This past year has been a ‘virtual whirlwind’ for Ron Patterson; even getting an interview with such a busy artist wasn’t easy. But that’s understandable when you look at what he has been up to. Since starting his career at the age of 11 and leading the group ‘The Fly Guys’ in the early 90’s, he has since been developing his own unique style and even producing his own music videos.
He has opened for artists like Brian McKnight, Deborah Cox, Chico DeBarge, Anthony Hamilton, Carl Thomas, and Robin Thicke, and his latest album ‘The Best Kept Secret Volume 2’ features vocals from Missy Elliot, Jay Z and Elephant Man. This well educated R&B artist has a rapidly growing mass appeal, and he’s not afraid to put in the hours to make it to the top.
Tell us about your latest album – The Best Kept Secret – Vol. 2.
Ron Patterson: The Best Kept Secret 2 was released in July 2007. Sales are doing well and I’m getting a lot of good feedback. I wanted to merge hip-hop, rock, R&B / Soul vocals, insightful lyrics, and diverse arrangements. This album is a taste of who I am.
What has its reception been like over in the US?
Ron Patterson: I have a unique sound and people are starting to catch on. I’m not your normal R & B Artist. I have been able to relate to people with my content with songs like Girlfriend, Take You Home, and Storybook. Also, people are getting an idea of who I am from songs like Straight From LA and Swagger Back.
Your career started when you were aged 11? How exactly did this music thing come about for you?
Ron Patterson: Since I can remember, I always loved music. I particularly liked Rap Music and R & B. I was also exposed to Gospel Music because my grandfather was a minister. My mom had eleven brothers and sisters who all would sing in my grandfather’s church. My dad played the bass guitar and also had a career as a singer/songwriter.
I joined a group at the age of 11 and was always performing in front of crowds. As I grew older, I became more and more drawn to creating my own music and sharing it with the world. First comes God, then comes family, then comes music.
Things seemed to move very fast when you fronted the Fly Guys. What was it like to be involved in such a career at such a young age?
Ron Patterson: Starting a professional career at such a young age taught me how to be conscious of my surroundings and truly be confident in my potential. I had to grow up fast but I also enjoyed my childhood. My parents were supportive of my dreams as well as provided structure for education and common sense. All in all, I have enjoyed my experiences and they have made me who I am today.
Have you ever felt stigmatised for being a male singer?
Ron Patterson: I try not to pay too much attention to the negative. I have always stood firm in being original and expressing my natural creativity. Although some people are expecting me to sound a certain way, I can only give the public my heart unadulterated.
When I was at school, boys wanted to be rappers as opposed to singers. I don’t know how they would have reacted to me singing acapella in the playground! How was it for you?
Ron Patterson: I was always confident in myself as a child and growing up… so I never cared about what people thought about me. I was very social and friendly and had a lot of friends who also supported me so if there were haters around, they had to keep the hate to themselves. Haha!
You’ve obviously been in the game for a while now. How has it changed? And has it been for the better or for the worst?
Ron Patterson: The game has changed for the better. Technology has opened doors for business in general and specifically in the music industry. As far as the content, that’s a different story… But the game itself is wide open to new hot talent. The key is to not become discouraged by the corporate aspects of the music industry.
I have been able to sell my own music and make a profit. My sales are growing along with my fan base and I am faced with new opportunities daily. I’m setting the tone for my own career. And it gets easier and easier for me to do that every day.
I hear that you went to University and that you feel it stood you in good stead for your music career. Can you explain why? The subjects that you took weren’t directly related to music…
Ron Patterson: I feel that higher education is important. Music was not something I had to study. It was something that was innate. Graduating from a University has given me power in the world. I had to interact with all different types of people, which exposed me to many different cultures and taught me how to compete with the future of the world. That has empowered me to make my vision beyond just a dream.
As a whole, my music has become my own business and my education is a large part of the reason why I continue to progress.
Who have been the biggest influences on your career?
Ron Patterson: I have always been known to be self-motivated as well as inspired by the greats. Other than my father, artists such as Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Lionel Richie, and many more have provided me with inspiration. I always wanted to be like those guys. Throughout my growth, that desire still remains.
What makes you stand out from the other male R&B artists?
Ron Patterson: My musical content is truly my autobiography. My songs are true to me and who I am. I also do not simply focus on love and romance but realistic life situations.
I understand that you have a very ‘hands on’ approach to your music; even filming your own music videos. What are the reasons behind that? Is it just that you have a whole load of talent, or do you just like to be in control of as many things as possible?
Ron Patterson: I don’t like to wait on people, so I tend to make things happen on my own. It’s just that simple. I use all of the resources that are in my reach and I do not let anything hold me back. I love challenging myself and smiling when the job is done.
You have some pretty big name contributors on your album including Timbaland, Missy and Jay Z. What was it like to work with them?
Ron Patterson: Well, I’ve never worked with them personally but since they are a handful of my favourites, I found ways through today’s technology to form collaborations with them. Launching my career in Los Angeles has forced me to come up with clever ways to get commercial attention. So who better to lean on than Jay Z and Timbaland?
Which artists would you most like to work with in the future?
Ron Patterson: I would love to work with Lauryn Hill, Andre 3000, and Robin Thicke.
And just out of interest, who would you have liked to have worked with in the past?
Ron Patterson: On my first album I dedicated a song called “Moonlight” to Aaliyah. I wrote that song on the day that she died. That song was written out of my dream to one day have worked with her. R.I.P Aaliyah.
Where do you draw your inspiration from when writing music?
Ron Patterson: The music inspires my words. I tend to work with mainly Hip Hop producers. I also love to work with talented musicians. I often sit with my guitar and let the strings provoke a feeling and I then translate it into words through a melody.
I just heard that you’re on the soundtrack for ‘Occupation Hollywood: The movie’.
Do you plan to become more involved in the film side of things? Perhaps even using your film skills to direct as opposed to acting.
Ron Patterson: Everyone knows that the movie business is far more lucrative than the music business, so yes, I would love to have my hand in them both. But music is where my heart lies. I also know that movies are nothing without music. I might hold off on directing only because I know some very talented directors and I would much rather hire them to properly display my ideas. In all business you must have a team. Everyone plays their part and contributes to the success of a proposed project. I love working with talented people.
Your track ‘Straight from LA’ is a fiery one. You’re obviously not happy about your music being pigeon-holed because of where you’re from. Now that the R&B scene has become so global, does your state of origin really make much of a difference anymore?
Ron Patterson: I feel it’s important that people never forget where they came from. I was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. 95% of all of my experiences have been centered in LA, so it naturally surfaces in my music. Do I think it makes a difference? No.
A common perception of R&B singers – particularly those who talk about love a lot – is that they get a lot of female attention from fans. How has this affected you? Have you just had a lot of fun? Or perhaps it has been detrimental to your relationships?
Ron Patterson: I have had a lot of fun and it has been detrimental to my past relationships but through the years I’ve grown and matured as an artist and I have learned from my mistakes. But overall, I have had a lot of fun.
What has been your best live performance to date and why?
Ron Patterson: I have performed so much so it’s hard to answer that question. But I always try to make my next performance better than my last.
Have you got plans to visit the UK any time soon?
Ron Patterson: Not as of now, but I have a lot of fans in the UK and that is something I am inclined to do very soon. I welcome the opportunity.
Do you know much about the current UK urban music scene?
Ron Patterson: I actually know nothing at this time but I know that I have a place in it.
What are your plans from here on out? What’s the next step for Ron Patterson?
Ron Patterson: I want to travel a lot more, specifically internationally. I also am planning to shoot another music video and I am networking to get more television and film exposure.
By: Tom Atkinson