Model Shaun Ross completes his musical makeover
With Shaun ross‘ first album, Change, the world-famous model completes a metamorphosis that began in 2017 with her first single. It’s no small feat to shift gears like this when you’ve been so successful at something before, but Ross is already no stranger to transformation, which is a theme in his music to begin with. by “Chrysalis” from 2018 and throughout Change.
“I think everyone should have a different career path,” Ross said on a call, expressing that once the world puts us in a certain place where we are, we can easily get stuck. in there. “I just wanted to try something different, something that I resonate with – and I love music too.”
While Ross’s obsession with music dates back to childhood, it was around five years ago that he began to seriously try his hand at creating it on his own. By this point, he had already appeared in music videos for Beyoncé (“Pretty Hurts”), Katy Perry (“ET”) and Lana Del Rey (“Tropico”).
Created with producers and musical collaborators Michael Tritter and Carlos Chairez, and guests like Rush Davis, Change traces an eclectic journey through R&B and soul with electronic and pop textures, ranging from shimmering experimentation to avant-garde.
“Michael Tritter and Carlos; one thing I love about them is that they are also old school and come from this world of electronic experimentation, ”said Ross. “They’re like those cyber-funk mavericks. They are so funny. When you find someone who understands your sound and what you’re trying to do, it works so well. “
While he offers accessible entry points like the pop stars that Shaun Ross has appeared with in videos, overall, it brings him – as a musician – closer to the company of adventurous and genre artists like Janelle. Monae, Thundercat and Blood Orange, whose idiosyncratic creations are loosely inspired by late 20th century sounds, even as they look to the third decade of the 21st.
This diversity of influences and styles is clearly expressed in Shaun Ross ‘own music: firmly rooted in black American styles – soul, R&B, hip-hop – while drawing inspiration from’ 80s pop and music. contemporary and experimental electronics which do not always have such clear roots in black music.
“A lot of people don’t realize how much house music actually stems from black culture because it stems from gospel music,” he said.
Ross’s exposure to music at his parents’ home in the Bronx was eclectic, which left a deep impression.
“My parents always allowed creative music to be played in the house on anything that was primarily broadcast on the radio,” he said.
Early inspirations included Donnie Hathaway, Lalah Hathaway, Amel Larreiux and Bjork.
“If I could collaborate with anyone on music, it would be between Meshell Ndegeocello and Boards of Canada,” he said.
Ross said he felt some of the distinctions between hip-hop and R&B were arbitrary, drawing connections between Frank Ocean and rap legends like Biggie Smalls and Jay Z. Ocean “also paints the picture of what actually happening ”with his music, he mentioned.
He is comfortable with describing his music as soultronic or future soul, a fusion of soul sensibilities and electronic production.
“What I love about electronic soultronic or soul music is so colorful,” he says. “There are so many different people in my mind, you have Moses Sumney, veterans like Jamiroquai, Remy Shand, Maxwell.
Ross also cited Beverly Glenn-Copeland, whose electroacoustic ambient creations are in a category of their own, as inspiration.
Change begins and ends with oral poetry on social transformation which, although it was recorded before the pandemic, is very reminiscent of the upheavals of the COVID era. These interludes are performed by Philadelphia poet and performance artist Ursula Rucker whose collaborations with King Britt, The Roots and other producers and musicians made her famous in the 90s. He said he wanted the young people of future generations know his work.
“I’m a huge fan,” Ross said. “I had known about Ursula’s work since I was a teenager.”
After Ross hooked up with Rucker, he found out that she was also a fan of him.
Shift the first two singles, “LIVIN” and the ethereal 80s pop of “WX5”, follow the intro of the album. From there, he plunges into the more introspective “You Care”, which floats almost without percussion. It’s a mood picked up later on the album with the dream “Learn Something New”.
The album shows other atmospheres on “Simple”, which is upbeat and nostalgic, and “Blue Ego”, which has a clear house influence, more dancefloor than the other tracks.
Ross said “Cream,” a collaboration with Rush Davis and the album’s third single, as a track that stood out personally. He said Davis is a dear friend and frequent contributor who introduced him to his producers.
“I love his spirit and what he’s ready to create,” he told Davis.
“Cream” is a song about “having the strength and resilience to go through anything and just like that to win,” he said.
Even before the pandemic, Ross said he felt most people move too fast in life without stopping to appreciate the scale of the universe. With the variety of sounds and styles featured on Change and its current themes of change, renewal and resilience, Ross’s debut album will be an album to stop and savor.
“I’ll slow you down,” he said.
Follow writer Justin Allen on Twitter.com/_justinallen_.