Buddy Ross talks about his collaborative history with Frank

Buddy Ross  Michael J Spear/Classfare

Buddy Ross Michael J Spear/Classfare

In a series of interviews, Buddy Ross has detailed how he got connected with Frank Ocean and how he has been able to contribute to Frank's work since their first meeting in 2012.

Buddy auditioned to play in the band immediately preceding Frank's appearance on SNL where Ross would have the opportunity to play with John Mayer as well. From then on, he was the guy to call for Frank when a keyboardist was needed. In jam sessions they would start to vibe, which gave Ross an opportunity to show Frank some of his own music and eventually join him in the studio. He had no idea what work of his—if any—would make the cut. To his surprise, plenty did.

His track "Running Around" would become the instrumental bed for "Be Yourself" and "Facebook Story." 

Edit: It would also be used to play Frank onto the stage during live performances in 2017. He made a music video for the song in 2018.

Apart from one of his existing pieces being sampled for Blonde, he contributed to "Close To U" and "White Ferrari" as well. On Endless, Buddy played synth on "Commes Des Garçons," "Slide On Me," "Sideways," and "Florida."

Here is a selection from a now dated interview with Classfare:

Tell us about getting connected to Frank Ocean.

“There was a guy that ran sound for Motopony, and he had started bringing monitors for Frank Ocean and heard at their rehearsals that they were looking for a keyboard player. He texted me and said, ‘You need to send a video right now of you playing.’ I was in my basement, so I had my roommate film me just jamming on my keyboards. I just uploaded it to YouTube and sent him the link. That’s how they hired me basically.”

You can watch the audition video mentioned below.

More from Pitchfork:

How did it get from there to your playing on Endless and Blonde?

We toured a bunch. During soundchecks I’d always just start messing around and coming up with new little ideas, playing on the synths. He would come out and just start freestyling over stuff. I think that’s when we started first vibing together, just onstage during soundcheck. That was 2012, and then in 2013 we did a big European festival tour. After that ended, a week later I thought I was going to be home for a while and then I got a call that he wanted to meet in the studio—like a week after we got off the road. I guess those moments during soundcheck just stuck with him and he wanted to bring me in. He was super cool.

What can you tell me about your role on these projects?

I played on a bunch of the Endless stuff. I was there a lot of this year working on that. Honestly, Frank’s such a—he has this vision that no one else really is privy to. A lot of times you don’t even know what you’re working on. He just puts blinds on everybody and sends them off in their own space to just do whatever they want.

It’s been a four-year process. I think there has been stuff that was maybe for some things that ended up on other things. I’m such a big fan, and I had no idea what I was going to be on until the record came out. So more than anybody, I was just waiting and anticipating the release of this so much. I knew I was hopefully going to be a part of it, but I was also just excited to hear all the little bits and pieces I had heard over the years finally come together.