The three faces of the Plastic Boy

By Jonty Czuchwicki

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“In the album, I’m using this concept of the several faces as an excuse to go crazy with sound design. For example, I think the idea of destroying a sound until it doesn’t sound like the original anymore is a parallelism to the face you show in public at work to people you don’t know, compared with the real one that only you know.” 

Ruben Segovia Cobo, aka RUVENRUVEN, is waxing poetical during our interview, yet when they first picked up a guitar, the born and raised Valencian had no idea they would become one of the most sought-after producers in the new wave of Spanish avant-pop, let alone releasing their own music. Moving from classical to electric guitar, RUVENRUVEN noticed the people around him showing off their technical chops, but it wasn’t what he wanted to do. “I liked to play guitar, but I didn’t want to become a virtuoso of the instrument. I noticed that my way of playing the guitar was more, like, resolutive in terms of not being very technical, but more like, Oh, I need to hit this note because it gives me this mood or this feeling.”

Headed by Xenia, Margarita Quebrada, and Carlota, Cobo’s impressive production portfolio of over a dozen artists speaks for itself, but it was while playing in bands as a session guitarist that RUVENRUVEN noticed the emotional impact of the other instruments and his potential in driving a creative direction. “I’m not a super technical instrumentalist, but I noticed that I could help myself and other artists to finish tracks with little technical knowledge. That’s when I realised, Oh shit, I want to produce. I don’t want to be a guitarist!” RUVENRUVEN’s first serious project was Xenia’s 2021 Esfera EP; from then on, they just kept coming. “I love to do it. I love to work with Xenia. We really vibed.” When asked about the key to his success, Ruben notes that he never tries to help an artist reach perfection but simply offers them a different perspective. “I always try to do work that the artist is happy with, and I think that’s what brings me the chance to keep doing it.”

RUVENRUVEN’s transition from producer to artist came from a desire to challenge himself creatively. Ruben was always writing his music without needing to release it, but once he realised its role as an avenue for freedom to experiment sonically, the doors were blown wide open. “When producing for others, I can experiment and try things, but in my own project, I can do whatever I want – and that’s what I’m trying to do.” 

The result is RUVENRUVEN’s debut album, Plastic Boy, and the album’s theme is a person’s different faces. It analyses why, in certain situations, we behave in one way if we are feeling another. “Not because we are insincere, but because of how people perceive us,” says Ruben. “It’s not the same way that your mother or your father perceives you, but how a stranger perceives you is different from how you are perceived by your friend or yourself. Investigating this also let me analyse myself and my character and try to work on my flaws.”

The music and visual aesthetic are tightly intertwined, with Xenia and Nacho of Margarita Quebrada preparing the visual content to bring the project’s imagery to life. “We are trying to represent how the album talks about the three faces of a person, but it also talks a lot about the urban spaces, how we relate to them and how our relationships with other people are in that context. That’s what the aesthetic of the music videos, the approach of the artwork and the photos try to represent as well.”

While RUVENRUVEN is at the centre of a new wave in Spanish alt-pop, he feels like he is carrying the torch for those who came before him instead of creating something completely new. “The truth is the music in Valencia is super rich and in Spain. I have been living in Valencia, drinking from the music there and going to see bands like Mausoleo and La Plata for years. Before that, I was playing in a psychedelic band and going to Oven or Spook and seeing what Lucia Gea was doing, seeing what Margarita Quebrada is doing, what Xenia was doing and the artists before us in the 90s. I think it’s very nice in Valencia, the fact that there is a scene not only of musicians now but coming from something that was happening before – and it’s not only about music but about trends, design, graphics, the collective Duelo, friends of Valencia, that are doing crazy visual stuff that also inspires you. It’s like a give-and-take kind of thing.”

The Valencian producer turned artist just released the music video for his new single Rat Race, and his debut album Plastic Boy is just around the corner with an April 5 release date.