Written by Sophie Wyatt
Yesterday saw Fender Musical Instruments Coroporation (FMIC) anounce the fifth annual class of artists joining Fender NextTM. An artist development program designed to elevate rising musicians that are pushing guitar forward in music and culture, Fender Next has once again picked an outstanding group of artists. With a morphed landscape for new artists following the pandemic, programmes like Fender NextTM have been pivotal in progressing the industry. Aside from championing the music of emerging artists, the programme also extends beyond removing barriers to industry-leading gear and marketing tools, as well as guiding new members through the changing landscape of today’s music industry. Over the last four years, Fender NextTM has recognized and empowered talented artists who have launched into critical acclaim and commercial success including Sam Fender, Omar Apollo, Wet Leg, Blu DeTiger, Phoebe Bridgers, Ed Maverick, MAY-A, Japanese Breakfast, Anly, Madison Cunningham, the Black Pumas and more. And this year has only continued the stream of outstanding artists.
This year’s class includes 25 rising artists from North America, Australia, Europe, Asia, and Latin America that span genres, generations, genders and backgrounds, each elevating guitar in their respective communities. After an open call and record number of 800+ submissions from aspiring musicians and A&Rs across the country, the 2023 roster was hand-selected by Fender’s best-in-class artist relations team as representative of the future of guitar and the wider industry. As part of the process, Fender partnered with key industry leaders at record labels, management companies, streaming services, talent agencies and other music entities. Discover the Fender NextTM Class of 2023 along with a curated Spotify playlist of each artist’s top singles.
After attending an intimate showcase for the release of this years class, we were able to catch up with singer-songwriter and part of the 2023 roster, Ruti. Alongside an electric Fender, Ruti commanded the room with her mesmerising vocals and warming presence. And having spoken to Ruti back in 2020, we were doubly excited to hear about the amazing experiences she has had since then within her career.
But first we started with a debrief of the show. “I spoke to Deyaz after and we were both saying it’s such a weird feeling when things are so intimate. I wasn’t that nervous leading up to it but just before I had a ‘woah’ moment. It was really good and everyone was really receptive. It was an honour to see Deyaz as well, so raw.”
Aside from being a part of the Fender Next 2023 class, Ruti has had an incredible few years in the music industry. Growing her community and her musical accolade, Ruti has supported Jordan Rakei at some of his shows, opened for Mahalia throughout her whole tour and also played at Adele’s show in Hyde Park last summer, which may have been Ruti’s own highlight; “I didn’t get to even meet her properly but I saw her in passing and she said hello and that was enough” she laughed.
Having started playing the guitar at 13, Ruti explained “guitars have been a vehicle for me and my music.” And that she sees more than just her music when playing. She went on to speak about how she wants to inspire others to pick up a guitar just like she did. “I hope that it inspires more girls and non-binary people to play guitar. If I play at a gig, even though I’m not great and I’ll make mistakes, I want to inspire people to think they can play too.”
And we can certainly expect to see more of Ruti’s growing guitar skills with her blooming partnership with Fender. “Being part of Fender next makes me want to get better and I get a free guitar so that will help” she laughed. “I’m excited to the opportunities that come with it. There’ll be so many opportunities to put my ideas forward. And to workshop with people, I’ve got loads of ideas and exciting things to put forward so I’m glad I have this kind of platform and support.”
Finally we spoke about what we can look forward to from Ruti. “I’m releasing a mixtape in a couple of months. It’s a mixtape there’s no cohesiveness. You have to experiment with relationships in life but also in music. There’s also a lot of mental health songs because last year was quite a year. I had a lot of mental health issues last year, but also love songs because I’m in a relationship now. I’ve been a lot more honest on these songs than I ever have been and I hope to be even more honest moving forward.”
Head over to Ruti’s Spotify page to hear more of her latest tunes.