22-year-old Guyanese singer Juke Ross is a shy and reserved artist with a very compelling voice. Quietly signing to Republic Records earlier this year, the singer is now premiering a live performance video of his single “Colour Me,” filmed during an in-studio interview, exclusively on Billboard.
Billboard hopped on the phone to talk to the introverted yet insightful artist on his journey in music so far, his inspiration for “Colour Me” and when the world can expect more songs from him. There are few words needed to explain an artist whose voice is so eloquently captivating.
Growing up, what were some of your musical influences?
Growing up I listened to the radio a lot. In Guyana, we played all kinds of music really. Every different day of the week we could find different things playing. Lots of soca music, lots of soul music as they say. Everything that’s slow and contemporary. My father loved Otis Redding a lot. But I will say the influences will have come from Van Morrison and John Mayer, B.B. King, later on after I started listening to music other than what’s on the radio.
Did you always dream of being a singer?
I hadn’t really found exactly what I wanted to do, but I had certainly found myself wanting to be a doctor for sure. That’s the path I took in school. I always thought I would definitely be that, but I suppose music definitely took a major spot about 2-3 years ago when I started to sing all the time.
What made music take the forefront in your life?
It was just about the time I was starting med school. I wasn’t playing cricket because I wanted to take medical school seriously, but I had a lot of free time on my hands. So I found myself listening to music a lot. That’s exactly when the change happened. That’s around the time I started diving into music then.
What was the first song you wrote about?
The first song I wrote was about a crush I had. It was crazy sitting down, not knowing you were going to write a song, kind of just jamming out. And then somehow something comes and it seems to fit perfectly into a space. And that’s how it happened the first time.
When and where did you write “Colour Me”?
I think it was the summer after my first year in med school, 2015. I’d always had the idea of writing a song, but I never had the components to finish a complete song. Then suddenly I found myself with all the content that I needed. I felt compelled enough to write a song and finish it. And that’s when I did “Colour Me” for the first time. It was a great feeling. Been writing since then.
The song is about liking someone, but then there’s a heartbreak aspect to it. Was it always on your mind to write a love song in that vein, or did it swing that way when you started writing?
The song at first was actually about pure heartbreak. In the lines it says, “You trouble me, you trouble my soul.” I was writing it and later on I didn’t feel that aggression and anger I was feeling before. So I thought about it carefully, and where I was at the time wasn’t in a very bad space like I was before. So slowly the song changed from being purely a heartbreak song and angry song to a song about forgiveness and accepting the whole situation for what it was really.
What is the inspiration for the single artwork?
The artist, Salventius. I came upon his work via a friend who put me onto it, and showed me some stuff from Instagram. I followed him right away. One day I was scrolling and came up on the artwork. And I looked at it, and thought about “Colour Me.” The artwork is aggressive but still shy in a kind of way. That’s how I feel when I look at it, and I thought it was a good fit with what “Colour Me” stood for.
When can we expect to hear some more music from you?
October is when the next single comes. I’m really excited to share that one. It’s a totally different side of the story. I think people will be interested in hearing it.
Overall, what do you want people to take away from your music?
What I would like them to do is be open to listening to it. This is my first time writing everything so it’s all honest. I feel if you listen with an open mind or heart, you get to experience more of that authenticity.