Discovering Arthur Russell

This story begins in 2015 while I was studying my bachelor degree in Fine Arts at RMIT in Melbourne, Australia.  

I had recently moved in with my friend and visual collaborator Kat in a leafy suburb just outside of Melbourne CBD. Kat and I would often spend evenings sharing new and old music with each other while working on our creative projects.  This particular evening Kat introduced me to Arthur Russell’s World of Echo album.  I was immediately transfixed with his sound.  

What I loved most about the record was the sketch like quality of the songs.  They seemed to lack a recognisable structure and felt almost as if they were captured moments, stream of consciousness and pure expression.  When you listen to this album it feels as though you are in the room with Arthur being let in on his process and exploration of sound and harmony.   

This album inspired me in the thought that one could curate a very raw collection of recordings into a compelling and intimate experience for the listener.  One song in particular stayed with me She’s The Star/ I Take This Time.  The vocal motifs to me were incredibly memorable and after the record finished I found myself singing one of the main motifs, what you could call a chorus melody.  ‘I’ll take this time, and love you with it’.  

Six months earlier my partner of 8 years had decided to end our relationship and I was slowly coming to terms with the reality of my life without him.  I was still so deeply in love and could not find a way to let go of that longing for it to continue.  I had written many songs about this feeling but had not been able to articulate it in a clear way.  When I heard these words they resonated so deeply.  All I was able to do during that time, was to love him with it. 

I know this is a universal experience.  Each person in their life has or will experience a time when they feel a deep love for someone who they are unable to share their life with anymore.  I knew at that moment I wanted to record a version of this song. To express this feeling for myself and hopefully allow others who have felt this to feel comforted in a shared experience and understanding.

If you would like to know more about Arthur Russell check out this documentary Wild Combination - A Portrait of Arthur Russell directed by Matt Wolf.  It was in this documentary that I discovered just how prolific and influential Arthur was during his life.

I hope my story allows you a deeper listening experience.  Stay tuned for the next part of the story.  I will be sharing some of the technical processes involved in the recording of this song and introduce some of my key musical and visual collaborators.