It may have been pure coincidence when she first discovered her stagename and it most probably have taken a huge gamble when she first became a singer but when Russian Red came by our little red dot for a second show, there was no luck involved; just sheer class. After drawing much success from her European and Asian tour as well as releasing sophomore album, Fuerteventura, an island in Spain where she was there with no company, no computer – nothing. All she had was herself and a few books, and wanted to make it clear that she was entering a new period of her life.
We managed to catch Lourdes Hernandez, better known as Russian Red, for a quick chat just a day after filming October’s MTV Sessions at Resorts World Sentosa’s Waterfront Studio.
Q: So what were you most looking forward to in Singapore coming back after March?
A: I was looking forward to the fact of just coming back and being here, which was much more than enough because this is such a lovely place to me. The audience was amazing, the crowd yesterday was even better than the one we had in March and you could just feel that people were waiting for it, singing the songs and smiling. I really just love it here.
I remember the first time coming out from the airport, driving and seeing so much nature in a wild way, That balanced with the fact that it’s a big city with big buildings and its really heading there in that sense. The people who live here come from different places, with local neighborhoods, so it’s really like a complete and open place already. It is a perfect place as a visitor.
Q: I know that you are here to showcase your music; what’s a track of yours that you would recommend to people unfamiliar to your music?
A: Everyday, Everynight, if I have to sing a track that’s in my album. I really like to play it; and when you really like to play a song it means that you could in a way identify with the song.
Q: How important is translating your experiments with different musical instruments be it on the album or live?
A: It has been something that’s very important to me. I used to tour with a band, and I was making the album sound like it was recorded. In January I decided to switch to a different format. So I decided to bring my electric guitar and investigate sounds so I’ve been really focusing on that and that has changed my live performances and the direction that my music is going to take. Now I’m working and thinking of a third album and possibly the direction that I will be taking would revolve around my live performances and create a new ‘moody’ sound.
Q: Besides singing your own songs, you have also done some covers of other artiste’s songs. So what attracts you to do a cover of that particular song?
A: I think doing a cover is really related to the fact that you want to sing the song because really like the song. You know there are songs that just gets stuck in your head and you keep singing them so when you have that and you’re a musician you tend to take advantage of that and sing them as your own, making that song yours which is ultimately the most important thing with covers.
Q: If you could choose any musician you could collaborate with; who would it be?
A: I can mention about 10 people now, at least. But I think if it comes to a definite name I’d always say I’d want the same one; which is David Bowie. I think he’s the most interesting artist alive to collaborate with at the moment. He is brilliant, really like, incontestable.
Q: You have been likened to Feist and have even been called the “Spanish Feist”. How does that make you feel?
A: Which I think is an awful thing to say; to compare someone so explicitly just like that. (She goes on laughing at the statement) I love Feist and her music. I don’t know her personally but I love her as a fan. It should never be in anyone’s mind to do music from the perspective of looking or sounding like someone. When you make music, the most primitive step is to not think that you’d want to be compared to another artiste. In a way it’s also good that I’m being compared to Feist rather than something that has nothing to do with what I do but of course there’s a bad side to that.
Q: We know that Russian Red is named after a Mac lipstick color, so do you think that color represents a particular trait in your songwriting?
A: I think that I was not too aware of it at first. After releasing two albums already and being where I am now, I think it somehow is really related. When I picked up that random Mac lipstick I had no idea what I was doing. I just thought, “Oh this lipstick color’s name is interesting. I would like to have this as a stage name” but now I realize that it had much more to do with me than I thought in the beginning.
Q: If you had to pick a color that represents you, would it still be red?
A: I don’t know. We have different colors, moods and different sides of ourselves so I think for my music, red works pretty well and I probably am a red person in general. What I mean by that is that I am passionate in the way I have energy and the way I like to live life.
Q: Speaking of the new album, other than more honest, more electric and more plugged-in stuff, what else can we expect?
A: I’ve just done demos but I want to record the album in LA because I’m moving there in January. So I think the fact of choosing the place to live in, recording the album there and simply having all of these new in your life will completely affect the energy of the album; something that I am really looking forward to. I think the energy will not be as tangible at first sight but it’s there in the album for everyone. In general and more music-wise I’m going to record it with Brian, just like my first one. All in all what I want is to record my album with the people that I am going to play it live.
Q: How involved are they in the writing process?
A: They are actually much more involved in the arrangement, rather than the songwriting. I come up with the songs and I write them on my own.
Q: When you were young, did you imagine yourself to be the Russian Red that you are now? Was it your dream job?
A: No, not really. I was actually much more comfortable with the idea of working as whatever, like even have just a regular job. I like regular jobs. I’m okay with that. To me, I think what’s important is that you like what you’re doing even if it happens to be something simple and that you do a service to people. I wanted to have a regular job then have my music for my soul and probably maybe play shows here and there but not do it as a main thing because I thought that doing music for a living was controverted. But I then realized you don’t need to get that much support and if you’re lucky and get to live out of it, then maybe you’ll realize you want to do it. As a child though, I didn’t want to be a singer, not at all. My parents were just bankers, living on regular jobs and I remember seeing a prolongation of school, something like a school but for grown-ups and I was actually looking forward to going there instead because I love school.
Q: We know you have worked hard to achieved what you are today, what do you reckon some challenges that musicians today face when using online tools?
A: I think the online tools are super useful. When you want to promote your concert or you don’t have a manager or record label you could just do it yourself. It’s great. I’m not too sure on what advise I’d give in terms of using the online tools because it all is really just intuitive. However, I’d say just go for the music that you have inside like I said and don’t try to just sound like someone else. If you really have music inside, then do it as it comes out and I think that’s what’s most important.
Be sure to catch the Spanish songbird on MTV for MTV Sessions on these dates:
Saturday, Oct 20
11am (WIB) 12pm (SIN/HK/PH) 1pm (MAL)
5pm (WIB) 6pm (SIN/HK/PH) 7pm (MAL)