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5 Minutes with Graeme Le Saux…

In the run up to the World Cup 2018 Graeme Le Saux kindly gave us 5 minutes of his time to discuss all things football, dancing and charity, including how he chose which team to play for, why he retired when he did and his predictions for the World Cup winner 2018!


Hi Graeme, please could you tell us a little about what you’ve been up to?

Hello, yes of course! I work with NBC Television covering the Premier League but in England! So that takes up the majority of my time as I’m going up and down the country watching matches and commentating for the US - I have been working for them for 5 years. I also do some work with Real Mallorca Football Club, so that’s been another of my main focuses over the last year.

Most of the work I do is with the Premier League and FA so I’m still heavily involved in football.

You played football for England and Chelsea; what was that experience like?

Obviously, it was my childhood dream to play professional football, I never dreamed I would play at the level I did and play for England! The best way to describe it is that afterwards you look back and see what a privilege it was. I played for 18 years at the top level, and to play for those crowds you realise how lucky you’ve been to play for that long.

You rely on so many factors, for example your body must be able to cope at the level you are playing at, but that’s not really something you are in control of! You can work as hard as you want but that doesn’t mean you can play regularly at that level. Every game requires 100% commitment and I tried to appreciate every match I played in. Particularly for the National teams; it is very competitive to get into the team and you have to perform your best at every game as you are always playing for the next game! It’s unreal to play for big crowds where sometimes they will be singing your name, and to represent England in the World Cup in 1988 – I could never have imagined doing that as a boy growing up in Jersey!

How do you feel about this years World cup, do you have any predictions for who will win?

I think it’s an exciting tournament this year, I don’t think anyone is a standout favourite necessarily. For most of the teams who are playing, the gap between the best and the worst isn’t as big as it used to be. Of course some teams are there to make up the numbers, but I look at the teams in the tournament and think its very hard to predict who’s going to win a match. Belgium has some fantastic players and we are waiting for them to deliver, so they have great potential. England has some great players and has young players which can work for or against you. I think we are in an era now where you can never underestimate the players, the teams play in a lot of countries, the coaches have a lot of experience. They are fit, well organised, and always have technical players.

I am really excited, I think the favourite is down to the level of belief that the players and the team have. Having been successful in the past, playing in the tournament is very different to playing qualifiers. Germany and Brazil are teams that have pedigree in Cups, so you can imagine them getting through to the later stages, but I am optimistic with England, if we play with the freedom to express ourselves, and if the fear of failure doesn’t overplay then we will be a very difficult team to come up against. I’m not saying we are going to win it, but we can get to the quarter finals or similar, maybe even the semi, if we can get that momentum.

In 2009 you competed on Dancing on Ice, how would you compare the sport of Ice Skating against Football?

Oh dancing on ice, that was an experience. I have got so much respect for both the men and women that compete on the ice, it really is brutal. It’s one of the toughest sports in terms of when you get hurt, you get really hurt. The power and strength that the guys have and their balance is incredible. And then you also have the toughness of the women, they get thrown up in the air and all over the place, they get damaged ribs and bad backs as they get put in all these positions and always continue fighting for more.

It’s hard to imagine unless you’ve been on the ice with professionals and seen them perform. As a spectator the art of ice skating is elegant and graceful, but when you see the training you realise there is a lot of training behind it, and there is a lot that goes wrong, I saw peoples thighs being cut with blades amongst many other injuries! I’ve always been a fan of sport, not necessarily ice skating specifically, but when you see any sport performed at that level you really appreciate how much work it is, and the sort of skill level these people have.

It seems like you are a fan of Ruark with both an R7 and R2s, what do you think of both products?

Well I am a fan, absolutely. The R7 first caught my eye because of what it looks like, it is a beautiful piece of furniture. From a design view it certainly stands out, there are a lot of products out there but the R7 really stood out from an aesthetic point of view. But you also want it to work well and have all the features. We have a big open plan kitchen, and the R7 sits up against the wall and its brilliant. It’s the first thing turned on in the morning and the last thing turned off at night. It has all the technology, DAB radio, FM, and the sound quality is fantastic! I’ve got lots of CDs that I’ve collected over the years, so we will often pick a random CD and put that on as well. Just fantastic.

The R2s look great and are very practical. We have them in the bedrooms, the sound quality is brilliant especially from something so compact, in fact if I was to say what would stand out from a Ruark compared to the other products I’ve had over the years it is definitely the sound quality.


Why did you choose Ruark Audio as your sound system of choice?

I saw the R7 advertised, and it was the flagship of the Ruark range. We saw it in a John Lewis magazine pull-out when they were doing a feature on sound systems, and it stood out. I think it’s like anything, you’re attracted to how something looks first, and then you find out more. And that’s what happened, we saw the R7 and thought it would look really nice in the house. Its not cheap, not that it needs to be, but you pay the money for the quality and you get so much from it. The amount of people who come round and say they love the stereo and ask where’s it from! It just looks quite iconic I think as a piece, so that’s certainly how we came across it, it caught our eye and so we found out more – and now we are part of the Ruark family.

You were part of the winning Premier League team in 1994-95, tell us about that experience? How did the team celebrate after winning?

We won on the last game of the season, and everyone in football is super superstitious, so nothing was planned and it was all very spontaneous. I was playing for Blackburn at the time, so we ended up in a restaurant come music venue. Once the staff and waiters finished serving they’d play live music, they’d do different sets, soul etc and that’s where we used to go sometimes after games. So we phoned the owner up and said we need to go out, he organised it and we all ended up in this restaurant place in Preston, and then because it was the last game that was it – we all went off on our holiday or met up with National teams.

It’s very hard to explain the feeling when you achieve something like winning a league title; you work so hard to achieve it, it’s almost a disappointment when it’s over. The achievement is in the doing rather than finishing. Managers, I think in a funny way, probably get to enjoy the success more than the players do. For the players as soon as you finish one season, you have to get over it and start again. You don’t get the chance to look back until after you’ve finished. Now I can look back to see we achieved 4th, 2nd, and 1st, with Blackburn winning the premier league. It was a great achievement and privilege to play.

In your opinion, who is the most underrated player you’ve ever played with?

Oh my word, underrated?! That’s a really difficult question actually. Most of the players I played with that were good got recognition for that. I think when we were at Blackburn two players Stuart Ripley and Jason Wilcox were players who weren’t necessarily appreciated as much from the outside as they were from us as a team. They played left midfield and right midfield and they worked so hard, as well as having really good quality, they gave so much on the pitch, in those positions they had to. It’s not necessarily they were underrated but undervalued from the outside. They were appreciated but not to the level they deserved I think.

Why did you decide to retire when you did?

Because I couldn’t run anymore! I was 36, and I had a horrific ankle injury before Euro 96 which took nearly a year to recover from. Then I had more surgery that year and by the time it got to 2005 my body was starting to really struggle, and I was getting quite a few muscle injuries from the recovery time from that injury too.

I played 18 years you know, if I was a car I’d have been taken straight to the scrapyard at that point! I was very lucky that I stopped when I could and didn’t have to stop due to injury at a young age like some players do. That’s something I’ll always be grateful for, I had fulfilled my potential in terms of playing for as long as I could, whereas other people didn’t get that chance.

How did you choose which club to play for?

There aren’t many times where you get to choose, it’s the middle of your career when you may be in more control of where you go. When I was young I had trials with various clubs and no one wanted me, but then when I was 18 Chelsea gave me a contract but it was more they chose me then I chose them. Then when Blackburn approached me I was having a tough time with Chelsea, and again they chose me. They were very interested in buying me, and I felt they were an ambitious team and club. I think when you move from one club to another, you have some choice but its not like you can choose to go anywhere, you must choose the best option based on the opportunities you get to be successful.

Some people move for contracts, some people see it as another opportunity, whereas I would urge players to consider if the club is right for them, and to look at the long-term benefit rather than what’s in front of you. When big clubs come after you, its very flattering! They have a greater choice of players to choose from for what they want, so if they choose you they make you feel like you are what they’re after.

You’re also a trustee for ‘Fields in Trust’, the UK charity protecting green spaces and promotes sports and recreation, what made you choose to become a trustee for this charity?

I’m so glad you mentioned that as they don’t get as much recognition as they deserve as a charity. Fields in Trust protect parks and green places from being sold off or built on. Obviously, I love sport and growing up I had a lot of access to outdoor green space. To think all these places that we take for granted, all these parks we can play in, we just assume that they will always be there but that’s not the case.

With local councils, and the lack of protection the government give to these places we see more and more green spaces being sold off. Whether you live in a city or a rural area you should have access to parkland, sports facilities etc. Its very much a core part to any community, especially to people who live in flats and don’t necessarily have a garden. The problem is, once you’ve lost a green space, it’s never going to be a green space again, so for me the most important thing I try to do when talking to people is make them aware of how important these places are. And to protect them so they can’t be developed. It’s a very important charity that needs I think, a bit more recognition. Prince William is our current patron, but for many years Prince Phillip was the patron of the charity. It was set up in the 20’s and it’s evolved over time.

And finally Graeme Le Saux, what’s your biggest bucket list goal?

We like to travel a lot, so it would have to be something to do with a family trip. My 19 year old daughter is desperate to go to Japan, so I would say a family skiing trip to Japan - that would be up there. I don’t know if it’s a bucket list goal, but she’d disown me if I didn’t take her!!

Ruark’s European Festival Guide 2018

With summer on the horizon (though perhaps the weather has forgotten), it could mean only one thing; the start of the music festival calendar! While some big name events may have passed, including Coachella & SXSW, there’s still plenty more to come including Isle of Wight and Burning Man in the coming months.

Ruark’s European Music Festivals 2018 List

As an audio producer, we like to think we know a thing or two about music festivals, that’s why we’ve pulled together a list of the best European music festivals happening this summer. Ranging from electro to indie, from Barcelona to Berlin, we’ve covered this year’s must-attend music events.

One of the greatest things about European based festivals is, unlike their American based counterparts, they tend to fall later in the year.

So what music festivals do we here at Ruark recommend?

Latitude

In ways, Latitude is the UK’s only alternative to Glastonbury, perfect for those who want that care-free bohemian vibe and a kid-friendly environment. Awash with colourful tents and sheep for that matter, this year’s event sees; The Killers, Solange, alt-J, Wolf Alice, the Vaccines, Jessie Ware and many more take to the stage.

Henham Park, Southwold, Suffolk.
Jul 12-15. £197.50 (weekend) £77.50 (day).

Isle of Wight

Now in its 50th year, and a far cry from its hippy loving roots, the festival is now one of the biggest in the UK drawing thousands of attendees from all over the UK. This year see’s Kasabian, The Killers, Depeche Mode, Liam Gallagher, Street Preachers, The Script, James Bay and many more take to the stage.

Newport, Isle of Wight.
June 21-24. £209 (weekend), £65 (Fri), £75 (Sat/Sun).

Gottwood

For those who like dance music in a quirky setting, Gottwood, now in its ninth year, continues to offer a stellar mix of DJs and artists for everyone who likes beats and bass. This year’s line-up sees Andrew Weatherall, Axel Boman, DMX Krew, Jackmaster, Margaret Dygas and many more.

Carreglwyd Estate, Wales.
Jun 7-10. From £165 (weekend).

Primavera Sound

One of Europe’s most hip festivals at the moment, Primavera’s achingly cool line-ups are a guaranteed hit for their mix of cutting-edge acts, classic indie, rock and pop.

Running across two sites on consecutive weekends, first in Barcelona followed by a smaller version in Porto, the music starts late, and so can be combined perfectly with a morning pottering around the city streets or escaping to the beach. This year see’s acts including Alex G, Gerd Janson, Grizzly Bear, Haim, Hinds and raft of others take to the stage.

Parc del Fòrum, Barcelona, Spain. Barcelona (entrance: £160)
May 30-June 3 and Porto (£93) June 7-9

Meadows in the Mountains

As much about atmosphere as it is music, this, quite magical gathering, has expanded from its initial word-of-mouth appeal to growing in confidence each year. Stages are lovingly crafted from the forest by the organisers, bonfires burn each night and attendees camp or stay in houses in a rustic village below the festival. Act’s this year are yet to be announced.

Rhodopes Mountains, Bulgaria.
7th, 8th, 9th & 10th June. £125

Pop Kultur

Pop Kultur is one of Berlin’s newest high-profile music festivals. This year, it will be held in venues and concert halls throughout the district of Neukölln, and its focus will be on musical interchange and diversity of both people and sound with the hopes of starting conversations and enacting social change within the music industry and beyond. In addition to concerts, there will also be talks, readings, and various forms of scientific discourse making up the program. Artist this year include Chastity Belt, Chelsea Wolfe, Harsher, Myrkur, Nadine Shah, Noga Erez, Vivien Goldman and lots more.

Venues throughout Neukölln, Berlin, Germany
15th – 17th August. £56.98

Bilbao BBK Live

BBK allows festival-goers to slip easily from the beach, a 10-minute drive away, to the galleries of the Guggenheim and then into the crowds for some of Europe’s best-known bands. The festival site occupies a scenic spot on the slopes of a leafy hill and people often walk up to it in the afternoon to enjoy its views of the city. This year’s line-up includes The XX, Florence + The Machine, Alt J and many more.

Kobetamendi, Bilbao, Spain.
6th-8th July. £135.48 (3-day ticket).

Sziget

Considered one of the European alternatives to Burning Man. Taking place over a week, though better seen in a few days, this vast site on an island in the Danube features a small beach and a bewildering array of stages, hosting everything from big names in rock to jazz, blues and gipsy. In amongst all this are art installations in the trees and random outbursts of improvised fun and mayhem from the Sziget “community”. This year’s line-up includes Dua Lipa, Liam Gallagher, Gorillaz, Stormzy and the Arctic Monkeys.

Hajógyári Island, Budapest, Hungary.
8th – 15th August. £158 (3-day ticket)

Pete the Monkey

Created to help raise money for the largest monkey reserve in Bolivia (hence the name), Pete the Monkey is a family-friendly festival in the seaside village of Saint-Aubin-sur-Mer in Seine-Maritime, Upper Normandy. The line-up is yet to be released but, expect a summery blend of indie pop, disco and electronic, past acts include Acid Arab, Blue Hawaii, We Were Evergreen, Songhoy Blues and Nicola Cruz.

Saint-Aubin-sur-Mer, Seine-Maritime, France.
13th-15th July. From £86.10 (3-day ticket)

Terraforma

Terraforma fosters an atmosphere of artistic experimentation in Villa Arconati, a baroque palace and gardens just outside of Milan. The classic setting belies programming that is grounded firmly in the now. This year’s line-up features Plaid & Felix’s Machines, a one-of-a-kind show featuring surreal musical sculptures; DJ and producer Nkisi decolonising the dancefloor music; and Donato Dozzy, an Italian producer known for hypnotic sounds that probe deep into the mind.

Villa Arconati, Milano, Italy.
29th June – 1st July. £82.99

So there you have It, our essential guide to European Music festivals happening this summer. But if you can’t make it to the live event, don’t fret, you can always stream it online with our acoustically stunning speakers.

Shop Ruark Audio’s collection online today!

Ruark & John Lewis bring the Sound of Summer to the Capital

Ruark’s VIP studio of sound

With summer now tantalizingly close after what has seemed like an eternal winter, it’s time for the capital to again embrace that wonderful feeling of summer. Soon winter coats will be flung off, as London raises an Aperol Spritz to another season of parties.

But this season something very special is happening on May 5th. Inspired by the capital’s love of music and heritage of supporting music culture, the Gardening Society at John Lewis has had a makeover. This special series of events will see this iconic venue transformed into an immersive space curated by Ruark and a select group of audio partners.

The Happening

Taking place on the rooftop of the flagship John Lewis store on London’s Oxford Street, the event is the next step in a series of experiential project’s by John Lewis to create one off experiences for its patrons. The project entitled the “The Summer of Sound” will see the creation of a Sonic Garden Bar. The venue will be styled to look and feel like a mini-festival and feature live gigs, DJ sets and acoustic performances against the stunning panoramic backdrop of London town.

Ruark’s VIP studio of sound Ruark’s VIP studio of sound

Ruark × John Lewis

Ruark’s very own VIP studio of sound will be present at the event, kitted out in the finest furniture and accessories from John Lewis’s summer collection. We will also be showcasing our full range of products in an exclusive art installation, including the first outing of our new MRx Connected Wireless speaker system. Also available will be some delicious artisan food to compliment the bespoke nature of our products.

John Lewis Gardening Society sign

Ruark Sounds

As a producer of audio excellence & design, we are thrilled to be joined by many well-known artists and emerging talents for this event. Our playlist for the event will be curated by Nick Franglen - one half of game-changing electronic duo Lemon Jelly. This will, of course, be experienced via the Ruark MRx wireless connected speaker. The event will also see festival favourite’s Slow Club loaning one half of their lead vocals, Charles Watson to two live sessions, including a stunning acoustic set in early May. On the emerging front, Northern Irish country star Catherine McGrath will be playing an exclusive event on the 6th of May. The event will also see a sumptuous dining experience provided by Butchies and drinks provided by Fever-Tree, Brainds, Night Tales and Background Bars, who have curated an impressive drink collection to complement the whole experience!

The event is a tantalising and experiential way of showcasing our products in a way they can be truly enjoyed. It’s also a great way for us to showcase the best of British in the capital.

Ruark’s VIP studio of sound

Bringing Vinyl Back – Record Store Day

There was a time way back when, in which the LP ruled the music world. Huge hydraulic presses churned out a never-ending flow of vinyl records. But in the 1980s, advances in audio technology replaced this medium with compact disc’s hailed as vastly superior in sound quality and size. Pretty much overnight the LP was replaced and those hydraulic presses ground to a halt. In a way, it was a sad day for many, as the memories of getting the newest vinyl’s straight from your local record store, slowly drifted away. Of course, there were a few die-hards (audiophiles), who couldn’t let go of the past, insisting that vinyl records provided a sonic quality that the CD was unable to approach.

The Resurgence of Vinyl

Fast forward to the early 2000’s and the CD itself was being replaced by streaming services, like Spotify. However, around 2010, interest began to grow again, particularly amongst millennials. They rediscovered vinyl, a medium that existed even before their time, and they started buying up records and playing them on old turntables. In way’s this began a new gilded age for vinyl, the wider industry responded, and big music labels began producing LP’s and turntables again for a vinyl hungry market.

Record Store Day

As vinyl became increasingly popular so did record stores. Once in a UK wide decline, stores are now popping up all over the place as all generations embark on a nostalgic buying spree. To celebrate this and to continue the preservation of such iconic venues, UK Record Store Day was founded. The annual event, inaugurated in 2007 and held one Saturday every April, celebrates the culture of the independently owned record store. The day itself brings together fans, artists and thousands of independent record stores across the world to celebrate all things vinyl. Special vinyl releases are made exclusively for the day and many shops and cities host artist performances and events to mark the occasion.

Pebble Records

If you’re thinking about getting involved with a record store day, then check out Pebble Records in Eastbourne. Pebble is a close friend of Ruark and stock a wide range of genres from Indie to Dub as well as our full range of products. And if you’re looking for the perfect companion for audio listening excellence then our MR1 MK2 is the perfect little speaker system to complement your turntable this record store day. MR1’s powerful drive units emit both stunning voice tones and a controlled bass.

Discover more about our MR1 MK2 products online today!

MR1 MK2 Features

MR1 MK2 What HiFi Review

8 Interior Design Trends That Are Taking Over 2018

As a design focused company, and a supplier of interior based products we know that trends are a matter of life. And this season we’ve put together our favourite interior design trends from all around the world, that are set to soar in 2018.

Textures, Textures And More Textures

2018 is going to be a big year for leather, rattan, wicker, and velvet. With British designers already embracing the trend, such as Tom Dixon, Anouska Hempel and Charlotte Crosland to name but a few. Velvet is billed to be the fabric of choice for statement soft furnishing, our favourite such item, and a must-have for any country house is a Forest Green Chesterfield. As for leather, it’s all about bedrooms & quilted chairs, in particular, suedes in bold colours.

Pattern Plants

Plants are a massive trend from 2017 that’s set to continue into this coming year, in particular, big plants and succulents have driven a 533% rise in plant-based searches on Instagram since last year. This year, however, they’ll be patterned, with vibrant designs and colours, a guaranteed uplift of colour to any room.

Terrazzo Is Back

Stylish in the ‘70s, uncool in the ‘90s, in demand in 2018. Spotted in Wes Anderson’s Bar Luce, The Met Bruer and even crayon collections, terrazzo is quickly cementing its status as 2018’s biggest emerging interior design trend. Its versatility is key to its success - terrazzo, whether styled in an understated monochromatic fashion or a macaroon pastel iteration, complements a variety of home decor styles, minimalist or maximalist.

Earthy Neutrals

Grey may still be the neutral of choice for many interiors, but colour is set to be bolder this year. We’re feeling braver with colour choices - on both walls and furniture pieces, as sofa colour choices of late have demonstrated. Sage is slated to be the new neutral. Replacing the likes of pure white, beige and stone - the muted green with grey undertones is certainly bolder than others. Paired with woods and a cream colour palette, the green will soften and warm up any space.

Bold Pigments

Yes, there are new neutrals but bold pigments are still set to be hot this year. We predict an abundance of burnt orange and greens - including forest and cactus green - as well as peacock blue, Bordeaux and blood reds with ochre.

Dark woods

The Scandi trend that seems to have reigned forever, may sway us towards lighter woods and indiscreet furniture but this year, it’s all about colour and bolder timbers. Expect to see the likes of dark oak, mahogany and textured walnut pieces adding a new depth to any room. If you’re after a statement piece in walnut this season then check out our R7 Radiogram with its walnut body and black legs.

Authentic Travel

Travel always influences interiors trends, with this spring being no exception. Influences from India and Morocco are all the rage this year. Earthy shades of clay, terracotta and ochre feature on global-inspired prints, which will play a key role this season. The patterns, materials, and textiles all have a natural, raw feel to them, making them extremely tactile. Patterns featured on soft furnishings and serve-ware are inspired by traditional block printing.

Bold As Brass

From brass to nickel - less high shine materials will add a more organic element to your space. The big difference this year is the choice of metallic finish - think less copper and rose gold, more industrial shades of metal, in particular brass. Brass is the most sophisticated and organic of the metallic colour palette. Brass furniture pieces, mirrors, and accessories all help to add a luxurious finish to any room - soft pink and emerald green both accentuate brass and gold tones perfectly.

If you’re after a key statement piece for your interior this season, check out our product range.

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