For Ross Golan, Theory and Intuition Go Hand in Hand
Multi-platinum songwriter on his creative process, podcasting, and advocacy
Songwriter Ross Golan knows that hits aren’t written by mistake. “Composition is all about editing. That’s when theory thrives,” he says. “Most of the time, I trust the numbers over my instincts. But to know when to stop editing is all about intuition.”
After penning songs for the likes of Ariana Grande, Maroon 5, Justin Bieber, Nicki Minaj, Lady Antebellum, Michael Bublé, Selena Gomez, Keith Urban and CeeLo Green, the Chicago native’s approach to composition revolves heavily around what he calls “song math,” as well as the musical intuition he has cultivated.
“Theory and intuition go hand in hand,” Golan explains. “Theory equals math. Intuition equals taste. Personally, I like improvising melodies and freestyling lyrics to capture my instincts. And then I edit that intuition into a cohesive idea.”
Relying solely on those tools isn’t enough, however. In the cutthroat business of making pop hits, he says collaboration can be crucial: “I love writing alone, but it’s harder to get perspective and takes much longer. That said, co-writing takes the pressure off. A good co-writer can give you perspective immediately. Each writer you add in the room brings more perspective.”