I spent some time flipping through record bins this past week, a favourite pastime that’s sadly not as easy to do as it once was for me. Although I came up empty-handed in my searches, I did find that every once and awhile, I need to do something out of the ordinary, shake up my music exploration routines, and tune out the noise to better tune in.
When my real-world explorations came up dry, I turned to a cyber version of record bin diving (i.e. randomly trolling through Bandcamp members’ music collections) and came upon Charlottetown-based interdisciplinary artist Russell Louder. Louder’s latest musical offering, “Give It Up” was written and recorded over three days during a week-long music residency with Fredericton’s Flourish Festival in June 2017. The looping, experimental electro-pop track is instantly addictive, ping-ponging back and forth between melody and noise.
Though the song’s lyrics reference love that goes beyond all reasonable limits (the last line asks “How can I want your love with all you put me through”), what stuck in my head is a line mid-song. “And I’ve been told / when and when not to fold,” they sing, “but chance will still take its toll / nothing is planned.” For me, that line echoes the ongoing search for new perspectives and new voices to share with you. Periods of prolific music discovery and writing is often punctuated by long passages of time where it feels like everything “new” is a recycled version of something that’s come before, dictated by unseen forces hoping to get a foothold in the cultural milieu.
Louder says they are an autodidact whose art grew organically in isolation on Prince Edward Island, informed and influenced by their own discoveries and investigation rather than trends or popular wisdom. They describe their performance as a blend of theatre, drag, costume, music, movement and visual art. These are all elements that, while not immediately identifiable from listening to a digital sound file, has informed how “Give It Up” moves through its vignette verses and connects with listeners on multiple levels. Though most definitely a performer, Louder’s performance is rooted in a profound sense of self and authenticity. It’s energizing and exhilarating to find an artist making something real in an otherwise fabricated musical landscape.