RUKU Reveals How She Took Control of Her Dreams & Creativity
Though difficult to summarize in words, Renee King—code-named RUKU—is a multi-faceted artist and a true-blue creative in the world of flamboyant fashion. She holds the title and reigns of singer-songwriter, illustrator, and fashion designer, but is not one to be described with a lone descriptor.
Following her collaboration with Wreckno, G-Space, and Lysn., “WHO GON CHEQ ME,” and the release of her latest fashion collection, the anomalous artist caught up with MP3 MAG to learn more about the origin of her creativity.
Growing up in a musical family, King was encouraged to experiment with her creativity through instruments. Like her brothers, she played piano, took lessons, and participated in recitals “like little cutie kids.”
“I had all these instruments around me,” King told MP3 MAG on a Zoom call this past Summer. “I got a ukulele for Christmas in high school and it opened up the world of playing strumming instruments. That knowledge eventually opened me up to the world of guitar, the instrument I mainly play [today].”
Her father was a seasoned drummer and guitarist, and formerly in a band with King’s grandfather. So the saying goes, the apple wouldn’t fall far from the tree. She’d soon begin singing and playing guitar in coffee shops, which set her up for a larger stages later in life.
One day while watching TV as a kid, King came across an infomercial for a screen printing kit, called “YuDu.” Instantly, she was infatuated. Years later in college, she started making her own clothes and illustrated designs, and after posting one of her first t-shirts on her Instagram story, found her inbox full of people who wanted to adorn her art and fashion.
She’d eventually develop her own handmade clothing brand, RUKU Customs, which has taken on a life of its own. Both fans and artists throughout the festival scene can often be seen sporting her art and clothes. Each article of clothing is designed, hand cut, sewn, dyed, and screen printed by King, featuring her all-original artwork and an insane eye for detail down to the tags. She’s even developed her own luxury line, @rukulux.
Her abundance of creative ideas and level of execution poses the question: how does she do it all? While most of us feel like there’s not enough time in the day, King is able to use both day and night to feed her ideas.
King is a frequenter of the dream world. She’s kept a dream journal for the past five years, writing them down each morning and conditioning herself with the ability to remember her dreams in lurid detail. Sometimes, she can even control them.
Her most recent RUKU collection is called “The Dream Guidance Collection,” which features various designs of a snake coiled around a jade pyramid with white and black accents on either side. This was inspired by a notable dream King had about a year ago…
She’s running away from a Giant character–who she now knows represents someone in her past–to a nearby mansion for safety. In a circular entryway stands a table with a jade pyramid with black and white marble floating above it on either side. As the giant stepped closer, the marbles would shake intensely before eventually falling to the ground and shattering. King picked up the pieces of the white one, put it in her pocket and ran away.
“For whatever reason, that object has been something I’ve thought about so many times since because it was just different,” said King. “It wasn’t very human.”
“There’s little things you can do to get yourself to question whether or not you’re in a dream.”
Her aspirations and dream-centered approach have led to wild manifestations as an artist. Though childhood photos would lend to the eventual diva-like, captivating stage presence she has today, getting to do so at Okeechobee 2020 was a dream come true for King.
Friday afternoon at the Aquachobee stage, G-Space brought out friends RUKU and WRECKNO to debut their song, “WHO GON CHEQ ME?” King said the four friends spontaneously recorded the song a few years ago while casually hanging out at her home in Orlando.
G-Space began making a beat, but due to technical difficulties, the gang decided to go sing karaoke in the meantime. Later—loosened up and ready to make some magic—they returned and threw down some verses in the garage, and–viola! They had a song. In July 2021, the group released the track alongside an official music video.
“Something about anything I’ve ever made musically is that it always comes from a really organic place,” King confessed. “There’s never been a time where I’ve made something with somebody just for the sake of making a track to share to the public. It’s definitely always like, “Let’s all be creative.”
This virtue of authenticity transcends throughout her discography of solo releases as well, where one finds themes of self-love, realization, and catharsis. The Vulnerability EP, released in 2018, features King’s angelic vocals lifting over ukulele strums and hosts songs like “For you,” thick with frank, candid confessions of infatuation and indulgence in lust. “I didn’t write them with the intention of releasing them,” she said. “It just felt right at a certain point.”
In addition to her musical and textile gifts, King is currently focusing on her work as a visual artist. While painting will always remain one of her true loves, King has discovered the world of digital illustration with apps like Procreate, which allows her to draw and even animate her own illustrations digitally. She’s since created album artwork for G-Space, WRECKNO, TieDye Ky, EAZYBAKED, as well as others.
With her learning the tedious intricacies of animation, King is beginning to envision how she can take her visual art even further. One of her life goals is to produce and write her own animated series, admitting she’s currently working on a pilot episode. The main character will have “mad long hair,” and King’s musical talents. While it’s not based on her life entirely, the character faces many of the experiences King has gone through herself. She intends for it to be similar to Adventure Time in that it’s a children’s cartoon, yet “profound and very next level.”
“Everything I do now, I’m looking for a way to connect the dots of how I’m going to get to that moment,” King reflected. “It’s literally my life’s dream.“