INTERVIEW: WORDS WITH RUKES
Rukes, aka Drew Ressler, aka the guy whose name you see in most photo credit captions for the world’s biggest DJs, and basically every EDM blog ever.
The #1 DJ photographer in the world. Rukes was one of the first photographers to not just take photos at a club - but instead to shift the focus onto on the DJs - which eventually led to an entirely new niche. Rukes has toured with the likes of Deadmau5, Swedish House Mafia, Mötley Crüe, Avicii, Martin Garrix… this list could easily continue, but you surely get the gist. Rukes was out to Australia recently for the Ultra Australia tour, and I borrowed him for a few words…
(PHOTO CREDIT: Stefan Grudic / @youngkreations - Ultra Australia 2019)
Where does the name 'Rukes' come from?
It’s a typo of the world “rules” as in “this game rules”. I saw the typo in a chatroom on AOL and my friends and I decided to work that into our vocabulary. Later on, when I went to make a new screen name, I had Rukes in the beginning of it, and everyone just started calling me Rukes.
You’ve been to Australia for a number of festivals and tours before, how was your Ultra Australia experience?
It was good, of course! It reminded me of my Stereosonic days, but Ultra has a bit to get up there with the 5 city tours. Having two big dance music festivals, especially in Sydney, was a great feeling for all the locals who were itching for a replacement.
Weirdest/funniest shit you’ve seen backstage?
Of course I get asked this a lot, and 99% of the time I can’t really answer it. One of my favourites, though, was a drunk Drezo and Rezz combo in a trailer. There were slices of kiwi on the rider and they kept throwing them at the wall and having fruit races. I don’t think I laughed so hard in a while.
if you weren't a world-touring photographer, what would you be doing?
I have no idea, actually. I would probably be living in Tokyo doing something photography related, I’m guessing.
Name 5 tour essentials (that aren’t photography-related!):
Anker 21000 USB-C battery
Bose QC20i in-ear noise canceling headphones
Manta Sleep Eyemask
PokeFi WiFi Hotspot
Any advice to aspiring photographers?
Find your style. Don’t look at someone else’s photos and say “well they are successful, let me do their style of photography”.
Always wear stage black on stage. You probably won’t be allowed up if you have bright colours.
Experiment with all the colours while learning. If you stick to just black and white or just 2 to 3 colours in a photo, you won’t learn a lot of essential skills.
If you could tour with one artist - dead or alive?
This is a tough one. I mean there are so many… like maybe The Beatles, but I just know I would be in too much awe to take photos.
I guess I would have to say Daft Punk, if they had some epic production. Nice, clean, simple and a whole robot aesthetic. It’s much easier to photograph DJs in masks.
What un-inspires you?
Lies. Just dealing with people who are uneducated or resistant to the truth. Nothing frustrates me more. From a security guard who has no idea what credentials are what, all the way up to an artist acting horribly.
What's the strangest thing you've put in your mouth?
A tie between cod sperm and rocky mountain oysters.
What's the first thing that will go through your mind if you drop your camera?
FUCK! Also making sure something isn’t broken. Luckily the body is built like a tank, but the glass lenses…not so much.
Last movie you watched?
Zombie apocalypse plan-of-action?
It’s a tough one to figure out; how far would I be able to go if one broke out? Could I grab the immediate next flight to Tokyo or Bali and live the rest of my life on those islands? Or would I be stuck in the US wandering the woods like The Walking Dead? If the latter, probably here in my apartment assuming everything still works.