Alice Russell is a pure natural talent, an entrancing presence, a force of nature. Whether on a big stage with her 16 piece band, charming a crowd of 4000 into staying out dancing in the rain (as she did at Montreal Jazz Festival) or rocking out an intimate club set with a stripped down six-piece band; she’s a singer who commands attention.
As much as she loves being in the studio there’s something special about Alice let loose on an audience. From performing with a full band and horn section, to pared down and more intimate sets, Alice Russell takes no prisoners! “Being on stage is more instant”, she admits. “I like things when they’re quite free. In the studio, it can be like when you know someone’s taking your photo. Writing in the studio is amazing but when you’re doing takes it can be a bit daunting, but also really exciting. Live you can’t take it back – you’ve got to go all out there.” It has led to some great experiences, like when she stayed on in Japan to visit the village where the promoter was from: almost like a 50s teen movie, a deal was struck where Alice would have free reign of the hotel for her stay if she did a gig. “Of course we said yes,” Alice says with delight. “Babies and grandmas all turned up, and there we were with a makeshift sound system thrown together out of amps and speakers. It was one of the most heart-warming gigs I’ve ever done.” Other live highlights include singing with The Roots in Philadelphia, while recording has seen her sing on Talking Heads leader David Byrne’s recent LP. Surely belting out the intensely emotional songs must get a bit tiring. Apparently not. “It’s a great emotional release,” Alice smiles. “And sometimes makes you feel really high, especially when you’re singing the high notes. If you’re feeling rubbish and everything else feels like it’s going wrong you feel better if you have a good singsong.”