Checking in with Ru Johnson.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Ru. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
A big part of my story in Denver begins with my writing at Westword Newspaper. I was covering hip-hop on a local level and realized the talent in the city far surpassed what was being covered in the media. Because I’m an active participant in the culture of hip-hop as well as a purveyor of the trends, I realized I could be more useful and impactful to the movement if I helped to bridge the gap between those who provided resources to independent music communities and the community itself. From there Roux Black was born as a boutique music industry service creative consulting firm. We focus on campaign development (creating platforms for artists) operations (how to make your movement actually MOVE) and media (PR, booking, promotions and marketing).
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
No road is entirely smooth and to be honest if it was easy I’d hope someone would give me the advice to do something that wasn’t so easy. It feels like it’s kind of a buzz term to say that some of the struggles come from being a woman in a male-dominated industry but that’s really the truth. Hip-hop, in particular, comes with its own set of struggles. In general, the genre isn’t taken as seriously as other genres and so I found I was having to raise the platform within the boardrooms of media and booking agencies before I could even consider elevating my voice otherwise.
From there, you take a genre that hadn’t had much coverage by way of music journalism in a quickly growing city and the politics quickly started to take shape. There was a lot of entitlement at first when I came onto the scene and I really internalized a lot of that. I thought I had to write about everyone or provide a service to everyone, no matter whether or not they were really on par with the professionalism required to be considered a viable act.
I quickly learned my lesson and always reinforce this for myself that you can’t make everyone happy and to be honest, everyone isn’t ready for the big leagues, no matter how much they believe in their own dream.
Please tell us about Roux Black.
Roux Black is known for working with people, places and things that want to expand their consumer demographic. We make things cool and everyone knows it. We promote shows that are the coolest, we work with artists that are creating an impactful lane in the culture and in general advocate for people who love live music. We aren’t just entertainment-based, however, we work with music festivals across the country, our sister company in Los Angeles covers cannabis licensing and we focus on press conferences and other corporate logistics in Washington, D.C.
We’re thinkers, doers, creators and in general, have worked with every single artist worth their salt in Colorado. We’re known for getting results, providing press options for our clients, creating promotional and marketing campaigns for big concert houses like Live Nation and AEG and more. What sets us apart is that we saw a need and filled it with accuracy, professionalism and experience, unlike anything anyone else has to offer in the city. That sounds kind of cocky but undeniably, we are the best. Nothing happens in the music scene without Roux Black getting a phone call. Our specialty is hip-hop but we partner on electronic projects, house music, cannabis and art installations and more.
Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
Wow, ok, so I’m 35 so it might take a while to sort through all the memories. I just recently told this story briefly and it reminded me that who I am is not by accident. I’ve been “throwing parties” since I was in the first grade. I convinced a friend, Charmaine, and two of our other friends to come home with me because it was her birthday and that my mama would make her a cake. My mother was like, “you cannot just bring people home with you after school, what if their parents were looking for them?!”
It’s kind of hilarious but it fits the coding because I’ve been convincing people to follow me for a good time since.
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