Being the ‘man behind the curtain’ is where Ruben Del Cabrera, known as RubeZilla, feels most comfortable. But lately, it seems everywhere you look in the Denver scene RubeZilla’s presence is out there. Especially when Rooster puts him on stage front and center for our first Rooster Roast for Charity. In addition to being a good sport, RubeZilla is an all around good dude and talented creator. Working across multiple mediums of art and creative fields, you get a strong sense of dedication and passion from everything he puts his time and effort into.
Fresh off the very first Rooster Comedy Roast for charity, what was that experience like for you?
I’m humbled you’d have me. Y’all at Rooster are the shit. Shout out Brad, Alec, Wendi! That was so damn cool! It was honestly cathartic to hear the shit out loud that you hear in your head but laughing at it with people is less of a nightmare. The comedians were great, the jokes were hilarious. Adam Al dente, Pasta Pete, the whole gang.
Can you tell us a little bit about the organization you chose to donate to, Johnson Legacy, Inc.?
It was created over 25 years ago to honor Byron and Christine Johnson, two longtime educators and civil rights activists.
Byron played baseball in the Negro Leagues for the Kansas City Monarchs as a shortstop. He is in the Hall of Fame. Their daughter Carlotta is a congressional Medal of Honor winner. I’m personally
Working with local artists and poets, authors, community builders and philanthropists: DNA PICASSO and Dominique Christina we aim to fund publishing and broadcasting missions for creative teams of BIPOC groups working in emotional enrichment.
First thing you do in the morning?
Morning coffee (reheat it 3 times, because I forgot about it), yell at the google thingy to play something FIRE (my playlists are a shameless flex), and then I contemplate an outfit to match my mood. IYKYK. Smoke some weed teehee.
Last movie you watched?
The newest Ninja Turtles. Soundtrack was sick. Nostalgia was on point and obviously the animation was incredible. Lofty goals? Write and produce Fantasia 3.
What would your theme song be?
Breezin’ – George Benson.
What are your artistic tools of choice?
Black Markers will always be my bread and butter. I’m grateful for what spray cans and the culture brought into my life, but I’ve been writing and scripting these days.
Can you recall your earliest exposure to art and what inspired you to become an artist?
I grew up with a studio in the crib, meeting musicians from all walks of life was cool. The only stories I was told about my birth father was he dealt dope and painted graffiti lol. I drew on shit in high school. A LOT of shit. Later on in life I found artists like Heiro, Birdcap, MissMe and Nychos who inspired me to pursue a career.
How have your graffiti roots impacted who you are as an artist today?
A lot of “Fuck It” goes in to what I do. At its root, graff is rebel-core so trusting your gut and not overthinking projects is probably the best benefit. Doubling back making sure history is respected and tradition is honored in any way. I wouldn’t be able to do most, if not any, of what I do today if it weren’t for the folks who built and carried the culture.
What does your creative process typically look like?
Sometimes I need to jump around and be loud, act crazy. Sometimes I’ll lay on my couch for a week paralyzed in crippling imposter syndrome. So depending on what i’m doing: Coffee, weedies, late nights.
How do you work through creative blocks when they occur?
Being a Dad is great for me. I try to find time to play. Play. Jump. Hoop. Pokemon. Cartoons. Michael Scott. Honestly, remembering none of this is real- and just feel my feelings. If I can’t create, there’s probably something else in my life I’m not addressing. Being raw and honest with yourself is terrifying but it’s where I find the best ideas. It’s like untying your headphones. Relax, Bro.
What other forms of creative expression do you practice?
I like to write… A LOT! Words are powerful, I’ve done it for years, it’s therapeutic. Stories, songs, sonnets, etc. Nothing I’m ready to put out till I’m an old man. I cook almost 5-6 nights a week.
You participated in Denver Fashion Week this year, what was that experience like for you?
First of all, shoutout to every model, designer and photographer who busted their asses for that. Thanks to Dan & Scott, this year I had the privilege and opportunity to bring street art to the runway this year. I was honored to pair Chris Haven with an international designer.
Being the man behind the curtain is something I’m way more comfortable doing and I’m grateful to work with such incredible folks who aren’t afraid to step outside of the box and do new shit!
What is the best part about the art scene in Denver, in your opinion?
If you’re out here on your shit, trying to get it, respectfully- ain’t nothing but love. The public support of art careers is beyond incredible, there’s like 4,000 mural festivals a year but plenty of folks looking for walls.
You have the folks who wall hunt all week long to share photos of your work, also shoutout to the people who pull up to play music and vibe to create a moment while we create.
Those people are who make the scene special for muralists. The demand for mock ups with no deposit is a shameful demand y’all lol come on that shit takes forever!
Can you talk a little bit about how you feel about collaborating with other artists?
I think it’s integral to blend and learn from other humans in general. When it comes to creating, I think leaving your ego behind to seek something new is what it’s all about. Connecting, Learning, Evolving.
What is the next thing you would like to accomplish career wise?
Take a sincere pause to enjoy my own mental and spiritual progress. Facilitating connections and collaborations is something I find fun. So more behind the scenes.
Do you have a favorite project or piece that you’ve done so far? Or one that is particularly special to you?
I traveled a summer painting. Bored Apes took me all over the country and opened the door to other things! I have a piece in Five Points that’s probably my favorite in Denver. I have a couple pieces off East Colfax that are great memories one honors my kids. I also painted an abandoned water park in California.
Any upcoming events/projects on the horizon that we can look out for?
I’ll be writing a show! Can’t say too much now, but I’m really excited to see it be brought to life. In the meantime, I want to take time to focus on fatherhood and writing. Producing bigger projects and wider reaching ideas by collabing with other artists is where my focus is now.
Watch Rooster’s Comedy Roast of RubeZilla here: