I was first introduced to Justin Ruff’s music a couple years ago when I heard his debut EP, The Ruff Draft. Ruff Draft still gets regular rotation. He’s a Cincinnati native, who now resides in Chicago. Now, he has just released his brand new single, “Diamonds (Nothing On You)”. Justin weaves in and out of this R&B slow jam, with high falsettos and low growls. This is honestly one of the best true R&B songs I’ve heard in a long time. I got a chance to catch up with him, in the midst of his busy promotional schedule. We talked about “Diamonds”, his creative process and even a sneak peak into his upcoming EP. Here are some of the highlights from our interview.
“Diamonds” sounds really original, yet current. But it doesn’t sound like you’re trying to chase trends. What are your thoughts on the current trap music phenomenon and do you feel pressured to conform to it?
I don’t feel the pressure. Even though that sound (trap music) is at the forefront right now, people want to hear good music. They want to hear something they can relate to and connect with. Everybody can relate to love, whether you’re young or old. The trap music isn’t really for me. I enjoy that music, but I like to stay true to who I am as an artist.
Tell us how “Diamonds (Nothing On You)” came about for you.
I wanted to do something a little different this time and really find my sound. With my first project, The Ruff Draft, I was experimenting with different sounds. With this project, now that I’ve locked in my sound, I wanted to do more singing and focus on the lyrical aspect of the records. I love acoustic music too. You’ll hear that in my live shows. Even with “Diamonds”, it starts off with a guitar riff. I knew what I wanted the record to sound like. I got with my guitarist and we sent it off to a couple producers to hear what their ideas were for building around that. It just came to life from there.
Is there anything that’s a must have or a ritual you do before every live show?
People laugh when I say this, but yes. Gummy bears. I even bring them out on stage with me sometimes. That and a bottle of water. Alicia Keys said in a recent interview that she melts them and puts them in hot water. Something in the gummy bears helps soothe the vocal chords. I don’t know how true that is, but it makes me feel good. It has to be the Haribo brand too.
Tell us about your show coming up on July 5th in Chicago.
I’m excited about July 5th. It’s the Taste of Chicago and one of the biggest shows in the city. I was selected to headline their Bud Light stage for the up and coming artists. I’m headlining the R&B/Hip Hop day. So, I’m super excited but nervous. There are a lot of people that come out. I’m excited though to expand and get this music out to the people.
You mentioned you’re working on a new EP. Do you have a title for it yet and when can we expect to get it?
Yes, it’s titled Harvey Avenue. That’s where I grew up in Cincinnati. One thing I learned about this project, as we pushed the lyrical content, as I sang more and become more comfortable, it reminded me of growing up on Harvey Avenue. I was able to be vulnerable and open. It only felt right to name it Harvey Avenue. That will be released later this summer.
Where can your fans find your music and your social media handles?
It’s pretty easy. It’s Justin Ruff Music. The website is www.justinruffmusic.com. My Soundcloud is Justin Ruff Music. On social media, everything is @JustinRuffMusic.
Check out Justin’s new single, “Diamonds (Nothing On You)” below, as well as a flash back performance of his song, “Faded Picture”.