Singer/songwriter Danny Ross has been playing music for more than half his life, but he appears to have had a wavering commitment. Ross fell in love with music in the mid-‘90s at the age of ten, but didn’t release his first EP until 2009; he had a major breakthrough as a finalist on the 2013 series of The Voice; and he recently re-emerged with the single We Are Songs, taken from the forthcoming album, Aquamarine. Ahead of a brief single launch tour, Ross tells Beat that his intermittent visibility has nothing to with fluctuating enthusiasm.
“Perhaps you could now call me a reformed perfectionist,” he says. “There could be up to 20 different versions of each song in my iTunes. There are a lot of great quotes on perfectionism from artists to psychologists and they’re helpful to an extent, but to be honest I had to learn how to effectively express my pattern of abandonment in order to stop it running my life.”
We Are Songs is an intimate and emotionally stirring track, bolstered by searing fuzz bass and live drums. The title comes from the concluding line of the chorus, which refers to a pair of lovers who were once inseparably close, but now only exist together in the realm of songs. Ross feels deeply connected to this sentiment.
“I believe in the premise of that song: to collapse the polarity of right and wrong between people and perhaps transcend the victim/perpetrator dynamic that some people – myself included – can find themselves in.”
“We were soul mates / Now we’re songs” is a curious, ear catching phrase, which came to Ross in the unlikeliest of songwriting scenarios.
“A lot of the album was written in my head on a silent meditation retreat in the Blue Mountains outside of Sydney,” he says. “It’s not what you’re supposed to focus on in that environment, but I figured that out later. We Are Songs emerged all at once. That song has had three forms – one that feels a bit like Fleetwood Mac’s Big Love, one that’s like a half-time EDM ballad, and the one I released,” he says.
We Are Songs launch shows are happening in Melbourne, Sydney and Ross’ home base in the Kangaroo Valley. He’s put together a five-piece band for the Melbourne show.
“Our lead guitarist, Tarran Webster, is my former guitar student.” Ross says. “I taught him everything I knew at the time and now he gets to pay me back. I grew up with James Waples, who’s playing drumkit. He’s a jazz player, renowned for his drum tuning in certain circles, and happens to be Donny Benet’s little brother, we all played in high school together. Daniel Pinkerton [keys, guitar, sampler] is a member of Seavera and is a multi-instrumentalist producer who I’m very fortunate to have on board. Brendan Love [bass] is an integral part of The Teskey Brothers lineup and a true gentleman. I feel blessed to have this particular constellation of musicians for the live shows.”
Many listeners discovered Ross via The Voice. It’s not uncommon for musicians to distance themselves from such singing competitions later down the line, but Ross has reached a comfortable understanding of the experience.
“Performing live to that many people for 90 seconds at the end of a 14 hour day felt like being in a microwave too close to the sun – a uniquely galvanising process and a radical education in showing up, which had a lot to do with my attraction to the process.
“In the age of the internet, I figured it was more authentic to accept the association, especially as this release [Aquamarine] is a Danny Ross record. People concerned with artistry seem to be more interested in what I’m doing now than what colour coat I wore when reciting The Joker for Nicole Ritchie’s entertainment.”
BY AUGUSTUS WELBY
DANNY ROSS will play The Wesley Anne on Friday August 12 with Harmony Byrne and The Teskey Brothers.