From Russian with love

From Russian with love
Spanish singer-songwriter Russian Red

8 questions with Russian Red

There is no better way to grow out of an idealistic view of love than to write an album about it.

That is what folk-pop singer-songwriter Lourdes Hernandez aka Russian Red did, which culminated in her third full-length album Agent Cooper, released earlier this year.

The 28-year-old Spaniard, who returns to Singapore to perform at TAB on Friday, tells Life! over the telephone from Madrid, Spain: "The whole record is built around the concept of being stuck in an idea of love that was not taking me anywhere other than writing songs about it."

Hernandez, who admits coyly that she has just started dating someone new, adds: "It's very nice to kind of feel the beauty in that certain type of love... but then, I need to write this album to move on a little and be more mature, about love at least."

Often compared to acclaimed Canadian folk singer-songwriter Leslie Feist for their similar vocal and musical styles, Hernandez began performing under the name of Russian Red in 2007 and was soon considered a darling in the Spanish indie music scene.

Her first two albums - I Love Your Glasses (2008) and Fuerteventura (2011) - got her warm reviews from online music sites such as allmusic.com and sputnikmusic.com

Her catchy stage monicker comes from the name of a fiery red lipstick by cosmetics company M.A.C.

1 All the song titles on Agent Cooper are names of men. Who are they?

Some of them are metaphors but in general, most of them are people that I've met but I didn't have a romantic relationship with all of them. It was just people who inspired the songs and, in a way, describe a side of that love I was talking about earlier.

2 You worked with music producer Joe Chiccarelli who has worked with bands such as the White Stripes, The Strokes and Morrissey. How did that affect the overall sound on the album?

It's more electric and it has other elements, like the vocals are maybe lower, sexier. It's a different energy for sure, so I think Joe was great in managing that sound and it was a great experience to see all the songs grow.

3 How did you start getting into music?

My family is not very musical. My uncles from my dad's side, most of them played some kind of instrument, such as harmonica, guitar and saxophone, but they weren't active. I picked up the guitar at 13 when a friend taught me how to play some chords and then after that, I was self-taught.

4 When was the first time you performed live for an audience and what was the experience like?

It was traumatic. I was probably 18. I was attending singing classes, which I dropped out of soon after. I didn't like being in front of people. But I'm 10 years older now, so you adapt and you get over your fear. I still get nervous, but it's good nerves.

5 When you're not touring or writing and recording music, what do you do?

It depends on where I am. In Madrid, I catch up with friends and family. I also love going to the museums. I feel very inspired by the exhibitions, especially in Madrid where there are so many museums and so many contemporary exhibitions. It's a very rich city in that way. If I'm in Los Angeles, I'll do the same thing, probably with friends. Go for a hike, go to the movies, go work out. I'm just like everybody else, I guess.

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