Juke Ross Chronicles the Highs and Lows of His Life in 'Drifting Apart' [Q&A]
An admitted "med school dropout" and brother to 14 siblings, Juke Ross is also the next rising singer-songwriter you need on your radar. After leaving medical school, Ross ignited a burning passion for music. Now in 2019, Ross has finished his first headlining tour in support of his stellar new EP, Drifting Apart.
With a powerful force, "Burned By The Love," the album's opening track, introduces us to Ross' tumultuous narrative through dusky vocals and thrilling melodies. Meanwhile, "We Never Die" takes a step back and appreciates moments for exactly what they are, even as we inevitably progress into the future. On a darker note, Ross acknowledges that not every past effort has been worth his while in "Wasted Time."
The title track continues with this sense of sorrow, as Ross brings attention to the obvious distance present in fleeting relationships. Underneath a refreshing tempo, "Trading Places" is about not being on the same page as someone, which naturally happens to the best of us. As a bonus to his devoted fans, Ross ends Drifting Apart with acoustic versions of "Burned By The Love" and "We Never Die," which are absolutely breathtaking.
On Drifting Apart, Juke Ross shared,
"I'm uncertain of what you'll all think, but I've spent too much time worrying about that in the past. Time spent finding you is never wasted time. Love it or hate it, I'm excited to share it with the world!"
To celebrate the release of his new music, we recently chatted with Ross about acoustic guitars, his first headlining tour, and of course, Drifting Apart.
Ones To Watch: How did you first become interested in music?
Juke Ross: I got into music by listening to the radio. Good music is very special and so before I knew it, I was humming the tunes I heard on the radio and soon after, I was singing them. I was probably off-key and off-pitch but singing nonetheless! (laughter) Fast forward a few years later… I saved up some money, pawned the only jewelry I had, and bought my first guitar.
It seems like there's so much you can do with just an acoustic guitar. What about this instrument are you drawn to?
There’s no particular thing about the instrument. It’s just that, as I was growing up, all the musicians I looked up to played guitar. I was always so inspired by these guys. I wanted to emulate them. And now, guitar is just so natural, and I feel so comfortable on stage with a guitar in my hand. On my North American tour, I brought four guitars on stage with me at every show!
Can you describe your creative process for Drifting Apart?
Lots of sessions and collaboration. I always feared collaboration but forced myself to overcome it. When I began writing these tracks, I didn’t even fully trust myself but by having so many talented people around me, it ended up being a lot of fun! I’m super happy with how all the sessions turned out and all the pieces that so many people contributed along the way.
What led you to include two acoustic versions on the EP?
Of course not everyone was able to see me live on this tour, so I just wanted to make acoustic versions to give fans a little taste of what the live shows would be. Just me, my guitar, and the silence in between.
Do you have a favorite track on Drifting Apart?
This EP tells the story in as plain and simple words as I’ve ever written. It’s about my life changing and about dealing with the emotional and physical ties of leaving home, family, and loved ones for the first time in pursuit of something very indistinct. I really approach my EP as a body of work. It wouldn’t be fair to pick out one track, because each one is such an important piece of my story.
What was the most exciting moment of your headlining North American tour?
All of it is special to me! Every city has been incredible. Toronto was exhilarating not just because it was my first sold-out show of the tour but also because the crowd understood and gave me the energy to do it a little better, and push a little harder. I just felt a sense of connection to the crowd unlike anything before.
If you could collaborate with anyone in the music industry, who would you pick?
That’s a tough one as I've admired so many musicians for so long but right now I would have to say Summer Walker! We're from worlds apart but it seems we struggle with similar fears, and I’ve seen her overcome them time and time again.
Who are your Ones To Watch?
Ross: Another tough one… Off the top of my head: Joy Oladokun, Jordan Mackampa, BENEE, Matt Maeson, and Adekunle Gold.