Through Glitterer, Ned Russin Finds Solace in Challenging Himself
The Title Fight vocalist juggles his internal and external worlds on Looking Through the Shades, his debut LP for ANTI-.
“I think music is at its best when you’re exploring your growth through it. You’re changing and adapting to the ways you feel, and those are different from the ways you felt before, and the bands you hear are different from bands you’ve heard before. All music is autobiographical to some extent; all music is a reflection of self. It’s a very small mirror to a weird point of your psyche.”
This is Ned Russin, and this is Glitterer. Although Russin has been in bands for years, including Title Fight, Disengage, and Bad Seed, Glitterer is different. After the success of his melodic hardcore group Title Fight, the band members went their separate ways—still creating music, but using different techniques and influences in unfamiliar ways. Beginning in 2017 as an exploration of new sounds and techniques, Glitterer has turned into not only a band with a unique tone, but also a state of mind. Characterized by shifting styles that pivot around introspective and ambiguous lyrics, Russin creates a mixture of bedroom pop and emotionally intense hardcore that is hard to understand—and he likes it that way. “I want the band to challenge things,” he says. “I don’t want it to be a thing that stands in opposition to everything, that’s not really the goal. But I do want it to be something that you have to engage with. It’s not something you can put on and forget about.”
It’s true—Glitterer acts as a Schrödinger’s cat of sorts, both existing and not existing through implied meaning or no meaning at all. The purpose of the music is self-exploration, and this takes patience and understanding. From listening to Glitterer’s existing EPs on Bandcamp (appropriately titled Glitterer and Not Glitterer) to attending live performances, the difference in mediums serves as a way for people to explore not only the music, but the space surrounding it. Particularly when alone on stage, Russin says he feels the most vulnerable and outside his comfort zone. However, instead of leaning toward fear, he exudes confidence.
“I can tell when people are weirded out by me, or when they’re uncomfortable, or when they think I’m making a fool of myself,” he says. “It’s not like you can’t see how people are reacting to you. I make eye contact with people and I can tell that they are really uncomfortable, and that’s fine. I’m kind of nervous—that’s a person standing up there by themselves, they can embarrass themselves at any moment, they could fall over, screw something up—rather than just enjoying it. If people [are waiting for something to go wrong], then I’m there to challenge them to watch and appreciate it by the end. There is one moving part, and it’s me.”
On Glitterer’s ANTI- debut, Looking Through the Shades, Russin experiments with the philosophical point of “the self” versus “the other.” There is no concrete definition for either phrases, allowing his audience to fill in the blanks—whether that applies to the music or the world at large. The separation between “the self” and “the other” drives a lot of Russin’s lyrics in the form of call-outs and metaphorical questions. This same “self vs. other” conflict also drives a lot of the human experience in our world today.
“I can tell when people are weirded out by me, or when they’re uncomfortable, or when they think I’m making a fool of myself. I make eye contact with people and I can tell that they are really uncomfortable, and that’s fine.”
“I think a lot of the ideas people have arrived at today come from a sense of distrust or complete lack of empathy,” he posits. “Even people who do give a shit, there’s still a sense of ‘I can’t help it. The world is fucked, what am I going to do?’ There’s a lot of solipsistic tendencies that come from the era that we live in, and a lot of apathy that comes with being completely out of control. In the most modest of terms, [with Looking Through the Shades] I was trying to attempt a solution: address it, and realize that it doesn’t have to be this way. It doesn’t have to just be problems. There is a way past the problems, it’s just really hard. It’s not something a single person can do.”
This sentiment permeates the album, with tracks like “The News,” “1001,” and “Destiny” reflecting the fact that the world continues moving, even if it’s in a direction you might not want it to go. With production help from Alex Giannascoli ((Sandy) Alex G) and Arthur Rizk (for those familiar with Code Orange), Shades tries to answer these metaphysical questions with clever interludes and that special kind of reverb that makes everything sound like a dream. Although Title Fight explored the same mix of hardcore and outside influences with 2015’s Hyperview, Glitterer is not the same—it’s entirely Russin’s own. He sees Glitterer and this album as a chance to look thoughtfully at what he’s becoming in this world, and consider the future of who he wants to be.
“I don’t know that I could ever say who I’m becoming,” he admits. “Those are the hardest questions, because they ask you to step outside of yourself, which I don’t know if anybody can do. I could tell you what I think I’m doing, but that doesn’t mean that’s right. There’s a distance that I lack. What I’m learning about myself is that I’m even more fixated on things than I thought I was. I’m even more controlling than I thought I could be. But at the same time, I’m very forgiving of accidents. There’s a lot of stuff on the record where I could have sang for three more hours trying to get a perfect take, and I just don’t care. A lot of this band is trying to put big things into little places. Trying to put big ideas in a song that’s a minute and ten seconds. Putting in a big climax and making it disappear after ten seconds. I’m interested in that brevity and that weird disappearing act.”
He may not know who he is right now, but he’s different than the person he was seconds ago. We are always changing, challenging progress with the tools at our disposal and the experiences we are given—trying to move forward. So when asked, “Who is Ned Russin, and what is Glitterer?” the answer is simple: he doesn’t know.
“It’s these weird mazes we find ourselves in; I’m not saying I’ve found my way out, but I’m thinking about how to get out,” Russin says. “I don’t entirely know what it is, and that’s why I’m going after it—I’m trying to figure it out, too.” FL