Alice Russell is one of the UK’s greatest soul singers and Daniel White caught up with her to talk Brighton, Love Supreme and her soul influences
As I sit down to talk to the British soul singer Alice Russell, she is side-tracked mid-sentence by her four-week old son.
Momentarily she is in ‘Mum mode’, laughing and playing before promptly returning to where she left off. The Brighton-based artist is currently enjoying herself as she mixes her role as mum-of-one with the pleasures of performing her infectious gospel-soul singles to fans.
Undoubtedly one of the country’s most talented and powerful soul singers, Alice may also lay claim to being the nation’s most down-to-earth and humorous singers as she inadvertently reveals as we digress.
The daughter of an organist, Alice recently played to over 15,000 visitors at the Love Supreme Jazz Festival in Glynde Place, on the outskirts of Brighton. Headlining with massive names including De La Soul, Laura Mvula and Jamie Cullum, she was simply happy to be performing in front of a home crowd.
“I wanted to go as a punter anyway so I was really pleased to be asked to join the line-up,” she smiles. “It’s lovely to do a gig that’s just up the road in such a beautiful setting as well, the venue is just amazing.
“We did an early evening set which is always one of my favourites, the sun’s going down and it’s just generally a more relaxed vibe. I love the laid-backness of the festival and also you get to see loads of other people playing like Laura Mvula and Gregory Porter, loads of really good people.”
Although today her sound is quite defined, Alice was brought up listening to classical music by her parents, before finding her sound away from the family home.
“It was the radio where I first found James Brown, Aretha Franklin, people like that and I always sang in the church quire,” she explains. “So it was always within me and around me so it was quite second nature but to find the sort of music you feel resonates the most with you, which is so many different genres, but for me it’s that gospel sounding sort of soul.”
The Suffolk-born songster moved down to Brighton 20 years ago to study art and music and fell for the historically alternative seaside city.
“Before it was smugglers and fishermen and now it is a party town, it’s always had that vibe of creative people being drawn to it because of that party element and the bohemian vibe so it’s got that real deep history,” she reflects. “You can go down the seafront, it’s more chilled than London and I think that helps as well with people just wanting to get away from it.”
During her time in Sussex she has produced five studio albums and it is now ten years since the release of her debut LP, Under The Munka Moon, and during her time in the music industry she has seen a stark change in the way it is managed.
“When I started you really had to be on a label, it was all very much label led and now they’re the ones who are having to change a bit and adapt to what artists want,” she clarified. “The industry is having to change every few months with things such as Spotify but I think the bigger it gets the fairer the artists get paid so I’m sure we’re looking at the long game.”
The vocalist extraordinaire will be performing a number of sporadic shows in the coming month, however, for now she is satisfied staying at home and working on the things that she cares about most.
“At the moment I’m working on a little baby and making that grow,” she chuckled. “Also I really want to get back in the studio and get cracking on the new album, I was trying to do it before this little one came along but then things just caught up with me so for now I’m just chilling out a bit, so that’s the plan.”
Love Supreme Jazz Festival is the only greenfield, boutique Jazz festival in the UK and takes place at Glynde Place from 4th-6th July. For more information visit their website www.lovesupremefestival.com