Rouxx on Soft Sound Press

Interview: Rouxx is letting life & music happen on his own terms

Watching an artist’s journey is fascinating. There’s no one way to “make it” in music, and it’s cool to see the different ways musicians forge ahead. Alt-pop artist Rouxx is an especially interesting study. In an industry full of people who are trying to craft an image or give off an air of being cooler than you, the enthusiasm and joy that radiate from him feel extra special. Watching someone embrace their journey just feels good.

And I guess it helps that each single is catchier than the last. I swear they’re burning their own neural pathways in my mind, the way they’re always stuck in my head. In this new wave of alt-pop artists biting a bit of the pop punk sound we grew up with, Rouxx is doing it in a way that feels authentic and unique to him. Honest lyrics, polished production, and beats that make it impossible to sit still… Rouxx delivers everything you could want from a summer smash, and he did it back to back to back.

We chatted with Rouxx between the release of “LO$ERS” and “Til I Met You”, covering everything from his advice for musicians to his storied history within the industry to getting out of your own way. Listen to his latest tracks and read our interview below — and if you’re ever looking for a multi-hyphenate to design your next album cover, produce the record, animate a music video, and manifest your future goals… I think we might know a guy.

Watch the video for “LO$ERS”:

Rouxx, thank you so much for chatting with us today and congrats on the release of “LO$ERS”! How has that been going for you so far?

It’s going great. Having this song come out has opened a lot of opportunities, which has been really cool. It’s been an amazing experience from the start of the song — we actually recorded it about a year ago. Having it out has just been — not a weight off my shoulders, but it’s so great to finally have the song out. It’s been getting a lot of attention, which has been awesome.

That’s great to hear. Was this the first time that you and Mod Sun had worked together?

We go way back. I went on my first tour with him when I was 17. We reconnected through one of the writers who worked on the song. He had recently done a song with Mod and blackbear and he was like, “dude, this sounds really great, we should see if we can get Mod on it.” He sent it over to him and Mod was like, “oh my god, I haven’t seen Rouxx in forever.” We reconnected in the studio, chopped it up for the vocals — it was like we didn’t miss a beat since the last time we saw each other. We’re both on new paths in life and yet here we are reconnecting again, which was really cool.

I was looking into your history in music and you have such an interesting story. You’ve done everything, you’ve had so many projects that go in so many different directions. I feel like you’ve probably learned a lot through actual experience rather than hearing about it from other people.

Definitely. I’ve been through it with music and, you know, I think it’s like with anything else in life — if you really truly believe in something and you really truly want something, you’ve got to work really hard for it. I think with a lot of people, artists will blow up and they’ll say, “wow, they blew up out of nowhere,” but they don’t know the story. Like, yeah, I’ve only been Rouxx for about two years, but I’ve been doing music a long time. Ever since I can remember, I’ve always played music. This has been my lifelong dream. I’ve played thousands of shows, toured, been in bands and other projects, I’ve produced, I’ve written. Signed to major labels, signed to indie labels, dropped by labels. I’ve done it all. It’s a process and there’s a lot of hard work, and it’s my dream. I’m going to fight for it until I get to the place that I consider being successful.

For sure. And I feel like you’re on a great trajectory right now. The music is amazing, and now having that experience helps too. You learn along the way what to look out for as red flags in the industry.

They’re everywhere. It’s a learning experience, I think the best advice I can give to somebody would be to build your team with people who genuinely see the vision. Don’t work with anybody who sees your vision and wants to change it. I dealt with a lot of that, people convincing you that they believe in you and see what you see… and then they want to change it. It’s like, “well then, why did you want to work with me? If you liked what I was doing and I’ve gotten myself to this place, why do you want to change that?” I don’t want to work with anybody who doesn’t want me to be me.

I want to be myself. I’m going to be genuinely myself and just enjoy it. I’ve done this for so long, I don’t want to pretend to be anybody or pretend to do anything. I just want to write music. That’s why my music is all over the place, because I feel different all the time. It’s like artists with painting — they have their style, but they paint different things all the time. We want to talk about different things and emote different feelings. I’m constantly going through so many different things in my life. I just want to portray that and speak and be a voice for people who are maybe going through the same thing, you know?

Absolutely. And it’s funny, ’cause I feel like that could actually be a huge benefit now. Streaming’s not great in that people aren’t getting paid as much as they should be. But before, you’d put out an album and everything would have to fit together on the album. But now with streaming, you can put out individual singles, hit totally different audiences, but have them find their place because of the net you can cast.

Definitely. I think that being a solo artist as well, you have a little bit more freedom doing that too. You don’t have to stick to a certain sound. You listen to bands like twenty one pilots and their records are all over the place, which is incredible because I hate listening to a record where I hear the same song 12 times. I want to hear all of what they’re capable of. If you’re a great artist, your voice should be what is the constant in the music. As an artist, I think what defines you is what you say and your voice. The music can always change because it’s music, it’s subjective to anyone who’s listening to it. Some people could be like “this is complete trash” and other people think, “this is amazing, best thing I’ve ever heard.” I love that about The 1975, I love that about Yungblud. Artists who are just freely themselves and make whatever kind of music they’re feeling like making.

I feel like that gives you longevity too. You can be ahead of the curve when you’re not trying to follow one sound that’s popular. You’re willing to take a bit of everything and see what happens.

Yeah, like the whole pop punk thing. I love that it’s coming back because my first band was a pop punk band. Obviously I loved blink-182, Sum 41, The Used, all that stuff. I listened to emo music growing up. I’m capable of playing that kind of music, and I love it. I’ve touched on it with a few songs that I’ve released, but I’m not going to do a pop punk record. You know what I mean? I have a lot of R&B stuff too, because I love R&B music. I’ve been in a few pop bands and duos and stuff like that too. So it just depends on whatever we feel like making that day.

I think that’s awesome. And it keeps you like… I don’t know, flexible. You can write for other people you write for yourself. It just keeps you from getting bored, or from things getting stale.

Yes, I agree with that. And I get super bored really easily. Being able to try different things and challenge myself and push myself to be able to do something else, like… we want a sax on the song, how do we do that? How do we record sax? We’ve never even had a sax player in the studio before, let’s figure this out. How do we make a string section? How do we do drumline drums? You know, just cool stuff like that. It’s trying new things and challenging yourself as an artist.

I’m also a graphic designer and I’m always designing stuff for all my own graphic design. I also design for a lot of different artists and brands, but I couldn’t ever do one style of art forever. That would suck. I love challenging myself. The other day I did my first 3D model rendering and it was like the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I think it took me 30-something hours. I’ve never spent that much time on a piece of art, but it’s like… now I know how to do it, and that’s something I’m able to offer now. It’s really cool to learn how to do new things, building your skillset.

It’s really cool that you’re able to do everything yourself if you wanted to. You can bring in other collaborators if you choose, but you’re capable and know what you want because you understand all the different facets of what’s happening.

Definitely. For me, just being in the industry for so long, I grew so tired of waiting on people. ‘Cause I’m psycho. When I want something done, I have to do it right away. If I see a pair of shoes online that I want, I cannot buy them online. I go to right to the store and I call 300 stores to find them, and then I drive like an hour away to go find them. I need things right away. So if there’s something that I want to make or that I want to do, I have a studio in my house that I record in amongst many others that my team and I go to.

I do all my own graphic design, so if I have an idea in my head, I can lay it down right when I want to do it. Anything creative, I like to have all the tools at my disposal. I forced myself to learn how to do it at least good enough to where I can get an idea down and collaborate with somebody else. With video stuff too, I learned how to do pretty minimal animation and video editing, just so if I have an idea, I can at least get it down good enough to be able to post it. If I’m in a crunch, I can just knock it out myself. It may not be as good as if I had a professional do it, but at least I’m able to start. I recommend doing that for all artists, to at least have some understanding of the skills you need to move forward by yourself.

Listen to “Til I Met You”:

It’s very weird. The shift for artists, especially in this last year and a half without live shows and that face-to-face interaction. It’s just content now, and you have to turn it out so quickly and be able to keep up with the online machine. How has this last year been for you, launching a new project? You played your first headlining show right before this happened and then… that was it.

I was the last one to play at the Troubadour in LA. It was such a sick performance. And scary enough, I think the Troubadour almost closed through COVID, so I would have been one of the last performances there ever. I think everything’s gonna be cool now. It’s definitely been challenging. I’ve been careful, but at the same time, I’d go crazy without creating. I ended up not getting COVID, which was luck of the draw. My wife didn’t get it, my son didn’t get it. We got really lucky. I took the time to spend a lot of time with family and really hone in on my craft.

I didn’t put any music out throughout the lockdowns — I put a song out right before, and then didn’t put anything out for a year. It was like starting over again, in a way. I lost all the momentum. I felt like 2020 was going to be my year, but I think everybody felt like that. It felt like a lot of good things were happening for a lot of people and then it just kind of dive bombed. I’m very empathetic towards people and I felt like it was wrong for me to put out music during that time. I didn’t think it was wrong for anybody else to do. For me, it just didn’t feel like the right thing to do, you know? So I just started all over.

“LO$ERS” is the third release that I’ve put out. I’d love to put out a record, but like you said, there’s an online machine. If I were to put out a record as a newer artist, it would get eaten alive. I guarantee you maybe 9 out of the 12 tracks would get heard on that album. It’s unfortunate that you can’t put out a body of work when you’re a smaller artist. You have to put out singles so you get longevity out of each one.

You want people to hear your music. I don’t want to make music and put it into a black hole and never see it again. I’m having a blast doing it, but it’s a lot to keep up with. You’re doing the amount of work you do for an album off of every single. Every month you create artwork, you put the song out, you have to create PR and marketing around it and branding and everything. It’s like every single month we’re just starting fresh. So I’m excited to be putting out an EP in early August.

I feel like everybody I’ve spoken to over the last year has said “2020 was going to be my year.” Everything was reaching that peak and then it shut down. But I feel like it’s helped a lot of people to reassess their priorities and what matters to them.

Big time. Especially in the United States, I feel like we’ve all taken family time and personal time for granted. It’s always just work, work, work, work, work, work, go, go, go. And I think we’ve all realized like… wow, I’m actually pretty responsible and I can actually get a lot of things done on my own time when I’m the one who gets to decide when I’m going to do it. You know what I mean? Instead of being stuck in an office for 8 to 10 hours. It’s slavery of the mind. I just don’t think that you should be stuck anywhere for that much time.

When you’re in the office, I mean, you’re not really working the entire time you’re there anyways. You take an hour for lunch, and then you’re on Facebook or Instagram, and you’re chatting with other employees. When you’re at home and you’re like, “hey, I have to get this done” and just set aside three hours to be able to work today. The rest of the time I’m going to do whatever I want, go get my nails done, do my hair, go take a walk, go work out. You’re not crunching your whole day into — ’cause I mean, let’s be real. Our lives start when we get off work. It’s a beautiful thing that at least that came out of it where I think a lot of people don’t have to go back to the office after this. Some companies have pushed into being a work-from-home company, which I think it’s great. You can really see how functional companies can really be, and I think that employees are working harder, which is awesome.

When you don’t have the distractions of other people around you and other things happening, you can be so much more efficient with your time. Like I can be working on a digital campaign and then also just go throw in a load of laundry and then I don’t have to make time for that later. It’s just happening while I’m working, everything’s done.

It’s really nice. You can go take a walk and then work on your phone. That’s definitely one of the pluses. I’m right there with a lot of people, I dealt with some really heavy depression through this and it was just like, “oh my god, my career is over, I don’t know what to do.” I know a lot of us felt like that. A lot of good people lost their homes and businesses and things like that, which is really unfortunate.

I’m grateful to say that in the end, I think I came out on top of this whole thing. It feels like the stars are aligning in my life and I’m on the right path. You know? Sometimes you gotta stop resisting because when you look around and realize the common denominator is you and you’re the reason why things aren’t working out, you’ve got to turn around and just go with the flow. It’s like I’m standing in the middle of this river, standing against the current, and if I would just turn around and lay down and let it take me away, everything would start to work out. I’m on the right path all of a sudden. I stopped resisting and started letting life happen on my terms and enjoying every second of it and realizing how absolutely beautiful my life is.

I really like that metaphor. That’s a good way of looking at it.

It’s like, all these doors are open but you’re standing in the doorway, not allowing anything to come through. You know what I mean? That’s at least how I saw it. What I was doing to myself… I was just trying to control every aspect of my life. And it’s like, dude, you’re not in control. There’s so much happening around you. Put in the work, work really hard, stay out of the results. They’re out of your control. The one thing I have control over is how hard I’m willing to work on something and how much effort and how much love and heart I really put into something. That’s what I have control over and I’m going to do the best I can at that.

And I think that’s what gets you far in all of this. People can tell when you’re not genuine, they can tell when you’re just doing something to ride a trend or try to make money off of people. When you genuinely love what you’re doing and you’re doing it because you’re good at it and you like it, people can feel that.

That’s a good point. ‘Cause I hate when as an artist, you have to do ads to get yourself heard or to put yourself out there. But it’s like the word “targeting.” Like they target somebody. I don’t want to target anybody, I’m not going to sell anybody shit. My whole thing is relating to people. I’ve lived a lot of life in the time that I’ve been on this earth and I’ve been through a lot. I’ve dealt with a lot of drug and alcohol abuse, depression, you know? And it’s like, I know a lot of people struggle with that stuff and I want to be a voice who can articulate that emotion.

People can hear it and say, “holy shit, this dude’s been through that too. He gets it. He understands it. He’s coming out on top of his life at the end of this tunnel.” I don’t want to sell anybody my dream, you know, I just want people to hear it. If they like it, great. Then they can invest their heart into me too. For me, it’s not about the money. I don’t think that my success is ever going to be measured off of how my monetary value, you know what I mean?

I think with music, it’s so hard to set milestones that way too, just because it’s all so subjective. The right people will come. If you care about what you’re doing and you’re putting it out there and you’re doing what’s right and genuine for you, the people will definitely come.

Yeah. And that’s another good point about how my team came about. I wasn’t out searching for a manager or a label or lawyers or marketing people. All of my team have come together — I hate this word, but it’s been organic. Nothing was forced, you know? It’s like when you’re single, it’s not until you’re in a relationship that all of a sudden everyone starts hitting you up. A lot of my friends tell me about that. It’s always when you’re not looking for it.

As soon as you stop looking, that’s when everything starts falling into place. But I also find a lot of artists try to — they want to be at the biggest label, they want to work with the biggest manager, they want the biggest everything. But if that person doesn’t care about what you’re doing, they’re not going to get you the same results they’re going to get for an artist they’re passionate about.

Exactly. I mean, the big labels are awesome. There’s definitely some pros and cons to it, to everything. But if you find somebody who genuinely believes in you, they’re going to work very hard for you. They will work just as hard as a major label. If you go to a major label as a smaller artist, you’re not paying everyone’s bills there. Drake is. Drake’s putting food on everybody’s table, so they’re going to make sure that he’s taken care of first, and then you’re taken care of… probably last. And that’s just the way it goes; you’d be crazy to think anything different. You get swallowed up by everything that’s going on in major labels too.

I think that eventually at some point in your career, you should sign to a major label, if that’s the right deal for you. The deal that I have is perfect for where I’m at, to make sure that everything that I’m doing is right for me. Because if it’s right for me, then it’s right for everybody else who’s working for me.

When you were a teenager, before the music, you were also into acting. Do you find that that helps you with stage performance and putting on a show for people?

I grew up being absolutely obsessed with Jim Carrey. He was the reason why I wanted to act, I literally thought that I was Jim Carrey as a little kid. So when I got old enough, I was like, “I want to be an actor.” My parents got me into acting and I did a couple of movies and a bunch of commercials and stuff, and did some theatre, which was a lot of fun. I did theatre all throughout elementary school and it was a blast for sure. I think that as I got older, I realized that I didn’t want to pretend to be somebody else. And that’s why I think music really took over. I think I started playing music when I was around 10, and then professionally playing around 15.

But yeah, it was tiring and it was exhausting, not ever being able to be me. I was always portraying another character. And, you know, with Rouxx it’s like… you exploit who you are, but it’s still me. You know what I mean? It’s not a lie and it’s not me faking having to be anybody else. With Rouxx, you just get me — all the worst parts of me and all the best parts of me. It’s an exploitation of myself, and I think that’s really what attracted me to music. And if you don’t like me, that’s totally fine. You know, love me or leave me.

Jim Carrey’s actually from near where I live. When my dad was like 20, Jim Carrey would be at the same house parties as him and he would dislocate his leg and pretend to play it like a guitar.

I dunno if you’re into manifesting at all, but you should listen to Jim Carrey talk. I mean, he’s just incredible. The guy is literally just a walking miracle. His life is just incredibly great because of the way he believed in himself, you know, he just makes some really good points on that. If you get some time, you should definitely check that out.

I definitely will. Especially this last year, I’ve been working on manifesting and trying to make sure I’m putting the right intentions out into the world

It’s real and it’s crazy. It’s crazy how real it is. If you think about two magnets, this is a force you can see, but you can’t actually see the force happening. There’s other things that work that way, that are attracted to each other with the same principle. The law of attraction, manifesting intentions. You can bring abundance and positivity into your life by putting that out as well. I don’t pray to the universe, you know what I mean? But I set my intentions when I go to do something. I’m intentional with everything I do. And it comes back to me as positivity and success in the way that I envision.

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Paige Williams

Paige is a writer & creative multi-hyphenate living in Hamilton, Canada. Every band she loves breaks up eventually, but she can't find the witch who cursed her to this life. You can find more of her work on Billboard, Consequence of Sound, A.Side, and Paige Backstage.

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