On their debut EP ‘House With A Pool’, RUSSO (fronted by Cailin Russo) explore their sound within the seven songs - which includes a viral Vine sample, contemplation of heartbreak on ‘Ghost’, and an ‘Apeshit’ interlude in which Russo croons, “I'll just never get used to bein' alone.”
We hung out in Los Angeles with Cailin Russo to talk about the debut EP, future RUSSO music, and more…
Love will make you do the craziest things, love will make you go insane, love can kill you.
COUP DE MAIN: Where did the audio sample of ‘Pizza’ come from? It’s so funny, “Just eating my pizza, doing my thing.”
CAILIN RUSSO: The intro? We found it on YouTube. I think my friend Palmer showed it to me like years ago and my boyfriend Michael was making this beat, and I was like, 'Oh my god! You know what would be so good to go on top of this beat? That pizza girl!' So we found it on YouTube and it was kind of an old video from the Vine days, so I had to track this girl down to get permission to use it and I was like, 'I have no idea where to find this person!' I found the girl that had recorded the video from Twitter and I DM’d her from Twitter.
CDM: She was probably like, 'This is so old!'
CAILIN: <laughs> Yeah! That girl is like an adult now. Well, she’s not really an adult, but she’s older.
CDM: You originally started as a solo act, holding auditions for musicians which led to you guys becoming a band. What was it about playing live together as a unit which made you want to be a band?
CAILIN: It was more just the direction of music, it was all transitioning, and so it felt more natural to not be a solo artist if you wanted other people invested in playing.
CDM: It must be nice having people to bounce ideas off.
CAILIN: Yeah, exactly!
CDM: The chorus of ‘Lonely’ is really relatable: “No, don't be scared, you know we all get lonely.” Why do you think loneliness is such a universal human emotion?
CAILIN: I think it is way easier to understand your feelings when you're sad or lonely. When you're happy, you kind of forget that you're happy, and when people ask how you are, you always want to go straight to the, 'Yeah I just did this thing but it's not that--,’ you always have a disclaimer and those are just more relatable. Those are some things that you can clearly identify with, moreso than being, 'Oh I'm actually just really happy right now!'
CDM: I feel like songs that are about being really happy aren't as relatable.
CAILIN: No! Unless they're just really catchy like <sings 'Happy’ by Pharrell>, it's so easy.
CDM: I feel like sadder songs are what people can relate to. When people are feeling emotions they feel like no-one else is feeling, there are those songs that they're like, 'Oh! Other people are feeling that too!'
CAILIN: Yeah, absolutely. Melancholy is romantic too, you know?
CDM: What do you think is the strongest human emotion?
CAILIN: Probably love. Love will make you do the craziest things, love will make you go insane, love can kill you. So that’s probably it.
CDM: I think ‘Joyride’ is my favourite song on the EP - I love that it feels a little more stripped back than the other EP songs. Was this a deliberate decision?
CAILIN: No, I think all the songs have definite lyrical maps, every song is written with a purpose, but because it's more of a ballad, we were stripping the music back because it was just more beautiful to just hear the voice and you didn't have to layer it with anything.
CDM: How does the RUSSO songwriting process work?
CAILIN: For the first project it was just me and other writers, but for the next project-- We've yet to go in all together to record, but in-between our sets or rehearsals we'll write music, and it's all been very loose and very organic and chill because everyone in the band has very different aspects. Everyone has a different background, so it blends really nicely together.
CDM: What is it like working with other songwriters? Is it a strange experience working with heaps of different people for you?
CAILIN: No, I mean, there are some people that you just don't work well with, but there are some people that are amazing. Art in itself is made to be shared with other people. And with songwriting, I think it’s the best because it is so easy to get stuck, so collaboration is ideal. It is dope to be able to write a song by yourself, but when you collaborate there is so much more to work with.
CDM: How do you normally go into a writing session? Do you normally have stuff you want to write about or do you decide when you get there?
CAILIN: It varies! I'll write down song ideas and loose poetry, but then I'll go into a session and it won't inspire me to use it, and I'll just be like, ‘Oh this made me think of one time that…’ It really depends on the day and how connected I am to something going on in my life.
CDM: When you’re working on RUSSO music, do you think about how it’s going to be played live at all? Or do you view it as two completely separate products?
CAILIN: No, because my bandmates are just such good musicians that anything is pretty transferable. It is just about maintaining the same sound, but I think that mostly just has to come from the recordings.
CDM: What was running through your mind while writing ‘Ghost’?
CAILIN: The storyline is very classic, it’s about being in a relationship with somebody that isn't there anymore. I was probably writing it more so from a place of me being the person as the ghost, because that’s more so what I relate to. You know when you're in a relationship and it's just not fulfilling? It’s literally like being with a ghost, I guess.
CDM: What made you want to include the ‘Apeshit Interlude’ on the EP? I love that there is an interlude on the EP.
CAILIN: Thank you. First of all, 'Apeshit Interlude’ I did on the fly and it was a proper song. I just loved it and I was in a place where I was so almost aggressively in love with somebody that I was like, 'I'm going to go fucking nuts if you don't talk to me right now.’ My producer/boyfriend that I was working with was like, 'Hey, I chopped it in half, do you want to use it as an interlude?' And I was like 'yes!' because it also kept a little bit of my original solo stuff, because it’s souly and iridescent.
CDM: What can you tell us about new RUSSO music at the moment?
CAILIN: It is going to be really cool, we are going to build a little world. I think we are going to keep the same sound but just expand into everyone else's worlds in the band.
CDM: If R.U.S.S.O. was an acronym, what would each letter stand for?
CAILIN: Realness Under Subtle Sorcery Optimism. I actually was playing with the idea of naming the band 'Purl’, as an acronym.
CDM: What did it stand for?
CAILIN: It stood for 'People Under Real Lives'. It was just about the real people, I guess.
CDM: What made you want to keep it as your last name instead?
CAILIN: I was talking to the band and playing with these names and stuff, and Tyler, our guitar player, was like 'We should just call it RUSSO,’ and I was like, 'Okay, that’s easy!' It also sort of cross-pollinates with my brand, so it’s fine. I was actually talking to one of my friends who’s a painter and he got advice from his uncle a couple years before and he was like, 'You should always have your name attached.’
CDM: What do you think is the difference between a good song and a great song?
CAILIN: Lyrics. I am such a lyric snob now that I am really fully in depth in writing. Obviously melody is what turns on the heart or what turns on the fucking vibe, but lyrics are really was captures the brain. I think when you hear a song with good lyrics and people connect with it, thats what really separates the boys from men.
CDM: What else do you have planned for 2018?
CAILIN: We are just touring a lot. Just getting in everybody's faces.
CDM: How have the shows been going?
CAILIN: Good! We haven't done any shows really since the project has been out, so I am really interested-- My dream would be for people to sing the songs, you know?
CDM: Are you guys going to play any new songs on the tour?
CAILIN: Yeah. We are going to play a song that will be on the next project and we are going to play 'September Rose’. I am excited!
RUSSO's EP 'House With A Pool' is out now - click here to purchase and watch the 'Loudmouth' music video below...