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Russian Red: A hat full of love

Something magical happens when Lourdes Hernández takes the stage; there’s something about that smoky voice and the sorrowful look in her gaze. We witnessed it first-hand at her recent Waterfront Studio gig, where she effortlessly commanded the stage. But our hearts really melted when we had our moment with the Spanish sweetheart off-stage – with the spotlights gone and the equipment tucked away, Hernández was simply a joy to talk to.

We weren’t the only ones excited. In fact, Hernández herself was so happy to be back in Singapore following her first visit in March, excited by seeing “so much nature in a wild way…balanced with the fact that it’s a big city and big buildings.” Hernández is also in love with her Singaporean fans, telling us that “the audience was amazing. You could feel that right? They were singing the songs and smiling. It was amazing”.

“I wanted to have a ‘real job’ and have music on the side for my soul, maybe play shows here and there, but I never thought I’d be doing it as my main thing because I never wanted to mess up such a pure thing like music”.

Like a little girl in a carnival, Hernández’s excitement was really quite endearing. But as genuine as her emotions were, she also took the reality of her situation with much gravity, regarding her second visit to a country as something very important. “Sometimes you might take for granted that you might be back for the second time. You never know if that’s going to happen”.

In fact, Russian Red never thought she’d be sitting with us in an interview all the way in Singapore. As a child, she always liked the idea of having a “real world job”, as she calls it. She saw it simply as a “prolongation of school for grownups” that she really wanted to attend. “I wanted to have a ‘real job’ and have music on the side for my soul, maybe play shows here and there, but I never thought I’d be doing it as my main thing because I never wanted to mess up such a pure thing like music”.

Ask the world how they would describe Russian Red, and most would quickly refer to her as the Spanish Feist. “It’s an awful thing to say!” she would passionately retort. But don’t get her wrong, Hernández loves Feist. Her criticism instead lies in the comparative mentality. “It should never be in anybody’s mind to do music from the perspective of looking like someone or sounding like someone.”

“This has been something very important to me for the last few months and I’ve been really focusing on that. I used to try and make the songs sound like they were recorded.”

And if somehow you’ve never heard of Russian Red before, then Hernández recommends you listen to ‘Everyday Everynight’, a favourite of hers. “I really like to play it. When you really like to play a song, that means you can identify with it”. And this great passion for the songs she performs translates even to the care she puts into choosing covers. She tells us that you need to love a song enough that you’re singing it all day, and only then can you easily make it your own. “That’s the most important thing about covering songs for me.”

“This has been something very important to me for the last few months and I’ve been really focusing on that. I used to try and make the songs sound like they were recorded.”

Her performance of the classic ‘We Will Rock You’ at her Studio Sessions surprised us all, hearing the powerful and unexpected impact of drums and electric guitars. The energy levels in the room were lifted to another level for the whole set, it was like the songs were completely new to our ears. Hernández tells us, “This has been something very important to me for the last few months and I’ve been really focusing on that. I used to try and make the songs sound like they were recorded.”

This very deliberate change in her live set has also influenced her songwriting. She revealed to us that her future material will consist of a more electric sound that she has found in the few months she has spent “investigating” during her live sets. She has also revealed that she has started working on a few new demos and thinking about a third album!

Russian Red’s sophomore album, Fuerteventura was inspired by her self-imposed exile to the island of the same name as testament to her entering a new chapter in life. In two months, the whole band will have relocated to LA in another very deliberate attempt to be exposed to new things that Hernández hopes will influence her songwriting.

So I guess it’s safe to expect an electric album aptly titled L.A in the coming year!

By Kevin Ho and Melissa Yong

MTV Sessions: Russian Red premieres Saturday on MTV SEA October 20 at 11am (WIB), 12pm (SG/HK/PH) and 1pm (MAL).

Repeats
Sunday, October 21

5pm (WIB), 6pm (SIN/HK/PH), 7pm (MAL)

Saturday, October 27
6pm (WIB), 7pm (SIN/HK/PH), 8pm (MAL)