Sometimes when we listen to music, we forget all the instruments that contribute to each sound in a track. The very thought of the time it took to perfect a sample or build a loop and how it came about never crosses our minds as listeners… not Russ Liquid though.Born with a passion for music (an obsession in his words) Russ has explored most avenues that involve sound. From playing multiple instruments to keeping an open mind towards new genres, Russ is all about providing music that you can build a connection to. This very idea is underscored in his latest release from 1320 Records, Foreign Frequency. It has seventeen tracks that I personally can't place under one genre, but describe as more of an adventure through self feeling- while listening to it I felt at peace, relaxed, but also like the music was a part of me.
My 85-year-old grandmother saw me play electronic music for the first time recently…and she loved it!
And like all good music that intrigues me, I wanted to know more about the person behind the sound and what influenced their style. So in the spirit of discovery, this is Russ Liquid...the mastermind behind the melodic music.
Where are you from? Do you think your hometown has influenced your style or taste in music?
Portland, Oregon. I grew up listening to classical music and older groups like the Beatles. I think we are a product of our environment. I grew up with music being a part of my life... My mother was a choir director and encouraged me to pursue music... Although, it probably wasn't hard to do because I was obsessed at an early age.
What does your family think of all this? Do they attend shows?
My family has been very supportive of me being a musician, through all its manifestations... My 85-year-old grandmother saw me play electronic music for the first time recently opening for STS9 at the Crystal Ballroom in Portland this winter and she loved it!
What tracks are you currently listening to? Why?
I have been really into James Blake. Also my new favorite band is Alt J...I just love real musicians playing real music.
I like the harmonic richness of jazz and classical music, the simple yet effective horn lines found in ska and the deep bass found in electronic music.
How did you get your start? Any interesting anecdotes, anyone you owe “big time?”
I started off playing classical music through my teens. It wasn't until after college that I discovered jazz. I had a three-year run as a professional jazz musician; I had my own jazz quintet and we played clubs and cruise ships all over the world. It was quite an experience really. After that I played in a psychedelic dub/ska band for a couple years. Then I played in a number of hip-hop bands. Then came March Fourth Marching Band... A collective of burner freaks playing big band punk funk. I toured with this group for about two years before deciding to pursue my own music again.
From classical to jazz to ska to punk funk to electronic, what influenced all these changes? Do past sounds play a role in what you're doing now?
I would say that the biggest influence of these different types of music I have played are most evident in my melodic structure... I like the harmonic richness of jazz and classical music, the simple yet effective hornlines found in ska and the deep bass found in electronic music.
What was the first instrument you learned and how did that lead to playing other instruments?
The first instrument I learned was piano. It gave me the foundation that allowed me to learn the other instruments I play...
And those would be?
I play piano, guitar, flute, trumpet, trombone, alto sax and tenor sax in my production currently. I recently just started singing more. The voice is such a powerful instrument. I definitely love making my own percussion sounds... Rustling leaves to twigs breaking... I love the egg shaker—especially live!
Imagine being a painter and discovering a whole new palette of color to paint with.
Is there a particular artist or song that has influenced your work? Or a track that when you first heard you knew that was the kind of music you wanted to make?
I would have to say the first time I heard electronic music was hearing Tipper at Shambahla Music Festival in Canada. I had never heard sounds like that before... It really blew my mind. I knew after hearing that that I wanted to utilize the same kind of space age sounds in my own compositions... Imagine being a painter and discovering a whole new palette of color to paint with...Currently, my inspiration in electronic music are people like Flying Lotus, Lapalux and J Dilla.
Do visualize music as your listen, what do you imagine?
I see the notes...Colors and there is this connection that happens and I feel as if I am a part of it.
Tell me about your most memorable night out.
Most memorable experience would have to be playing with March Fourth at the Hollywood Bowl in LA. Sold out show...Carol Channing was sitting in... There was a full orchestra... It was awesome.
Which do you prefer, a smoky, low-lit club or a big stage with bright lights and colored gels?
I'm all about a good light show! I like the symbiotic relationship between audience and musician...both feeding off the other. I find sometimes that playing these ridiculously huge stages can interfere with that connection.
Whats your favorite part about touring?
Always being in a new place....the traveling part.
If your life were measured in BPMs,what would it be?
Hmmm.... I would say it started out at 120 BPMs and has gradually worked its way down to a very efficient 86 BPM... Fluid. As far as music goes, I have been very blessed to have been apart of so many awesome projects.