I myself am Strange & Unusual

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Renee Ruin is one of those rare people you meet every now and then who sparkle and glitter in the pale moonlight. They just seem to make everything around them shine a little bit brighter. As a prolific creative, she always seems to be working on something amazing. Whether it’s unapologetically sharing her heart and soul through her poetry or interviewing strange and unusual creatures for her blog. Oh, and I haven’t even gotten to tell you about the kick ass work she does with the Ruin Agency, through which she helps misfits, such as myself, navigate the often confusing and mystifying world of social media and self-promotion.

A self-confessed Henry Rollins cult member with a penchant for watching terrible teen rom coms, Renee is an awkward, passionate force to be reckoned with. Describing herself as being music obsessed, a chronic sleeper and film watcher, X-File Fanatic, and a Law and Order SVU devotee, Renee is exactly the type of dark angel you want guiding you on your creative journey. With an authentic style, and an intrinsic understanding of sub-culture and the underground genres, if you’re a band or ‘alternative’ fashion label, photographer, illustrator or writer then it’s Renee you want to share your story.  

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Renee first started her website – reneeruin.com – back in 2008, and was in part inspired by a suggestion from a now ex-boyfriend. ‘He pointed out that I consume so much culture, and have all this stuff in my head, and said maybe I should start a site to contain it all. By 2009 reneeruin.com was up and running,’ Renee explains, ‘it started out pretty basic, just posting cool things I found, saw, read, listened to, then gradually it evolved into a more journalistic site where I started to incorporate interviews with musicians, artist, clothing designers, writers etc. Once I took that idea, I didn't look back and kept running with it.’

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As someone who once ran their own magazine, and often does interviews herself, I know it’s not always easy to get the people you want to interview to ‘return your calls’. It takes persistence, a bit of moxie and a lot of passion. You’ve got to put yourself out there, and straight up just hope that the person you want to speak to believes in what you’re doing too. For independent sites as well, you also have no choice but to do it yourself. ‘I straight up contact the artist myself,’ Renee agrees, ‘whether through Facebook, Instagram or their website. And do lots of networking! You’ve got nothing to lose. But the more interviews I did, the easier it became to ask and get artists etc. to agree to do interviews.’

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Renee’s website and work is filled with deliciously dark themes, shining a black-light into corners filled with shadows and uncovering the black diamonds hiding there. I’ve always been drawn to the darker side of life in all aspects I guess,’ Renee explains, ‘some of the first books I ever read were by Stephen King. I can relate a lot more to the shadows than light and fluffy stuff. I’ve always loved gothic and darker themes, whether it be books or films. My dad loved horror films and I followed him in that love. When it comes to brands and music I like stuff that is rawer, and touches on themes most don’t want to. As a kid I always lived in an imaginary world, wanting to be some dark princess or vampire or warrior. My life hasn’t been a very happy one and I think that darkness seeps through in other ways, it becomes a comfort. Bright and fuzzy just doesn’t resonate with me. I can’t understand it, or specifically clothing wise cannot imagine wearing something as hideous as yellow or white – haha!’

Given Renee’s subjects are definitely not mainstream, she has had to dig just that bit deeper than most. She spends a lot of time ‘trolling the internet’ but she also finds a lot of her content through friends. ‘I’m constantly researching and looking for new things. I’m excited by new art or music or brands. So I’m always on the lookout.’

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When she’s not hunting down the strange and unusual, Renee also runs the Ruin Agency. A passion-project she set up after finding herself unemployed when the company she worked for shut down. Because the company closed, Renee also lost her UK work visa, and had to return to Australia. All in all it was a difficult time, but Renee stayed positive. ‘I started to think a lot about what I enjoyed and what new thing I could take on,’ she says, ‘especially to fill in the time and generate some $$ while looking for a new full time gig back in Australia. It was an opportunity to take my unique insight, and work personally with underground and independent bands, musicians, brands etc. who are niche and very much need bespoke help when it comes to PR, Social Media and dealing with Press etc. I saw a gap when I was looking at PR and Media industry. We value the unique, the strange, the rebellious and the individual. Ruin Agency offers specialist services that cater to the niche and subversive, whether that’s helping with press releases and media coverage or social media management. It’s more about helping out great underground and independent acts, and brands who can’t afford to pay big bucks for the big PR companies.’

‘However, it’s always been about the passion and project rather than the money with me and some may say that’s my greatest flaw,’ Renee reflects, ‘I never intended, and still don’t intend on making Ruin Agency a full time thing. It’s a hobby, and yeah it's kinda weird my hobbies are more like jobs, but when you have passion for something it doesn’t feel so much like work.’

Renee in Inked magazine

Renee in Inked magazine

Another kick ass passion project of Renee’s is the Ruin Radio Mixtapes. You can follow these yourself on Mixcloud - https://www.mixcloud.com/rruin/ and you might just discover something amazing. ‘It first started as a way for me to showcase all the new music that I’d been listening to that month, primarily new music only. Then it kind of evolved into this awesome platform where I decided I could get amazing, predominantly female musicians and peers that I looked-up to who could also curate mixtapes too. We’ve had some amazing women curators so far - Courtney Love, Shirley Manson, Brody Dalle, Chelsea Wolfe, Marissa Nadler, Jarboe, King Woman/Miserable, Heather Gabel and Zola Jesus. I’ve done 40 shows since 5 years ago. I want to keep building on RUIN RADIO and getting more awesome curators. One curator I’m still stoked we had was Tony Hawk, so I’d love to bring more men into the mix too.’

So what good tunes is Renee listening to at the moment? ‘The new Suede album,’ says Renee, ‘and the new Marianne Faithfull album, and bands like Surfbot, Amyl and the Sniffers, MEZKO, Deafheaven, Nine Inch Nails, Earthless, Conor Oberst, MaidaVale, Maggot Heart, Divide and Dissolve, NUN, Pagan, Petyr.’

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While I myself write truly atrocious poetry, and could give a Vogon a run for his money in the bad prose stakes, Renee is wonderful writer and poet whose work is starkly honest and inspiring. ‘I starting writing poetry as a little kid,’ she says, ‘I had my first “good” poem published in the weekly school newsletter when I was around 6 or 7. More than anything, it’s my brain that inspires me. I’m a very passionate and emotional person at times and my brain is constantly ticking over and over, and writing became a way to unleash all that madness from my mind. A kind of bloodletting of sorts. All my inspiration comes from my own insecurities and experiences and my personal life. I write from the core as much from the heart, so sometimes my writing is seen as quite dark or negative. But it's that rawness that I think sets my poetry apart for more conventional poetry. It's not all flowy and flowery and sprinkled with fluff like a lot of modern poetry is.’

Fierce and independent, Renee self-published her own book of poetry, which you can buy online. ‘It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be,’ she admits, ‘it was as simple as putting it all together in Adobe InDesign and then finding a printer who could do small volumes and the specs I wanted. I had to do it on a pre-order basis to make it work financially. I’m almost ready to self-publish the second book once I have the final cover art confirmed. The first book was printed twice and sold really well, which really fueled my passion to keep writing. The first book is now only available currently as an eBook which can be purchased at https://reneeruin.bigcartel.com

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I’m sure I mentioned earlier that Renee is one of the most prolific creatives I’ve ever met, and whenever she’s not working on her own projects, she is inspiring collaborations, her most recent being a beautiful greeting card collab. ‘This was actually a total surprise at first. An old friend, the illustrator @lonesometowns drew the illustration of me and then had the idea to make a card using some of my poetry,’ explains Renee, ‘they put it out through Feather Hearts. It really was a simple as that. Friends and luck. It can be purchased here - https://www.featherhearts.com/collections/greeting-cards

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Of course Renee also has some excellent advice for our creative friends and aspiring writers out there. ‘Write what you know and write from inside yourself. Don’t try to be another writer, find your style, and dominate it. Expect disappointment from time to time, and understand that sometimes some people will just never “get it”. Keep going, keep writing, make mistakes and learn from them.’

Famous last words? ‘I’m going to bed.’

You can find Renee haunting the Internet at anyone of these good places:
http://www.reneeruin.com
https://www.goodreads.com/reneeruin
https://reneeruin.contently.com
https://medium.com/@reneeruin
https://www.mixcloud.com/rruin/
https://www.ruinagency.com

Jo JetteComment