If Justin Timberlake brought sexy back, then Ross David is bringing the art and innocence of romance back. Born and raised in a small town in Indiana, he has never let fear of the unknown stop him from pursuing his dreams. Ross’ music embodies his sweet disposition with tales of love, dreams and future endeavors. From his successes on YouTube and Pandora to his 4 independent albums on iTunes, Ross David pioneers a new trail of music where authenticity and relatability join forces. Read our exclusive sit down with Ross David as he divulges the secrets to his accomplishments, guilty pleasures and upcoming releases.
The Lala: Thank you for sitting down with us today.
Ross: I just want to say thank you so much for the interview, It’s really been an honor.
The honor is all ours. Can you tell us a little bit about about yourself and how you got started in music?
Ross: Growing up in church and being around music all of my life really pushed me in the direction I chose to go. I love creating music and sharing it, but I’m thankful that I had the opportunity to play drums and sing in church at such a young age. My dad was the music leader, my mom an incredible singer, and my uncle was the pastor. I had an “in”, and I was around the stuff all day at home and throughout the week at church. There’s nothing quite like messing up on the drums in front of a few hundred people, and everyone looking at you. I remember getting up in the middle of a song, going downstairs and crying during service…I was so young.
Who’s your hero?
Ross: Jay Ollero. He’s inspired, guided and truly taught me in so many ways.
What’s the most romantic gesture you’ve made?
Ross: My first, ‘real’, girlfriend was back during high school. We were so young that her parents hadn’t let us go on an actual date yet. So when the time came, and she was old enough, they let us. I built a small room on the back of my parents’ deck; painted it, put a window in, had a small space heater and jazz music playing (in a CD player of course). My family all helped out a lot, and my cousin even played “server” for the evening and waited on us. I remember carrying her up the staircase, blindfolded, because I didn’t want her to know where we were. There were white Christmas lights, then candles inside. It’s a great memory. I named it after her, so under the window sill, painted on the wall, it said “The Brooklyn Cafe”.
What is some advice that you have received that has helped guide you throughout your life?
Ross: From my mentor, and manager, Jay Ollero: Honor your gifts, educate yourself and keep good people around you.
Where is your favorite place to create?
Ross: My bedroom. I’ve decorated and painted the walls with a contemporary style that I like, and everything is really clean and ‘in its place’. Sometimes I can open the windows and light some candles and really give the place a romantic feel.
What inspires you?
Ross: Love, romance and everyday life. I’ve been told that your thoughts determine your feelings, and that your feelings determine what you attract. I like to think about the positive, uplifting and romantic things in life, and in turn, that influences the lyrics and melodies.
Song writing or song performing? And why…
Ross: I enjoy both just as much, and they really work together in so many ways. It’s more lucrative and practical to be a song-writer, but I don’t think I would ever give up that feeling of singing a song you’ve written in front of a crowd. It’s as much of a drug as they say it is. So I suppose I can’t choose.
What is your current Netflix obsession?
Ross: Hahaha…Netflix is amazing. I just finished “Parks and Recreation”, before that “The Office”. Now I’m catching up by watching “The Walking Dead”. Any suggestions on new shows?
What separates you from other musicians?
Ross: What separates me is the opportunity to be mentored. I’m thankful for it every day, and I don’t take it for granted. I know that I will mentor and help others as I’ve been mentored and helped, because it’s the difference between finding something out the hard way, over a period of 15 years, or over a few hours on the phone from someone who’s been there already. Also, and within that, what really means the world of difference is the fantastic team I’m blessed to work with every day. Matt Hennessy, the Grammy Chapter Pres. & VSOP Studio owner in Chicago, Jay Ollero, an accomplished song-writer and leader, who is also my mentor and manager, Ty Caughell at VSOP Studios, Photographer Chad Ulam. These guys all have their own art; their own craft that they go to bed thinking about at night. I’m honored and set-apart to be working with them.
How do you stay motivated?
Ross: I love what I do, so that motivates me to keep writing songs, performing, recording and growing. But fans of my music, supporters at a show, or someone that even just left a comment on YouTube all motivate me very much. My family, friends and mentors also encourage me, and they are the “good people” I’ve been told to keep close.
You are so active on YouTube and Twitter with fans, what drives you to maintain your personal connections with your fans?
Ross: Thank you for saying that, it means a lot to me. I’ve told myself some time ago, that I will be the most down-to-earth and accessible artist there is. It seemed to me that even the non-famous artists I had encountered were “untouchable” so-to-speak; they didn’t talk to people before and after a show etc. I decided early on that I wanted to care about these people and it helps that I really enjoy connecting with them. Like my sister, Taylor, always says, “I love people…”. People are crazy, and inventive and amazing.
What’s your favorite food?
Ross: Grandma’s pasta!
Do you find that you are experiencing more growth learning the ropes on your own through YouTube as opposed to being managed by a major label?
There are some pros and cons of being Independent vs. being on a major label, but I can say there’s been valuable lessons and organic growth that’s happened, because I had the opportunity to make decisions and “mess up”.
Who would be in your dream musical collaboration?
Ross: I will, (Power of positive thinking! Ha), write and perform with John Legend and Bruno Mars. Absolutely talented and professional writers/performers/musicians.
We know you have a love for the skies, what’s your favorite thing about flying planes?
Ross: Well it’s funny that you ask. I just had a lesson today, and seeing the horizon over the beautiful snow-covered ground was really awe-inspiring. It reminds me that there’s nothing we can’t learn, and that we can truly become and do whatever we would like to. #rhyme
Music is a profession that is super personal, how do you overcome the fear that people may not like a new song you’ve written?
Ross: Well my brothers have kept me grounded by making fun of just about every song I show them! Haha. Honestly, I still experience that fear, even in a small way, when I try a new song out or play a slow, heart-felt song in a setting that’s not necessarily conducive to slower songs. The way to overcome that is to write a whole lot of songs, and perform in front of different groups of people- You’ll gain more confidence just like you would gain any other skill with practice.
What’s your favorite way to relax?
Ross: I love working out at my local gym, or chilling in my room with some Netflix. Actually, naps are God’s gift to man. I might have to say taking a nap would be my favorite way.
Who’s your biggest critic?
Ross: There’s a guy on YouTube that thumbs down all of my videos. LOL Actually, it’s probably my mentor, Jay. But, he doesn’t break me down, he constructively builds me up. He’s learned to be “tough on the songs”, and he is. I sent him a song today that I loved and was crazy-excited about. He said, “It wasn’t that great of a first listen”. Honestly, I had to say, “It’s OK Ross, just keep writing.” But when it’s the one, he tells me it’s the one, and I know he means it. *Puts on big-boy pants and goes back to drawing board.*
Do you ever find it difficult to convey your ideas or goals to other people?
Ross: I think I’ve always enjoyed conveying ideas, but I remember times I tried to share a personal goal with someone that didn’t believe I could achieve it. That taught me to keep some goals to myself; they don’t always need to be shared, but they can be on your vision board, in your room, and be just as effective.
Do you have any new projects on the horizon?
Ross: Yes! We just released “Future Love”, my first fully-produced EP, on iTunes and Spotify, so we’re excited about that. Right now I’m writing for my next release which will include a popular, unreleased song, “Goddess”. I can’t wait to put that work out for everyone, and I know my team is going to knock it out of the park. We’ll be recording that within the next few months or so this year.