Music Bugle Exclusive – Q & A – Russell Gendron Of Bill Jr. Jr.

Photo credit – Sadie Couture. Courtesy of Fritz Media.

By Nicholas Jason Lopez

Bill Jr. Jr. – the indie folk project of East Vancouver-based interdisciplinary artist Russell Gendron, where he serves as the frontman and songwriter – recently dropped their third album ‘Homebody,’ already highlighted by singles “Dear Neighbour” and “Blue.”

‘Homebody’ was recorded in Athens, Ga. at the Chase Park Transduction Studios, alongside bassist/producer Daniel McNamara and lead guitarist Dan Nettles (Kenosha Kid). Many have compared Bill Jr. Jr. to the likes of Andy Shauf, Andrew Bird and Cut Worms.

The Music Bugle had the opportunity to catch up with Gendron about ‘Homebody’ and more.

Music Bugle – How would you describe Vancouver to someone who has never been there before?

Russell Gendron – Trying to think of something clever and succinct to say… not going to happen. Vancouver has nice walking and good food, but is kind of boring and uptight. I’m from here, so we are bound, but compared to other cities I’ve been to, it is “young” feeling and lacking in some ways that matter to me. Its fetishization of home ownership sucks and is deadening, but I love the caring people that live here. 

Music Bugle – What excites you the most about your style of music? 

Russell Gendron – I really like lyrics, so I try to put a lot of energy and thought into my own. I also appreciate how our music builds. 

Music Bugle – What was the moment you knew you wanted to be a musician? 

Russell Gendron – Honestly, listening to Elvis Presley and The Beatles around seven years old. 

Music Bugle – What was it like putting together your album ‘Homebody’? 

Russell Gendron – Putting it together was great! I had the time and the money and as a result, I felt like I was able to fully put myself into making it happen. It was a collaborative effort. Daniel McNamara and Dan Nettles were essential to the record. 

Music Bugle – Who are you listening to right now, music-wise? 

Russell Gendron – Rex Orange County. The night before that, it was Aoife Nessa Frances and Bill Frisell. The night before that, I think I listened to Diana Krall in the evening and The Parquet Courts driving in the truck earlier in the day. 

Music Bugle – Did the video for “Dear Neighbour” come out how you hoped? 

Russell Gendron – Yes. Something I’m constantly trying to manage is my own embarrassment when it comes to sharing what I’ve made. The “Dear Neighbour” video felt like an accurate representation of four people playing a song in a van and that sits well with me and my embarrassment hangup. 

Music Bugle – How have you been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic? 

Russell Gendron – Musically speaking, it was at first a relief to feel the absence of any pressure. We cancelled our tour and postponed the promotion of this record. It was glorious, but then I began to feel wistful and nostalgic for playing shows, playing with friends and going to see live performances. It turns out that these were pretty significant elements to my “musical body” and overall health. I’ve written a song or two in the last year, but feel quite stifled creatively. Picking back up to promote and release ‘Homebody’ was a really good decision. 

Music Bugle – If you had to pick your own theme song, what would it be? 

Russell Gendron – Ummmmm, “American Boy” by Estelle? Only because I can’t help but shimmy to that tune whenever I hear it. 

Music Bugle – Where do you go when you need an escape?

Russell Gendron – Running. 

Music Bugle – What has been your biggest challenge lately? 

Russell Gendron – I’ve carved out a couple of weeks in a little cabin to recoup after some stuff, but also to give myself time to create. It has been challenging to relearn the ways of a regular art practice and I haven’t made anything good yet, but I recorded a little thing on my phone recently and it keeps playing in my head, so that’s a good sign.

*Photo Credit – Marcus Jolly*

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