Country Next: Josh Ross
We take pride in introducing fans to country music’s brightest new stars through our Country Next series. Here, we chat with Josh Ross.
Josh Ross; Photo by Matthew Berinato
After previously making a name for himself in his native Canada, Josh Ross is now making some serious noise in the States. Following the success of two Top 5 singles in his home country, the international rising country singer/songwriter built a fanbase that has stretched miles long through live performances and streaming services.
Now based in Nashville, 2023 is shaping up to be a big one for Ross who recently signed onto a partnership deal between Universal Music Group Nashville and Universal Music Canada and Core Entertainment.
At the top of the year, he released his emotional single, “Trouble,” which was featured in an episode of the television series, Welcome To Flatch on Fox and Hulu. The emerging talent, who has racked up over 64 global streams and counting, celebrated the release by hitting the road as an opener with fellow country artist Bailey Zimmerman for three sold-out shows.
Ross’ follow-up track, “Red Flags,” is a radio-ready track about a relationship where two people bring out the worst in each other, despite wishing they could work things out. The song also gives fans a taste of what to expect from Ross when it comes to future releases.
“What if I’m bad for you? / What if you’re worse for me? / How many times do we have to go back and forth for one of us to see…,” Ross croons throughout the chorus of the song. “What if we’re both Red Flags?”
Ross recently wrapped an arena tour with Lee Brice and will hit the road this summer with Nickelback and Brantley Gilbert on the Get Rollin’ Tour. In July, he will make his Grand Ole Opry debut.
Ross recently caught up with Country Now to talk about his road to Nashville, recent releases, upcoming performances, and more.
Read on to find out more about Josh Ross in this exclusive Q&A below.
How did you begin a career in country music?
I started very late. Sports were always kind of a priority for me. I raced Motocross during my younger years, played hockey for 14 years, and then transitioned into American football. I played that throughout high school and for three years in college in Canada. Through injuries and all of that, I picked up the guitar and started learning cover songs. That turned into writing songs. I always wrote songs but didn’t really know that. I used to have a book when I was a kid. I used to write short stories about what was going on in my life. I think that was the early days, for me, of storytelling and fixing my emotions. I always sang for fun on karaoke nights and in the weight room when we would train, but I never really took it seriously. 2018 was when I decided I wanted to pursue music. I entered a festival called Boots and Hearts Music Festival, which is up in Canada. I did an emerging artist showcase that they had. I didn’t win, but it was an opportunity to meet my first people in the industry. So that led me to come to Nashville in 2018, and then I started songwriting, and it went from there.
What artists inspired you growing up?
My house was always filled with different types of music. My parents were huge ‘90s rock fans. My dad got into the heavier stuff like Guns N’ Roses, Metallica, and even Nickelback, and all of that came from him. My mom was more into U2 and Bruce Springsteen, those artists, and groups.
Was country music always the genre for you?
I had a family friend that loved Steve Earle. At a young age, I got to listen to his songs. I don’t know what it was about a song — why it captured me, but I gravitated toward his sound and what he was doing. That would’ve been my first taste of country music. I always felt like a country music fan, but it started to become really cool as a genre, in general, in 2012. Jason Aldean, Thomas Rhett, and Tim McGraw were influences of mine. I also loved Alan Jackson and George Strait and all the older stuff. But I definitely had different musical influences from so many different genres. Playing sports, we’d listen to locker room music. There were rap days, and then we had our country days. So I think I got to pull from many different influences. As an artist and a songwriter, I think that is starting to come out more in my music, and people are realizing that.
Is there anyone you credit for giving you the push you needed to pursue country music full-time?
I think a lot of people thought I was crazy. I always joke around and say, I’m not supposed to be here — but that would be according to probably everyone else. But to myself, I feel like this is exactly where I am supposed to be. As soon as I came to Nashville, I fell in love with music even more, like being an artist and a songwriter. I think songs have saved me, and I get to express my life’s journey through my music. I think that’s why fans enjoy certain songs. I feel like they go through the same struggles that I do and have ups and downs.
In what ways did sports prepare you for the music business?
Sports stuff helps. I think being in the football days taught me collaboration and working as a team, and as I get further down the road, I realize it is about having a team and a family. I think playing group sports and stuff like that translates well, and with the Motocross stuff, you know, it’s a whole different avenue, where it’s just you and the bike. I relate that to me and the songs. You can only push yourself so hard when you’re riding a Motocross bike. It is the same way as on your own. You have to have your head down and work at things too. So, I think it translates in different ways, whether it is a solo sport or in a group setting too.
You lived in Canada before moving to Nashville. Was it different navigating the music scene when you arrived?
I left Canada before I played any shows. I had a stronger fan base with streaming and stuff like that in the US. I decided to come to Nashville because I have always loved the South. I grew up going to NASCAR races. Most of my family is in the US. So it felt like home for me. It was intimidating being an international artist. It’s crazy how Canada is so close to the US. I can drive home in 11 hours. But I can’t even drive parts of Florida for the same amount. But, I knew one person when I moved to town, and it took years of going out and meeting people to get where I was. Once I signed with management and Universal, we had some success in Canada, and it was cool to see Canada catch on with what I had been working on down here for a few years.
Universal Music Group Nashville teamed with Universal Music Canada to sign you as an artist. What does that mean for you?
It means a lot. I never realized the last Canadian in that sense was Shania Twain, and if I can have a career even close to hers, I’d be super happy. It’s inspiring. I know a long stretch of 20 years or so, went by without a Canadian signed artist. I’m glad they believe in the songs, what I want to say, and my voice. It’s been cool to watch it all come together. My team has been so awesome in helping out with that process.
Tell me how your song “Trouble” came about.
Yeah. So ‘Trouble’ was a song I had written about six months before. My buddy Mason called me. He was on a different writing retreat, and he’s like, ‘I’ve got this idea. It’s called ‘Trouble,’ where it’s like, ‘Am I in trouble or are you in trouble?’ He sang the melody to me over the phone, and I was like, ‘Damn. I really love that.’ A couple of months later, I was going through a breakup and the difficulties of being alone in a different city, town, and country. There was a night that I remember calling her, heading out of the bar and stuff. I had called her and left her a message saying, ‘If you could, would you just come back home?’ I think that’s what we used for the hook of the song, and just a general concept specific to what was going on in my life. So, to date, it’s probably one of my favorite songs.
Tell me about the behind-the-scenes process for the music video for ‘Trouble.’
Whale Tale Media and I had been friends for a long time. They have been doing my videos since I was an independent artist. With the video, I was like, ‘Is there some way we can do this video not in a bar?’ Originally I had an idea of being a construction worker or something like that and dealing with the troubles of being on a job site. Then they had the idea of the firefighter concept and had connections at the fire department. So, it came together organically. Whale Tale Media is awesome. So it was just us trying to do something different.
Can fans expect an album from you this year?
Yes. I’m working on more music. We were just in the studio last week and will have more soon. We’re just working that all out. I’d like to be able to put a project out toward the end of summer and fall time. We will see how that lines up. Right now, I have written about 40 songs since the top of this year.
You will be hitting the road with Nickelback and Brantley Gilbert and also playing CMA Fest. Can you tell me how you’re preparing for those shows?
I am preparing by hitting the gym, just getting in shape in general — eating healthy, and getting good sleep. I’m excited about the Nickelback and Brantley dates. That’s going to be a great time and a life experience for me. My dream was to always be gone. We’re going to have a period of 87 days where I sleep in my bed only one night. I’m excited about CMA Fest and getting to play a Nashville show that I’ve watched for so many years!
Lastly, you’ll be making your Grand Ole Opry debut in July. What does that mean to you?
The Opry is such a special place where so many of my idols have stepped into the circle. I went to my first Opry performance in 2018 and was amazed by the energy in the room and how incredible the sound was. It became a dream for me to then step into the circle someday and make my Grand Ole Opry debut. July 26th 2023 will be a very special day for me that I get to share with all my friends and family. Thanks to everyone who has made this dream happen.
Fans can keep up with Josh Ross on Instagram.
Melinda Lorge is a Nashville-based freelance writer who specializes in covering country music. Along with Country Now, her work has appeared in publications, including Rare Country, Rolling Stone Country, Nashville Lifestyles Magazine, Wide Open Country and more. After joining Rare Country in early 2016, Lorge was presented with the opportunity to lead coverage on late-night television programs, including “The Voice” and “American Idol,” which helped her to sharpen her writing skills even more. Lorge earned her degree at Middle Tennessee State University, following the completion of five internships within the country music industry. She has an undeniable love for music and entertainment. When she isn’t living and breathing country music, she can be found enjoying time outdoors with family and friends.