Written By Venessa Byron
The common misconception of “Angry black girl” was erased while speaking to singer/rapper Russo inside the maze of offices in Universal HQ London. The proud Brixton native openly talked about her growth as an artist over the past couple years since being signed to Polydor Records.
Russo sits across from me in an oversized blue cardigan and relaxes into the large sofa. Speaking confidently about taking her career into her own hands even as an artist signed to a major label. Affirming the importance of not falling into the trap of expecting “the label” to solely push her career as an artist.
“It’s not really about the label to be honest. Its up to me as an individual to believe in myself and my team. The EP wasn’t label backed they didn’t put their eye in the door about it once. All the videos, Yo-Video and I came up with, they’re all our ideas. The label can do certain things but you have to be seen doing things for yourself. Polydor are good at leaving you to it and I like that.”
Her latest EP Ambition promotes her sound of pop exposed to the honest grit of hip-hop, led by the Single ‘Old School’ with a very fitting appearance by Rodney P. “Being from south London it was great working with him. I was very honored that he loved he whole vibe and idea of it.”
Whilst listening to Ambition and watching the visuals I can’t help but ask, are you really that angry? Russo laughs “There are softer feelings to me in the insecure feelings I have. The album will reflect that I’m not strong all the time and I think that’s important to show – I’m not perfect.”
Keeping in the Old School mentality Russo talks about making the conscious decision to create her album solely with Yo-Video productions. A move influenced by Kelis’s 1999 album Kaleidoscope produced by the Neptunes. “Me and Ali from Yo-Video, we get into the studio and he knows how to pick my brain, he’s good at getting emotional responses out of me when to it comes to situations that I’ve been through.” Russo explains as a smile rises across her face.
The decision was influenced by her growth from mixtapes and EPs into an album artist. “I wanted the album to sound like a cohesive body of work and not just a collection of songs that other people have made. Yes its good if I get to work with a big artist but I feel like albums end up sounding like mixtapes or compilations.”
With the undeniable Kelis influence being realised and Russo admitting to being in the long queue of women wanting to be the next Mrs. Jones, it would be unforgivable to not ask about two things live performances and tattoo’s.
“When I first started performing people would come and see a really shy girl, I was petrified. When I was a backing singer I had all the attitude because no one was watching me. Now I’m comfortable preforming and being in the front. I feel the lyrics of my songs have to be expressed properly because they are real stories.” Incase you were buying a ticket expecting to see the usual awkward eight count dance routine ‘There are no dance routines involved – I just don’t do stuff like that.” she laughs while shaking her head
As Russo roles up her sleeve and dismissed the idea of dancing onstage, the large tattoo of an arrowless cupid is visible. “The guy who I had broken up with, he hates tattoo’s he thought they were really vulgar. When we broke up I thought “I’m gonna put one right here” So every time you see me you’ll be disgusted. Cupid is without his arrow because I still haven’t found true love – that’s a lie I just forgot to ask her to put it in.”
Ready to release her début album Russo accepts the pressure to deliver a successful body of work after two years of being signed.
“The album, I’m really pleased with it and all the stuff that we’ve been working on. The best way to explain it is that it’s different versions of my personality, different ideas, moods and experiences that I’ve tapped into. I know artist say this all the time but I think everybody can take something from that, there is something on the album for everybody ”
Interview by @VeneessaLB
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