We recently caught up with singer/songwriter Kevin Ross who is celebrating the success of his first indie single Looking For Love, which was the #1 added song on Adult R&B radio and continues to rise. In our new interview with Kevin, we talk to him about his recent change with going the Indie route, surviving the pandemic, and what he has in store for the future.
YMMW: Last year the world took a pause due to the global pandemic, being an artist and songwriter what were some of the challenges you’ve experienced with staying in a creative and metal headspace?
Kevin Ross: Honestly, when It hit I had taken a month or two to figure out what the hell was going on, so I wasn’t doing much creating. I was calling people checking in. What I will say what it allowed me to do was to be more vulnerable and connect more once I understood that we were going to be shut down for a while so, it allowed me to engage with people a lot more.
YMMW: Nowadays being an indie artist have more opportunities with getting their music out than it was before the social media and streaming days. Talk to us about what being an indie artist means to you? And what advice would you give an up-and-coming artist who’s going in the indie artist?
Kevin Ross: I would think the biggest thing being indie means for me is artistic freedom, being able to understand your brand and your business, understanding your worth, and understanding how to monetize it as well. That would also be my biggest advice to any up-and-coming artist is to understand your worth, before you partner up with anybody. You have to understand the power you have before you give it away, so that would be my advice.
YMMW: Your new single Looking for Love was the #1 added song on Adult R&B continues to rise on Billboard’s Adult R&B Airplay charts. With going the indie route tell us How are you feeling about the success this single is doing, and what was the inspiration for this single?
Kevin Ross : It’s expensive (Laughs) but no, it feels great! We’re competitors with major labels who have the major label dollars, but the power of music and the power of belief within my team and being able to go after the things we desire because we understand it’s a bigger picture. You know I say this all the time to my team “For the things that we can’t control and the things we can’t handle for the rooms we can be in God will speak on our behalf and I truly believe in that and I stand in that because it’s just certain things that are just out of our hands. People are going to come around when they come around but at the end of the day it’s all about divine alignment and once you get that alignment in place that’s when you start to see things change in your life and the product of Looking for love is an example of that. The inspiration for this single the core of it is accountability. It’s a temporary love story and it’s just saying whether it’s a male or female it’s like you can’t ask for something you’re not ready for. If you say you want a man that’s this and that or a woman that is like this and that, and you’re still out here in these streets. So when that man or woman approaches you, you’re not even ready mentally or physically ready for what you asked for. So this song is a story about a man who is actually ready to commit and his woman is not, she pretending like she is. So he’s holding her accountable.
YMMW: I like that, a lot of people sing about love either it’s about a love gone wrong or being in love you never hear a song where someone is not really ready for the type of love they ask for so I love the direction you took that song. With looking for love out single and video out and having its success, do you have a follow-up single planned? If so what can you tell us about this new single?
Kevin Ross: Oh yea we have a collaboration coming soon, it’s called Wave Runner featuring Rotimi and Afro B, so it will be my first R&B/Afrobeat song. I’m grateful to these brothers for hopping on this record and really bringing it to life. I’m truly excited about it. Drive 2 comes out on October 29th right at the end of October. I’m excited for everybody to get it into these vibes. It’s been a lot of growth for me as an artist and a businessman.
YMMW: Speaking of Drive 2 . Tell us more about this project and what fans can expect.
Kevin Ross: Drive 2 it’s more of an all-purpose kind of record meaning, you can wake up in the morning and play it straight through or you can go to sleep at night and play it straight through. You can play this record at any time, you know you have those records where you’re like Ah I’ll only play this when I go to the club or when it’s sleepy time or whatever. This record is truly an all-purpose kind of vibe so I’m very excited for people to take it in just to see what they think and to see where I’m at. The beauty of music is subjective so everybody’s not going to like it but for the people who are into it, I just hope that it serves their lifestyle and they have a couple of songs to add to the soundtrack of whatever at in life.
YMMW: You mentioned your song Waverunner with Rotimi will you have any other collaborations on the album or are you keeping that a secret for now?
Kevin Ross: You know what honestly, I was grateful to get those two, It’s interesting when you reach out to other artists sometimes when you reach out to other artists it can get a little tricky. Everybody’s either releasing around the same time or whatever the case may be but, as It stands because this record is being mastered now but as it stands it’s just Rotimi and Afro B on there, which is fine because I don’t do too many features so to get these two it’s awesome, but I’m looking to collaborate with whoever wants to work.
YMMW: You’ve worked with a lot of legends such as Trey Songz, Nicki Minaj, SWV, Toni Braxton, and Johnny Gill who have had longevity in the music industry. As an artist what were some of the things you’ve learned from them that you’ve used in your own career?
Kevin Ross: Trey’s work ethic is on another level in the sense of his ability to balance, to be able to live life but also to work extremely hard. With an OG like Johnny Gill he’s a comedian he is funny as hell honestly so for him it’s like not take life too seriously while you’re still grinding you can still have fun and you can laugh even when things aren’t all the way right. SWV those are three incredibly independent songwriting women who know what they want and understand why they’re successful and the reason why their legacy works is because of the fact they understand each other and understand what role they pay as far as keeping the group together and I think that’s very important, I’m not in a group for as far as a team everybody understanding their role. With Tank his resilience in a sense of despite everything the narrative of his career in the sense of him catching his biggest record 15 years into the business says a lot of him being patient waiting. Of course, he’s written number one records and classics but to have written your own that’s just a sign of resilience. Each artist I have worked with possesses something truly successful.
YMMW: You’re the owner of your own label Art Society Music Group, tell us more about what having ownership over your music means to you, and What are some of the advantages and struggles that you’ve experienced with running your own label?
Kevin Ross: I’ll start with the struggles first, the struggle is that now you have to delegate your power to other people you have to trust other people to get things done, it’s like these are my babies take care of them you know? Also, when it’s time for you to release an album and you’re doing production agreements and signing off on writer splits all that stuff you really get to see people’s characters as well. It’s like are you going to stick to what we agreed to over the phone or are you going to switch up once your lawyer is involved. With major labels, you’re just like I wrote the record and perform it y’all take care of the rest but, being the Owner you have to make sure taking care of the well-being of that. Usually, with major labels, they take care of all of that stuff, with being the owner you have to make sure every step of the process is being taken care of so that you can take care of the people that are there for you. The great success and the positive of it is you get to see what you’re actually making I noticed I was making more than what I was told. You also get to learn more beyond streams you get to know more about licensing and you get to know how s Terrestrial radio and satellite radio it’s so many different avenues where the masters of your records can go and that’s the major positive it’s like when you’re making this money are you investing back into yourself are you betting on yourself are you doing the things that need to be done to grow and to prosper cause as in indie you wait to be able to sail and to grow into a sizable company. That’s where it all starts the master and the investment and investing back into yourself when you see a great return, so I think it’s a lot of upsides more than it is the negative that you can enjoy as an indie artist. It’s a grind it’s work but if it’s working that encourages you to push forward.
YMMW: With working with the great artist, you have worked with so far, who are some artists that you would love to collaborate with or write for that you haven’t yet?
Kevin Ross: I’m down to work, it doesn’t necessarily matter who it is or I just love the process of collaborating.
YMMW: I would say my favorite coloration you’ve done is the one with you and Jade Novah for the song Bulletproof. I love that song
Kevin Ross: Ah yes, I remember that day I remember that day more than I do recording the song to be quite honest all kudos and love to Jade and her husband Devin they already had the song done so when they asked me It wasn’t like I had to write anything I just had to come in and sing. We recorded out in California, they brought me into the vegan lifestyle, we had vegan tacos and a whole lot of tequila. That’s the thing I look forward to not the tequila (laughs) more so the collaboration the memories that you make getting to know these people on a different level. It allowed me to have a greater appreciation for your fellow artist, your peers.
YMMW: With the world slowly opening up again will you be heading on the road to tour anytime soon to promote Drive 2?
Kevin Ross: My ass is on the road now! I just got off-road like two or three days ago, I was in Chicago we did a show out there in City winery. We have a show in Oakland on October 13th. We have a show in Houston on October 15th. We have a show in Wilmington Delaware on October 29th. Then we have a show in DC on November 5th and then we have a show in Atlanta on November 20th. It’s certain dates that we are filling out and making it make sense, but we are back on the road already we just getting prepared for 2022. All these shows we are doing we are working out the kinks while we are on stage.
YMMW: With covid going on have you seen any differences doing shows pre-covid to now?
Kevin Ross: Its big differences especially in the market that I serve I’m doing 300-500 seaters so it’s a lot more intimate than festivals, so for these things it’s a lot of covid restrictions so you got to be vaccinated or you have to have a test that you can prove you are covid free. It’s a different kind of energy going into it where you may not keep everybody coming out because of their personal preference about how they want to handle the vaccine or how they want to handle anything when it pertains to their bodies when it comes to the pandemic, so you have to respect that. Also making sure that you’re one of the front runners as an artist despite however I may feel or whatever my thoughts are, as an artist it is my duty to be vaccinated it’s my duty to get the boosters. I may not necessarily completely agree but if I’m going to be traveling city to city I don’t want to pose myself as a super spreader. If someone’s auntie or grandma comes to see me I don’t want to be the reason If I sing to them or touch their hand that they are In the hospital because of me. We have to as artists and performers we are in the service industry and not in a bad way, but we are here to serve the people. We get paid to be of service. We are people that move around quite a lot and we can be high risk to anyone, so we have to do what we need to do and think about the people we are around and think about their families. We just have to change our mindset as artists and forget all that conspiracy theory stuff. I’ve lost people to covid and so have others. These strains are real and it’s up to us about where we are going to do about it.