently was a top 12 finalist out of 800 contestants on ABC-7 Windy City LIVE “Search for a Star” competition. The singer talked with Mari about his music and debut EP entitled, “Introducing Justin Ruff”.
What inspired you to start singing?
Justin Ruff: My mother sings, so I took a lot after her. She has always been an inspiration. Watching her work really hard for her dream to become a professional singer inspired me to do the same.
Who are your musical and non-musical influences?
Justin Ruff: I have a very diverse liking of music. I grew up listening to a lot of Jazz, so I love artist from that realm, such as; Ella Fitzgerald, Louie Armstrong and Charlie Parker. But then I’m a 90’s baby, so artist like D’Angelo, Maxwell, Bilal and Anita Baker are people that inspire me.
Justin Ruff: I really admire TJ Holmes. He’s a great representation of an intelligent, savvy, black male. I think that a lot of young, black men can look up to TJ Holmes and everything he stands for. One thing that I’ve notice about him is that he is not afraid to voice his opinion, and he’s very firm in what he believes. He’s not afraid to let that be known, so I just appreciate that.
You have a very unique sound, so if you had to pick a genre for yourself what would it be?
Justin Ruff: The Justin Ruff sound: it’s R&B, Jazz, Hip-Hop & Soul all wrapped up in one. All those elements are there because I have a Jazzier vocal. There is the soulful thing in me. My mother was a large influence for me, and I love Hip-Hop music, so all those are kind of meshed into one.
What are your top 5 favorite albums of all time?
Justin Ruff: Maxwell’s “Urban Hang Suite”, is probably something that I have on repeat non- stop. Anything with Ella Fitzgerald and her “Greatest Hits” albums, I’m a big fan of that. Rochelle Farrell’s, “First Instrument” that was dope. John Mayer’s album, “Continuum” was a creative album and Rahsaan Patterson’s “Mind & Spirit”.
Who would you most like to open up for?
Justin Ruff: One of the greatest singers ever in my opinion is Rochelle Farrell. So just the opportunity to even meet the sister would be really incredible. Opening up for someone like that really had a big influence on my scatting and improvisation.
If given the opportunity to collaborate with any artist or producer on a project who would you work with?
Justin Ruff: I am a huge fan of Pharrell. I think his production is awesome. With the unique style that he has mixed, and fusing with the different genres, that I have I think that would be pretty lethal.
Tell me a little bit about your single, “Take My Time” and the inspiration behind that song?
Justin Ruff: I was raised in a single parent household with my mother, and I was always around my grandmother and my aunt. They really instilled in me to always have respect for black women. With this song and through my lyrics I wanted to show that appreciation. I showed it through a relationship stand point. I think a lot of the time we don’t see that appreciation through some of the lyrics of some of the more mainstream artist my age. I hear a lot of disrespect for black women. So this time, I wanted to pay respect to black women showing them I can take my time and treat them right.
Taping into your mp3 who are you listening to now?
Justin Ruff: Recently I find myself listening to a lot of John Mayer. Just that whole blues vibe is very soulful, and I think for me I appreciate artist who can really convey a message and John does that with every song, and every album is dope. He always gets his point across and his voice is unique. Lyrics are everything.
What can fans expect to hear from you in the near future?
Justin Ruff: This is my first time coming out as a solo artist. I would like to expand my fan base and let my voice be heard. I want to put out some real music that people can feel and relate to.
Give me one reason why people should listen to Justin Ruff?
Justin Ruff: I think that there is a need for something different. I think that for me I can appreciate artist that paved the way for a lot of different artist of today. Jazz music started a lot of the music of today, and being that I studied it pretty proficiently, when it comes to scat singing and improvisation, I am definitely focusing on bringing that art form back. It’s something we don’t see a lot of especially in young artist such as myself. I think that the fusion of those genres with a lot of the mainstream music that you’re hearing today, would be something pretty unique. I feel that this sets me apart from the norm. I think that’s the reason why people would be intrigued to download the Justin Ruff debut EP entitled, ”Introducing Justin Ruff”, released on March 15th.
For links to free music follow the Justin Ruff on Twitter @JustinRuffMusic