Russian Red: “The only instrument that I really play is my voice. That’s the only instrument that I truly control.”Posted October 18th, 2012 At 5:07 pm By MTV ASIA
Text and interview: Natalie Yeo
For Spanish indie songstress Lourdes Hernández, landing in Singapore from Switzerland and playing an exclusive showcase on the same day was no easy feat. However, the folk-pop-rock performer still had it in her to laugh it off: “Actually, I just looked at myself in the mirror and I am completely pallid. My lips are white! It’s like I have no color. But it is fine; it’s exciting to do this, as long as you’re young!”
Known affectionately by her stage name, Russian Red, and known for her soulful, classic-contemporary sounds that won her the MTV EMA 2011 award for Best Spanish Act, Lourdes reveals more about her upcoming new album, her influences and experiences in composing and talks about falling in love and her love for sports!
How do you feel about being back in Singapore?
[Pffft] I’m so happy! I’m so happy I can be back. Sometimes when you’re at places and you like them a lot, you go home and wonder when will be the next time and if there will ever be a next time. Coming back for second times are really important to me because it means that something good has happened and I like that continuity. I’m very happy to be back in Singapore because it’s been one of the highlights of this year.
You mentioned that you are working on the new album due next year. Tell us more about the album and what we can expect to hear?
Well, we’re working on the demos and as soon as we’re back in Spain, we’re going to keep on working. I’m really excited because I’ve been playing the electric guitar; I’ve been composing songs more in that kind of vibe. Not that intimate or acoustic but more to the… outside. I feel like trying out this new sound and this new mood and see what happens.
Is the process of making the album any different from previous ones?
Yes! It is always going to be different. It’s as if you enter a new period and you have the experience of the periods before but still, there are some things uncertain about the whole thing. That’s the only thing in common: You don’t really know what’s going to happen with the album. And you don’t really want to know! You’re working on it, you have the experience from before, but then you’re doing something new each time and that’s something that you never have to forget – That you always have to be uncertain of things.
Do you look at your songs and compose in that manner as well, with uncertainty?
Yeah. I think it sounds like a paradox, but a good song keeps balance between uncertainty and a revelation, through which you can understand things in a wide sense. When you really like a song, in a profound way, it’s because it’s making you understand and it’s hopeful and uncertain at the same time, because you don’t know why it’s happening.
Who are some of your musical influences and how have they influenced the way you create your music?
I think it depends on the moment of my life and the music I’ve been listening to, maybe from this year? I’ve been listening to a bunch of albums that have influenced me, but I’m not aware of it. It’s an array of bands and artists. I am not a very “rock and roll” person but this year, I was listening to the last Arctic Monkeys album and I was really fascinated by their simplicity and complexity at the same time and how this kind of music is for everybody. It’s really well made and it sounds amazing. I was much more into the electric stuff and this was very handle-able and immediate, I got into it very well and it was an influence.
You seem to use and play an array of instruments – The guitar, the electric guitar, kazoo, steel drum, etc.
[Laughs] But you know, those instruments, you just have to play in the way that you’re playing with them, not really playing them. A really good thing about the English language is that it is actually the same word! Playing like… kids playing with toys VS playing with instruments? I think that makes a lot of sense. You have to learn and you have to be serious about it, but not that much. You just have fun with it.
What other instruments do you play?
Well, I don’t properly play any instrument, not even the guitar. I have a piano at my apartment and I play it by ear, make songs here and there. The only instrument that I really play is my voice. That’s the only instrument that I truly control.
So you never really professionally took on any instruments?
I took classes but I got anxious [Laughs]. I didn’t want to really know that well what I was doing.
You sang in Spanish for the first time for the soundtrack of the movie “Brave”. How did that come about and how did it feel to finally sing in Spanish after mostly recording English songs?
It was a good anecdote. Singing for a Disney/Pixar movie is a BIG thing! I’ve been watching Disney movies since I was a little, little girl. I was really excited and the songs were beautiful. The songs in English translations were also really good.
Would you be exploring producing Spanish albums in the near future?
Not in the near future because all of the songs that I’m working on and writing at the moment are in English. I’m comfortable with that, at least for the moment.
If you could pick one of your own songs to epitomize and describe ‘Russian Red’, what song would it be and why?
It depends on the moment of my life, it depends on the mood. But I think “Loving Strangers”, with the arrangement that we play it now. We play a different arrangement with that song. It’s not that acoustic, it’s much more electric and it goes with a bass and a drum. It’s kind of retro and I also have a delay-effect on my guitar. I like to interpret old songs and make them new again.
Which is one place in the world you’ve been to that left the biggest imprint and created the best memory for you?
You know, I went to New York when I was 16 years old and I have never felt like that again. It was like a slap of freedom! I’m a city girl because I was born in Madrid and I’ve always lived in the center of a town. I love nature, but going to big cities and just all of a sudden, being in contact with so many people and finding everything. People there seem very creative and free. Being in contact with them made me good.
What would we find Russian Red doing and where would we find her when she’s not at work?
When I’m not at work, I can be doing a lot of different things. I like doing sports, like going swimming or playing tennis! I can be doing that or I could be at the movies or visiting my family, seeing my friends, rehearsing, working on projects? It depends.
What is one thing you need or want to do before you leave planet Earth?
As a little girl, there was only one thing that mattered to me and that I thought about every night when I went to sleep. This is really cheesy [Laughs], but this is the way it is! I always thought about true love and how to find someone who makes everything just completely make sense to everything. But lately, I am not that sure about that! Maybe weeks before, I would have said that I really want to fall in love like crazy and try to keep that forever. Now, I’m not that sure. I don’t know, maybe it’s not that important? Or maybe I just have pretty high expectations, and maybe everything is so subjective.
What can we expect and look forward to at MTV Sessions?
We are really looking forward to playing together! Juan is really good friends with Brian and it’s the third show that we’re going to do together so he’s still kind of new, and I really like that feeling – of playing with someone for the first time – and he’s an awesome drummer and a really funny guy! I think that’s going to show on stage.
Tune in to the premiere of MTV Sessions featuring Russian Red on Saturday, October 20 at 11am (WIB) 12pm (SIN/HK/PH) 1pm (MAL)!