Your EP, 'My Enemy' is out now. What was the writing process for the collection of songs?
I usually have a long break between releases, so that means there’s a lot of time off to take in new experiences and focus on other parts of life. When I feel the creative itch again, I sign up for a songwriting class at the Old Town School in Chicago, which is something I’ve done on and off for almost 30 years.
‘My Enemy’—and nearly everything that I’ve released over the past 15 years—is a song that originated as one of the weekly class assignments. For example, track three, ‘Let You Go,’ began as a ‘word list’ task where we were given a list of about 20 words and needed to use at least five of them in our lyrics.
What’s so great about this class is the positivity and constructive criticism that comes from it. You write a song, play it for the group and get immediate feedback that, without exception, makes the song better.
Is there a track on the EP that is a personal favourite?
The line I often give when discussing any of my creative endeavours is that I love all my children the same. There are bits of each of them that are particularly satisfying.
The overall vibe of ‘My Enemy’—tempo, arrangement, singing lower in my register, Gerald Dowd’s drumming—it’s just a fun track.
‘All This Time’ is the first time I used samples on a song. And the toy piano part became a thing just because Steve (Dawson) had one in his studio, and I was playing along to the track early on. As he was editing something, he turned and asked, ‘Want to add some toy piano?’ And I said, ‘Sure! That’d be fun to try!’
‘Let You Go’ is about coming to terms with loss after many years of not doing that in a way that was helpful or healthy. And I love the string arrangement I came up with.
And ‘Worst of Me” is basically the other side of that coin—fixing a house that’s been neglected and is in disrepair. There’s a backward guitar solo that took me hours to figure out how to record.
That doesn’t really answer the question because I guess I really do love all my children the same!
What can new listeners expect from listening to 'My Enemy', is there an overall theme?
I hope listeners will enjoy the hooks and the production. And even though it’s kind of thematically heavy with regret and loss, I also hope they’ll find something universal to identify with and make theirs.
Which other artists are you listening to at the moment, who can you recommed to our readers?
Currently, a lot of boygenius. ‘the record’ is wonderful, and I discovered a couple of weeks ago when I was listening to ‘the rest’ that the first track, ‘Black Hole,’ which starts with eighth notes on middle C is the same note my electric toothbrush vibrates at. Checking my Spotify history, it looks like I’ve also been listening to radio-friendly pop, REM, Travis, The Cars and First Aid Kit.
What's next for Ross Freedman?
Literally, the next thing is breakfast and then walking the dogs. Musically, it’s almost time to sign up for another round of songwriting classes. I have a few songs I could probably start recording, but I’m also toying with either re-recording some of my older songs as a ‘live in the studio’ set or with more of a synthpop/electronic sound.