Interview: Kevin Ross
Mon, 03 Nov 2014 14:33:03
Kevin Ross will get you talking with his new EP, Dialogue In the Grey. [iTunes link] He's got one of those kinds of voices you never forget. It's both personal and powerful, and he delivers each and every time he steps up to the mic. He's the consummate R&B talent, and he's about to change the whole game. This Dialogue is just the first of many to come.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Kevin Ross talks Dialogue In the Grey, movies, and so much more.
Did you approach Dialogue In the Grey with one particular vision or vibe in mind?
Yeah, I love albums, and I love the experience of taking people on a journey. Even if it's four songs, it needs to be fluid. It needs to all flow together. That's what it was about. There were certain particular songs that resonated with me. I said, "Okay, cool, let's mesh this together. Let's make this journey for people". It was definitely intentional for me to create those transitions and play it straight through. For anyone who hasn't listened to the EP yet, I recommend listening to it from top-to-bottom in order to really get the full spectrum of what Dialogue in the Grey is about.
What was that message you wanted to communicate throughout the EP?
Well, Dialogue in the Grey is a coming-of-age project so it was me trying to figure out who I am as a man and trying to figure out all of this stuff during tumultuous periods of my life, dealing with heartbreak and disappointment. I was realizing certain things about myself I didn't like. For example, with "Overrated" featuring Ne-Yo, I'm expressing, "You know what? I'm not that kind of guy who's all about the single life and jumping from girl to girl". I'll take love any day over just being single. While growing up, you hear so much about that bachelor life. It seems so cool and sounds fun, but until you try it for yourself, you don't know what's for you and what's not for you. That's what I realized. Also, on the EP, I have a record called "Dreams".
That one really stands out!
Thank you so much! It's a longing record, if you're dealing with a long distance relationship and you're trying to make it work. On a bigger scale, it could concern your actual dreams and that whole process of making them tangible. It's like, "Don't make me dream if I can have it right here and right now as far as going after what I want in life". There are two things you can take from that particular song. I was getting a lot of ideas and experiences off of my chest and showing people being in the Grey is okay. Sometimes, it's not about having these definitive answers. Most of us live in the Grey area. It's fine. Being in Grey is beautiful sometimes. I decided to have a conversation in my time of the Grey.
That's probably one of the best places to make music. It's not black or white. You're open to different sounds and styles. Was it important for you to venture out musically?
Absolutely! I wanted it to feel the way the title is. I wanted it to feel Grey and obscure in certain parts, but I still wanted it to be relatable to the audience so they could leave with something and say, "Okay, this feels good!" The concepts, the melodies, and transitional parts are all conversation pieces. I wanted people to leave with something to talk about. You don't have to like every track on there, but I want you to leave talking about something. I agree with you about that in terms of experimenting with different sounds and trying to get it right. The whole process was extremely fun for me.
Often, music can feel isolated. With the word Dialogue, this feels universal and open from the outset.
Yes, I definitely want to articulate that not only on the record but in my show as well. I want to be as close to the fans and the people who are listening as possible. It's a common thread. We all have the same emotions. My job is to try and evoke all of them within in one project [Laughs]. I want to make you feel a certain type of way about my music, even reflecting on your life and seeing how my music can influence and inspire your life and get you through your day.
What's the story behind "Don't Say You Will"?
It's a cover that was made by Kanye West on 808s & Heartbreak. When I heard the record, I was like, "Man, this was so dope!" With his emotion behind it, it really felt like he meant it. During my Grey period of time, I had that record playing over and over. I thought, "I have to make my own version. I just need to sing it and get it off my chest". I wanted to sing it differently. The producer blessed me with a brilliant track. That's how I felt during that time as far as dealing with women. It was like, "Don't make a promise you can't keep". If you can't show me stability or anything as far as consistency, I don't necessarily need you around. I wanted somebody I could grow with and share my thoughts with. It's hard to find someone you can divulge all of your deepest secrets and emotions to. When you have a bad day, you come home, and you're like, "Man, I just need somebody to talk to". Everyone is so concerned with what they're doing that it's hard to find it. When you say something and don't fulfill it, I'll definitely sing a song about it.
Is one of your goals to tell stories with the songs?
Absolutely! One of my biggest inspirations in music is Stevie Wonder. His ability and gift was to paint these elaborate pictures. That's what I fell in love with. Listening to Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway, Marvin Gaye, Ne-Yo, and Kanye, they paint pictures. They're great painters. I'm just a product of it. In a sense, it naturally happened to me that I wanted to tell that story and paint that picture and really get how it felt for me to be in that process. It wasn't about me being cool. It was about me being honest. This is the most vulnerable I've ever been in my whole life.
Does the EP pave the way for a full-length?
Oh yeah! Next year we'll be dropping a full-length album. I am super excited about it. One cool thing about Dialogue in the Grey is it's just a chapter of the book. As a creative being, I never want to be stuck in the same place. "Dream" is a symbol that I've seen a light at the end of the tunnel, and I'm like, "Okay cool, there is hope. There is something there". I want people to tune into the full-length to really follow the rest of the story. I'm still trying to figure out who I am as a man. It won't sound Grey. We already have that EP. It will be brighter. There will be more songs and colors. There will be more experimentation and storytelling.
If you were to compare Dialogue In the Grey to a movie or a combination of movies, what would you compare it to?
It's its own movie! I couldn't even compare it to anything else. What I was going through at that time felt like my own personal little movie. The whole EP video-wise is a story. Be on the lookout for that top of the year!
What are some of your favorite movies?
I like She Hate Me by Spike Lee, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, I thought that was brilliant, Brown Sugar, and I could go on and on! I love watching movies.
...and check out these versions from 'The Grey Series' -
See our review of Dialogue In The Grey here!