Not to be confused by her moniker Russian Red, Lourdes Hernández actually hails from Madrid, Spain. From having neither an official site nor a Wikipedia page in 2007 to becoming a rising sensation in the worldwide indie arena, Russian Red is definitely gaining traction.
While her 2008 debut I Love Your Glasses sounded wistful, sophomore effort Fuerteventura offered a more hopeful Hernández and we wonder how is it possible for a young lady in her 20s to express such profound precociousness over just two albums, seemingly understanding emotions that would probably take an entire lifetime to know?
Hernández talked to Spin or Bin Music just a day after she played her set at Waterfront Studio to a crowd claimed to be the largest ever for an MTV Sessions recording. Of course, we were mesmerised by her unassuming banter most of the time.
How has Singapore been for you?
RR: Coming back here was really exciting. I think it’s important to think that sometimes you might not be able to come back to places. They say it’s not very meaningful but it is for me. I travel a lot and I think it’s important to come back for the second time, so I’m really happy to be back in Singapore. I love it here, I love the balance between the nature and the city, I think it is perfect!
Have you ever expected such a huge fan base in Asia?
RR: Never, never! How can you expect that! That was a beautiful surprise I had, when a year ago or less we travelled for the first time to China, Taiwan and South Korea, it’s beautiful! What can I say? I don’t know where it comes from, where these connections take place but I’m just happy, I don’t question it. I want to keep feeling it.
When you write songs, what kind of image do you have in your mind? What do you paint?
RR: It depends on the moment, but I guess more of the specific subject, which varies. The most important thing is that I really need to get rid of something, so I grab my guitar because I really have to make something unique out of a feeling that is unique. That’s the concept.
Why do you perform under the name Russian Red?
RR: The name is a lipstick colour that I use. The fact that I use it as a stage name, I think it’s nice because it makes the whole performance thing more romantic.
In one of your interviews, you mentioned that Hold It Inside was recorded very spontaneously, and you were making up the words as you went along. How does that work and what made you try something like that?
RR: [chuckles] Did you understand anything that I was singing in the song? Because I kinda had to reconstruct what I could listen from the recording and what I was singing because I was totally saying words that probably didn’t have any sense! That was more like a jam session when we were in the studio. This song came out and we thought it was nice because it captured the real sense of the moment. Sometimes when I listen to it, I like the music production, which is really simple and indie-sounding, but the lyrics are like “What am I saying here?!”
Fuerteventura sounds less wistful than your debut I Love Your Glasses. Are you in a happier place now?
RR: I am happier. But it’s not that I was sad. When I’m happy, I’d rather be out on the streets having fun. When I am not that happy, I am probably at home trying to go through these moments, so it’s a positive thing to be able to do something nice with these energy that maybe is not that positive. So that’s why I do music, and maybe in all of my songs, it is something I am kinda chained to. There’s always gonna be this nostalgic sad feeling, which I think balances out with the melodies that might sound more hopeful.
Do you feel homesick when you tour?
RR: I never feel homesick. When I am all over the world I acquire a wider perspective to life, people and relationships and everything. I feel so lucky, not only because I do music. If there was something I really wanted to do when I was a child, it was travelling, not music. I don’t feel homesick. I’m still young in a way, I don’t have a family and I’m free in that way.
Would you take us back to the origin of January 14th?
RR: It’s an anniversary. I wrote this song after meeting someone really special. I met this guy in a bar on January 14th. It’s a really simple song that talks about how we met, what we felt when we saw each other for the first time, about crossing looks and thinking “Wow I think I like this guy!” So it just talks about this kind of simple and frivolous situations.
Having risen to be a sensation in the Spanish indie arena and won the Best Spanish Act for MTV Europe Music Awards in 2011, what do these sorts of recognition and award mean to you? Do they mean much?
RR: They do, it is really encouraging! It’s like WOW! I’m super glad this is happening. Public recognition sometimes is really unfair also, so you cannot take it really seriously. It’s good when it comes to you, you can enjoy it. It probably gives you a good feeling BUT I don’t take it really seriously. It’s a good thing, it’s encouraging anyway.
What is the most memorable question you’ve ever received?
RR: A year ago when I was in Hong Kong for the first time, somebody asked me what I thought about feet in general, and if I liked feet. I replied with a question, asking “Why are you asking me this?” and he said because somebody in an interview had an issue with feet and he was curious. That was a really memorable one!
MTV Sessions featuring Russian Red will premiere on MTV SEA on Saturday, 20 October at 11am (WIB), 12pm (SG/HK/PH) and 1pm (MAL).