If you’ve spent regular time on tik tok, then odds are you’ve stumbled on Jillian Rossi’s face as she’s been charismatically sharing her art all over the platform. Needless to say, it’s been working as this up and coming artist has had several viral moments in the year alone, which has drawn the attention of fans, tastemakers, publications and labels. It looks like a wild ride that this singer/songwriter is on, so I wanted to make sure I took the time to sit down and ask her a few questions about the past year! Continue reading to check out this week’s installment of the Early Talks interview series with Jillian Rossi!
Sam: What prompted you to pursue music in the first place? Did you grow up in a musical family?
- Jillian: Thank you for having me! I think a culmination of moments together told me I could go after a career in being a recording artist. I remember singing songs in the back of my mom’s car growing up, and one of her friends once made an off the cuff remark about how she thought I had a really special voice, and that my mom should look into singing opportunities for me. My mom kind of laughed it off as I was so young, but I think it stuck in the back of her mind, and mine. As far as my family, I’m probably the first full time musician in the family, but my dad is really passionate about music and on the side plays in a dad band of his own with his friends. I think he really understands my passion for music and wants to see me succeed. I want to give him a credit on one of my songs one day, because he’s helped me so much in chasing my music dream.
Sam: Where did you grow up/where are you based now?
- Jillian: I grew up on Long Island, NY on the south shore. I recently just made the move to Los Angeles. I’m such a New Yorker at heart but it seems moving to LA was the right choice so far. I’ve been able to work with and meet so many great people out here. But it’s still New York forever for me.
Sam: Were you interested in any other hobbies growing up as a kid?
- Jillian: As a kid I played the Viola for years. My closest friend and I were very serious musicians for 8 year olds according to our orchestra teacher. I remember everyone being at recess and we were in a small classroom practicing our instruments for competitions on Long Island. Definitely not the most fun I’ve ever had but it was a cool experience. Around that time I also wanted to be a Youtuber so I would make vlogs and also make covers where I re-wrote lyrics to popular songs on the radio, and make them about food instead (haha). I would edit those videos for hours on end in iMovie. Unfortunately when I got to middle school I thought I was too cool for that so I took them down. I wish they were still up so my fans could see them and make memes about them as they are ones to do.
Sam: When was the moment you knew you wanted to pursue music as a career?
- Jillian: I think a bunch of moments played a part in it. But, performing in front of Billy Joel when I was 16 years old at my arts high school on Long Island definitely was a major turning point for me for sure. I am definitely a lot better than I was back then (haha) but after he compared my songwriting to Taylor Swift and said I reminded him of Joni Mitchell, to hear that from someone like him who’s just a legend on Long Island really opened my eyes. Somewhere in the dark depths of Billy Joel’s website, you can actually find an article about that moment with me on there somewhere.
Sam: Were there any roadblocks and if so, how’d you overcome them?
- Jillian: Oh definitely. I think life kicks you down sometimes whether it be people not believing in you, or going out of their way to put you down. I think we’ve all been there, in some way, shape or form whether we are in music, or in school or just living our lives. That’s why it’s so important to get back up and double down on the things that you love to do – not necessarily to prove them wrong, but instead to prove yourself right. It’s taught me to work hard and never stop creating music, and hopefully inspire people to do the same.
Sam: What was your first bit of success in the industry?
- Jillian: I’d say my first bit of serious success in the industry was with my song “Fever Dream”. I was trying nonstop to get that song in front of as many people as possible because I knew how special it was to me. Tik Tok obviously played a big part in that, where my account went from something small to reaching millions of people per day. It was a crazy moment for me, especially because it was all circled around that song and my artist project. Beyond just the numbers, seeing so many people dm me and tell them that my song was helping them overcome toxic relationships or hard times in general more than anything made me feel like I had something important to other people. Then to see all that happen again on my song “Give Me A Reason” was really special as well.
Sam: Tell us about your creative process. How do you take an idea and turn it into art?
- Jillian: Songs come to me in all different ways. Throughout the day I get ideas and concepts for songs popping in my head – whether it be something that has been on my mind, or just an idea or phrase that I think would be a cool concept for a chorus. I’m definitely a big voice memo gal, and I have a library of hundreds of random ideas that sometimes turn into my next single, and sometimes sit there never to be seen again (haha). I usually take those ideas and come into my sessions with one or two in mind, and work with great producers to make it come to life. I love to write and record the whole song in a day, to capture the same energy and moment of creating it from scratch. Something that is super important to my process as well is vocal producing everything I do on each song from the first draft – down to all the harmonies and ad-libs.
Sam: What’s the story behind these viral songs of yours? What’s been your reaction?
- Jillian: It’s so crazy, because Tik Tok never came naturally to me until I just decided to just be myself. Once I decided to not do anything too different from myself, and just show my music to the world that I’m so passionate about. It really changed everything for me. It’s been crazy – to hear my songs on the radio, to Spotify, Apple, Amazon Music, Tidal etc showing love to me next to some of the biggest artists in the industry on their playlists, as a fully independent artist is awesome. So much of it comes to the fans spreading the music, pre-saving it and telling their friend to tell a friend.
Sam: What’s one of your favorite songs that you’ve written?
- Jillian: One of my favorite songs I’ve written is a song called “Boy in a Rock Band”. I wrote it with David Arkwright and Justin Gamella a couple months ago. It touches on my experience with sexism in the music industry and I can’t wait to share it with the world sooner than later. The song makes me feel powerful and I hope it makes a lot of women feel the same. It’s time for a big change in this industry and I will do everything I can to show young girls all over the world that they are strong and can do anything they put their minds to.
Sam: What are you working on right now?
- Jillian: Right now I am working on putting together an EP that I am so excited to share with the world! It’s going to consist of a couple of the songs that have come out this year and a few surprises! I have at least two new singles coming in the next two months as well that I’m really excited about as well.
Sam: What’s next for you?
- Jillian: Tons of more music, showcases and performances in LA and all over, writing for other awesome artist’s projects & some exciting collaborations coming as well. I’ve got some surprises in store that I’m super excited to share, stay tuned!