Alice Russell: Great big musical adventure

The music of English chanteuse Alice Russell seems almost impossible to classify. When asked to try, music critics and commentators usually resort to rattling off a long list of genres – soul, funk, gospel, reggae, jazz, blues, downbeat, breakbeat, folk, dub, triphop, drum and bass – which don’t even come close to describing her honeyed voice, heavenly melodies and simmering energy.

But for Alice, it’s simple. “Music is music. Most music that I love has got stuff from all sorts of places. But ultimately I call [my music] soul, just because the stuff we do is quite real and raw, from the heart and from what we really love. So in that way, I call it soul music. Because soul music can be a bit of everything.”

Born into a musical family, Alice was enthralled by fashion and art from a young age and followed her passion to Art College. But her musical roots were inescapable and she was soon recording collaborations with artists like Quantic Soul Orchestra, Bah Samba and Kushti, all seeking Alice’s amazing vocal stylings. She then turned her creative attention to her first solo album, Under the Munka Moon, released in 2004, which had music lovers craving more of Alice’s unique brand of sultry soul.

My Favourite Letters and Under the Munka Moon 2 followed shortly after and despite touring flat-out, Alice and long-time collaborator TM Duke are working furiously on a new album which Alice hopes will be out by the end of the year. “I’m listening to a lot of Stevie Wonder, Prince and D’Angelo, so a little mishmash of those things might be coming out soon.”

As if she didn’t have enough on her plate already, Alice has confirmed a much-rumoured collaboration with British triphop legends Massive Attack. “As we speak I’ve written one song for them so far and I’ve got another one that I’m working on. I think they seem to do a lot of collaborations and when it comes to the end they look at everything and see what they really like, so I’m hoping they’re going to like the ones I’ve done and they might be on the album. But who knows?”

Alice, who ignited Australian audiences when she toured with Quantic Soul Orchestra and the Bamboos on previous visits, is itching to come Down Under with her solo show for the first time. Backed by a six-piece band, Alice is currently touring Australia. So what should Aussie punters expect from an Alice Russell show?

“I hope you can expect a damn fine show that will get you up dancing really. And a bit of rawness. I get the boys to sing as well, so you’ll hear their lovely voices when I get them to do the backing vocals… everyone’s got really special personalities and special things that they bring to the live show. I can’t wait and I’m so excited. And I’m so excited they can come with me. It feels a bit mean when I go off on my own and they’re all left in England. And I think it’s good for the audience, it’s good for the people that like the music as well because you know, you’re giving them the full shebang. I think the Aussies deserve the full band. ”

Alice Russell’s final show of her Australian tour takes place at The Forum in Sydney this Friday, April 13th, with crate digging legend Keb Darge in support.