INTERVIEW | Russian Red (Lourdes Hernández)
I had the chance to have a quick Q&A session over email with the lovely Lourdes Hernández, better known under the moniker Russian Red. Hailing from Madrid, Spain, she caused quite a stir on the blogosphere in 2008 with the release of her debut album, I Love Your Glasses. With an unforgettable voice that holds even those with the shortest attention spans and quirky songs rooted in real life experiences, Russian Red should definitely be on your radar.
Read on for the interview!
INTERVIEW w/ Russian Red (Lourdes Hernández)
1. Russian Red—why did you choose to perform under that moniker instead of your name (Lourdes Hernandez)? Any significance?
It was a little coincidence, I was randomly thinking about good names for a band while I was putting some lipstick on (MAC’s Russian Red). I liked the link and thought I could use it, someday, if I had a band. Turned out I did.
2. How did you get into music (any musicians that inspired you, etc.)? When did you start to think about doing it professionally (as a career)?
I did find an inspiration in other musicians that I listened to, but it was never a conscious influence. Having a guitar and knowing how to play some chords was enough to just let go some sort of need to vent off. It became a career “in the middle” of the second tour, I guess. I realized music had made that decision for me, I happened to be there when I hadn’t stopped before to make my mind.
3. You are from Spain, Madrid where the primary language is Spanish. Why do you choose to sing in English?
I always liked English and I felt a great attraction to everything that came from out of Spain. For me, being able to speak a language that everybody could understand could be nothing but the best of the gifts, and so I used it to express with music ’cause it just made a lot of sense to me.
4. You have a very distinct vocal style (often compared to quirky musicians like Joanna Newsom)…is this a conscious effort on your part to sound “different”?
I [found] out about Joanna Newsom’s music a long time after I wrote the songs from my first album. For me, composing songs for the first time, as I remember it, had nothing to do with anybody else but me.
5. What are your inspirations when you write?
All the things that once were and now are not. The memory.
6. What is your process when writing a song?
I don’t have a fixed process. Lately, I’ve been composing the melody without basing it on any instruments.
7. A lot of your songs seem very bare-bones and acoustically-based. Do you prefer this style of music/production? Why?
It’s a mood that comes from a period when writing songs was, like I said, somewhat like venting off. And that venting material made sense in an intimate sort of acoustic atmosphere.
8. For example, “Hold It Inside” (from I Love Your Glasses) is close-miked and I can hear fingers going up and down the strings and it sounds as if it was all recorded in one take. What was the thought process behind this decision and what do you feel it adds to the song?
It came out spontaneously, while sound-checking in the studio. I’m even making up the words while it’s being recorded.
[LISTEN]: Russian Red – “Hold It Inside” (from I Love Your Glasses)
9. Which one of your tracks would you play for someone who has never listened to you (to introduce them to your music)? Why?
“Nice Thick Feathers” or some other track from the future album, any song I truly feel comfortable with.
[LISTEN]: Russian Red – “Nice Thick Feathers” (from I Love Your Glasses)
10. Are you currently touring? Do you have any plans to come to Canada/U.S.?
I’m not touring right now, but I should get back on the road next year. And touring the US or Canada is definitely a dream that also scares me a little bit.
11. With the help of technology, you recently did a “duet” with Elvis. What was that like? Do you feel you stayed true to the original? (P.S. I loved it)
The idea of sharing an “official” recording with the voice of Elvis was definitely more than thrilling. I don’t think the production work remains close to the original, but that was the aim. If I had covered it myself, I’d have stayed closer.
[LISTEN]: Russian Red – “Love Me Tender” (w/ Elvis Presley)
12. A lot of your fans seem to love the track “Loving Strangers” (from the movie A Room In Rome). Did you write that? How did you get involved?
I wrote it before my first album was released. The director listened to it through my publisher and thought it fit perfectly to the story, so he included it in his movie. I also wrote another track ad hoc for that film (“Upset”).
[LISTEN]: Russian Red – “Loving Strangers”
13. Are you working on anything new right now?
I am, and I should be recording by the beginning of next year. I’m excited cause this album responds to a more reflexed process in which I’ve been able to identify things (musically and personally) that I wasn’t before.
14. I’ve decided to ask every musician I interview this question after speaking with Jason Collett (part-time Broken Social Scenester) about the need for support in the musical community: What is one singer/musician/band (unsigned or signed) that you would encourage others to listen to and support? Why do you like them?
Autumn Comets. They are a local band from Madrid, and I like them cause they are young and regular boys, they enjoy what they do and they don’t want to become anything else but themselves. And they don’t say it, you just can tell.
15. Name 3 songs/albums you’re playing on repeat right now.
Gloria Lasso – Luna de miel
David Bowie – Modern Love
Clifford T. Ward – Give me One More Chance
16. Name 3 musicians you’ll never get tired of listening to.
The Beatles, Vashti Bunyan, Belle & Sebastian.