Singer inspired by work of Woody Allen 

EMMA RUSSACK

with J.A. Core and Hot Palms

March 2, from 2pm

Yours & Owls, Wollongong

Tickets: $10 at the door

There's no doubt Woody Allen's famous films have inspired scores of filmmakers. But there are few singers who would say the eccentric director has been the driving force behind some of their music.

Melbourne-based singer and guitarist Emma Russack says Allen's classic movies are part of the reason she is moving away from the melancholy sounds she explored on her last album.

"I'm really into watching Woody Allen movies at the moment and I was trying to think about what it is I like about him, and it's that he's incredibly funny but so sad at the same time.

There are some incredibly sad moments in his movies," she says.

"For me it's about light and dark, sad and happy, and I think if I can tap into those two different sides, I'm happy. I haven't necessarily always done that, I've focused on the sad."

When her first album, Sound of Our City, was released last year, Russack, 25, quickly earned a reputation for being a "sad-core songstress". While she agreed with what people said, she didn't want to spend her career being known as a purveyor of only depressing tunes.

Recently returned from a tour of Germany, where Russack has developed a large fan base, her songwriting has started to explore new territory, partly because the circumstances of this trip were entirely different to the sojourn in South America that inspired the last album.

That's not to say what she is singing about is trivial or glosses over the more difficult aspects of life, but she has included different chord progressions and tempos to lighten the mood.

"My last record was about missing people back home and I was also in the middle of breaking up with a guy over there, so breaking up with someone in the middle of the Amazon certainly influenced a couple of my songs," she says.

"This time, it was the first time I travelled alone in my life. Lots of people do it, but for me it was quite a big thing, and it was the first time I'd been single for a long time. I've been one of those serial monogamists since I was about 13, so it was the first time I was single and been able to do just what I wanted, so that definitely influenced a lot of songs when I got back home."

Russack, originally from Narooma, shot to fame a few years ago when she uploaded her acoustic versions of tracks by Neil Young and Black Sabbath on YouTube. Overnight, her soulful voice became a sensation and she was thrust into meetings with record labels and invited to festivals around the world.

But things got a little weird, including an encounter with a stalker that required intervention from the federal police, so Russack quickly distanced herself from the teenager in those videos. The only acoustic cover she continues to play is Neil Young's Hey Hey My My because it has always been part of her repertoire.

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