(Long Island, N.Y.) I recently had the pleasure to listen to a CD from a hot, up-and-coming artist. My first thought seconds after I hit play: wow, he’s talented! His songs are catchy, smooth and memorable. And— he just so happens to be from Long Island. Danny is described as an expressive singer, guitarist and disciplined songwriter–mixing melody and rock n roll with honest and inventive lyrics. My description? Musically brilliant. I’m now a fan and I’ll be following in career, that’s for sure. I had a chance to Chat with Danny about his musical roots and his debut EP: Introducing Danny Ross!
The Long Island Exchange:
When did you know you wanted to be a musician? Did you love music as a child?
Ross: I grew up on 60’s oldies music when I was very young. I had a big Elvis poster hanging up in my room and I ran a radio station, playing records from my fictional group, Danny and the Sailors. It wasn’t until I was thirteen and listened to a Beatles Anthology record that my life was transformed by music. I was blown away. I went out and bought every Beatles record, which inspired me to start tinkering with the keyboard collecting dust in our basement. From there I started writing songs, joined a band, and here I am today.
Where on Long Island are you from? Did you grow up here?
I grew up in Melville, Long Island nearby Huntington, which was a great environment for a young, budding musician like me. I played venues all across the island, including the Long Island Music Festival (semi-finalist), Hamptons Music Festival and a benefit concert for 9/11 that I helped to organize at Half Hollow Hills High School East in November 2001, raising $1000 for the Dennis Leary Firefighters Foundation.
So tell me a little bit about your musical influences?
First and foremost, my influences are 60’s based pop and rock music, especially Paul McCartney’s work in The Beatles and The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds. But I also love The Kinks, Paul Simon, Elvis Costello, Neil Young. These artists put such detail into their craft that every melody flowed effortlessly and every lyric resonated, all while crossing over genres and barriers. In my opinion, the artists that continue this tradition today include Wilco, Ryan Adams and The White Stripes to name a few. I’ve also gotten heavy into old American music – mainly piano jazz like Oscar Peterson and Americana folk like Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie. I’m doing my best to make pop music popular again.
Breaking in the music industry is tough. What was your biggest obstacle?
At first, my biggest obstacle was fulfilling my potential as a songwriter and performer. As a self-taught pianist, vocalist and songwriter, I always felt one step behind the kids that were classically trained. While at Cornell University, I was able to create a major called “Popular Music Composition and Performance,” which allowed me to work with Professors in Jazz and Poetry, and perform a concert of my material with a seventeen piece band for my college thesis. Now that I’ve put that behind me and recorded my first EP, Introducing Danny Ross!, my biggest obstacle will be to get out there and win people over.
Your CD is amazing! How did you get if off the ground? How long did it take you to complete it?
The internet has really helped to get the CD off the ground. Through my website (www.dannyrossmusic.com), myspace, and itunes, the album has definitely created some noise. Playing shows has also really helped to spread the word.
Because this is my first CD, Introducing Danny Ross! has a lot of ideas that stem back to my teenage years. Having learned so much about songwriting since then, I’ve applied what I know to these songs so that the lyrics are truthful and purposeful and the music is engaging and detailed. The most important thing I’ve learned is to follow my instinct completely, in music and in everything else.