Photos by: Karis Beaumont
We caught up with R&B sensation Ro James down at Sony and we spoke bout his childhood, his music and his view on london amongst other things!
Jide: For those who don’t know could you give yourself a brief introduction?
Ro James: For those who don’t know who I am my name is Ro James. I’m from New York City. South side, Jamaica Queens.
I’m a product of a military father, I’ve traveled so many different places and was born in Germany but I’ve lived in Indiana, Oklahoma, and Hawaii all these different places.
Jide: That was what I was going to ask you. You’ve been around so many parts of your country so what was your cultural upbringing like?
Ro James: Well my cultural upbringing is like worldwide. Like I said my dad was in the army so culturally I had the opportunity to be exposed to a lot of things. I lived in Hawaii and the way they think in Hawaii is completely different. Schools are outside like its just way different! They have breaks in like in the middle of the day where everybody goes outside and you have this little aloha then everyone goes back in. It’s in interesting.
Then in Oklahoma, it’s all cowboy boots, rodeos, cowboy hats you know just different. So you know my upbringing is different, it’s a conglomerate of different vibes.
Jide: Talk me through some of your musical influences?
Ro James: Erm it varies, I mean musically, well lets start my father was a pastor too so gospel music is a big part of y life just the soul and the feeling and the emotional honesty of gospel music and then it goes into with him being a pastor, he didn’t let us listen to a lot of music. So it was all old school Stevie wonder, Marvin Gaye, Otis reading you know what I mean and then on my own D’angelo Jodeci, Prince, Nas. Yeah man it varies.
See a lot of old school but a lot of new school. I like Andre 3000, I think his amazing. Kanye, Jay I like all these people.
Jide: What was the creative process of making a song like Permission and what were the different components that it took to make it happen?
Ro James: Permission was a song that was made in collaboration with this producer called sounds and a writer called … who’s also an artist as well and basically sounds had this track and this idea and we basically just collaborated on the idea.
The idea was basically to consent treating a woman with respect and the ways to speak to a woman, ways to approach, how to balance the lines etc. it’s all about letting her know you appreciate her time, her energy, her space and you just want to spend time with her and want to get to know her better and you know see where it goes from there.
Jide: Damn, wish I got that on camera LOL – All right so ELDORADO that was your debut album under a label. What did you want the overall message to be?
Ro James: Wanted it to be about journeys, my journey in particular. Before I put out my first project “ Coke, Jack & Cadillac’s”, Coke represented my 1st girlfriend, jack represented my self which was also my first drink, jack Daniels and Cadillac’s, my dad gave me a Cadillac Eldorado which represents my journey like all the things you go through.
Moving on to Eldorado which is the album, I used to live in Indiana my dad is from Indiana my mum is from New York and I always wanted to move back to New York. I wanted to live in New York. It was the bash, the music, the girls; it was just the freedom you know. So new york became my city of gold and so for Eldorado its like anybody who has ever aspired to anything, want anything, set a goal for yourself, no matter how hard or far it is that’s your city of gold. That’s yours. You see it out there and you visualise it and your reaching towards it. So you know Eldorado is all those different things, highs & lows, love & relationships, life struggles etc.
Jide: So wise! So this is your first time in London – just want to know what your previous experiences been of the London culture?
Ro James: Man, I know a lot of people out here. A lot of my friends live in London and I always wanted to come. In my mind its always been about fashion, just this freedom and kind of like New York but different. There’s a lot to see I’m sure and all the people that I know that have come new york to visit and live here actually are cool people, good people, care about people and there all about London. Its just interesting everyone is like so together. I mean I’m sure there are people that are not but you know what I mean lol. I’ve always wanted to come here and even thought I’d live here so yeah.
Jide: There’s quite a renaissance going on over here in the UK in regards to like music & arts. I just wanted to pick your brain to see if you’ve heard of any UK Artists that you might be interested in working with or like their style?
Ro James: You got Sam Smith, Adele but those are like the only references of London I have. But I also appreciate underground music because I feel that’s the essence and purity of the culture which doesn’t get the highlight but that’s where it’s. So it’s like, without being here, how do you get into that otherwise you only know what you’re shown?
Jide: So what can we expect from Ro James in the future?
Ro James: Growing up I listened to all types of music rock, country, R&B, hip-hop, soul, I’m west Indian so Caribbean music so its like how do you come into the game and really let people know I got this but I got this too without over saturating the market but also keeping people hopeful to bring new sounds and new music. So that’s what people can expect is me always evolving but I have so much more that I didn’t even get to put out. Eldorado is just like my hello. With Eldorado, I learned how to be very simple and just put out a project that people can relate to and actually understand. I want to bring people into my world. That’s the plan.