Like the rest of us, Ella Ross was pretty excited when she heard that Turnstile, JPEGMAFIA, and Snail Mail were playing in Asbury Park on Oct. 6, so she thought she’d get a ticket.
But then, she thought, maybe just seeing the show wasn’t enough. She wanted to be in the show. The Oct. 6 show is at the Stone Pony Summer Stage, and traditionally if there’s an outdoor performance, an indoor show featuring local artists takes place inside the venue. So, when the show was announced, Ross decided to shoot her shot.
“I reached out to the person who organizes the early shows at the Stone Pony,” says Ross. “A few of my friends have done early or closing sets this past summer, and I reached out to him. I said to him, ‘Hey, I really love this band and it doesn’t really make sense and my music is not like Turnstile’s, but I want to play this show.’ He said they weren’t doing indoor shows this time, and that they had to ask the band.”
So, dream dead, she got herself a ticket. She wasn’t going to miss it just because she couldn’t be a part of it.
But then, she says, she “got an email that said, ‘Hey, we are actually doing indoor shows for the early set, and do you want to do it?’ I immediately said yes. I love Turnstile, and I think everything they are doing is so cool digitally and musically.”
Ross’ music may be far different than Turnstile’s, but that doesn’t mean you should skip the early show at the Pony. She’ll be showcasing her new music, including her new single “Blocked,” which will be released in late October. The new song is inspired partly by another artist who had a big 2021 like Turnstile: Olivia Rodrigo.
“That song is about the mad phase of my breakup,” explains Ross. “I was like fuck this, and I’m gonna write a song that is about being blocked and unblocked by an ex-boyfriend. It’s a power song, and it’s more pop. I don’t want to say it’s an Olivia Rodrigo vibe, but it is a little bit. It’s definitely the most personal I have ever been on a song, but it’s not a sad song.”
With these new releases that Ross has planned, she wants to make a statement with the songs, and prove to people that she’s not taking any guff.
“A lot of people who play music with me, and a lot of people in town, are like, ‘Ella’s the baby,'” says Ross. “But these songs are like, ‘Oh, she’s growing up now and not taking shit anymore.’”
The Monmouth Beach native is no stranger to singing about tough subjects. In 2020, Ross released a single called “Toys,” in which she talks about being used. She also gets into deeper subjects in songs such as “Monster” and “Strangers” off of her EP Is Anyone Listening? ,which was released in 2019.
“’Strangers’ is probably my favorite song off of that EP,” explains Ross. “It’s about being adopted and I am adopted. That one lyrically was very, very, very releasing for me to write. The song is about not knowing a person and living in a world where someone is super connected to you, but also a stranger. There’s this one line about them knocking on the door one day and it’s like, ‘You answer and you might be confused because I’m just a stranger who looks like you.’ It was very therapeutic releasing line for me. Even when I sing that song now I still tear up. That song was the hardest to write, but also the most releasing. I always feel something when I play it.”
The recording of Is Anyone Listening? was also a rewarding one for Ross, and one that showcased her musical growth.
“That was the best recording experience for me,” says Ross. “I trusted my producers, and it was the first time that I felt comfortable inserting my opinion on my own music and they weren’t just recording me, and they were teaching me things about the process.”
Whether she knew at the time or not, Ross was always preparing for a future in music, and loved the process that went into making music.
“I remember loving people’s voices, and learning about the lyrics,” says Ross. “I loved Justin Timberlake and my first album was an album of his. I also loved [The] Chicks, which is a different spectrum. I remember hearing the voice of the singer for [The] Chicks, and was like, ‘This is incredible, how can someone sing like this?’ I love the feelings and drama that music provided when I was young.”
For Ross, the foundation of her music career was built at the Lakehouse Music Academy in Asbury Park, and she credits the city for helping her get involved in music.
“I’ve had great experiences in Asbury Park,” explains Ross. “It can be easy to get sucked in and lose yourself, but I’ve been around a lot of great people who have given me a lot of good advice. It’s a chosen family, and I’ve met a lot of great people. There’s some people who don’t have good intentions, but I have good people around me who help me navigate my way, and pull me back in when I stray away. Everyone wants to help each other here, and you don’t see that everywhere.”
Ella Ross will be the early show at the Stone Pony ahead of the Turnstile performance at the Summer Stage. Ross’ show starts at 5:15 and tickets are $30