INNER VIEW: John Roseboro

One day this summer I was scrolling Instagram for absolutely no reason (as one will in the latest edition of modern existence.) 99% of the time I never find anything of interest and all the time spent browsing is rarely justified. But not on this day. Along my scroll journey I saw a picture of a guy with this giant smile, index finger one each cheek like a frame for the joy. It gave me a similar feeling to that famous photo of Ramana Maharshi where the joy is palpable. Who is this person? John Roseboro. I went to Spotify (as one will in the latest edition of music consumerism) and clicked on the record “Human Nature”, a beautifully painted cover with rose pink and green (a favorite combo) and played the first track. “Feeling inside out, the world is upside down…” over maj7 chords in a Bossa nova feel. WHAT. That’s 3 checks and like that you find something completely new that hits you. It rarely happens and when it does it really hits. I spent the next few days ripping around Ravenna, Italy, where I was all summer, on a scooter and listening to this record. Not only sonically is it the music I gravitate towards most as a listener, but the message and intent of the songs felt so similar to that which I try and convey in my own music – just almost opposing styles of delivery. Where I attempt to hold up mirrors and rattle out of complacency with chaos in hopes of removing all that doesn’t serve you so as to reveal human possibility, John ushers you directly into that natural state of love, acceptance and awareness. This was clearly not ego music, this was a calling and in todays world it feels rare and necessary to lift up however we can. So, I messaged John and just told him I thought what he is doing is special. He happened to be in Germany at the time and by the fates we were able to make a show happen in Italy. Him and his partner, Lizzy, flew down. I greeted them soaking wet and anxious at a cafe in the Giardini Pubblici, it was the second day it rained in 2 months. We talked for hours, walked the town and played a show together at Hanabi that night. These are real deal, lovely human beings, instant friends in addition to great artists and I hope to know and hang with them for a very long time. OK, I’m gonna shut the fuck up now and here’s a conversation with the man himself, John Roseboro. Enjoy. (& Come see us 9/22 in Brooklyn on the Sultan Room Rooftop w/ Santa Chiara and Bill Waters)

Ron Gallo: OK, i already know, but let’s go over the basics first for the people, give me a brief history of how this musical project came to be (additional challenge for the ADHD readers – try and tell the whole story in 5 single words)

John Roseboro: For 6 months I lived with some inspired people. They taught me to live off the land and love the Lord. Sometimes I would play guitar for them and try to “make it sound like all the instruments”. They liked that, but have mixed feelings about what I do now.

Eventually, I moved to Southern California, went to school, started a family, and began work in my field of study. I was a mortician. In mid-2020 I began sharing songs like the ones I used to play on the farm. They were largely well received. People told me that the songs helped them and I began to reckon that I could better serve my community through music and art.

After turning down predatory and exploitative record deals, my wife, who never believed in the music, ended our relationship, believing my work and worldview would lead me to poverty. 

In a way she was right because suddenly I was divorced, homeless, and quite literally penniless. She took the car. I moved to NYC for public transportation, but it proved to be one of the best things for me… God is with me and I’ve gotten to do a lot of cool stuff with lot of cool people. Soon I hope to get to a place where I can take care of myself, my family, and the people around me— live off the land and love the Lord.

TL;DR: I kept pulling the thread.

RG: i think your story is about 1000 times more compelling and pure than most people that get into the world of indie music and it speaks to a higher purpose in music and in life – how would you define that purpose? and because of the nature of the whole pursuit do you find it difficult to maintain the balance between that pure intention and ego at times?

JR: Thank you! The mission statement has always been to communicate God’s heart. Only due to the Divine Dramody that is my life do some of the newer songs include autobiographical parts as a processing mechanism. When I hear of an “artist” that has been given unmerited resources or opportunities that I have reason to believe would be better in my hands or that I feel I have earned, many times I have a flare of envy and my ego swells. Ultimately, you remember who you are and that your star will rise (and fall) when it’s time.

RG: you’re just closing up a summer spent touring and traveling around europe. give me some of the highlights both big and small? (can tell it thru photos with captions as well)

So many new friends

Seeing and signing my record

Local cuisine

Lizzy’s baptism

Start

RG: what is the feeling for you of returning to the states after stepping outside for a while? 

JR: I miss my family. Also, New York is the best city in the entire world and I’m excited to remind everybody when we play on the roof of The Sultan Room.

RG: i don’t know about you but i find coming back jarring everytime. The anxiety of america is almost tangible from the sky approaching the airport, then you land and you hear americans speaking english and everyone is so chaotic.  In your opinion, what are the biggest fundamental issues with America as a place and as a mindset vs. that of other cultures you’ve experienced recently?

JR: Are they different? Maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about, but I haven’t found anything profoundly different in the systems or society. Corruption, greed, and racism are all very comfortable in Europe. The socioeconomic disparity is packaged differently, but the product is the same. They seem to be in different timelines of the same globalist track. Evil is rewarded and goodness is punished… This is encouraging because now we know the problem isn’t somewhere out there, it’s inside. Let’s take care of the inner world.

RG: You’re not just making songs, you are building a world. Talk a bit about Post-Bossa and Public Confession Art House.  

JR: Post-Bossa is a term used to refer to some of this music and art that engages with these themes and validates the human experience. Last year, Public Confession Art House produced a podcast with musicologist Michael Ramadan called THIS IS POST BOSSA and a playlist of the same name. As we understand it, Post-Bossa is more of a movement than a musical genre, similar to Impressionism or Renaissance.

Public Confession Art House is a diy record company based out of my bedroom in Brooklyn. We’ve handled crazy art projects, manufacturing and worldwide distribution, sync deals, publishing, and copywriting from my cracked iPhone 11. This is not a flex; this is a cry for help!

RG: What are some of your biggest issues with the music industry?  Can it be changed and if so, how?

JR: Having largely operated outside of the music industry, I may not be the most qualified to answer. However, there is one glaringly obvious issue. At every level of the industry, people are groping in the dark to find someone or something to copy. Artists are supposed to be cultural leaders, not followers. Leaders, not followers! Many, if not all problems, would be solved if these trend hopping, clout chasing, money grabbing weirdos would find their way. 

RG: Have you ever heard the Mahalia Jackson album “I Believe”?  I ask because that’s maybe top 3 records i would suggest to people.  What are your top 3?

JR: I have not heard Mahalia Jackson’s I Believe, but I plan to spin it with Liz right after this. My top three, in no particular order, are Lauryn Hill’s Miseducation, Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On, and In the Aeroplane Over The Sea.

RG: In your song “La Nuit Des Temps” with Lizzy and the Palm, at the end you both sing “Love is always there, If you get quiet and close up your eyes you will see, finally, He’s been waiting eternally, For you to see”.  THAT’S IT.  To me that is the most simple and profound way of describing “God/Love/Universe/Consciousness” and my personal relationship to it.  The one thing that has always been there. So obvious, so simple yet so easily overlooked.  It took me years of seeking and an intense silent meditation retreat to see and understand that part of myself and all of us. Are you down to talk a little about your relationship to “God” and any practices you have adopted to stay connected to it amidst the chaos of daily life and being a human being?

JR: Nothing fancy (nothing you don’t already know). I pray, read scripture, and meet with others on the same spiritual journey. I guess we all do in our own way, but I follow Christ and I’m happy to talk about it openly. Often I start the sets with a prayer, just to get us all tuned in, ya know. 

RG: Ok to lightenup, Would you rather have a unicycle for legs or be a cyclops?

JR: Would you love me if I was a cyclops?

RG: Yes, no matter the amount of eyeballs. Where and what are you eating for your last meal?

JR: All really good people are assassinated, so if I live well enough maybe I’ll enter that pantheon of martyrs. Assuming the best, my last meal is a breakfast burrito at home.

RG: What is favorite article of clothing you have acquired while traveling? (with photo if got it)

JR: On my first tour, Elisabeth gave me this golf shirt. I think it’s real stylish and a break from my usual undershirt tucked into navy work pants— the look I’ve sported since the divorce.

RG: Your latest shirt design says JOHNNY with the blueprint of a sustainable high efficiency circular house. Can I buy one in size L on 9/22 at the sultan room? and where are you gonna build this house when the time comes?

JR: Only if you agree to visit me when it’s finished! It will be located in [redacted] and I’ll tell you exactly where in person on the 22nd.

RG: Not only will I visit I will probably become a squatter there. THANK YOU JOHN.

You can follow John Roseboro on all the social medias. Instagram, Tik-Tok, Twitter. Listen to his music, share his music and come see John Roseboro, Santa Chiara, Bill Waters and Me on the roof of The Sultan Room in Brooklyn on Thursday 9/22/22.

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