With a voice saturated in the depths of the funk and soul that inspired her debut as one of the United Kingdom’s quickest rising acts to emerge in the past decade, Alice Russell’s vocals are sweeter than honey and sizzle with furious passion. Her career began with the release of Under The Munka Moon in 2004 through the Tru Thoughts label, which also recorded the 2005 My Favourite Letters, and Russell’s journey comes full-circle as she is set to headline the label’s 15th Anniversary at the Skirball Cultural Center, on Friday, Oct. 24.
In addition to performing the vintage soul and atmospheric hits that dominate her most recent album, To Dust, which was also released through Tru Thoughts, Russell will delve into the depths of her diverse discography—one that has included influences from collaborations with artists of nearly every genre. From the Latin-infused rhythms of her work with Bah Samba, the hip-hop of Kushti, or Quantic’s bossa nova-jazz, each has contributed to her identity as a singer and musician.
“I’m constantly wanting to try lots of different styles, and I don’t want to stop on one because then I feel like the end—and I don’t want to eat the same food everyday, that’s the same for music,” Russell said of her musical direction.
With such a colorful background, it’s no surprise that Tru Thoughts’ has been a huge part of her experimentation and growth, as the label has made one of its central missions to increase collaborations between artists. Russell’s second album was co-written and produced by Alex Cowan, also known as TM Juke—and the two have continued to tour together since the 2006 release of her third album Under The Munka Moon II. It was through contributions to artists and bands like Quantic and Nostalgia 77 that pushed her career off the ground and into the air back in the early 2000’s—and the relationships she developed working alongside other artists was one of the reasons that she has held onto Tru Thoughts for so long.
“The main thing I got from Tru Thoughts was the collaboration aspect of things all the way from the beginning. They’ve definitely have always had a family and talent for getting artists in touch with each other, and I think it’s more complex now for artist collaborations—but at 15 years ago, it wasn’t quite so much,” Russell said of her time at the label.
“That was one thing I think Tru Thoughts really nurtured with all the artists working together, which I think was kind of cool because then I met people I’m still working with to this day.”
Russell has performed tours across Europe, Australia, and the U.K., but the star-studded glitter and glam of Los Angeles has held a major soft spot in her heart since her first show at The Troubadour in West Hollywood.
“We did the Troubadour, which for me was absolutely stunning. You guys have so many music venues just steeped in musical history—you can just walk in and imagined it hasn’t changed as much.,” Russell said of the magical experience.
“With the crowds, you never know what to expect or who’s going to come out, but it was a sell-out show. To have those people come and hangout it’s really cool, because you never know—you come across the pond and think, ‘Well is someone going to come?’ and when they do, it’s so utterly gratifying.”
Appearing alongside her at the Skirball will be her label mates Lost Midas, an L.A. based producer and multi-instrumentalist, and the San Francisco electropop/soul outfit, The Seshen. The show will also feature the release of the Tru Thoughts 15th Anniversary Box Set, which will be limited to 500 copies worldwide—a hand-numbered box set that will showcase a custom creation by graffiti artist Aroe, three 12” slabs of colored vinyl, two CDs, and a 12” square booklet packed with exclusive interviews and photographs. Music inside was handpicked by co-owner Robert Luis and was compiled to be a testament to the past, present, and future of the label’s extensive and talented repertoire.
Advanced tickets are $20 for general admission, and $30 for reserved balcony seating; day of the show general admission will be $25, while reserved seats will be $40. Free parking will be available, the event is +18 and ID is required for entry.
Tickets: www.skirball.org or (877) 722-4849.