Wrap Up And Watch Out: Russo
Hailing from Brixton, south London, 25-year-old Russo has been co-signed by all of the right people within the urban music industry, and now there is a lot of hype surrounding her new mixtape, 'Lights Are Off'. The Wrap Up's James Walsh caught up with the former backing vocalist to discuss joining forces with the Yo Video production outfit, signing to Polydor, what we can expect from her debut album and much more...
The Wrap Up: Russo! Good to speak with you today. Going back to the very beginning, how did you first get into music?
Russo: I actually started by doing backing vocals for a good friend of mine called Ayah Marar. It was just fun for me at the time, but looking back it definitely gave me the experience that I needed.
TWU: Who were your musical influences growing up and at what age did you realise you wanted to pursue music on a more professional level?
Russo: I used to listen to a lot of US R&B and hip-hop: Aaliyah, Missy Elliot, Kelis, etc. It never really occurred to me until quite recently that this is something I could do as a career until I met the Yo Video guys through Ayah. I actually used to go to school with Ally from Yo Video but we lost touch. Since we've reconnected, it has been incredible! Before I met them, I'd always sung but never really thought anything would come of it.
TWU: How did things progress when you teamed up with Yo Video?
Russo: We started off just jamming and never set out to do anything intentionally. It's all been really organic the way that it's grown, and I think that has benefitted me. We've been working so hard on the music, the videos, creating our sound and building the vibe, but it really feels like it's all been a beautiful accident. Yo Video have been amazing and we're like one big family! Isaac directs the videos – it was great when we did the first one. It was nerve-wracking for me, but because the guys know me so well, they were able to make me feel comfortable and capture our vibe on film.
TWU: Once you had your sound and vibe in place, how did getting signed by Polydor materialise?
Russo: We did the ‘Fool’ video and put it up on YouTube. At the time, everyone still had normal jobs and the video only cost us around £500. But while I thought it was just peak that I had a video on YouTube, people at different labels started seeing it and we began having meetings with a few of them. People were feeling what we were doing, so we had the whole, 'If it isn’t broke, don't fix it' mentality and went with Polydor, as they were really keen for us to keep doing everything the way we had been doing by ourselves.
TWU: Your track with Scrufizzer, 'Laters I’m Off', has been getting a lot of love. Tell us a bit about the track and the mixtape that it's going to appear on...
Russo: The reaction to 'Laters I’m Off' has been fantastic! I couldn't have wished for a better response to it. We did the video with Scru last week and that'll be dropping this week – along with the mixtape, which will be available as a free download. The mixtape also has features from Sincere and Dot Rotten on it, so be sure to get your copy from our site. I'm also supporting Professor Green this week in Oxford and Brighton, so it’s busy times ahead!
TWU: Definitely looking forward to the mixtape! Your album's almost complete as well, right? How's that sounding and when can we expect it?
Russo: Yeah, the album is just about finished, but there's lots I want to do and every time I think we're done, there'll be new songs we come up with which we love. There's some filtering down which needs to take place, but the album will be dropping in 2012.There probably won't be any features on it, as I wanted those for the mixtape. In regards to the sound, I don't want to be put in a box and have my music labelled as one thing because I think it's up to the listener to take what they do from the music without been influenced otherwise and decide for themselves where they put me. Saying that, while my music is definitely urban-influenced, it is mainstream and has depth and substance to it. The songs are reflective of me as a 25-year-old woman and the place where I'm at in my life right now. I really feel like I'm making a great album.
Download Russo's new mixtape, 'Lights Are Off', for free: H E R E
Stay up to date with Russo on Twitter – www.twitter.com/Russo_Music
Words: James Walsh (@JW_DittoMusic)
Online editing: Joseph 'JP' Patterson (@Jpizzledizzle)