Leith Ross' debut album, "To Learn," is a remarkable showcase of their exceptional talent for capturing raw emotions that often elude verbal expression. Leith stands out as an authentic, vulnerable storyteller, weaving a tapestry of honesty throughout the entire album. With standout tracks like "Guts," "We'll Never Have Sex," and "To Me" Leith presents poetic narratives that delve into the complexities of love, loss, betrayal, and the intricacies of human connections.
We're excited to have had the opportunity to talk to Leith about their musical journey, their debut album, and Shrek (their grandfather) Check it out!
1. What have you been listening to lately?
Carly Rae Jepsen, Feist and Corinne Bailey Rae mostly! My favorite springtime music.
2. How do planes stay up in the air?
LET ME KNOW IF YOU EVER FIND OUT.
3. My friend Erin actually introduced me to your music a while back. What is the WORST piece of advice that you can give her?
Rise and grind. Wake up every morning at 5 am and drink a green smoothie and go for a run. (DO NOT DO THIS)
4. What did you listen to growing up?
Almost everything, I was very lucky to have parents that I recently realized actually had insanely good music taste. Old country, folk from many different places, soul, R&B, some things that cannot be accurately described with a genre, and then my dad doing horrible parodies of all of the above.
5. What is on your anti-bucket list of things you NEVER want to do in your lifetime?
Sky dive, bungee jump, roller coasters, swimming in the ocean where there could be sharks, going anywhere high up... I’m basically whatever the antithesis of a thrill seeker is. Safety seeker. Good times haver. Danger avoider.
6. If you had to start a band with 3 fictional characters, who would you choose?
The Doctor from Doctor Who, Gimli from Lord of the Rings, and Shrek.
7. What is Shrek’s last name?
I swear to god I did not see this question before I answered the last one. My mouth fell open. But um… Shrek’s last name…Ross. He’s my grandfather.
8. Last song that you cried to?
“Sand and Water” by Beth Nielsen Chapman. Insanely sad song.
9. On a scale from 1-10 how well is this interview going so far?
10/10, I’ve literally never had this much fun answering questions.
10. Any local Ottawa artists or bands that you think everyone should check out?
I’m not sure, I haven’t lived there for awhile! But I think a dear friend I went to highschool with who makes music is still out there, and making music under fanclubwallet. Love their music so much.
Isaac Gutierrez for BL Mag: When did you first show interest in music, and what was the process of going from that to actually writing and recording your own songs?
Leith Ross: I was very very very very young. One of those toddlers that just would not stop putting on shows for the family, whether or not the family wanted them to. And as far as translating that into actually writing and recording songs, I honestly can’t even really remember how it happened! It was so gradual and most of it was just about growing up and going to school and learning a bit more about the business and how and why people record music and leaning on the help of teachers and friends. A bit of a blur.
Congratulations on your upcoming, debut album, To Learn. Can you talk to us a bit about the inspirations behind the album, and what the writing and recording process was like?
As always, the inspiration is mostly just things that have happened to me in my funny little life and the ways that I have been learning to process them. It explores themes of heartbreak and betrayal and just… sadness. But also, optimism and doing your best and learning as much as you can and having that be enough. Writing for me is pretty constant and natural, and recording was so chill and wonderful. Working with Joey Landreth was a dream come true, and we would just wake up on any given day and decide spontaneously to go into the studio and get something done. It was caring and careful and so much fun.
What did you personally take away from the process of making this record, and what do you hope other people get from it?
I personally just continued to learn a lot about myself and about my feelings and about the space I take up in this world, which I suppose is very in line with the themes on the record itself, and I hope that other people get anything at all from it. If it can be helpful to anyone in any way, I am happy.
You mentioned on social media that your song Guts is one of the most vulnerable things that you’ve ever released. What is like taking the turbulence of a heavy situation and transforming that into an album/art, and at the end of the whole process ending up with something that you’re happy with/proud of?
It’s really hard and very vulnerable, and it doesn’t always feel good. I don’t even know if I’ll always know for sure that it was something worth doing, but every time I get a message from someone about how much it helped them and how comforted they felt and how it encouraged them to doing something for themselves, I take a deep breath and it all feels very very worth it. Also, sometimes I am not happy with or proud of things because other more complicated feelings get in the way, and that is very very okay. Some days I am thrilled and some days I feel small, and I want to delete every trace I ever existed. I contain multitudes. *said with funny voice*
I think something that stands out to me about your songwriting is how immensely vulnerable the writing feels. I think it allows your listeners to connect/immerse themselves in your music. What is your songwriting process like? Is there anything in particular that you like to focus on the most?
Thank you so much. <3 My songwriting process is very very intense and very fast. I usually write a song in about an hour or two and then it is done, and honestly, I hardly edit them either. It’s a very intense, emotional experience, and then it’s just kind of over. And sometimes it’s hard to then finish and release them because I worry that I could’ve said something better, or I could’ve been smarter or cooler or thought up a better metaphor… but in the end, I always resonate with what I originally wrote the most. Leith who wrote the song knows more about the song then Leith who is overthinking it later.
Do you have that connection with your listeners in mind when you’re writing a song?
Not usually… My songs spring from a personal experience or feeling, and I’ll be so all consumed with it that I can hardly think about anything else. Then again, I have actually written some songs about wanting to connect with people and wanting to feel like a part of the lives of the listeners, and for us to know each other, so on occasion, yes. They are the song itself!
Do you ever have any songs that feel like they may be too vulnerable to share?
Oh yeah. Big time. I have many songs that will never see the light of day, but that have given me so much. The chance to cry and to understand myself and the people I love and the world. Some songs are much too precious.
The first song of yours that I ever heard was I’d Have To Think About It, and I immediately fell in love with your music. Can you give us some background on that song?
Well… I was madly in love with someone for about 6 years, and I just really thought I would never ever feel that way about anybody else. (It wasn’t true… now it’s like I can’t stop falling in love with people.)
I’m actually planning on catching your show in Dallas in May! What can we expect from a Leith Ross concert?
Hehe… lots of crying from me and the attendees, lots of sweet singing, lots of laughs and way too many personal anecdotes from yours truly, and some pretty sad folk songs I suppose.
What can we expect to see/hear from Leith Ross in the near future?
You know what, I literally have no idea but I’m very excited to find out. I have lots of songs to record and some plans to start doing that and other than that, who knows! I’m playing it by queer.
Thank you so much for taking the time to do this!
Thank you!!! This was genuinely so fun. :-)