From the moment we watched her Blind Auditions, we pegged 18-year old Ruti Olajugbagbe as one to watch during the show. Throughout each stage of the competition, Ruti came to her own and established herself as a standout performer with her passionate vocals.
Ultimately, The Thurrock singer captured not only the hearts of Sir Tom Jones and the other coaches but also the audience and was crowned the winner of The Voice UK 2018 on Saturday (7 April) scooping a recording contract with Polydor Records.
Days after her win, Ruti is flying high on the UK iTunes charts with her debut single ‘Dreams’ and we got the chance to chat to her, and find out what exactly is going through her mind at such an exciting time.
First of all congratulations on winning The Voice UK. Has it sunk in?
I’m still a bit like “woah, what’s going on?” I had on interview on TV this morning again and.. I don’t know how to explain it, I went home yesterday and it felt like normal, back to normal. I do keep getting the thought like you did just win The Voice the other day and my single is out. Luckily I am on Easter Holidays at the moment but I do have to go back to college next Monday.
As you progressed through the competition, did winning ever occur to you?
No, I mean when I got to the Finals, I was like “okay there are four of us there – there’s a chance.” But obviously on Saturday when I got into the final 2, I was like “OK!” But from the beginning I wasn’t thinking about winning because I thought this is a great platform, great experience so it will get me a bit of publicity maybe and experience.
Is that what you was hoping to gain out of the show, to get yourself out there?
Yes obviously I knew what the prize was but I just didn’t expect it for me. I didn’t know if people would like me, I thought people would think “she’s very good “y’know?” Everyone was so different, I couldn’t compare myself to anyone, it was great there was such a variety.
As one of the youngest contestants on the show, you seemed very relaxed throughout the process, at least to the audience. How did you find the environment?
Obviously especially in the last week, it was a bit stressful, because we had to get three songs rehearsed and stuff like that but everyone there is so chilled and lovely and they calm you down. If you need to take a moment, have a nap, they’re like “we don’t want to overwork you” because then when it comes to Saturday you’ll be dead. Everyone has been so lovely and it never felt like a competition because all the contestants were really good friends.
Will.i.am has had some backlash in regards to using his mobile for Social Media during your performances. How did you feel?
At the beginning I didn’t know the coaches that well so I thought oh he’s on his phone, “what am I doing”? But from the comments, you know he is really listening. He’s not like “oh yeah that was good!” He really goes into detail.
What was it like working with Sir Tom Jones?
It was amazing! Obviously he’s like Sir Tom Jones a legend, and you don’t know what he’s going to be like, but he’s such a down to earth guy. He’s so lovely, he just happens to be really famous and have a lot of experience. When I got to sing with him, that was like a highlight!
What was his best piece of advice?
I think I have said this loads of times but he’s just like ‘you have to let go on stage and not think about anyone else and just be yourself’ because he said “that’s what I love about your voice, it’s just you so continue to do that!”
Your single ‘Dreams’ is currently number 1 on iTunes. How are you feeling about that, a bit overwhelmed?
Yeah completely, again I wasn’t thinking about winning because it didn’t cross my mind and when I had, I was like “okay I have a single out now, people will hear it”. I just never thought about the charts or anything like that. But I’m so grateful for everyone voting and buying the single. This whole experience has been overwhelming.
‘Dreams’ obviously being a classic from The Cranberries, is that the type of music you would veer into or are you open to explore different styles.
I’m very much open to anything. I listen to so many different styles and I want to try lots of different things, I mean there are some genres that probably wouldn’t suit my voice. Opera? I don’t think I’m great at stuff like that. Country? Yeah maybe!
We hear you like artists such as Arctic Monkeys and Bastille. What are you listening to at the moment?
I feel like this week I haven’t listened to anything…. but Bastille, George Ezra, like loads of random artists. I like 80’s music as well.
Which artists would like to collaborate with?
Bastille and George Ezra! It’s hard to think about… I’d love to do a track with a rapper and then me on the vocals.
Who are your inspirations?
Well, my parents because they are amazing people. Jeannete the lady I care for, she’s so amazing and very musical. She plays lots of instruments and she is also teaching me to play the piano. Family and a few people from my church, a lady called Sally is so amazing as well and so welcoming and gentle to everyone and that’s what I want to be.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
Hopefully, I’ll have an EP and an album out by then and be doing a few gigs, and maybe a tour.
Is there a message you want to spread in your music?
Well, I want people to relate to it. I’m not the most interesting person so I don’t party and stuff. It will be things that people relate to so normal stuff that people can sing along to, and I want it to make people happy. There are songs you listen to that make you happy and there are songs you listen to that make you think, so I want to do a mixture of both because if it’s an album full of songs to make people think, it might give them a headache!
Do you have a message for your supporters?
Thank you so much for voting and supporting because even if I didn’t get the votes, I have so much supporting and it’s been an amazing journey. I didn’t realise people would like my voice, but they did so thank you so much. Love you guys!
What’s next for you?
There’s so much happening! But I’ll be hopefully working on some of my own stuff so just look out for that.