Ruben Hultman is a one-man act from Sweden. He dropped us a random smattering of his works a while ago (he works as a session artist as well as on his own solo projects) and we just had to get him to tell you more about himself…
I am from the woods outside of a small town in central Sweden called Arboga.
How long have you been playing music?
I’ve been playing in various rock/punk/indie bands since 2009. I started writing solo material in 2013 and released my debut single “Lionheart” in 2015.
What are your influences?
I am heavily influenced by my musical roots and the variety between the different albums that shaped my childhood. I grew up with my brother playing drums in both punk and jazz bands and my dad being a blues singer, for example. Every genre has their own charm, so to me it is more about genuine expression in music than “fitting in to a box” sound wise. I tend to work a lot in the area of distortion, explosive drums and energetic vocals when writing solo-stuff though.
Describe your music. What makes you unique?
I think what makes me unique is my flow from heart to song when writing, combined with my wide variety of genres-background. I’ve been the lead vocalist in a loud rock band, rhythm guitarist/vocalist in a fast paced skate-punk band and a hard hitting bass player in a soft vibing indie-pop band. I’ve also taken drum lessons from my brother, had roles in musicals and have been collaborating internationally with electronic music producers as a vocalist/songwriter since 2013. I never aim for a song to sound like something that has already been done, instead I just try to portray the emotion of the song as honestly as I can – in my own way.
Also I play all instruments myself on my songs, except the drums. I write all the drum parts though, before I send them over to a dear childhood friend of mine, Zack Liljeberg, to record them for me in Los Angeles where he currently lives.
Do you have any particular lyrical themes?
I have been writing a lot about personal development, in terms of finding/creating yourself growing up in this world. I took a course in psychology in late 2015 where I studied developmental psychology and personality psychology and through writing about a lot of the things brought up in the course, I learned a lot about who I am and how to become more accepting of that.
Basically, my lyrics are just me making sense of my inner emotions. I never force my writing, it just flows when I am able to fully immerse myself in it and sometimes it is a very powerful experience to see what can travel from the back of your mind to a text document – captured as something that actually makes a lot of sense to you, even if it does not to anyone else.
What’s your live show like? How many shows have you played?
With my solo-project I have not done any official live shows, since I’ve felt that I want enough material to fill a full set before I do. I’ve focused on trying to build a portfolio of songs I am proud of and an online following instead of just playing local shows, but I will start to look at booking shows when the time is right.
Playing with other bands I am energetic and explosive. I’d rather scream my lungs out and sink into the moment of what is being expressed than sing all the notes correctly. A live review of a gig I did with my first band in Gothenburg 2012 (I was 15 at the time) referred to me as humble yet professional frontman, giving off a The Hives-vibe and without being too full of myself I can say I am really proud of that, thinking it is a great way to sum up my live performance.
I have been playing live shows frequently since 2009 so I must admit I miss that a lot, having spent the past two years writing and recording. If I remember correctly I did 100 gigs all over Sweden with my first band, and then I kind of lost count after that.
First thing that comes to mind is when I played in a small town at a festival with an old band. This might get a bit long! We arrived early to the soundcheck and the sound-guy had no idea how to do his job. I am not doing the generic “sound-engineer”-shaming here like a lot of bands do as a lame stereotype joke, but he clearly had no idea what was going on.
We had to fix the mics on the drum kit and re-arrange how they were plugged into the mixing table, the bass amp was mic’d up and the guitar amps were lined directly to the PA system, bypassing the cabs so there was distortion in our monitors but clean sound in the cabs with a two second delay. There was no sound going out to the audience, only the delayed guitars and mics going out through our monitors on stage.
So he asked if we could play without the PA switched on. It was weird as shit. Our drummer fixed the whole thing so it started working, eventually, and we were still on schedule before we started our set. There were two people in the venue listening to our set. Literally two people in the audience. When we had one song left he came up to me while speaking between songs saying “Listen, kid. You got 5 more minutes before the next band hits the stage. Wrap it up” and I lashed the fuck out.
It sounds lame since it was a local thing and as if I am making this up after seeing that video where Billie Joe from Green Day loses it having his set cut short on some TV-show, but it was just so disgustingly ungrateful of him to approach me in that way after we saved the whole sound situation just because we were nice enough to do that when he clearly had fucked it up. I threw the mic on the floor and stood there pointing at him, shouting “How the fuck do you think people will come play at your shitty venue when you can’t even work out how to get the sound out to your audience? We have one song left and we will play it no matter what you say. There is barely even people here and hasn’t been all day so don’t come here being all fucking ‘Hey, kid’ on me. This is an amateur event and I regret taking this booking.”
So, we played the last song and then he walked past me several times looking scared as shit. I approached him saying I had already had a shitty week and this was just too much so I couldn’t take his disrespectful behaviour so he stuttered out an apology. Maybe this does not translate well and makes me look like an ass online, but it is an honest answer to the craziest thing I have done during a live show since I am the nicest guy otherwise. I never lash out, I never get angry and I am always very understanding… but this gig was just hitting a new low in the ranks of shitty gigs.
What kit do you use / guitars do you play / etc.?
In my mic collection I have a Shure BETA58 for live gigs, a Shure Super 55 Deluxe (if I want to like retro-vibe for a bit) and a Shure SM7B for studio use. I also have a JTS in ear system (don’t remember the model I am using) that has been with me since 2011 for live gigs.
I use an Epiphone AlleyKat when I record guitar demos and a Yamaha bass I don’t know the model name on. That bass has sweet tone though. I am not much of a gear nerd. I can appreciate it though, but I guess I am just not interested in mechanical stuff enough to be.
What are your plans for 2017?
I am releasing a brand new 4-track EP titled Happy Face. Release date is not set yet, but I can honestly say it’s the best I’ve ever written. I’ve posted a few previews on my Facebook, Instagram & Twitter.
If you were second on a three-band bill, which band would you love to be supporting and which band would you choose to open for you? A chance to plug someone you’ve toured with, or a mate’s band we’ve not heard of before!
Tough question! If I can space out I’d love to be supporting Panic! At The Disco, since their music has been such a huge influence for me. Even though I’d been a more suitable opening act for them genre-wise in 2006 than today, maybe.
First band that comes to mind as an opening act is a Swedish band named Concealed in Clouds. They are truly something fresh in the alternative music scene that breathes organically and is genuine. It would be weird saying I’d want them to be opening for me though, since they’ve been active longer than I have so I don’t want to like put myself “higher in the ranks” by doing that. I’d love to be playing shows with them though. So that’s my answer to “Which band is my biggest dream to open for & which local band would I like to co-tour with”! Twisting the question there a bit. Hope that’s cool.