Ru C.L. - Advance Jahstralia Fair
Friday, 14 September 2007
This month, Ru C.L (Rueben Campbell), aligned with Sydney’s Invada Records, is joining Katalyst’s highly anticipated live show alongside Hau from Koolism, Steve Spacek, and The Beautiful Girls’ Mat McHugh.
“I like to keep all my shows fresh,” he says. “I don’t wanna go out there with the same thing every time. I wanna come with something a little bit different. I do quite a few shows and supports and all that stuff, but I like to really strategise what I’m doing before I go out and not just do everything - a thousand gigs here and there.
“When I do a show, I wanna do it properly - or I just don’t feel it’s worth doing.”
Ru C.L will also be previewing material from his second album at the gig. “Obviously, I’m getting up there to perform the tracks that I did on [Katalyst’s] album. Then, after that, I might drop some new things I’ve been working on and take it from there - [I’ll] try to have a good time with it and relax and treat it like one big party!”
Ru C.L’s 2005 debut, Straight Down The Line, stunned critics. Campbell adeptly fused hip hop, RnB and dancehall, exploring his intriguing cultural heritage as a Jamaican-Australian - or ‘Jastralian’, as he dubs himself. Ru C.L’s Jamaican mother, a singer, performed on the LP, too.
Ru C.L first visited her homeland some years ago. He briefly studied at the Jamaican School of Music in Kingston.
Deni Hines has spoken about the culture shock of meeting family members - her outspokenness astonished them. She discovered that Caribbean families are hierarchal - while Aussies notoriously disregard cultural etiquette. Ru C.L laughs in agreement. “You don’t mess with Jamaican mothers or parents - it’s firm! You know your place and, if you step outta line, all the other people in the community are watching you.”
Introduced to a cousin, Ru C.L was disturbed by something else. “The thing that shocked me was when I was 17 and I went over to Jamaica and I saw my cousin at 12 [and it was] just how grown up they were - how quickly they have to grow up and take responsibilities, and different responsibilities.”
To the Jamaicans, Ru C.L was both familiar and, with his Australian mannerisms, ‘foreign’. But, if Campbell ever felt he was ‘this in-between thing’, returning to Australia was ultimately affirming. “It was good for me ’cause it taught me who I was,” he says of his exchanges. “I came back saying, ‘Hey, man, I don’t care what you think - this is who I am.’ You find your middle ground and just say, ‘Wow, I’ve got the best of both worlds.’ Just be proud of it and be yourself with it - take them both on board.”
Ru C.L signed to Invada after a label staffer spotted him at a Rodney P & Skitz gig in Melbourne. The unassuming MC only jumped on stage at the behest of friends - Rodney was calling for freestylers. Not that Ru C.L was a newbie. In the mid-’90s he cut a track with Mama’s Funk for Home Brewz, Volume 1. Ru C.L later dropped an indie EP. And he cameo-ed on 1200 Techniques’ Hard As Hell.
For Straight, the MC journeyed to Bristol, vibing with Portishead’s Geoff Barrow, Katalyst’s partner in Invada - and hero to The RZA. “That was a great experience. To actually go to the Portishead studio there in Bristol - it was big. It’s a buzz for anyone who hasn’t seen much of that side. It was very exciting. “The whole process of that first album was exciting - to be able to go over to England and get signed up and, ‘OK, now you’re going over to England and you’re gonna record for this many things.’ But, like they say, it’s hard work as well, of course...
“We got to hang out with Adrian Utley, the guitarist for Portishead. We stayed in his amazing six-storey mansion, so I was living the high life.”
The MC created a little buzz in the UK with his music, which he hopes to further stimulate next time.
Nevertheless, Ru C.L is coy about revealing details of his new joint. “There’s lots of stuff written, we’ll be writing for another six months, so I’m hoping it will be out next year. We’re good. We’re just working on it - recording, writing all the time. But it’s happening. There’s a lot of different producers so, whatever beat is hot, I’ll use - if it’s not, I won’t.”
Ru C.L is tipped by Invada to collaborate with Barrow again, in addition to local beatmakers, but he’s not giving anything away. “It’s coming from everywhere. I’m sure that there’s gonna probably be some Geoff Barrow contribution there but, at this stage, I’m not really sure. There’s a lot of ideas out there, so the possibilities of working with lots of different people could happen.”
At any rate, Ru C.L isn’t stressed. ”The main thing is I’m enjoying the process of writing it and I’m 100 percent proud of whatever comes out - so I can take that to the world and do my thing live.”
With Ru C.L’s label in Sydney, it’d be understandable if he moved, yet he’s devoted to M-town. “I’m comfortable in Melbourne - it is home. I’ve thought about it... I think in the long run, I don’t like to stay anywhere for too long. Ideally, I’d love to have three months in each part of the world (laughs). Nah, Melbourne is still home for me. There’s great things happening here - and my network is my family. I feel comfortable here. I love coming to Sydney. I’d just like to keep things how they are.”
WHO: Ru C.L
WHAT: Katalyst Listening Party @ Melt
WHEN: Thursday 20 September