You might expect a musician signed to Jai Paul’s Paul Institute to mirror the label head’s legendary air of mystery, but Ruthven is his own artist. Formed in 2016 by Jai and his brother AK, the Paul Institute kept up the siblings’ ruthlessly sparse release schedule and showed the many fans of Paul’s sound where its chosen acolytes could take it. In Ruthven’s case, he shared songs with a special warmth; if the Paul Institute’s artists are making futuristic spacecrafts disguised as pop songs, Ruthven feels like he’s opening the pod bay doors and inviting you in.

That quality has been a recurring theme in the four singles Ruthven has released even as he pushes his sound into new territory.”Evil,” his debut song, introduced Ruthven as a devotee of electronic ’80s funk and on “Hypothalamus,” he nodded to Jai Paul’s influence while demonstrating his significant capacity for tension and release. 2021 saw the release of two new songs: the smoldering “Don’t Keep It To Yourself” and “123 Days,” where glossy synth chirps and a blend of acoustic and electronic drums conspire to form a song that would probably get Lionel Ritchie doing cartoon wolf howls.

If Ruthven’s releases feel like a curation, it may have something to do with his history as a wedding reception DJ. When he wasn’t serving as a firefighter, Ruthven was creating playlists for newly married couples and their friends to dance the night away. “100% it’s influenced my decision-making process when it comes to writing,” Ruthven tells me in an email. Though it may now be a while before the wedding season returns, we asked Ruthven to give us a selection of his favorite wedding reception songs. As with his own music, he kept us guessing. “I don’t wanna have just a bait list that any ’70s soul lover could easily throw together,” he writes. “There will be a few alternatives!”

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