Local weekly paper covering regional news and events gets an interview with artist David Ross Lawn. by Tara Collins AKA Twisted T

If you spend time in Asbury Park chances are you have seen David Ross Lawn. David is known around town for his “cottagecore” style. David’s style videos are extremely popular on TikTok where he has over 450,000 followers and Instagram with 115,000 followers. What is cottagecore? Think Anne of Green Gables meets The Cure. Yet, there is a whole lot more to David than their linen cottage dresses and strawberry hat. Talking with David (who goes by “they/them”), is like peeling an onion with many layers to reveal. David is an Ivy League trained classical pianist, opera & musical theatre singer, has played Carnegie Hall and for Queen of England!

Tell me about your art background?
My musical journey started at nine years old in Scotland, sitting cross-legged at a light up toy keyboard while listening to the EastEnders theme song on BBC television. For reasons unknown at the time, I could successfully trace the melodic contour of the theme with one finger with no prior knowledge of the instrument. I quickly learned that I had a “very good ear” for music and started taking piano lessons. In my teenage years, I continued music, diving into oboe and singing, taking on any extra-curricular activities I could from jazz band to orchestra, chamber choir, church singing, and even forming a hysterical rock band with my peers. Music was always my passion.

I was accepted as an undergraduate into the University of Aberdeen to study music performance (piano and oboe as the primary study). I then got a scholarship into Westminster Choir College at Princeton University to pursue a Masters in Theory and Composition. During these years, I started working in music professionally from performing at Carnegie Hall, to singing for the Queen of England, being part of a Grammy Nominated choir and of course, creating music that eventually started being used in television and big media outlets.

What is your process?
When I am creating my solo piano music, the majority of my influence and inspiration comes from the architecture of the human condition. I like to dig deep into my feelings (such a Pisces) and then allow the music to flow from that. A lot of my work is based around piano improvisation. I’ve been fortunate to have some fantastic experiences with it, my most recent performance was in the same lineup as composers I look up to such as Tom Cipullo and Ricky Ian Gordon. I’m always so thankful to be at that “emerging” stage where my music can be recognizable as my own and I’m excited for what is to come.

What inspires you?
While I certainly attribute a lot of my artistic and musical abilities to my professors, a lot of my inspiration and passion comes from outside of academia. As a composer, I feel most inspired when I’m out in nature, surrounded by serendipity and moments that unfold when I’m not even thinking about them. I try not to allow myself to get stuck in the monotony of classical music ideals and what is “correct” and let feeling dictate my music and my journey. I don’t believe in walking in the shadows of somebody else when it comes to music. I believe in creating my own light and legacy and not being afraid of letting that shine.

How did the quarantine/Covid-19 affect you as an artist?
I found a lot of silver linings in my pandemic time, as I was fortunate enough to have my piano nearby. I started posting actively on YouTube and gained over 10,000 subscribers, I started posting actively on TikTok and gained, at that time, 300,000 followers and I released a piano album that ended up getting used in national television. I refused to allow the time to affect me in a way of becoming lazy or lethargic and while there were many moments of weakness and sadness (as well as fear, of course) I did manage to continue my journey as an artist during that time.

Tell me how you got started dressing in cottagecore style.
I love reading period dramas, like Anne of Green Gables. I was inspired by the straw boater hat, so I bought one. I could see myself as a gender fluid type person getting into cottagecore because of the whimsy and juxtaposition of femininity and florals with gothic dark Doc Marten boots, my beard and more masculine features. Growing up in a small town in Scotland, cottage core was familiar to me and comfortable. Then Taylor Swift came out with the album Folklore that she wrote and created in a cottage and it became popular.

What would you like to see happen in the Monmouth County art community?
I’d personally love to see even more recital series with artists that are under the classical music umbrella whether in the form of piano recitals, improvisation communities, or groups where folks of all ages and abilities can perform for each other. I think it would create a safe place for those passionate about classical music to be able to come together and enjoy and embrace the art. I do this with my students and I’d love to see it happen on a more community level.

Check David out on Instagram: @davidrosslawn, TikTok & Spotify: “david ross lawn” or on his website: