Interview: Five minutes with Russell Louder

Image credit: Christine Turek 

Russell Louder rejects the current standards of society and pushes for a better understanding of each other, more respect and freedom for personal choices. The talented singer uses gender-neutral pronouns rather than allowing themselves to be shackled into a particular societal box. Their latest single, ‘HOME’ is a reflection of adventure, with pop-tinged melodies that display a soaring set of vocal skills. A small gift ahead of their album (HUMOR – to be released on the 26th of February), the single tells the tale of a wandering protagonist. Embracing the retro and twisting it into an unmistakable modern hit, Russell Louder sets the tone for the upcoming LP while enticing fans with their unmistakable sound. 

Album digital pre-orderVinyl / CD pre-order

The transgender artist has received strong support from the LGBTQ community and is currently becoming more globally recognised for their talents. We catch up with them in the interview below as we explore inspiration, creation and technology.

HOME’ on iTunes

Set the tone for us. Why the arts?

I grew up as part of a network of artists, musicians, writers and performers – and creative skill was sort of a currency with the adults around me.  I think that undoubtedly influenced how I wrap my head around my experience of this world, and probably how I try to reject or escape from it sometimes…  Also, I nearly flunked out of high school so it was made abundantly clear that academia was never going to work out on my end.

Which comes first when you’re producing – the sound or the idea?

Both? Neither?  It’s hard to say – I make a point of not thinking about it too hard.  Unlike a lot of songwriters and producers that function within a ‘4/4 pop’ structure, I don’t work formulaically.  Coffee comes first.

Does your material feature any collaborations?

I co-wrote and co-produced two songs with Steph Copeland back in 2018 as a part of the Canadian Song Conference through Music PEI.  I’ve also dabbled in some scoring work with D’Arcy Wilson – who is a visual and intermedia artist, but that felt very collaborative even though she wasn’t technically working on the music.  

What’s on your current playlist?

I hate playlists.  I hate them.  But right now I’m listening to ‘Floodland’ by Sisters of Mercy, ‘Jesus Egg that Wept’ by Danielle Dax and ‘Electric Warrior’ by T. Rex

Tell us about the chemistry you have with your fans on stage.

When I play shows, I show up with my band – very well-rehearsed, in great outfits, and I allow myself to exist in this state of consciousness that exists somewhere between complete control and glorious chaos for the duration of a set.  The performer-audience connection within that 20-to-60-minute window of hallowed time is something I have stopped trying to put into words.  I don’t presume that everyone (or anyone) in the room is a “fan” of my work.  Even if it’s a high-energy show with a high-energy crowd and sweat is dripping from the ceiling and I’m spraying champagne on the front row, I don’t take my audience for granted.

What techniques do you experiment with to get your original sound?

Does such a thing exist?  A technique to obtain an original sound?  I don’t know.  When I hear my music, I hear reference upon reference upon reference.  I think musicians (especially those working within a ‘4/4 pop song’ framework) are just recycling musical ideas that have been planted into their heads throughout their lives – myself included.  

Take us through a day in the recording studio.

My recording studio currently consists of a laptop and a mic and a midi controller… In my bedroom, and I just finished a 4.5-year body of work, so right now my musical practice looks like me getting up, having coffee and breakfast, scrolling through the internet, reading, maybe writing a bit, and then working on seeds of musical ideas I’ve been planting since 2017.  I have about 200 songs that I have started just sitting negated in my hard drive so I’m listening to them and deleting what needs to go and developing what I think would be interesting for something in future.  Also making new work all the time – right now I’m not forcing anything and just looking at my musical practice as just a constant thing I do to keep that part of my brain happy.  It’ll probably look different next month and different the month after that, after that, and after that.

Was there a specific moment in your life where you thought, “this is what I want to do”?

No.  But once I started to be able to make music full-time (by the skin of my teeth, mind you), I found a sense of affirmation in that.

Take us through your collection of gear, tech or software that accompanies your creative expression.

Computer, Ableton Live Suite and Logic Pro X, whatever midi keyboard/launchpad is available, microphone, interface, weird little percussion doodads lying around. Having a guitar nearby is helpful – having a bass nearby is better

How have you refined your craft since you entered the industry?

I focus on my work and let the industry worry about the industry.  It’s only been 5 years since I started making music – and about 3 since I ‘entered the industry’ so, much of this time has been about settling into my creative voice – literally and figuratively.

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