We had the good fortune of connecting with Ross Baum and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ross, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
When I live more fully, I create more fully. It’s taken most of my twenties and some major instances of this to realize that my greatest moments of inspiration have stemmed not from the act of “working” but from actually living life. Just last week an impromptu night out with a friend unlocked the lyrical key to a song I’ve been stuck on for months, and I promptly shacked up for 4 days finishing the songwriting and production. I was thankful that a casual conversation had fed me such a strong artistic impulse that kept me in the zone for all that time.
Moments like these remind me that as important as discipline and routine are it’s equally important to live a full, fun, and exciting life that holds space for inspiration to strike when the time is right. To me, that means actively experiencing other forms of art and culture, surrounding myself with like-minded friends and collaborators, and embracing life in all its best and most difficult parts. Living through heartbreak, pain, doubt, joy, fun, and fear can be a wild ride but it is all valuable because it gives you that much more life experience to draw from as an artist.
With more self-grace and trust in my own process I am learning to accept that inspiration usually comes in waves, and creating doesn’t always need to look like me pushing a boulder up a mountain. Chances are when I come up for air I will be much prouder and fulfilled with what I’ve created because it will have come from someplace real.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’ve always been proud of the fact that I have not stayed in one artistic box over the years — I’ve allowed myself to follow my creative interests as they evolve, and it’s led me to some cool places. When I graduated college I had a singular goal of being a Broadway performer. However, I soon embraced my love of writing which eventually brought me to the NYU Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program. During my time at NYU I co-founded a vocal group called RANGE which has become an amazing platform to collaborate with friends and share our music on a global scale, and has also taught me to be more entrepreneurial with my music. Through RANGE I started to develop a passion for pop songwriting and production, and especially over the last year I’ve gotten more into co-writing and producing, both for other artists and myself. Along the way I also became a certified voice teacher and run a private vocal studio to supplement my long-term creative work. In a typical week I’ll find myself utilizing any or all of these musical skills on a number of different projects, which I love because it always keeps me on my toes.
I think it’s important to stay tuned in to the things that actually bring you fulfillment and not be afraid to lean into the new or unknown just because it might take you a bit to find your footing or get good at the thing. We’re never done learning, and it’s never too late to start learning something new. Just say “yes” and see where it leads. And try to find a community that will support, uplift, and collaborate with you in your endeavors!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
As a native New Yorker, I’ve always associated LA with major beach vibes. So I’d probably spend a lot of time by the water — I’d definitely grab a lobster roll at Playa Provisions in Playa Del Ray and stop at Santa Monica Beach before driving the PCH out to Malibu, and then back in time for dinner at the JG Rooftop at the Waldorf Astoria. There’s also the obvious hikes with breathtaking views at the Griffith Observatory and Runyon Canyon. Multiple stops for tacos and In-N-Out are also a must. Honestly just food and beach, rinse and repeat.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I have to shoutout to my collaborator Angelica Chéri who is a native Los Angelino and my musical theatre “partner in rhyme.” We met at NYU where we started writing our musical GUN & POWDER, which is inspired by Angelica’s great aunts Mary and Martha Clarke, African American twins who passed for white and became notorious outlaws in the Wild West. It has since been a 7-year journey filled with so many ups, downs, and thrilling artistic experiences, including our world premiere production last February at DC’s Signature Theatre. Given the protagonists of the show, it’s clear that Angelica comes from a long line of powerful, brave, and badass women. As a playwright, screenwriter, lyricist, and poet, she has a way with words that can touch the depths of your soul, and she exudes a radiance and positivity that is infectious to everyone she meets. And, she knows how to show you a GOOD TIME in LA. She is one of the most incredible artists I know and I can’t wait for the world to experience more of her brilliance!
Other: Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/6KwEmyY4OiUbzfyOQe1e5o Apple Music: https://music.apple.com/us/artist/ross-baum/1125522037
Andy Henderson, Rascal Pictures, Amanda Crommett