by Evan James Ceretti
Art has always taken first place in Russell Louder’s life, whether it be singing, visual art, photography, performance, or theatre. “But I always kind of denied music,” said Louder.
Louder is a transgender musician and performance artist based in Charlottetown, PEI. During their youth, Louder held a rebellious attitude towards music because of the academic and institutional approaches enforced by some teachers. “I think just being taught music was something I found really constricting. It was because I learned music in a really intuitive way and it was something that came really naturally.”
Experimental pop is the easiest way to define their genre, said Louder, because they use the structures and accessibility of pop music, and experimentation happens constantly. “I joke and say that I make music for dancing and crying at the same time.” Groovy beats, catchy riffs from their percussive bass-like guitar style, and layers of haunting, melancholic vocal melodies are weaved together to create engaging electronic tracks, often with an ambient flare.
“Sometimes I’ll just be playing a loop, and once I have a groove I really like, I’ll just get on the mic and start recording and ad-libbing until I find something I like.” Sometimes the cryptic lyrical content is pretty vague, said Louder, but they’re hoping to bridge that gap, making it more relatable.
“What I’m exploring in terms of my writing now, that you would see from a live set, is kind of this confronting past parts of myself that I’m really afraid to confront. There could be part of me back when I was 17 that was doing things that I don’t think were ok, and what I would say to that person, which is not easy. Emotionally, it’s not easy.”
Through performance, Louder’s transness definitely reaches other trans folks. “When I play all-ages shows I’ll see quite a few queer-presenting or androgynous kids in the audience.” Seeing someone who is openly and visibly queer is a bit of a beacon in some ways, said Louder. “Anyone who is out can be a potential lifeline for someone who isn’t.”
Looking towards the future, Louder wants to keep playing and honing their craft. “Just having space in my life to constantly create and not having to worry about hustling so I can afford to have time to make music and make art.”
However, they work with what they have, said Louder, who has created entire songs using percussion from a broken chair. Recently, Louder has added a live drummer to the mix, who will accompany them on tour. “Now is the time where I’m starting to actually really understand what I want my performances to evoke—not that that’s something I can really control.”
Louder said they’ve been sitting on a couple of album’s worth of music for a while, so recording a full-length album is on the agenda for June. Also in June, Louder is heading to Calgary to play at Sled Island music festival, alongside some of their favourite acts—The Flaming Lips, and Thundercat. “I’m freaking out about it.”
Check out Russell Louder at russelllouder.bandcamp.com.