Liam Russell performs on the DittyTV stage for a Concert Series premiere Sunday, May 12 at 8 p.m. CDT. His father, Brent Titcomb, was a Canadian musician and actor who had songs recorded by the likes of Glen Campbell, Anne Murray, Andy Williams, and the Osmonds, so Liam caught the performing bug early. He comes from Toronto but now splits his time between there and Nashville. If you miss his May 12 Concert Series performance then be sure to catch the re-airing of the show May 13 at 8 a.m. CDT or May 15 at 1 p.m. CDT. And now, 5 Questions with Liam Russell.
1) Your father was a musician and you were playing and writing songs at an early age. What can you tell us about growing up in such a musical environment?
The older I get the more I realize how strange and different my upbringing was but to me it was all normal! My dad would gig locally most of the year and tour a little further afield in the summer months, playing festivals and things like that. My whole family would go to pretty much every gig. It was partially a financial thing about not being able to afford a babysitter but mostly I think it was a parenting philosophy thing. Both my mom and dad felt it was good for us to have all these different
experiences and interact with all sort of people. I used to joke that I’d slept underneath a table in every bar in Toronto as a kid but that’s more fact than fiction. You can imagine that being immersed in music all the time made it really easy to learn when I started to take a real interest in music at about seven years old. So really, I was blessed. To our family, singing while you walked around the house was just as normal as anything else. I had the perfect family to support me starting a career in music at such a young age.
2) This EP was done at a cabin in Ontario. Tell us a bit about the recording process and why you chose to do it that way?
I wanted to produce this EP myself and I wanted to maximize the budget we had to make sure I could capture the highest quality performances with the best gear. To me, the simplest way to do that was to take the whole process out of the professional studio. As much as I love recording in a traditional studio, you always feel that you’re under the gun to get as much done as quickly as possible because you’re paying for every minute. If you can set up a situation outside of a studio that still has all the gear you need but is comfortable and is not bound by the 10-hour workday, you can really do something different. My friend John “Beetle” Bailey is one of Canada’s best engineers and lucky for me, he loves doing remote recordings so he’s a big reason that I was able to pull this off. He brought all the recording gear, the musicians, and I brought all the instruments, I brought a ton of food and we were off to the races. No distractions, all the comforts, and good people. That was the plan and we actually pulled it off.
3) What can you tell us specifically about the song “Half Chance?” Not too many people know that Half Chance, Alabama even exists.
“Half Chance” was written with Mike Evin (who also played all the piano on the EP) and my wife, Zoe Sky Jordan. Mike was visiting us in Nashville and after dinner one night, I excitedly suggested that we write a song altogether since we were all there. I had the musical root of “Half Chance” already as an idea but no lyrics yet and Mike suggested that Zoe look for interesting names of towns and she discovered Half Chance. We talked about what the metaphors could be and the rest of the song fell together between the three of us quite quickly. Fun fact, in the bridge it says “North of Sweetwater, South of Providence” which is 100% accurate and we couldn’t have been happier for how perfectly it added to the meaning of the song.
4) Now that this EP has been out a while, what’s next for Liam Russell musically?
As of now, I’ll be playing some shows throughout the summer but I’m also focusing on production work because I love that part of the process so much. I love helping people bring their songs to life.
5) If you weren’t a musician, what career do you think you would’ve chosen and why?
You know, I really don’t know. I have a very broad set of interests. I think it’s just as likely that I could have been a journeyman carpenter or psychiatrist. The root of most of my interests is problem-solving, that’s the thing I love the most. Which makes sense that I love writing songs and recording records. It’s all different versions of creative problem-solving.