Alumni Spotlight: Aaron Rux

Submitted by Arts & Sciences Web Team on

Aaron Rux
What is a nice University of Washington Spanish alumnus doing in Madrid, Spain? Would you believe working in film and advertising? How about writing soundtracks for television shows? Or performing comedy in bars and theaters? Aaron Rux is doing all three – and more.

Rux set out on a traditional path with his education and his life. He began studying Economics, resisting his inclination towards Spanish and Literature, but graduated from UW in 2004 with a Spanish and Comparative Literature Degree. After completing an M.A. in Hispanic Studies at Middlebury’s Madrid campus, Rux pursued teaching jobs in the U.S. Instead he used his Spanish to work as an insurance adjuster for a company that handled catastrophe claims. “It was interesting,” he said, “but not the right fit.”

Rux returned to Spain to clear his head. Having written poetry for years, Rux, encouraged by a friend in advertising, composed music and lyrics for a song he also performed. The song, Dear Dorothy, was used in a film nominated for a Goya (the Spanish equivalent of the Oscars). To hear the song, go to the teaser for the film, which can be found on El País or Reverbnation. The song is the first thing you will hear.

Back in the U.S., Rux worked for a marketing firm but continued collaborating with his friend in Spain. As his focus turned increasingly to music, writing and singing, Rux knew what he was going to do. “Art and writing have always been my first loves,” said Rux. So he returned once again to Spain to work on an album. “The album was a commercial failure,” laughed Rux, “but when I heard my music on the radio, for me, that felt like success.”

Five years later Rux, still in Madrid, is writing soundtracks for films, advertisements and television shows. “I’m beginning to make a name and some money,” Rux said, “but I teach English to pay the bills.”

Rux is currently working on a feature-length film due out in the fall. “There is prestige, government funding and major stars associated with this one,” said Rux. “The film, Todos Están Muertos, set during the 90’s, references the Movida Madrileña cultural movement of the late 70’s and 80’s, and is filled with punk rock, glam, and androgyny.” To learn more about the film, go to RTVE or Fotogramas.

How are the arts faring in Spain given the current economic situation? “The arts in Spain, especially film, are suffering,” said Rux. “There is corruption and an antagonistic relationship between the far right government and artists.” In response to the impasse in which many artists find themselves, a new movement called Cine Low Cost is producing zero budget films. Actors and musicians, while not being paid, are creating and working. “This allows us to do it, to get it out there, without dependence on government involvement or money,” explained Rux.

Rux also performs with a humor collective called Canódromo Abandonado in Madrid bars and theaters. “They say we do Post Humor (a genre that proposes situations and ideas rooted in philosophy),” said Rux, “but I like to think of it as an exploration of alienated thirty-somethings whose failure to integrate into the adult world has led them to create a deformed surrogate in its place. It’s like a group of precocious thirty year olds playing house.” The group recently shot a feature length film in Seattle. “ La Tumba de Bruce Lee, or Bruce Lee’s Tomb,” centers on a Spanish couple coming to Seattle to be close to Bruce Lee’s tomb. The ultimate lesson is that one needs more than a map to find one’s goal. “The acting is not comedic per se,” explained Rux, “ but more of a philosophical discourse. People think they need a certificate to achieve their goals but what they really need is confidence, experience and patience.” (To learn more about the humor collective and the film, go to Canódromo Abandonado's website. To see a teaser for film, go to Vimeo.)

Rux credits his time at UW for early lessons in patience. “I was fortunate to spend a year in Cadiz with Tony Geist (Chair),” said Rux. “He was supportive of me when I was writing really terrible poetry, teaching me the importance of time and patience to develop my craft and mature as an artist.” Rux also acknowledges professors Suzanne Petersen, Donald Gilbert-Santamaria, and Edgar O’Hara for their guidance. “I had a really good experience with all of my teachers who inspired me and helped my path unfold.”

Ultimately, as it turns out, his path chose him. “I am fortunate that I get to sit down and do what I like,” said Rux. “I teach all day and then leave school and work for seven more hours. But it’s okay because I feel lucky to be busy and to have a strong sense of purpose.”

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