Emma Russack plays her first-ever Perth shows on Thursday, October 9, at Mojo’s and Saturday, October 11, at The Bird. CHRIS HAVERCROFT reports.
EmmaRussack grew up in Naroomba, a rural town in New South Wales, but that didn’t stop her from having penned her first song at eight years of age, and winning the ABC’s Fresh Air talent competition by the age of 16.
Now in her mid-20s, Russack has two albums behind her, the most recent being the less than chipper You Changed Me, which features tunes that she wrote while living in Melbourne.
“I had a choice between Sydney and Melbourne,” affirms Russack on how she made her way from her hometown of Naroomba. “I had lived in Sydney when I was at University so I decided on Melbourne because the music scene was said to be really vibrant. I think I have done really well being from Narooma and nobody knowing me, so I feel I have made a bit of a name for myself. My guitarist also lives in Melbourne so that was another reason I chose to move here. It takes about four years to really feel like this is your town.”
Russack’s aunty Alannah was a member of much loved Sydney outfit, The Hummingbirds. She can recall the band being pretty famous when she was younger, with Russack remembering The Hummingbirds on Hey, Hey It’s Saturday with the whole family watching. It was this notion that her aunty was famous that may have given some inspiration to Russack for the life she leads now, but it is unlikely we will see any family collaborations any time soon.
“I don’t think that writing songs with her would be overly effective to be honest. We have quite different styles, and I don’t think that it would ever happen. I’ve thought of asking her to do backing vocals on some of my recordings, but she lives out in the sticks.”
You Changed Me was released this year and is said to be written at a time when Russack found herself to be single for the first time in seven years. This is rich territory for an artist who is unapologetically autobiographical in the way that she writes. Russack has no qualms about sharing her thoughts with strangers through song as it is the most natural way for her to construct her music.
“I would like to try and start writing from a less autobiographical perspective because it would be more challenging,” she notes. “I just find it so easy to write about things that are going on in my life. I think the real challenge is to put yourself in other people’s shoes. I am not at all intimidated by people knowing things about me. It doesn’t make a difference to my life and no song is an actual recount of events, so only my closest friends and family know the true me. It is really a form of therapy for me.”
It is the next collection of tunes that Russack writes that is of the most interest to her. The songwriter admits she hasn’t been writing much as she hasn’t got ‘anything bad to say about anything’. This is a much different heads pact to the one that confronted her when putting together You Changed Me.
“I was a bit of a loose cannon after the break up and I had some really bad ideas about what it was about to be fulfilled. I thought that sex was a really important thing and having people that want to be in a relationship with you was really necessary as a human and now I realise that it is better to love yourself and be confident in yourself. It was a weird headspace to be in, but since the release of the album I have become a far more mature person.”