In the age of narcissism, social media, and elitism, making friends as an adult can be challenging. So, it was a huge surprise when Hear She Roars started to get positive feedback from Renee Ruin, a personal favorite blogger. Besides running the blog, Renee is an author, a poet, a mental health advocate and an influencer. Her blog she started in 2008, is well-known in the underground art and music world. She describes herself as a recluse, hopeless romantic, and feminist. I am excited to interview Renee since I believe she understands the true meaning of “Babes supporting Babes.”
Discuss the origins of your blog. What inspired you to start one? What similarities, if any, do you find in common with your fans?
RR: At the time when I started this blog back in the very end of 2008 it was to fill a void in visual and online content that I wanted to see and was not seeing in any one place. So I wanted to create a space where all those wacky finds, music, fashion, arts, and unique things a home. Then quickly it became apparent that I wasn’t the only one. People quickly caught on and really supported the site. Then I started moving towards doing more music premieres, fashion collections and artist exhibitions which lead to using the site to interview all these incredible talented people.
I think my fans share the same love of the underground and DIY aesthetic and the unique and a lack of interest in bullshit sites built around paid features and advertising. They wanted something genuine and so did I.
You are unusual in the sense that you are very approachable but still – and I hate to use this word - “popular.” The underground scenes can be catty, not everyone of course, but many. What is your philosophy when it comes to supporting others and why do you think it’s so hard these days for women to support other women outside of their own social circle?
RR: I guess that has a lot to do with my upbringing. I came from nothing, I lived in a trailer park when I was a baby. I saw everyone as people and equally valuable. No one is better than anyone and we are all just out there trying to do the best we can. My sincerity and genuineness and I guess yes even though awkwardness - approachability is greatly appreciated and being who you are and embracing it will get you much further than trying to step over others to get somewhere. I don’t feel like I’m above anyone female or male and kindness and support will reward you tenfold.
I’ve never understood the culture of internal toxic female culture specifically, and the inability for some women to collaborate or even share advice and learn from each other and support each other. Often this attitude comes from jealously, fear, feeling threatened and its roots lie in the competition of women against women ingrained in patriarchy.
I will help any women that comes to me because I know how hard it is across almost all industry to make female allies and have a voice heard and be a part of community that supports each other rather than being pitted against each other. It’s getting better but we still have a way to go. I wish I had female mentors growing up and when I first started the site the women I approached were nice and happy to be involved but there’s always one who feels like you’re trying to take something from them and you can’t change that, that’s there thing to figure out.
I approach everything with empathy, understanding, sincerity and honesty and loyalty. I want to lift women up and praise women for what they’re doing and that attitude I think is quite transparent when it comes to me. What you give out and you get back. I’m always beyond excited when I discover new female artist or musicians etc and the first thing I do is post about them and often reach out.
We both have blogs, and I find the freedom is so empowering. I was sick of writing for others, wondering when it gets posted, sometimes doing it for free, and writing about topics I wasn’t interested in. Did you start off with your blog or did you write for others before? Do you feel a lot of pressure to find new content or are you someone who is constantly inspired by things?
RR: I write when I find something I’m inspired by. I would rather write less posts a month than write more for the sake of filling up the blog with what could be most likely crap. I started writing my blog and for myself before I ever wrote an article or piece for anyone else. I think that was a good thing because I had an established voice and if I write for someone, they won’t that voice not some generic writer.
Music and Art are very inspiring for you and a prominent topic of the blog. What have those two things meant for you in developing your own personal style and into becoming the person you are today?
RR: Honestly, music and art I think, were flowing in my veins from the day I was born. I was a weird child who spent almost all my time alone in my room listening to music on giant headphones and reading books. It was a great comfort and inspiration to me then and now still.
My father was always playing music around the house very loud - Pink Floyd, Bruce Springsteen, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Eagles, Dolly Parton, Fleetwood Mac, Joe Cocker, AC/DC, Bowie, The Stones and old 50s and 60s rock records. I think I learnt a lot about the different types of expression and the power music can have very early on. From very early on I was watching films and reading books avidly. My father used to have this little black book where he wrote every single movie I hired out and watched. I wish that still existed somewhere.
Talk a bit about what the Ruin Agency does. What is the background of how it came about?
RR: Ruin Agency was an idea that came to me last year when I returned from living overseas in the UK. I wanted to get more involved in music and arts and fashion personally. It’s my outlet to do and contribute freelance work. The idea behind Ruin Agency came from seeing my amazing friends and acquaintances who needed help in certain areas but being DIY or underground couldn’t afford to spend the kind of money big PR and management companies charge and often don't understand the niche. I work closely with artists to help their vision on a budget they can afford. I’m not here to take the piss I’m here because I generally believe in the music or the power of getting different art out there.
You have a portion of your blog called “Who’s That Girl” where you profile women, many who do alternative modeling or have interesting jobs and backgrounds. Most are very beautiful and tattooed. How do you choose these women? I did notice there are no plus sized women mentioned. I assume this isn’t on purpose, but do you think as an influencer yourself you are promoting a certain type of body image?
RR: This is an interesting one and you’re right when I first started doing these it was in the early days when I worked a lot with alt models and I wanted to show that the image on the screen was more than just that. It was before the big influence of body positivity and push for more plus sized woman and honestly at the time I hadn’t even thought about it. It was never a deliberate exclusion. I haven’t done one of these pieces in quite some time and I’m the first to admit the women were women I had easy access to or who I felt personally drawn to. Even when it comes to myself I don’t feel I am the ideal body type at all and now I am more aware of how I have let down women by not showing as many different types of women and this is something I want to work on in these pieces.
You also have a section called “Blogger Crush.” What types of blogs do you gravitate towards? What are some of your personal favorites?
RR: My favorite blogs are blogs that offer something different and have their own voice and aesthetic. There are thousands of blogs but what makes a blog is the voice behind it and the content they bring. I read a lot of blogs from fashion, lifestyle, music, film nerds and mental health. What matters is authenticity and what is the unique point of difference.
Who are some of your current favorite artist and independent fashion designers?
RR: I’m really into Kick in the Eye Jewelry (Australia) at the moment, I love what she is doing. Who else? Alabama Blonde, Little Whip, Nuit, Hutch Jewelry, Adele Mildred, Lilith Viper, R & M Leathers, Solstice Intimates and Gail Sorranda. I love everything Born a Bad Seed in the US do. I adore Ashley Rose Couture, it is NEXT LEVEL and she’s just been announced as being managed by Cathy from one of my labels and artist management companies, Sargent House. There is currently so many amazing independent designers, companies and designers around now, it’s exciting.
Has there ever been negative backlash towards your blog? And on the opposite spectrum, what are some of your most exciting or proud moments? Any fans of yours that you are in “awe” of? I see Chelsea Wolfe and you are fans of each other! So awesome.
RR: Surprisingly, I’ve had very little negativity or backlash which I think is a testament to my genuine personality and sincerity. I’ve had so many amazing friendships and meetings through the blog as you mentioned Chelsea Wolfe, Zola Jesus, Brody Dalle, Tex Perkins, Heather Gabel, amazing bloopers like Dirty Flaws and Kingdom of Style, author J.T Leroy, Lingua Ignota (who I am in awe of completely), rad record labels, King Dude, Dana Dentata and a zillion artists, tattooers and musicians who have become dear friends and supporters. I’m thankful for every interaction I have with everyone I meet, connecting with people who “just get it” is for me the best part about it. But if I had to say one defining HOLY SHIT moment I’d say when Courtney Love curated a mixtape for my RUIN RADIO series, that was an iconic moment for me.
I ask many people this when I interview them. What makes you genuinely happy?
RR: Creating, writing, connecting.
Follow Renee's beautiful work through the following links: