hipster check: Arthur Russell

finelikewinefinelikewine "ONCE UPON A TIME, I HAD A VINYL." http://www.discogs.com/user/permabulker 1,416 Posts
edited May 2010 in Strut Central
Recently more and more of my hipster friends ask me about Arthur Russel. The strange thing is, that none of them was ever interested in disco nor sleeping bag records before...Can someone tell what might be the reason for this new interest in Arthur Russel?Is it now hip and envouge to hear his music?OR was Arthur Russel himself a hipster in the first place?

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  • mannybolonemannybolone 15,032 Posts
    Recently more and more of my hipster friends ask me about Arthur Russel. The strange thing is, that none of them was ever interested in disco nor sleeping bag records before...

    Can someone tell what might be the reason for this new interest in Arthur Russel?
    Is it now hip and envouge to hear his music?

    OR was Arthur Russel himself a hipster in the first place?


    Questioning what hipsters are into = the new hipster thing to do.

    In answer to the query though, there's been an upsurge in Russell's life and legacy over the last few years. There's a new documentary on him (can't remember if this came out last year or is forthcoming) and I think there's at least 1-2 books out about him; I know Tim Lawrence, who wrote a really incredible history about disco ("Love Saves the Day") just wrote a new book on Russell.

  • Not sure.

    There was the Tim Lawrence "Hold Onto Your Dreams" book which came out towards the end of last year which may have raised his profile a bit (although I'm not sure whether people who weren't already interested in him would be checking for it...)

    Are they asking about the disco stuff like "Is It All Over My Face" or the avant-garde stuff like Peter Zummo "Zummo With An X"?

  • UnherdUnherd 1,880 Posts
    O, that documentary is out, or at least "out" . I found and watched it a couple months back, and it was pretty well done, lot of focus on the contrast between his rural upbringing and his time in the NY scene, and on him as a person. Definitely put his music in a different light for me, although it was slow at times...

  • jamesjames chicago 1,863 Posts
    Can someone tell what might be the reason for this new interest in Arthur Russel?
    The short answer is: Last year's (or maybe the year before's) Love Is Overtaking Me. Prior to that, for hipsters who found Arthur Russell conceptually interesting but who could not truly fuck with dance music, pretty much the only out was his good-enough-but-not-as-compelling compositional work. Love Is Overtaking Me, though, was a collection of more straightforward singer-songwriter stuff, which gave a wider swath of straight rockist whiteys the toehold on his oeuvre that they'd been looking for. Arthur's profile had aleady been growing steadily, but after that, le deluge.

  • jamesjames chicago 1,863 Posts
    Also, I didn't care for Tim Lawrence's disco book, but his Arthur Russell book is really good.

  • OkemOkem 4,617 Posts
    Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell, came out in 2008. You should watch it.




    He has definitely had an influence on music that's come out over the last several years, hipster or otherwise, I can hear him in anything from Anthony and the Johnsons to Dirty Projectors, but dude was a genius so why the hell wouldn't it.

  • finelikewinefinelikewine "ONCE UPON A TIME, I HAD A VINYL." http://www.discogs.com/user/permabulker 1,416 Posts
    That documentary and its selection for the Berlin film festival might be the reaseon for the sudden interest in him. I guess there has been a certain amount of media coverage. Thanks!

  • ostost Montreal 1,375 Posts
    Recently more and more of my hipster friends ask me about Arthur Russel.

    "Tell me who your friends are, and I'll know who you are."

  • finelikewinefinelikewine "ONCE UPON A TIME, I HAD A VINYL." http://www.discogs.com/user/permabulker 1,416 Posts
    Recently more and more of my hipster friends ask me about Arthur Russel.

    "Tell me who your friends are, and I'll know who you are."

    I'm sure this is inconceivable to you, but I judge people not by the clothe they wear nor what music they listen to but by the content of their character.
    I'm really grateful to have such good friends in the real world and not only record collerctor friends who I solely know from a messageboard.

  • Can someone tell what might be the reason for this new interest in Arthur Russel?
    The short answer is: Last year's (or maybe the year before's)
    Love Is Overtaking Me. Prior to that, for hipsters who found Arthur Russell conceptually interesting but who could not truly fuck with dance music, pretty much the only out was his good-enough-but-not-as-compelling compositional work. Love Is Overtaking Me, though, was a collection of more straightforward singer-songwriter stuff, which gave a wider swath of straight rockist whiteys the toehold on his oeuvre that they'd been looking for. Arthur's profile had aleady been growing steadily, but after that, le deluge.

    ^^^

    what he said. before "love is overtaking me" came out, when i heard russell in public--which was rare--it would be disco stuff or "world of echo." since then, i hear russell in public more often--a guy who works at the local coffee shop keeps him in heavy rotation--and it is always the "love is overtaking me" stuff. i'm happy to hear russell's work anywhere. hearing at the coffee shop is a plus, as it means one of the other employees is not playing pearl jam or sublime.

    also, the fact that optimo, tim sweeney, DFA, rvng intl, etc. ride for russell certainly helps to pique people's interests.

  • ostost Montreal 1,375 Posts
    No need to get defensive man but you're saying that your reasons for calling your "friends" hipsters is because they have "hipster" personalities. Someone suddenly discovers Arthur Russell, possibly through his Bio/Doc or whatever, & that makes them a hipster? & then referring to Russell as possibly being a hipster himself because he's appreciated by people you've deemed as such?
    Be glad people you know appreciate his music & remember he's not just considered for the few disco releases he was involved with, there's a lot of other stuff he made that has nothing to do with disco.

  • DubiousDubious 1,865 Posts
    I think you probably could have asked this question at any point over the last 5 - 7 years. Dudes profile has been on the slow rise for most of the decade.

    I dont hear about him much up here in canada here though. Which irks me because the media / hipsters ride HARD for that dweeb Owen Pallet / Final Fantasy who is a near wholesale jackin of the Russel persona / sound / vibe. And i cant say as I've EVER heard his name come up in reference to Pallet.

  • mannybolonemannybolone 15,032 Posts
    I think you probably could have asked this question at any point over the last 5 - 7 years. Dudes profile has been on the slow rise for most of the decade.t.

  • CBearCBear 902 Posts
    He has a definite Erlend Oye feel, which a lot of my hippish friends like.

  • BigSpliffBigSpliff 3,266 Posts
    Really cool interview with his partner here

  • jamesjames chicago 1,863 Posts
    Also, though above I was addressing what I think is the most direct, immediate reason for this most recent surge of interest in the dude, I think one of the long-view reasons is that the bands who are of the age/timing/urbanity to have been significantly influenced by the decently publicized Russell/-related cd reissues of the mid 2000s (Disco/Not Disco, World Of Arthur Russell, Calling Out Of Context, etc.) are now at the point in their career arc where they're getting attention and giving interviews wherein they talk about their influences.

    The longer-view reasons for the current fashionability probably have something to do with the NYC post-punk revival of the early 2000s and its attendant commercial nimbus, but that's a whole other kettle of fish.

  • deejdeej 5,125 Posts
    dumb thread.

  • breadwinnerbreadwinner 535 Posts
    also: waxpoetics
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