Songwriter Showcase: Matthew Ruff

Mark Reynolds
Staff Writer

Local songwriter Matthew Ruff will be performing in the Songwriter Showcase on Oct. 25 in the Earley Center for Performing Arts.
Ruff is a junior at Minnesota State University, Mankato. Originally a vocal performance major, he is now a music industry student with a focus in songwriting.
Hailing from Minneapolis, Minnesota, Ruff began pursuing his musical career in high school.

“When I was really into musical theater at the time, um, I was trying to go through that Hennepin Theater Trust program,” Ruff said. “I got nominated for some award, and I only got through the first tier of it, and there’s like four tiers of auditions until you go on and win this award. But the music is what got me there.”
“So, I was like, ‘I need just to keep up with music’ and like, and I thought about the songwriting class. ‘I’m just gonna keep writing and singing and covers and see what happens and if it’s something I actually want to do.’ And it was,” said Ruff.

Ruff, who has played piano since the third grade, is always busy in the music department. Along with writing his own music, he is a part of the acapella group Maverick Vocal Precision, the Concert Choir, and a seven-piece contemporary band. But Ruff’s passion lies in his songwriting.

“I’d say one of my favorite moments performing was when I showed one of the first songs that I wrote during my time here at MNSU. When I was first performing that song for the general recital my sophomore year, I kind of confirmed to myself that that’s what I wanted to do.

“And I saw people talk to me after and they were like, ‘oh my god, I didn’t expect that; where’d that come from?’ and that kind of confirmed that people enjoy this, I enjoyed how it felt to perform my own music and I guess other people inspired me to keep going with it.”

Inspired by Sia, MAX and Sam Smith, Ruff’s music is filled with emotion, stories and power, which are all unleashed when he is on stage.

Ruff’s songs come from stories and events from his personal life and the lives of people close to him. His upcoming single “Believe in Me” is one such story.

“When I was just starting school, basically I had an interest in someone. And basically, they kind of lead me on for a little while, just because they hadn’t resolved things with their romantic past. And they thought they were ready for more than just a friendship, and then they realized that they were not. And they told me a little too late before I really started getting feelings for them.

“So then after things ended between us, I started writing the lyrics for the song and they came along pretty easily – I wrote all the lyrics in one sitting – and then when I came back to school I wrote the music for it. It came together pretty fast,” Ruff said as he laughed.

Ruff is also releasing an EP in the spring with the working title “Fire.”

“So the idea of ‘Fire’ has to do with, it encaptures a lot of different emotions,” Ruff said. “There’s, anger, there’s frustration, but there’s also people that come into your life and really, ‘light a fire.’ So it can be romantic. It can be just like a whole spectrum of emotions.”

While Ruff is mostly focused on producing his single and EP “Fire” which will be released in the spring, he still finds time to perform.

Along with the Showcase, he will be performing in a fundraising event at Pub 500 in November with other artists from MavHouse Records, the University’s on-campus record label.

The showcase will be on Thursday, Oct. 25 at 7:30 p.m. in the E.J. Halling Recital Hall of the Earley Center for Performing Arts. Tickets and more information can be found online at www.mnsu.edu/music. For more information, call the Performance Series office, (507) 389-5549.

Feature photo courtesy of Allison Whinery.

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