2012 Q & A With Randi Russo


1) You moved.
How long had you lived in NYC, where did you go and why did you leave?

I lived in NYC for 15 years. I decided to move to Chicago recently. I visited here for two weeks back in March and made so many nice connections with artists and people in the art world that I got this gnawing feeling inside of me that I had to be here, like I had the opportunity to start my life over and investigate another passion of mine which was put on the back burner for the last decade as I somewhat aggressively pursued music. And this new-found old-love is painting. I have a studio here and I'm actually working on my art. I've met wonderful people who are like mentors to me and have encouraged my art. When that feeling comes, you have to seize it because those intense calls do not come often... at least not for me.

2) Did you have musical goals 12 years ago and if so do you still have
them and if so are they still the same?

I had many musical goals 12 years ago... I may as well also refer to them as dreams. I never thought of them as dreams at the time; they were goals back then. But my life, as the cliche goes, didn't turn out as planned. I worked my ass off for music and to think that I didn't achieve these goals is not an option because I worked too hard to think that I'm a failure, or that I fell short. Sometimes I do think that way (I'm human), but the word "dreams" has the idea of whimsy, other-worldliness -- and perhaps even luck -- built into it. These things eluded me, I think. I wanted to tour the world... seriously, the world! I wanted to play in front of large crowds of people (me, with all my shyness!). I wanted my songs to be understood and affect many people. So, I suppose I achieved those goals on a very minute scale. Things were a lot bigger in my head. I don't really have those goals anymore because life moves on and you can't let old goals make you get stuck. Goals are there to propel you forward, not hold you back.

That being said, if someone offered me a spot to open up for them and tour many cities or countries, I'd jump at it in a second. Anytime that I have gone on tour, I've thought, "I love this... I wish I could do this all the time."

3) Sidewalk Cafe's (NYC club) "antifolk" community has always struck
me as pretty much free of sexism overall. Im a man. As a woman was
that your take on it as well?

Yes, I'd agree with that. Lach was always very good at making sure women were included and treated with respect, and Ben has carried on that tradition. I think it'll always be a man's world out there wherever you go, but yes, the community overall has been pretty much free of sexism. You'd never hear, "she's pretty good for a female songwriter"; you'd just hear, "wow, she's really good!"

4) What music (if any) are you currently listening to?

I can't help but stick with some old favorites: The Velvet Underground, Bowie, the Pixies, Silver Jews. VU is probably the biggest addiction. Of the newer stuff, I've been listening a lot to EMA and St. Vincent lately. Often, I just have my VU or Pixies station running on Pandora and that keeps me happy (although sometimes keeps me from listening to new stuff).

5) What are some things you have discovered about yourself (if any)
since you have moved away?

I suppose that I discovered that life can always start over at any age. For a long time, I convinced myself that things weren't going to change but that thought and way of being was slowly killing me. It's like I was pushed to the edge in which taking a leap was the only option. Sometimes you have to trust that there is a safe place to land right beneath you.

6) Do you like touring?

Yes, except for the logistical stuff, such as setting up shows, getting all the flight/train/bus arrangements, schlepping the stuff, etc. I was always a bit envious of people who were more successful, merely for the fact that they had handlers to do all this drudgery for them. Otherwise, I don't mind sleeping on couches or floors. I like meeting new people and touring is such a great way to meet and live like locals for a couple of days. People are genuinely warm to musicians who come through their towns and it's a very fulfilling experience to constantly meet new people, have great discussions with them, see how they live, and then move on and do it again in a new town.

7) Can you leave us with some words of wisdom/advice?

If something "calls" you, you must follow it, you must find a way to make it happen -- even if it's something that won't make sense to the people around you, even if it seems like a mountainous hill to climb. It may not lead you down the exact path you hoped for but it will lead you to the next and then the next and all the surprises in it seem to make sense and click into place. Working through challenges is the best way to grow.