Josiah Ruff and I met through session singing and he is one of the most talented and hardworking people I know! After spending YEARS working on other peoples’ music, he released an album of his own. I’m so excited to share it with you and know you’ll love it!
Josiah Ruff Interview
I plan on doing a video interview in the future as well, so I’ll post that here when it’s out, but for now let’s get into the regular interview! Here is his full album if you want to listen while you read:
I hate the question “how did you get started?” because I feel like every musician has more or less the same answer. so instead, how did the concept of this album come about? When/where were you and what made you decide to pursue it?
“Believe” was actually a song that I wrote for a friend. He was working with/ managing a really good singer and he needed a song to launch his career. I actually don’t know what happened but you know how it goes in the music industry… needless to say, I took my song back lol.
My albums are faith-based so every single song focuses on an aspect of faith. This album emphasizes belief in God. His love, His grace, His ability to save (in untoward situations) and ultimately faith that He is with us in our lives in our hurts and emotional pain. Telling you you are valuable, loved and priceless.
I know a lot of songwriters who have “taken their songs back” and I have no idea if that’s a hard (legal) process? Do you both get to use the song now?
I just took the song back no one uses it but me. Lol
Who is your dream collaborator?
Rodney Jerkins! I’ve admired him forever. His versatility amazes me. He produces all types of music and styles that most people don’t even know he does. I’d love to work with him.
I’d love love love to work with Brian Mcknight too. I used to have his albums on repeat in my dorm room in college. I used to try to sing like him till I figured out how to sing like me lol.
Brandy is one of my favorite singers of all time and I know she and Rodney worked (or currently work?) together frequently. So, how do we help make this collab happen? Have you reached out to him??
I’m scared. You know people got gatekeepers. I remember a few years ago he was on this platform called blaze tracks or something but I never got to meet him. Lol maybe if you and me pen a hot track it might perk his ears up.
YES Let’s do it! Or I’ll even reach out on your behalf haha.
We met through session singing. What are the good and bad parts of creating your own music vs working with other people?
Singing for other people and working on their songs is a really good creative outlet for me. I get to hear songs on the cutting floor, new ideas that I haven’t thought of and working out the arrangements or vocal harmonies etc… Getting new perspectives of how others write songs and produce songs is good for me because I’m always getting an influx of new ideas that don’t necessarily come from my head but that I can use in some way or another in my own work.
Then I get to influence their music as well with my process and artistry.
The bad – lol – haggling! If I post my price, why are you asking for a discount? We don’t do this in other industries. This is not the flea market this is my life, my business… It’s always (in my experience) the people who try to talk me down on my price that customer is most often a problem.
But most situations have been positive and educational and inspired. I literally learn with every session.
I know from experience how hard it is to work on other people’s music all day, then switch gears and work on your own. How did you create the mental headspace to get into your own music?
Like I said before, working on other people’s stuff is like brainstorming for me. So with each encounter I grow and gain something that I can add to my musicianship that makes me better. I can then take that experience and put it into my music. Session work helps me grow as a musician.
What tips do you have for anyone working full time but also trying to create music?
Keep grinding! Do little bits at a time. Remember music is old to you but new to the world. Don’t over-think it, just put it out and grow from the feedback. The first step is the first step, just get going and get the music out.
What have been your biggest struggles making this album, and how did you overcome them?
Deciding to stop. I write all the time. I have a lot of songs that I didn’t put on the album just because it would have been too many. Knowing when to call it is tough because ultimately there are things that you want to add but don’t because you have to restrain yourself. Lol
What were your favorite and least favorite parts about making this album? How did you balance it all?
Waiting on session musicians to finish their parts lol… I generally play everything myself but sometimes I hire guitarists to add a more professional touch than what my limited playing can do. Waiting for them to get back to me and finish is my least favorite, I’m a bit impatient when it comes to working on stuff cuz I know if I forget about the song it could be lost for years… I’ll get caught up in something else and next thing you know it’s a while later and the song still isn’t done.
I’m curious: what is the average turnaround time for session musicians? How long do you usually wait, and how long does it take you to deliver your own session work? I’m used to tight deadlines so I thought 3-5 days was the norm.
About seven days.
If I’m doing a song I usually have a timeline similar to yours. Depending on whether or not my voice is up to snuff.
Important question for my site: What are your opinions on Whitney Houston and what is your favorite song of hers?
Her voice is – beyond words – she was just so good! Her riffs her vibrato, her straight notes her everything she was just really good! I liked a few of her songs, The Bodyguard soundtrack, her 1985 album, man just good stuff – but the one that I like the most is “O Come, Emmanuel” I don’t care if it’s Christmas or not, I could listen to that tune whenever.
That and “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” are my favorites on her Christmas album.
Back to you (and I ask everyone this question, haha): What’s the worst song you’ve ever written? We all have lyrics that make us cringe. What’s something you have that you can’t believe you wrote?
I was about 16 or 17. Usher had just came out with the song “My Way” and I tried to sound like him lol I wrote this song call “Puttin it All On the Line” I think it was a breakup song or a reconcile song lol it was a terrible song. At the time I thought it was so cool but it was NOT lol. Rick Thomas if you are listening, why did you let me record that??? I hired a pianist had a backing singer. All trash lol! It makes me laugh to this day.
LOL but You hired session musicians early on, that’s amazing! On the flip side of that, what song are you most proud of? Do you have a favorite?
My favorite song on this album is “PEACE,” but “Believe” is a song that I’m really fond of… I had live strings, I had my wife record the strings and she played everything from violin to bass. I love the postlude and prelude that she added to the song.
What are some session musician struggles you’ve faced? How have you overcome or handled them?
Getting stiffed. I’ve done sessions for people and they didn’t pay. Or they take forever to release the money. Then you gotta wait another whatever time for the site to release the money. The biggest struggle with session singing is consistency in work. I have it pretty good but everything could always be better. Overcoming that, I suppose it takes more awareness that I’m out here doing it lol so I suppose that’s on me. There are billions of people in the world and I’m sure millions of them would work with me if they knew who I was :-).
Absolutely! What are your goals for the next year for your music, and how can we help you work towards them?
Publish, sell more records and do more videos. You’ve been on me about that lol. But I wanna get into music publishing, writing for adverts, etc. I need that revenue stream to free me up to cut back a little on session gigs and write new music. We only get so many hours and I need more passive income to focus on the things that I wanna get to etc…
You can help by streaming the music, buying the music liking my youtube channel 🙂 Spotify etc lol at this point however you consume my music – take it in there’s something for everyone… the more awareness there is about what I do the better it is for my career. Every little bit helps even the free streams on youtube help.
Most importantly, where can readers find you?
Find me, I’m an honorary member of the Melluminatti! I love Mella too she’s the bestest, so we have something in common 🙂 even if you wanna chat with me about Mella’s music I’m down lol…