Interview with Guitar Maestro Charlie Russello (Russello Project)

By Mick Michaels

COSMICK VIEW: Hello, Charlie! Welcome to The Cosmick View. Thank you for taking some time out of your day to chat with me, it is greatly appreciated.

CV: Does being a seasoned guitarist offer you a clearer perspective on maneuvering about such a jaded and often obstacle-laden industry? Are you more aware of what you want and avoid what you don’t?
Charlie Russello: No. The music industry is upside down and all over the place. There is no clear path to success so in my later years now I’ve decided to just pursue my passion. That is what my Russello Project is about.

CV: Do you see a difference existing between artists who works purely instrumental compared to an artist who works with vocals? Or is all about the music and how it’s presented that makes it worth listening to?
CR: There’s a big difference. Vocal music must have the support of the instruments so the melody shines. Instrumentals are more interwoven with the instruments. But the melodies have to be there too otherwise the music suffers.

CV: As an instrumental artist, does working in such a specific songwriting environment present more challenges to the craft, especially considering that a large majority of popular and mainstream music contains some form of vocal line as a prominent factor?
CR: It depends on your goals. It’s actually more freeing to do anything as you see fit. But if you’re looking for popularity…or monetary success…you begin altering your music and thus begin being untrue to yourself and the listener. But most innovators and big successes were doing their own thing. There’s a balance between artistic pursuits and business that is difficult to manage.

CV: Are vocals ever a consideration as a focal point on your part when it comes to songwriting?
CR: Yes. I have written many albums worth of vocal music. Right now I’m focusing on instrumentals but may incorporate vocals in the future.

CV: Charlie, how do you go about songwriting? Take us through your basic process. Do you create a mental picture of how a song is going to be composed before actually sitting down and writing it or does it evolve a piece at a time? What is your process of taking the song in your head from concept to completion?
CR: It’s 50/50 between hearing ideas in my head and just stumbling onto something as I improvise. Then the most important thing is what emotion am I trying to get across to the listener. Sometimes it’s a personal expression which is “therapeutic” for me. Those are the ones that make it all worth it.

CV: Do you write on your own or with a band...and are you, as well, instrumental in the other instrumentation that accompanies your guitar work...bass, drums, keys, etc?
CR: Mostly on my own but flush out the ideas with the band. If I hear a specific part on other instruments I try to get my bandmates to try it then go from there. Usually they have better ideas on their respective instruments.

CV: In the past, instrumental based music always seemed to be a Classical or Jazz thing... even thought moreso as an intellectual's musical choice. But over the years it has crossed over into all genres...Pop, Dance, New Age, etc.  Why do you think that is? Is more left to the imagination on the part of the listener with this style of writing?
CR: Yes. It’s interpreted as you see fit instead of being told what it is about. The universal expression through instruments lets you feel a powerful connection to the world we live in.

CV: Charlie, do you consider yourself a shredder or more of a melody man when it comes to your guitar playing style?
CR: Melody is king. Shredding is a tool, like bending or harmonics. I try to use any tools at my disposal to convey the emotion…usually through melodies.

CV: How would you describe your music and sound to someone who has not heard it before? What makes your music different?
CR: Rock meets New Age. It’s me to the core, so I can only hope people can appreciate my “art”

CV: For you, is there a distinct difference between your music performed live versus the recorded version of the same piece?
CR: Yes. There is a lot of improve, so the songs are never played the same live. It keeps it fresh for the musicians and listeners.

CV: How has your music translated to the performance stage in your opinion? Do you find there is an audience for Rock/Metal based instrumental shows?
CR: Yes. Nothing but positive reactions. I believe I’m onto something that connects with a cross section of audiences.

CV: Charlie, you recently began to include projected images during your performances. Do you find such visual additions a necessary evil to keep an audience engaged or are they more of a way to enhance the auditory experience for those in attendance?
CR: I’m experimenting. I’ve always felt my music is soundtrack oriented so I thought adding visuals could enhance the experience.

CV: What do you want listeners to come away with after hearing your music or seeing your show? Is there a musical message or emotion you are looking to convey?
CR: My wish is that they feel something real inside of them that leaves a lasting impression. Music is just my medium of expression…so if I can communicate through it I’ve succeeded.

CV: What's next for you?
CR: One show at a time, hopefully build an audience. My main goal is to perform for audiences everywhere I can get to. Also finishing my debut album to be released later this year.
CV: Thank you again Charlie for spending some time talking and sharing with our readers. I wish you all the best and continued success.
CR: Thank you so much for your interest and sharing.
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My name is Mick Michaels...I'm an artist, music fan, songwriter, producer, dreamer and guitarist for the traditional Heavy Metal band Corners of Sanctuary. Writing has always been a creative outlet for me; what I couldn't say in speech, I was able to do with the written word.  Writing has given me a voice and a way for me to create on a multitude of platforms including music and song, articles, independent screenplays, books and now, artist interviews. The Cosmick View is an opportunity to raise the bar and showcase artists in a positive and inspirational light. For me, it's another out-of-this-world adventure.

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