by Carissa Dunlap
Nashville based singer-songwriter Maggie Eckford is the voice behind the theme songs and cinematic soundtracks of many of your favorite hit television shows. However, Eckford hides her voice behind the mysterious and dark alter ego, Ruelle.
Eckford grew up always writing poetry and short stories, and playing piano to songs from musicals like Phantom of the Opera and Cats. “I think I’ve always been drawn to music with a little drama—the way it tugs on my heart strings and always takes me somewhere new,” says Eckford. The Mississippi native attended three years of college in the States before quitting and deciding to pursue music and songwriting at a music school in Sydney, Australia.
The artist released two indie pop albums—For What It’s Worth (2010) and Show and Tell (2012)—under her birth name. She began to make her mark as an independent artist, but felt a need to play around with her sound by working with many different producers and writers in different genres. Two years after Eckford’s second release, she began to experiment with multiple genres of music. It was then that she found herself gravitating towards a more cinematic sound. It wasn’t long before her haunting songs were being picked up by major television shows and films.
As her cinematic music began to gain traction, Eckford decided she needed to sell music under two separate identities: Maggie Eckford and Ruelle. Eckford adopted the French word Ruelle as her stage name because she liked how it gave off a sense of darkness and mystery. She also liked how it had multiple meanings such as “chamber” and “wolf.” This alter ego was meant to represent her change in genre, moving towards a dark and cinematic style.
“I’m easily inspired by orchestral elements and the emotional progression I feel in cinematic music,” says the singer. “This new sound isn’t really new for me. It feels like I’m going back to the very thing that drew me to music in the beginning.”
In 2015, Ruelle released her first collection of music with her EP Up in Flames. The songs were written and arranged with various producers such as Sam Tinnesz and Matt Bronkewe. Each track contains the singer’s ethereal vocals accompanied by eerie cinematic production and enticing melodies that stick in your head for days. The singer incorporates heavy drums and electronic elements to cast dark undercurrents and to create a sense of urgency. “Until We Go Down,” a song off her first EP, became the opening theme song for MTV’s hit series, The Shannara Chronicles.
Since then, Ruelle has continued to dominate the screen with her dramatic music on TV shows like The Vampire Diaries, How to Get Away With Murder, and Grey’s Anatomy. As well, her music has been featured in films like Bad Moms, Keeping Up with the Joneses, and Free State of Jones. In 2016, she released her second EP Madness, which features her song “Game of Survival” that was used in Netflix’s trailer for the dark teen drama 13 Reasons Why.
Eckford continues to release music under her own name, such as one of her most recent songs, “Let the Light Back.” She also continues to release single tracks under Ruelle, such as her most successful song on the Billboard charts, “I Get to Love You,” which presents a much lighter tone than the alter ego’s typical sound. Eckford has developed an immense versatility and has a chameleon-like ability to tackle multiple genres and moods.
Currently, Eckford is working on a full length album under alias Ruelle. The record is set to release sometime in 2017.