Maddie Ross Talks Upcoming Tour with KT Tunstall & New Music Video for 'Hometown': Watch

Kerry Furrh
Maddie Ross

The past month has been kind to L.A.-based singer/songwriter Maddie Ross.

Today (Sept. 25), she unveils her unveils her first-ever music video for "Hometown," a hidden gem of a pop-rock jam from her latest EP Touch Hands, Touch Bodies. “Hometown” fizzes and spurts like a soda fresh off the fast-food dispenser, a giddy ode to a romance kept secret.

Earlier this month, she also recovered from surgery to discover that Scottish singer-songwriter KT Tunstall had reached out to offer her an opening slot on her upcoming North American tour next month, her first-ever multi-city, multi-date tour. “I can’t even remember what my life was like three weeks ago,” she tells Billboard.

The USC music school graduate wants to make the most out of the opportunity, finalizing the video as soon as she got word of the tour.

At times, "Hometown" carries the sweet sentimentality of Taylor Swift’s “You Belong With Me,” with some alt-rock power chords thrown in for good measure. Like the iconic "Belong" music video, there’s elements that feel cut from a best-of montage of early-'00s high school movies: sneaking into high school football stadiums, messily applying makeup, dates in an empty movie theater. 

“I pictured, like, a dark sky and a football field," Ross explains. "Then, one day I was on my way to babysit, right as I was listening to the track and trying to come up with ideas, and it was kind of rainy -- and there was this giant football game happening, and it just looked like the quintessential high school [experience]."

The process of filming the "Hometown" music video, directed by Kerry Furrh, was a lesson in the power of friendship, with lots of elbow grease -- the entire cast and crew was comprised of an all-female congregation of Ross' friends --  as well as borrowed equipment, and scrounged-up cash for a spotlight, the one piece of equipment that Ross rented out for the video.

Ross spoke to Billboard about her childhood obsession with P!nk, wanting to take care of her young, fledgling fanbase, and how her actual hometown shaped her queer identity. See our interview, and our premiere of the "Hometown" video, below. 

How did the music video for “Hometown” come about?

Yeah, this is my first ever music video. I never made one before, but I used to make music videos all the time as a kid. There's this one hilarious music video of me lip-syncing to P!nk and it's classic in our family. And it's pretty obvious in hindsight that I was gay, but I was obsessed with all of these female performers and musicians.

For this video, my girlfriend [Madison Schekel, a.k.a. Wolfy] actually made the track for the song. I immediately just had such a strong image of the story I wanted to tell, because the way that the track sounded -- everything about it felt so high school and nostalgic.

My good friend, Kerry Fuhrr, who was my housemate in college, reached out to me maybe in February or March and was like, "I love 'Hometown,' it's so fun, I really wanna make a music video for it,” and I was like, “Oh, I have no money, ever.” But it was, like, a 13-hour day. We just snuck into the high school and we literally climbed over an eight foot tall fence... And we're shoving our gear over it. I snuck into the football field, and then got a bunch of shots and then we we just went back to my bathroom at my apartment which has cool pink shower tiles.

My girlfriend has worked at a movie theater in Pasadena for three and a half years. We just texted the manager and we were like, "Hey, any chance we could come in, like, when all the movies are out..?" And she was like, "Yeah, you have a 40-minute window before I have to leave. Just come and do as much as you can there." And then... it all just came together.

Can you tell me a little bit about your hometown?

I grew up in Marin County, which is in the San Francisco Bay Area. I went to school in Ross, which is a really small, wealthy little town, but I lived in Novato, which is kind of the outskirts of the county... so I was definitely geographically a little bit outside, and also financially a little bit outside of all these other kids in my private school, but my high school was like a utopia. It was this wonderful, accepting, pretty liberal place. 

But at the same time, I say that while also realizing that when I went there, there was not a single lesbian or bisexual person. Nobody was gonna be outwardly homophobic, but a lack of representation kind of says it all. Even in the ideal place to come out compared to the rest of the world, there's still just so far to go, because I don't think I was even close to being able to come out when I was in high school. 

Do you have any queer musicians now whose visibility has inspired you in your career? 

Yeah. I am a lifelong Tegan and Sara fan, and the more I watch their career, the more I just adore them for how amazingly they use their platform. They have the Tegan and Sara Foundation. I went to a Lesbians in Tech Conference earlier this year, where they were the keynote speakers and their keynote was just like -- I was crying the whole time, because it was just bone-chilling. They overcame so much homophobia. If you look at the reviews of their first and second albums, major publications were just saying horrible things.

But they've just always represented lesbians in this positive, cool, fun way. No one wants to put themselves out there for anyone to say anything negative, but they've just embraced all of the positive, and they've made such a community with their fans, and I'm just a huge fan of how they've modeled their whole career.

Do you hope to have that same effect when you go on tour with KT Tunstall?

Totally! I love people, and I also, obviously, like writing songs and I like performing. But on tour and stuff, I'm most excited for talking to people after the show -- and I've already had some cool new interactions on social media. I had a 16-year-old girl tweet at me and she was like, "Oh my God, your music is everything." And that was one of my favorite things that happened to me this year, because it was a lot to connect with these people. I'm such a fan of my favorite musicians that I just love thinking that I can be that to somebody else.

Tour dates with KT Tunstall:

10/16 Portland, OR @ Star Theater
10/17 Seattle, WA @ The Crocodile
10/19 San Francisco, CA @ Great American Music Hall
10/21 Solana Beach, CA @ Belly Up
10/22 Los Angeles, CA @ El Rey Theatre
10/23 Tucson, AZ @ Club Congress
10/26 Houston, TX @ The Heights Theater
10/27 Austin, TX @ 3TEN Austin City Limits Live
10/28 Dallas, TX @ The Kessler Theater
10/30 Kansas City, MO @ The Record Bar
11/01 Chicago, IL @ Park West
11/02 Minneapolis, MN @ Fine Line Music Cafe
11/04 Milwaukee, WI @ Turner Hall Ballroom
11/06 Nashville, TN @ 3rd & Lindsley
11/08 Detroit, MI @ El Club
11/09 Cleveland, OH @ Beachland Ballroom & Tavern
11/11 Washington, DC @ Union Stage
11/12 New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom
11/13 Philadelphia, PA @ World Cafe Live
11/14 Cambridge, MA @ The Sinclair
11/16 Buffalo, NY @ Buffalo Iron Works
11/17 Toronto, Canada @ Horseshoe Tavern