Russ Hobbis, aka RusHeffect, has been living “hand to mouth” pursuing his dream of a life in the music business. We catch up with the 38-year-old who finds he is, finally, on the verge of success
Russ Hobbis (RusH) has spent the past twelve months locked in a studio producing his first EP. The former employee of Cadbury World hasn’t had it easy. With no money coming in he’s been living a “hand to mouth” existence but he doesn’t regret it one bit. “Had I not had a crack at this I would have regretted it for the rest of my life,” he says. He gave himself a year to succeed and has shown huge determination to make it work. One of his tweets reads, “I’ve reached the point in my life where sleep, general hygiene and to a degree eating are major inconveniences to my music making schedule.” Now aged 38 with his EP almost ready for release and an album on the cards for next spring, it’s finally all coming good.
RusH has always been into music and as a child was a massive Michael Jackson fan. He recalls, “When I was younger I thought you had to be American to make music then I noticed some fellow brummies doing it. Bands like Black Sabbath and UB40 were doing great things and I thought ‘wow it’s actually possible’.” When RusH’s metal band Digo started gigging around town they were a four piece without a drummer. “I started performing what was essentially real time production on stage to replace percussion and it worked,” he says.
RusH nearly went down a different path. In 1998 he embarked on a course in digital audio techniques at Solihull College, which would’ve prepared him for life as a sound engineer. However he immediately knew it wasn’t for him. “My music tutor Steve Sylvester clocked it. He led me away from sound engineering and introduced me to the production suite which he thought would be right up my street. I just thought it was amazing,” he says, “I bought a custom made computer for £2000 which was a lot of money back then and just kept adding bits and pieces.” RusH has spent the last few years building a studio sporadically as and when he could afford to. Along the way he’s borrowed bits of kit from what seems like an incredibly supportive and close bunch of friends. He talks about them with affection and feels “they’ve been instrumental in getting me this far.”
RusH’s influences include “from way back Quincy Jones and currently Liam Howlett of the Prodigy and Timbaland. The way they bring different genres together is brilliant. It’s something I do with my music but it’s not a forced thing. It just happens,” he says. When asked who would be top of his wish list of people to work with he says after some deliberation, “John Mayer and Zac de la Rocha of Rage Against the Machine.” I find RusHeffect’s sounds more chilled than his influences suggest. For instance there’s a gorgeous taster of one of his tracks on Soundcloud called A Beautiful Beginning which manages to transport you to a gloriously chilled Balearic sunset in a heartbeat.
RusH isn’t cocky when he says, “I know this will be a success. I cannot see it failing.” He knows he’s talented, he understands the music industry, he’s well-connected and prepared to work his backside off. He’s beyond the age of generation X Factor who have come to expect their dreams realised instantaneously. He’s put in the hard graft and it’s paying off.
RusH is hugely proud of Birmingham, but what if great success means crossing the pond? He says, “I’m a Brummie. My roots are here. I suppose there might come a time when I need to move for work, but I’ll always come back to Brum. I’m a home boy.”