Russell Louder on Creating Better Work, Ditching Burnout and Creativity As Lifeblood

Charlottetown-based Russell Louder is a trans musician, producer, performance artist, curator, party-thrower and general ring leader. Their experimental electronic dance pop explores the ever-evolving internal landscape of identity, grief and romance. Russell was recently named a finalist in CBC Music’s 2019 Searchlight competition, and earlier this year, took home a Music PEI award for Electronic Single Recording of the Year for their track, Showdown.” Following their previous single, “Cost of Living, Russell’s latest release is “Light of the Moon.

On June 13 at the Rivoli, Russell will be performing along with Paupière, & Radiant Baby as part of NXNE’s Lisbon Lux Records showcase.

We caught up with them this week.

SDTC: Describe your dream vacation/getaway scenario:

RL: I’m visualizing a quiet, tropical beach, some kind of indoor music studio access…and if cute, furry animals happen to be in close proximity at all times, I’m totally okay with that.

Who/what is commanding a lot of attention in your life lately?

I mean, music is my primary relationship right now, but I’m also fixated on DIY clothing design. Nearly every article of clothing I own has been altered by me in some way.

What have you learned about yourself in the past year?

It’s okay to not work sometimes. It sounds simple, but the realization felt pretty deep when it hit me. I’ve actually been more productive now that I technically put in less hours than I did a year ago, and I’m creating better work.

What is a fun little-known fact about you?

I love gardening. Gardening is my jam. I’m basically a part-time basil therapist.

What book/film/show have you connected with recently, and what about it appeals to you?

A show that really got me recently was Flowers (by Will Sharpe). I’m a sucker for zany, painful, dry British comedy. The entire series, as a whole, is a masterpiece in terms of the aesthetic, the character development, the plot, the acting, etc. Just when you think everyone has hit bottom, the show gets completely turned on its head in a really compelling way, and work like that really excites me.

What’s the worst piece of career/life advice you’ve been given?

“Say yes to everything.” Frick that scat. It’s a recipe for burnout.

What is your motto at the moment?

The product will only ever be as strong as the process.

Any goals/plans for the summer?

A couple of scoring projects, making more clothes, working on an album—potentially another single—play a few exciting shows, sit on beach, swim in said beach, repeat.

What are the qualities you like least and most about your parents?

They are both pretty amazing creators. Mom is a writer, Dad is a poet. Things were far, far away from perfect growing up, but there was this “creativity is lifeblood” mentality in my home that I didn’t really see in my friends’ homes. I think that facilitated a vehicle for wrapping my head around the complicated, not-so-great stuff.

Rewind five years. What advice would you give yourself?

Having a “mentor” should never replace having autonomy, and if it does…run.

What is the most courageous thing you’ve ever done?

I feel like this is a question that can go really deep, but you know what? Recently I gave a Basset Hound an enema and that felt pretty courageous, so.

What childhood memory makes you laugh out loud?

One time I pranked my entire class by tricking a kid to bring up a porno on the projector. It was totally evil, but I have no regrets.

What unnecessary object would you love to own?

I mean, I’m a musician, so I guess I would love to own pretty much every synth possible. OH, actually, I want a keytar. Yeah, a keytar would be amazing. OH, but maybe it doubles as a karaoke machine? Final answer.

What tip, technique or hack has made your life better in the past year?

This might sound a little Sports Digest, but remembering to work out is a huge help for me to have a clear head, even if that means dancing around my apartment or gardening or whatever. When I’m hyper-concentrating in the studio, doing long production hours without moving my body or doing something tactile, I get so emo and lethargic and that also brings up mad dysphoria feels. Just doing things to keep positive endorphins flowing, I guess?

What issue do you wish people took more seriously?

Climate change, lack of trans rights, lack of trans healthcare, how colonialism is being perpetuated across the globe, and how all these things actively harm everyone.

What outfit makes you feel the most you?

Anything I design/paint. It’s by me, for me, y’know?

Who/what has surprised you lately, and how?

It’s hard to surprise me.

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