INTERVIEW: Xavier Ruffin
If you watch your fair share of Milwaukee music videos (which, we do), there’s no way you haven’t heard the name Xavier Ruffin, or at the very least, seen some of his impressive work. A graduate of MIAD, Xavier’s been consistently impressive as a videographer, photographer, producer, writer, editor, animator, and who knows what else for some time. He also raps, but on a very limited basis (Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturday afternoons to be specific). While you were busy watching Game 7, we caught up with X to see what he’s been up to:
B&E: Important question to kick things off: Do you really only rap on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturday afternoons?
Ruffin: Yeah man, I do. I have to try my hardest to manage my time with my busy schedule, so I try to force myself to write and work on music on those days. It doesn’t always go that way, but I’m trying to build consistency and practice more. I’m good to hop in a cypher at any time though, you can always get that freestyle work for free.99 like you’re supposed to.
B&E: You’ve worked with a lot of major names in music. What has been your favorite music project to work on?
Ruffin: The RiFF RAFF stuff was super fun and colorful and I think I found a style there. Even Katy Perry picked it up and ran with it on that “This Is How We Do” video. Not mad at it, we all pull inspiration from different places. But I’m in Atlanta at the moment doing some work for one of my favorite musicians new TV show, so I’m excited to see what happens here.
B&E: Did you know you wanted to get involved with music videos from the start, or did it just sort of happen that way?
Ruffin: I’ve loved music my whole life, since I was playing the cello in elementary school. But I wanted to be an engineer at first. I wanted to build bridges. That was before I knew about graphic/communication design. Once I found that lick I was on my way. I think my affinity for the culture of hip hop has always kept me close to the music, so I sought out clientele in that industry. So it was purposeful that I ended up doing a lot of work in that sector.
B&E: Who are the Milwaukee artists you listen to most?
Ruffin: Right now? Blizz McFly, Mike Regal just dropped, IshDarr, Klassik, Von Alexander, Lord Fredd33, NAN, RueThePoet, Dee Phr3sh!, and that’s if we’re just talking who I listen to the most. I listen to everybody man.
B&E: What advice would you give to Milwaukee artists (both musical and not) on how to get your name out to the industry?
Ruffin:Move around and work together. You don’t have to move out of the city, but you gotta go meet new people from other places and work with them. And continue to work together. Don’t start believing your own hype because none of us are the first to do this. Even in the city, it’s all been done before, so we’re not special, just different. It can all be gone in the blink of an eye if we don’t build the proper foundation, so please stick together. Its gonna take a few more years of building before we are solid but we need to keep the momentum up and the egos down.
B&E: Would you say Milwaukee influences your work?
Ruffin:All day long. #TeamMKE everywhere. Milwaukee is where I come from, so it influences the way I see the world. I pull inspiration from all over the place, though.
B&E: What projects are you currently working on?
Ruffin: Some stuff I’m not sure if I can talk about publicly, but I have a feature film I’m submitting to the Sundance Screenwriters’ Lab, just put a short into the Milwaukee Film Festival, and I’m writing a web series that takes place in Japan, that I’m trying to film at the end of the year. So yeah, I’m way too busy as usual.
B&E: Where’s the best place people can keep up with your work?
Ruffin: Facebook really. I’m working on a new web site but you can see my work over at www.behance.net/xavierruffin