Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on reddit

In a time of people (especially womxn) rising up and taking no shit, please give Ruelia and her debut single “EZE” a big standing-ovation style welcome. Both the song and its video are well-produced and make a bold entrance into the reggaeton space.

Growing up, her mom was in the Peace Corps and Rue spent much of her childhood living abroad. While she’s moved around a bit, running around in the rainforest, and experiencing the people and sounds of Nicaguagra were her most formative and memorable. When she was just 17, she moved to New York City and was introduced to reggaeton via a mixtape of Daddy Yankee songs, and knew that she had connected with something deeply. “Music is how I understand the world, it’s how I understand emotion. How I understand life.”

A few years later, living in LA, Rue got into acting, which led to voice lessons. And it was there, in a singing class, that her oh-shit-all-I-want-to-do-is-make-music moment happened. “I’m very single-minded. If I want to do something I have to put everything into it.”

She went to visit family and on her flight home, she had one of those pivotal conversations that one has with themselves right before a big shift. “I said to myself: if you’re gonna know what to do it’s gonna be on this plane because you can die at any moment, nobody here knows you and you’re the closest to a higher power as you can be, literally in the sky. So I just closed my eyes and said what do I do, and a voice popped in my head and said, “sing.”

Rue landed back in LA, and the next day went to Guitar Center and got what she needed to set up a mini studio in her closet. “For about a year, I just shadowed everyone I knew who made music. Then recorded my first song (in the closet) and ever since then I’ve just been on this path…”

Tell me the story of “EZE”…

I was working with a manager and making lo-fi, dark pop music. I knew I wanted to return to the sounds that I grew up with and that reminded me of a place and a time that is extremely important to me, which was [my life in] Nicaguagra. I knew I needed to go to Medellin [for reggaeton it’s either there or Puerto Rico]. My mom had a friend there who took me in for two weeks. [Regarding the music], I just thought I’ll just find a musician on the street.

The first morning I was there I met a videographer, and an hour later was being introduced to J Balvin’s dad… who set me up with some producers. “EZE” was my first session, first reggaeton song. Two days after finishing I left and went back to LA, and told my manager I needed to go back to finish what she started [they eventually parted ways]. I sold everything and moved to Medellin and went full throttle. I made the reggaeton portion of my EP in like a month. I was trying to proxy all these things and make all this music—let me just say it was crazy.

Then I got really involved with the reggaeton scene in London and I finished the EP there. For me, it’s about bringing together these sounds. I feel like I’ve been very blessed because I’ve been able to experience a lot of different people and cultures which has made me who I am. I think right now there’s a very large conversation about cultural appropriation and respecting people’s cultures, really just being aware. I’ve never felt like I was trying to take anything from anywhere or anyone, I’m trying to articulate what I know. In finding these sounds, It was really important for me to go to these places, to understand and learn.

“EZE” is my declaration of who I am. As women, we’re expected to play a very specific role in things. Even in positions I’ve been in, even in a work way, I feel like people look at me and expect me to be a certain way. It took me losing everything and also gaining everything at the same time—I’m very grateful to be here.

There are few women out there who can’t relate to how the video starts—it’s like living out the lucid dream of what a lot of women wish we would do when faced with unwanted sexual advances from a man…

I’ve had a lot of experiences where I’ve been touched or approached inappropriately by men, against my wishes. Even in the studio, with a producer who tried to touch me. I was so petrified.

Now, I have no tolerance for it. If you get mad at me I’m not afraid. When we were coming up with this treatment (shout out to the director Nico) It was important that we show that women have to look out for each other. I love men, I have amazing men in my life. But only women understand what we go through. I also just want to stress that both men and women experience harassment and unwelcome advances because really we need a lot of healing between men and women and humanity as a whole…and while I am a woman so I speak as one, I deeply value the men I know and the kind souls around me.

What does female empowerment mean to you? 

To sit with your own being and say—I am really powerful. Why would I ever curb who I am for anybody? Women are incredible, powerful beings. We get put in a box over time: yes, you have opinions but don’t say them too loud. Yes, you’re sexual but don’t be too sexual. Or yes, you’re very smart but don’t intimidate this person by being too intelligent. For me, it’s kind of like—you can fuck off. If I make you uncomfortable that’s your problem, not mine. Women have this incredible ability to nurture and love, but also have an incredible amount of strength. There’s a yin and yang, and we don’t have to take anyone’s shit.

What can we expect next from you?

I have my [EP] project done, but I am now just focusing on “EZE”. I’m doing a live version of it. I have the next single that I want to drop probably in October or November. We’ll just see what’s poppin’ then and we’ll go from there!



photos / Camden Colwell

story/ Eve Simonsen

Close Menu