Alice Russell Interview
Author: Guido Farnell
Friday, 18 November 2005
Mixing up jazz, soul, funk and gospel vibes with insistent beats and so much more Russell is back this month with her second solo album. Keeping things together is the magnificent power of Russell's soulful voice. A quick listen to 'My Favourite Letters' simply confirms that her prodigious vocal talent is deserving of all the hype.
"Basically the first album, 'Under The Munka Moon' is essentially a compilation of the solo stuff I had done," Russell advises. "Even though many people would have only heard those songs for the first time, some of them are about eight years old. I guess I just wanted to collect all those bits and pieces and pop it out as an album. I was keen to work on an album of completely new material from start to finish with TM Juke (aka Alex Cowan) after recording 'Hurry On Now'. It is very easy to work with him and 'My Favourite Letters' was a lot of fun to record. It didn't take long to put together. It was basically written during January and February of this year. Most of it was recorded in Al's bedroom and then we had a week in a studio to get some of the vocals done. All up the album was completed by May. We just got stuck into this project and worked really hard on this album. I think 'My Favourite Letters' works well as a more focussed whole. Each song is like a little letter and has it's own story, evoking certain memories or images of a time and place."
Despite working extensively with Quantic's Will Holland, Russell indicated that she has enjoyed working with Alex Cowan. "I think the difference is that Will really knows how he wants the song to sound. Al and myself are both on the same wavelength and usually we are both thinking exactly the same thing. It's brilliant and may partially explain why we work so fast and well together. I am not going to stop working with everyone I have in the past. I love collaborating because everyone brings something special that will affect how the end product sounds. At the end of the day it is all good. I still want to do an album with Will. Lately both of us have been heading towards a down tempo jazz vibe. I really like Fat Freddy's Drop at the moment and wouldn't mind collaborating with them on a track when I am in New Zealand later this year. I just need to get in touch with them first." laughs Russell.
I wondered if Russell always works so quickly. "Well, it depends on the song, I guess. Sometimes I find that a song will just pop into my head and it's just a very easy process to get it written. Other times I find myself waiting for the song and it does take a lot of time and thought to write. I am very focussed on lyrics and melody and am more of a feeling person and tend to work when I feel inspired. Once I have got the song down that's where people like Quantic or TM Juke come in and start to figure out arrangements and stuff."
Admitting to now concentrating mainly on her own solo career, Russell suggests that perhaps her Bah Samba days over. "Ironically, we have just put a new Bah Samba album out. It's just called 'Bah Samba 4'. We finished that in May of 2004 and just managed to get it released. We covered Teena Marie's Portugese Love and worked with Bill Curtis and Johnny Flippen on a cover of the Fatback Band's Let The Drums Speak. It's a great album but I just want to work on my own stuff for now. I think that like 'Under The Munka Moon' my next album will be a compilation of tracks on which I have collaborated with a lot of different producers."
Russell's My Favourite Letters and Bah Samba's 4 featuring Russell on vocals are out now through Cre Tags