We had the good fortune of connecting with Melina Holm Ruais and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Melina, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
I love singing and I truly believe that everyone can sing! Oh come on now, you can at least sing in the range where you speak. That is a great way to start, where you feel comfortable to make some cool noise or maybe even hit a beautiful note or two!
My name is Melina Holm Ruais, I started voice coaching professionally in Sweden around 2009. I have loved voice coaching from the start. I have a passion for helping singers reach their goals and to excel even further than they thought they could. It’s especially fun to work here in Los Angels where a lot of singers come to build their music carriers.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I grew up in a small town called Sandviken/ Gävle in Sweden, a 2 hours drive north from Stockholm. I’m from a musical family where everyone sings or play’s an instrument. Growing up, every kid was into some type of sports like soccer, little Olympics or ice hockey. Accept from me, I had music and singing as my passion from an early age. Having an older brother who could figure out and play any instrument he touch was also a great inspiration. We lived for finding the next favorite song to get hooked on and learn how to sing and play on repeat until our mom got fed up with it.
I loved singing Pop music and to watch Jazz TV- programs with live performances. At the age of 7, pop music (Swedish, American and UK Pop) took over my life. It left no room for anything else.
I started honing my voice coaching skills early on. Since I couldn’t care less about competing in sports and I was born with a heart condition that led to a surgery when I was nine years old that made me easily tired and overstrained, I had to win over my friends with music and singing.
I was first met with rejection, but managed to convince some of my friends to take up singing.
For my friends to not loose the itch for singing I helped them pick the right songs so they could sound good as fast as possible.
Songs had to be memorized and performed for parents etc, this was serious work. You can say that this is when I started practicing voice coaching.
I started performing live when I was 9 years old, which was 3 years too late if you had asked me back then.
My mom said yes partly because she knew how hard I worked and thought my singing skills were good, but also because my family got tired of having to act as an audience every weekend.
I got my first paid gig as a 10 year old. Only performed 2 song as an opening act for a bigger Swedish artist. I was very proud and wanted to perform at as many events as possible.
Now this got turned into something I did regularly. I hit up every talent show, and open mic event I could find within reasonable proximity to our hometown.
I often made it to the talent shows finals so I had to keep track of the dates so I didn’t get double booked. I was my own manager and booking agent and my stepfather was the chauffeur.
I took my first voice class when I was 10 years old. I liked the warmups and the technique but I did not like the rest of the 30 minutes class
cause I didn’t get to choose my own songs to practice. It took 2 more years to find my first favorite voice coach, Agnetha She worked hard to learn each song on piano that I wanted to sing. I loved it and from that point onwards I was in love with everything that had to do with voice technique.
Throughout my teenage years I, like so many in that age went through some type of perfectionism crisis. I thought everything needed to be perfect, the voice and performances needed to be perfect in every way. During this time I developed a greater understanding for stage anxiety and fighting off negative thought patterns.
I solved my “problem” by teaming up with other singers and bands so I didn’t have to focus too much on only my solo performance and getting stuck in uninspiring thought patterns. Music and singing is supposed to be fun, then good routines and work ethics is easily achieved and therefore great results will come easily. Great friends and colleagues will help you with that.
I moved to Uppsala to study at the Music highschool. At this school you could only choose between Classical singing and something that l later on discovered sounded like jazz meets classical music. Perfect opportunity to learn great vocal technique and build a good foundation for my piano skills. And also unfortunately a perfect time to learn songs that I will never ever sing again in my life. I have respect for the art form of classical music (which I love to listen to) but my pop heart was crying!
I had to figure out a way to make singing fun again. I wanted the vocal techniques and the Piano lessons part of the education and the experience on my resume but I was worried that my voice was going to change into having a classical sound that would make it hard for me to sing pop songs the way I wanted to sing them. Therefore I contacted my hometowns opera diva Carina Portnov for voice classes. I heard that she helped another singer in my hometown with her pop voice and technique with great results.
Carina was absolutely the perfect voice coach to help me. During the 2 years she trained me, she taught me the difference between classical singing techniques and placements and how to use the vocal technique and the right vocal placement for singing pop music. Having Carina teaching me parallel to my music high school program made it easier for me to get a better balance.
I also studied one year at a Folk-music program in Sweden. This was something I applied and auditioned for just because I had a pure curiosity for folk-music, especially Swedish folk-music. I always liked the mythical atmosphere and how spell-bounding the music is and the at times chanting type of singing it includes.
When I moved to Stockholm I started singing in a cover-band and recording in studios. I Started writing songs regularly and got work as a demo singer as often as I could. I got to record some commercial pop songs, radio jingles and other commercial material.
Singing in studios allowed me to gain a better understanding for the right type of gear to record myself and coach myself at home between recordings. It was a great way to effectively train my voice and to become more flexible and to master different kinds of expressions.
Another amazing voice class experience was when I took classes at star vocal coach Zannah Hultén’s studio. We worked on healthy belting techniques.
When I started coaching and recording regularly, my clientle was pop singers and singer-songwriters in a studio in central Stocholm. Singers booked 1-2h to record an original track or a cover. Many of these clients where beginners and I had to do my best to get them to sound as great as possible within 1-2h. This was challenging and fun. This work made me an even more effective voice coach. I worked at this studio at every opportunity I got, until I moved to Los Angeles to study audio engineering.
Two years before I went to Los Angeles, I studied voice/songwriting and music production at Kulturama in Stocholm and continued my music production and songwriting studying at SAE in Stockholm, Sweden. This is where I heard about the Audio Engineer program at SAE in Los Angeles. I applied and got accepted to the Audio Engineering program that started April 2013. I loved L.A instantiously. The Audio engineering program was intense. I learned a lot and did not really have the chance to see too much of the fantastic City of Los Angels during my 10 months stay. So I returned back to Los Angels 3 months after my graduation and during this time I was lucky to meet the most beautiful person I ever met, my now husband Rich Ruais.
Since early 2015 I have been teaching students around the L.A area. I now know L.A better than Stockholm and it’s suburbs now.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
When my Best friend from Sweden comes to visit Los Angeles I would take them to the grammy museum first. Then I’d take them on a drive around Hollywood to see the capital records building and other famous landmarks. We would also make a stop at my favorite Japanese restaurant in Hollywood-Kabuki . We would go for a hike in Griffith park and make a stop at the observatory. Then just try to be out doors in general to enjoy the weather. No rain is a luxury for a Swedish tourist.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would like to shoutout everyone I got the opportunity to coach here in L.A (in person and online), especially my longtime students Marcelina, Mikayla, Alice, Diana, Aimee, Natalia, Ashley, Daniella, Karyn, Aethel and the list goes on and on.
My sweet husband Rich Ruais! Yes of cause this is personal but also professional. He moved to L.A from the East coast in his early 20’s. From start here in L.A he figured out how to work in the audio field which was one of his longtime dream jobs. I watched Rich impressively switch from a profession in audio engineering to iOS development, keywords here is true passion and needless to say consistent work ethic!
continuing on the topic of work ethics and adding fearlessness. I would put multitalented Indie pop singer and musician/producer Mikayla Mundy at the top of my that list! I am honored to be part of her singing development and calling her my friend. Everything is possible in Mikayla’s world! She’s a great mix of strength, with a bright and sweet energy. It’s inspiring to observe how calmly, focused and systematically she goes about the goals she set up. I watch and learn because she has figured it out. She knows the best way to compete with yourself and only yourself for best results.
In 2016 the talented Folk vocalist Aethel Whyne contacted me online. Back then when she had started setting up goals for her signing she wanted help with projecting her voice and achieve a better understanding of her favorite songs that were in Swedish and Norwegian.
It is impressive how she built her recording career in folk-music. Solely by finding the right people online/remote. Today She works from Greece in co-lab with Scandinavian musicians and songwriters/ producers -”Munkörr”.
During the start of the pandemic last year, I decided to put my mind into taking all the music production and songwriting skills I learned trough the years to the next level. I teamed up with Dannie Sullivan, artist, singer/songwriter/audio engineering graduate (also at one point my voice student). The perfect co-worker to burn the midnight oil with between 9pm and 3am, 7 days a week for most of last year. Thanks for sharing your talent and kickstarting the routine of writing and producing songs regularly.
Karyn Payton, (Songwriter) THANKS FOR SHOWING UP last year to collaborate on songwriting with a focus on lyrics. Your beautiful voice and of course your easy access to words and magical phrases is addictive.
Octavia Landix, audio engineer and producer here in L.A. Thanks for making me feel “at home away from home” and sharing your talent as well as your wisdom! I am thankful for our friendship through the years. I appreciate you and I support the empire you are building.
Last but not least
Swedish music producer and songwriter Gustav Mared! He has got an unwavering patience and massive music production skills! Thanks to Gustav’s feedback on my productions. I have developed a better ear for the type of music I want to create and continue working on. Even if he’s working from Stockholm, he shows up and is therefore very present here in L.A. I am forever grateful for your mentor ship
Photo: Yang Tan (the picture with Down Town L.A in the background)