Not everybody is going to like you and/or your music but that’s okay! If you love yourself first and the music you are making I promise that everything will work out 🙂
As a part of our series about rising music stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Ruff.
Nick Ruffalo aka Ruff is a 21 year old artist hailing from New Jersey. Fusing together multiple facets of dance and pop music with inspiration from the likes of The Chainsmokers, Lost Kings ,Gryffin, NOTD, & Martin Garrix, Ruff’s sound steadily adapts record by record with the goal of emotion always in mind.
Ruff kicked off his catalogue in July 2020 with Self Sabotage alongside MIKEY C & Lila McKenna on Australia’s Teamwrk Records, garnering support from Will Sparks. In October 2020 he released his follow up single ‘Without It’ alongside American Idol finalist Robbie Rosen via Killabite Media.
February 2021 saw the release of an energetic dance flip of the Justin Bieber classic Love Yourself alongside Chicago based vocalist Diffrnt gaining support from R3HAB. Rejoining forces with Robbie Rosen on Reasons with rising star Mercedes in tow, the ever-evolving orchestral dance-pop crossover sound of Ruff continues to touch fans around the globe, with a boatload of releases to come for this budding artist in 2021 and beyond.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
Thank you for having me! I’m born and raised in New Jersey, where I still currently live, and grew up with a very sports-oriented lifestyle, never really picking up any instruments or music whatsoever until I went to college.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
For sure! When I was a sophomore in high school, a friend of mine showed me the Chainsmokers Ultra 2016 live set on Youtube and I was immediately hooked by all of it; the lights, the crowd, the music, the vibe, and decided right then and there I decided I wanted to do everything in my power to get to that point one day.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
I find it pretty interesting how well myself, Mikey, and Lila were able to adapt to the pandemic from a music perspective so early on. We were able to complete “Self Sabotage” together from 3 different states all through Zoom right when the pandemic started in March, and little did any of us know how commonplace that method of music production and songwriting would become over the next year!
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Definitely, so my first year of college I was DJing one of my first parties at my school and about halfway through my set, someone spilled a drink on the DJ controller and only one side was working so I had to find a way for the rest of the night to attempt to transition from song to song with only one half of what I’d usually have! I certainly learned the hard way that night that you gotta protect your gear at all times.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I have a ton of songs that will be releasing this year, a few are collaborations with some amazing producers from all over the world. There just might be an EP in the works as well 🙂
We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television?
How can that potentially affect our culture? — I definitely agree, especially in the entertainment industry where the sharing of our emotions, culture, and even vulnerability at times is so important in creating great art. Being able to see that from a diverse community that uplifts each other’s voices while learning from each other and our experiences gives us all a greater and more understanding outlook on life itself, our privileges, and our stories and what better way to share that with the entire world than through globally reaching films, tv shows, and music?
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
1.) Not everybody is going to like you and/or your music but that’s okay! If you love yourself first and the music you are making I promise that everything will work out 🙂
2.) Keep experimenting with new methods and styles. I’ve oftentimes found myself putting my music into one specific bubble, but trying new things leads to some great music.
3.) It’s going to get hard and you may sometimes consider giving up. Fight through, take a break, talk to someone, whatever it takes but never give up. Your future self will thank you for powering through!
4.) Listen to music outside of the genres you make! It’s truly amazing how much other genres and influences can help you find new inspiration for your own work.
5.) And finally, have fun with it! At times it may feel like not every aspect of music is fun, but the entire process is so make sure you always remember that!
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
To avoid a “burn out” I work out daily, eat healthily, and get outside as much as possible for walks. When you naturally increase your endorphins like that, the entire process becomes that much easier!
You are a person of influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I would love to be able to bring more awareness and support for the stigma around mental health, especially in the world of sports coming from a sports background myself. Although it has certainly improved all together in recent years, there is still a lot of work to be done!
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I am extremely grateful for my parents and all that they do for me, supporting me in all of my endeavors throughout my life without ever batting an eye, especially when I told them I wanted to shift my focus from football to music, they were all for it and for that I am forever grateful.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
A quote I love to live by is “Fire is the test of Gold” or “ignis aurum probat” in Latin. Especially during this past year of hardships amidst this pandemic, I learned early on that the true test of who we are as artists and as people comes during times of adversity and through that adversity, you will be able to find yourself and come out better for it in the end.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
It would be absolutely incredible to sit down with Moe Shalizi and pick his brain about how he helped build the Marshmello brand into one of the biggest in the world!
How can our readers follow you online?
I am @ruffmusicofficial on all platforms, swing by and say hey!