Russell Stewart Interview // ‘Citrus’

Words: Danny Gillies / @danny_gillies

  • We sat down virtually with Russell Stewart to discuss his latest single ‘Citrus’.
  • We chatted influences, Stevie Wonder and the Scottish music scene.
  • FFO: Easy Life, Joesef & Alfie Templeman.

With his debut single ‘Midsummer’ hitting almost 800,000 streams on Spotify, Russell Stewart has already made an impact with his fresh and exciting songwriting. His latest single ‘Citrus’ takes a new electronic direction and it’s a move that works in Stewart’s favour. ‘Citrus’ is a track full of off-kilter drums and driving synth bass riffs, providing the perfect base for Russell’s vocal, which is a confident one. The melody takes pleasantly unexpected turns at points, keeping the listener invested from start to finish. The expertise from fellow Scots vanives takes ‘Citrus’ to the next level, clearly not hindered despite being produced via video call. We sat down with Russell Stewart and talked about his new single, his ‘alt soul’ style and his favourite music right now. Here’s what he had to say:

📸 – Julian Bailey

1. Hey Russell, thanks for taking the time to sit down with us (virtually)! How are things for you in 2020?

Thanks for having me! It’s been very up and down, like most people this year I think, but feeling good to be putting out new music.

2. ‘Citrus’ is your second single and it’s more synth based than ‘Midsummer’. Was this a conscious decision or did it come naturally?

A mix of both I guess. I’ve wanted to move more towards this type of recording and production for a few years, and feel like I’ve been gradually working towards it. I’ve had the song ‘Citrus’ for a while now and knew I wanted to go down a more electronic, heavily produced route if I recorded it. So with lockdown and the mad year it’s been I thought, may as well make a dramatic change now!

3. You describe your music as “alt soul”, which artists inspire you?

Soul is definitely the main element, how it’s shaped the way I sing and perform, then I added ‘alternative’ as a way of removing expectations, because my music is quite varied in intensity and style. I like to explore and experiment, and keep myself and listeners on their toes! It’s people from all sorts of old and new offshoots of the genre that have influenced me over the years, artists like Lauryn Hill, Nao, Stevie Wonder, Lianne La Havas, Amy Winehouse, Nick Hakim, and the list goes on. Green Day will always have a special place in my heart though.

4. The Scottish music scene is producing great artists, do you feel like it’s competitive or is there a community element as well?

I don’t think it feels competitive at all. There’s a real strong sense of community here throughout the different circles of people and the variety of styles/genres that intersect it all. People from different ends of the music spectrum end up forming bonds and lifting each other up. Definitely missing being on the scene physically this year!!

5. ‘Citrus’ was produced by vanives, how was the recording process with them?

It was a new experience making a track remotely and spending hours on video calls working on it, but it was so much fun. Stuart and Roan are insanely talented producers/musicians and all round sound guys, it’s some buzz working with them. We’ve worked together a bit before on stuff so it did just feel like hanging out (virtually), firing loads of ideas at the track and playing about with it. Beyond happy with how ‘Citrus’ turned out, very proud of what we’ve done!

6. What are your top 3 tracks right now?

‘Echo’ by Olivia Dean is brilliant, her voice is stunning. ‘Midnight Sky’ by Miley Cyrus has been stuck in my head since it came out, it is an absolute tune. My pal Lizzie Reid just put out her new single ‘Always Lovely’ which is one of the most beautiful songs ever written, so I would definitely recommend that!

~~Final Quick-Fire round!~~

Keeping in the ‘Citrus’ theme – lemons or limes?

Limes.

Glasgow or Edinburgh?

Glasgoooow.

What’s your favourite Stevie Wonder track?

Cruel question – probably ‘Golden Lady’ or ‘As’ but I think my answer would change every day!

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