Last month, Toronto singer-songwriter Morgan Cameron Ross released his latest single, “Please Don’t Let Me Down,” a raw song that encapsulates his rather personal experience of living with mental health challenges on a daily basis.
Since the release of his self-titled album in 2011, Ross has kept himself in the public eye through a variety of musical mediums. Arguably most compelling is his solo work, which boasts a certain contemplative vulnerability that is both engrossing and compelling.
Morgan Cameron Ross recently chatted with us about his devastating new song, self-sabotage and more:
It wasn’t until I saw a press release that I even considered you would have been related to infamous painter Bob Ross. Did you know him well?
I didn’t know him. He predates me and is from the American side of the family, a cousin of my father’s. It’s made even crazier once people realize his son is also named Morgan Ross. Fantastic hair!
It’s been a little while since I’ve heard you release of new music, you although you did have a single out last year – “I Won’t Live Until I Die.” What have you been up to?
I started a Toronto history blog / video series for fun, which spiraled into a full time gig. I’m now running the largest Toronto history project in the city. I also went back to do my Masters, also just for fun. Music still exists though. This track we recorded in Toronto and Vancouver over the past year.
Bellwoods had one very successful song but following that the powers that be tried to take us in a direction my bandmate and I weren’t comfortable with. This said, it’s hard to be too angry at things when you’re the person that writes those songs you’re not too happy about! Bellwoods may still exist in the future, we just needed to take some time off. This track, “Please Don’t Let Me Down,” was written by Alan [Snoddy], my bandmate in Bellwoods, and myself. In many ways, it’s a Bellwoods song.
Around the time of the release of “I Won’t Live Until I Die,” I remember you saying the song was kind of born out of a certain contempt for the extravagant lifestyle you had seen while on tour with Bellwoods. I didn’t necessarily interpret it as contempt as much as maybe just having you having your eyes opened. But it did inspire you to get back to your roots with “I Won’t Live Until I Die,” did it not?
Once you start playing music in the more commercial side of the music world, you see a lot of things you wish you hadn’t. Throughout my life as a musician I’ve been back and forth between putting out solo music I really care about and projects that may not align as closely with myself as I’d like. I wrote “I Won’t Live Until I Die” with Bobby Bazini. He’s a great example of choosing what you like and sticking to it.
“Please Don’t Let Me Down” is a beautiful, but a fucking sad song, too. I have to say, to my ears, you sound a bit more at home here than what I heard with Bellwoods – zero disrespect intended. Is this arena where you feel most comfortable as a songwriter and performer?
I’ve always said I’m good at being sad. It’s true. Self sabotage and artistically embracing the darker side of things. This said, in real life, I like to look on the bright side of things. “Please Don’t Let Me Down” is talking about my life as a self saboteur. Bellwoods was capturing closer to how I view other people.
That being said, there is a pretty serious undertone to the song as well. You’re talking about depression, being bi-polar. Were these easy things to reconcile or is it an ongoing challenge to deal with?
Definitely. Mental health has always been an issue for myself, and for my family. As I got older I started taking it more seriously though. Medication, therapy, dog walks. Each person has to find their own way, and I’m glad I’ve found a healthy path. That said, when I sit down to write, it’s still coming from the darker sides of myself.