Before last year, not many people were familiar with 21-year-old Sam Rui’s work. After her first single, “Better”, topped Spotify’s Singapore Viral 50 playlist however, the masses started to take notice of the songstress – and rightfully so. Rui’s debut album, titled Season 2, is emotional and ethereal, and is certainly worth more than one listen. We speak to her to find out more about the record, including the relationship that influenced it.
How did you first get into music?
Music’s always been a part of my life. Both my parents are very musical people – used to sing in the church choir, my mom plays the piano and my dad used to DJ for his college radio station. At 7, they sent me for piano lessons, then in my teens I taught myself how to play the guitar. When I was 16, I started writing my own songs. How I got into it was basically one thing following another, and things just started accumulating over the years. I don’t remember a time music wasn’t a part of my life, even if it didn’t take center stage then.
Do you remember the first album you ever bought?
Oasis’ Stop the Clocks compilation album when I was in secondary school.
Let’s talk about Season 2. Why’s it called Season 2? What was the inspiration for the album?
Season 2 is essentially a journal of the last year of my life compiled into a mixtape. At the end of 2015 when I was 19, I came out of a 3-year long relationship. I was lost, I had spent so long with this person and identifying so much of myself in the context of him that when it ended, I genuinely felt that I didn’t know who I was without him. Initially I wrote as a means of processing how much I missed him, how lonely I felt. As time wore on, I ended up writing about other things, as I went about life and accumulated new experiences, met new people, witnessed the changes of these events within myself. I felt by the time I had finished writing the album, I had entered a whole new phase of my life, and transitioned into a completely different person than who I was when I started writing it. I couldn’t pick a title track that I felt could encapsulate the whole album, because I went through so much in the year I was working on it and every experience was different but all were of equal importance, so I just called it Season 2.
How would you describe your style? Which artistes are your biggest influences?
The way I dress depends on the mood I’m in or the situation I’m in. On a daily basis, I tend to wear over-sized shirts/ band tees, shorts and sneakers. I have this one pair of vans that I wear to death. For shows, I tend to wear bright colours (usually red) because it picks up better under stage light, and over-sized jackets. Since on stage it’s usually just me and a DJ, I find wearing a big jacket fills up the space better, and makes for better lines when I move etc. In terms of style I think some of influences are Kehlani, Kali Uchis, and Parris Goebel – and the way she styles The Royal Family.
Which was the first single released for this album, and how did you end up choosing it to be released first?
Technically I released “Down” first, but at the time I released that track, I didn’t know where I was going with my music and that I would end up doing an album. The first official single off the album is “Better”. I picked it because it’s one the more fast-paced tracks, and more pop influenced (compared to the other tracks). But strategies aside, I also picked it because it’s one of the earlier tracks I wrote and the first one about my ex. It’s probably the most explicit (in terms of personal anecdotes) and at that point in time, resonated the most with me. I felt like I couldn’t move on unless I released the song and got it off my chest. So I made “Better” the first single.
Now that the album is out, what’s the plan for you? Any tours lined up?
Some pretty exciting things are in the pipeline, but I can’t say anything at this point in time. I also don’t want to because I’m afraid I may jinx it if I do. I hope in the year following this album release, I can work on more collaborations with artists here and abroad, and perform overseas again. Hopefully by the time I get down to working on my next record, I would’ve worked with and learned from other artists/ producers, improved on my live performance, and developed a sound that is more distinctly mine. I still feel that I have a long way to go in improving myself and my music in so many ways. I just hope I take some big steps towards that after this album and don’t stagnate.
What would you be doing if you didn’t become a musician?
Before this I was taking a Bachelor’s in Psychology, and had plans to do a Masters and become a clinical psychologist one day.
You’re given an elephant. Where do you hide it?
(laughs) I live next to a nature reserve, so probably somewhere in there. Like cordon off a section with tall trees but enough space for it to run around and not hit anything. It should also be quite comfy but well-hidden. Who am I hiding it from though and who gave it to me?
All images in this article are by Throbbingpixels