Ruel releases new Free Time EP
A year equates to a lifetime of experience for 16-year-old Australian singer and songwriter Ruel.
Since releasing his debut EP Ready in June last year, the young musician has amassed more than 300 million streams for his songs, sold out venerable institutions such as the Sydney Opera House - twice - and won praise from legends such as Elton John and peers including Khalid.
Songs about young love or outgrowing childhood friends struck an instant chord with thousands of teenagers who snapped up his concert tickets within minutes of them going on sale.
As he releases his second EP Free Time this week, Ruel said he was conscious of not falling into the trap of writing the "tour" record.
"I worried about running out of relatable life experiences; from 12 to 15, when I was still in school, I was still having girl problems and stuff like that," he said.
"There's only so many songs you can write about being on tour and missing home so for these songs, I started putting myself in other people's shoes and finding inspiration from movies and books."
One of his new tracks, the deeply moving Unsaid, started as a "girl song" but became about a friend who lost their battle with mental illness.
Ruel is planning to use the song to launch a mental health campaign with the music industry charity Support Act.
"Mental illness, depression and anxiety, is such a huge thing in this music business - it's insane how high the suicide rates are," he said.
"I feel like I am the most open book to people who are close to me and I never hide anything from them. If I am feeling down, I tell someone and I feel like I am lucky to have that.
"Not everyone has those people around them to talk to.
"When it comes to dealing with fame or fans, I kind of think of it as two different people. The person on stage is Ruel and off stage and talking to my friends and people I know, I am Ruel van Dijk. Same personality but different situation."
Fame has come quickly for Ruel after three years of developing his talent with acclaimed Australian producer M-Phazes.
Now when he walks along the promenade where he used to busk near his home on Sydney's northern beaches, he is stopped by dozens of fans for a photo.
And Manly is a long, long way from the shows of Paris Fashion Week and GQ shoots wearing a Louis Vuitton jacket worth almost $10,000.
"It was terrifying when they told me how much the jacket was because some of the walls where we were shooting had been freshly painted," he said, laughing.
"When I was 11 I was wearing boardies, a Lakers jersey and flip flops and when I got into music, I really got into fashion."
Ruel kicks off his Free Time tour of Australia at Brisbane's Fortitude Music Hall on September 19 and heads to the Thebarton Theatre, Adelaide on September 22, Festival Hall, Melbourne on September 24, Odeon, Hobart on October 1 and Sydney's Hordern Pavilion on October 4.