RR: Melbourne singer-songwriter Emma Russack has a habit of releasing albums every two years. Lucky for us, 2016 is well underway and album number three is ready to be unveiled. ‘In a New State‘ follows on from ‘You Changed Me‘ (2014) and ‘Sounds Of Our City‘ (2012). The album draws a slight yet significant change in approach with a new producer (John Lee – Mountains In The Sky, Beaches, The Ocean Party), a proper studio and Emma taking back the guitar reins.
Emma recalls the experience that lead her to John Lee's Phaedra Studios: 'In January 2015, I approached John Lee about recording and producing what would become my third record. I locked in dates for March which I subsequently had to cancel for lack of funds. In the meantime I enrolled in a law degree and started recording the album with my housemate Joe, who plays in a band called King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard. I figured I would tinker away at it and make the record on my own, in my own time. On my way to my waitressing job one frosty morning, I received an email from Creative Victoria informing that I was the recipient of a grant to record an album. I was shocked because I had forgotten about even applying I called John that evening and we made plans to meet in his studio and discuss making the record (again).'
With the record back on, Emma met up with John to discuss everything in more detail. 'At this meeting I was going through another one of my Crazy Horse obsession periods. I told John I wanted the record to sound like Crazy Horse - in fact, I told John I was planning on recording a cover of 'Lookin' for a love' from 'Zuma'. John was sceptical. It became apparent that I really didn't know what I wanted and I went home from the meeting feeling a bit deflated. John then listened to a demo that I had recorded with Joe of 'Cottesloe' (first track on album). Essentially just me and some interweaving guitars - very sparse, very minimal. He said something to the effect of 'this is how your album should sound, and you should play all of the guitars, on all of the songs'. So that pretty much explains the basics of the record. Apart from production work, John also played percussion and the piano and recent band mates Cameron Potts and Liam Halliwell filled in on drums and bass. They nailed their parts after only just learning the songs.' Emma continues 'We tracked the songs in three days. My vocals took two days. A real accomplishment considering it has always taken me a year to finish records. There are no covers on the album and I play all the guitar. For the first time my voice isn't covered up by harmonies”.
The independence Emma gained during the recording process is reflective in the songs, too. They're about becoming strong and self-reliant. And resilient. And they're about memories. Says Emma 'Memories of me floating on my back in the ocean at Cottesloe, Perth, and feeling free. Walking through Melbourne CBD and realising how I finally feel at home. Thinking about my future and deciding to save up for a house in Mystery Bay on the South Coast of NSW (that's why I'm back at uni).”