Interview: Leo Ruff
Hello Leo and welcome to the Sanctum! Now, let us get to know you a bit better right away, starting from the very basics. Tell me about the origin of ‘Leo Ruff'. Is it your real name?
Yeah so my real name is a bit of a mouthful courtesy of my German heritage. I wanted to keep my name but also make it something memorable and easy to pronounce, so I dropped a couple of letters and voila! I think having a name that’s short and sharp is vital, people will remember you and spread the word.
What was the first music you fell in love with as a child and when did you decide that you need to be a part of it actively?
The first artist I fell in love with when I was younger was probably David Guetta to be honest. I know it sounds a bit cliché but I came of age when David’s crossover records with pop royalty were sweeping across the States and so I couldn’t help but notice, especially as these were really f*ing good records. (courtesy of Joachim Garraud ;) At that point I think I came around to the fact that I wanted a career in music but I was still quite apprehensive as I was brought up in an environment where music wasn’t really considered a serious career path, fraught with too much risk and speculation.
In what ways do you feel living in London has affected your endeavors in music? Is there anywhere else you’d rather be to work as a musician?
To be honest I never fully appreciated how lucky I was to live in London until I started taking my music seriously, at which point it becomes fairly clear to you how the entire UK industry is centered around London and that it’s one of the biggest cities in the world for the music industry, after LA & NYC. Further on that is that once things are off the ground for me in the UK, I definitely see the natural progression being NYC, as America is the center of the Music Industry and NYC is just unmatched. A city to trump all cities.
And speaking about work, is music a full time job for you? What occupies your life at the moment?
I’m blessed to be able to pursue my music full-time, as I know firsthand the struggle of getting to the stage where you can entirely support yourself off the back of your music. I used to have a revolving door of odd jobs and errands to make ends meet, getting fired every other week! Music has basically consumed my life at the moment, for better or for worse, but I’m loving every minute of it.
Allow me to get deeper into the music. You recently released the –highly promising- and thoughtfully produced ‘Get Down’. Is this your first official release as Leo Ruff? Have you released under other names or collaborated in other projects?
I did actually release a few bits before Get Down in the very early stages of this project, tracks which are thankfully no longer with us as they really were quite awful. I’ve collaborated on countless other material for other projects, something that has really helped me hone my craft as a producer and songwriter. I do have an alias project that will be coming in the future, but I first want to put my energy into my principal project and make sure it’s the best it can possibly be before I expend any energy on side projects.
What does ‘Get Down’ mean to you and what was your vision while creating it? Did it turn out as you originally planned?
Get Down means a lot to me because it was my first track where I was fully happy with what I created, and where I could play it in one of my sets without worrying about the reaction. The track evolved during the creation process it but the main theme of a thumping kick and a dirty bassline remained the same, something that went down really well after the release! I was really blown away by the support that the track received, and I think a seminal moment for me was when the track hit the club charts, a moment where I realized that I could really pursue music seriously.
How has club music affected your life and in what ways do you feel connected to the genre? We hear about artists that produce music that is entirely different from what they actually enjoy listening to.
Yeah, that’s something I couldn’t reckon with, not enjoying the stuff I produce. You’ve got to love what you make.
Can you name a few artists or albums that might have shaped your own sound throughout the years? Also, are there any new faces or music you’re currently discovering and would like to share?
There’s loads to be honest, too many to name here but a couple highlights are Frankie Knuckles, the King of House, and Patrick Prins, an absolute god of analog music. I take a lot of inspiration from these pioneers, who came about in an era where electronic music genres weren’t really defined and boundaries were blurred. They were crafting future genres without even realizing it, creating music that would essentially define electronic music today. What we hear on the radio today is descended from the records they spun in sweaty 90s basements, and I think that that’s incredible.
Are there plans for releasing new music or even touring in 2022? What is the next step for Leo Ruff?
Yeah I’m super excited to be releasing new material this year, starting with my new tune ‘Under The Covers’ coming out on the 18th March. It’s a thumping piano-led house cut that I can’t wait to share. In terms of touring I’ve got a number of super exciting gigs locked in for the summer, and there’s also a few more additional discussions going on about some fall dates. The next steps for me I think are just to do all the right things, create content that my fans enjoy, be myself and let the rest take care of itself. Can’t wait to see everyone back out on the dancefloor!
Enjoy Leo Ruff here: