Some pool flip-flops, the classic ones with navy blue and white stripes, with socks. He takes them everywhere because they are comfortable and because he does not care what they say. At school they gave a touch to the 12 years because what was that to wear flip flops in the middle of winter? He did not care. It still doesn’t matter to him. Roc Jou —Rojuu It’s his stage name — he dropped out of high school in January of last year and at 18 he already earns enough to make a living from music if he decided to go independent. He has “an artistic giftedness” that does not fit into the canons of the school. The psychologist explained this to his mother, who was worried that her son would drop out of school.
His sensitivity finds inspiration in worlds as diverse as manga and the saddest trap, although his music moves towards a more luminous pop in his latest album, Of the Year of the Year (2021). In the networks it absorbs everything. “From the age of 10 I was very clear about how the internet worked and I saw that I could make a living from it,” he says on the sofa in his mother’s apartment, in the center of Barcelona, wearing triple XL sweatpants and a red sweater. Roc believes that it is a generational thing, that “there are many children who at 10 years old are already beginning to see that their professional and creative path can be on the internet”.
At the age of 14 he was already earning a few hundred euros as a youtuber talking about music. At 15 he was recording songs about drugs and suicides and at 18 he is already a precocious veteran – 5 albums and 13 singles behind him – who earns a good salary without a record company behind him, only from what the reproductions on YouTube give him, Spotify ( some of his songs have more than a million reproductions) and some of the networks. These days he has returned to give limited capacity concerts. All seats sold. While chatting, he fiddles with the game console controller.
Rojuu is a home boy. In fact, he says the pandemic lockdown went well for him because he doesn’t care much about getting out. He spends his time creating, reading and listening to music between his father’s apartment, the theater director Iván Morales, and his mother’s, the film director Laura Jou, where he welcomes us as a newcomer from playing sports with his personal trainer. “It is the price I have had to pay for leaving school,” he says. His mother asked him to at least exercise. Upon arrival, the first to greet is Beasts (short for best friend in English), a golden retriever that he has tattooed on his forearm and who does not stop biting one of the monkey stuffed animals that Roc was given as a child.
Eight other monkeys rest on a shelf in their room, resigned to a secondary role in front of their new favorite stuffed animals: a llama and a white Doraemon. On its shelves, the entire collection of the mythical manga saga One Piece and a pot of Yatekomo instant noodles (his favorite delicacy, tied with fuet). On the desk in his room is the microphone where he records the voices, and also the notebooks with the comics he draws. He teaches us one of them in which, he says, death comes down to look for a human who has not shown up for his appointment – “because he has pending issues with other essential issues such as space, time or love” -.
Today Rojuu wears her nails short, painted leopard, but she has come to wear them very long. “Like the nails of a diva, of a princess who cannot dedicate herself to doing trivial tasks and needs her hands to shine,” she says. Some days he woke up with his face full of small wounds from having scratched his nose, and once he took advantage of it to take a selfi a bit bloody, with a very emo touch, that youthful subculture that revolves around sadness and emotional helplessness. “It fit me well,” he recalls. His particular vision of fashion also led him to wear a bag of flowers from his grandmother.
At the age of 15, Roc already reflected his Saturnian spirit in his lyrics, although he did not pretend to pass for a boy marginalized from the system. “I was a pre-pubescent tired of life and I wrote about the things that happened to me, about what I felt, I was not going to write that I was selling drugs on the street corners,” he says, and criticizes the “posh with two-story houses” who are joining the fashion of drill, a very booming branch of rap that portrays violence in the streets. In one of his latest videos, Umi, Rojuu parodies substitutes for drill, surrounding himself with kids with covered faces who act like bad guys behind him, in contrast to a tender, loving, catchy song, not at all rap, pure piano-based pop.
For your street photo shoot, choose a tight white Hilfiger coat and a furry hat with horns. Oh sure, and the flip flops. The pants are black with gray and green stripes, inspired by the manga, from the Skoot Apparel brand. “Pili gave them to me,” he says. Her friend Pili is Rosalía’s sister and she was in the Razzmatazz room the day Rojuu gave her first concert, just after she was 16 years old — they wouldn’t let her before. The main directors of the record companies in Spain traveled to evaluate it. As great bosses, they knew each other, but they did not greet each other. He did not want to sign with any label and it was a couple of months ago when he signed for Sonido Muchacho, the record company of Carolina Durante, Sen Senra or Cupido, for his next album.
Despite his success and a family that has provided him with an emotional and economic environment conducive to expressing himself, the young artist lives with “some demons”. He writes the lyrics about painful love “based on memories” and says that he suffers more from what happens in his head than in real life. He is also inspired by the dreams he hunts with his notebook on the first navel of the night. Her mother believes that “there is something sweet about the exaggeration of adolescent sadness.” Among his entrenched memories stands out a relationship with a girl older than him when he was still younger.
However, Rojuu relativizes his sorrows, which he frames in the context of a generation that fills stadiums to see Billie Eilish, global queen of bajona pop. “Today all children already have their anxieties. At the age of 12 they live anxious to see who has given you likes ”. “Each generation has to suffer for something,” he says. “We have not had hunger or war; we have had anxiety, depression, living faster than normal, either through social media or through personal experiences. Today’s children are like Akira’s children [una peli de anime japonés], that they are really adults, because some of our problems before were only adult problems ”.