Russian Red Talks About Belle & Sebastian, Her Personal Inlook, and the Men That Inspire Her

After her initial sizeable splash in her country of origin, Spanish indie pop chanteuse Lourdes Hernandez, better known as Russian Red (named for her favorite shade of lipstick), has...

After her initial sizeable splash in her country of origin, Spanish indie pop chanteuse Lourdes Hernandez, better known as Russian Red (named for her favorite shade of lipstick), has become quite an international star over the course of the past half-decade.  Her second album, 2011’s Fuerteventura, was produced by Tony Doogan and recorded with Belle & Sebastian’s Stevie Jackson, Bob  Kildea, and Richard Colburn.  She’s had a number of tours across Asia.  And she even sang a song in Pixar’s Brave.  She recently relocated to California to record her third LP, Agent Cooper, produced by Joe Chiccarelli (best known for his work with the likes of The Strokes, local-heroine Christina Perri, and Alanis Morissette), which was released late last month.  The album embodies the elegance of the best kind of folk songwriting, with the delectable quirk and pep of the best kind of post-pop (Lourdes certainly has the craft of both singing and songwriting down, but she’s certainly not afraid to push her subversive brand of sassiness, which resembles a slightly more eloquent, and elegant, take on punk bands imitating girl groups.)  Lourdes was kind enough to recently take some time to chat with me about her career thus far and how it seems to be going since her move stateside.

Izzy Cihak: You’ve been a major name in the Spanish music scene for quite some time now and in recent years have been breaking through to a worldwide audience.  What do you feel is most important for your most recent audiences to know about the project?

Lourdes Hernandez: The project is a personal quest, made public through my qualities with music. I never aimed to be where I’m at today, although I feel fortunate it has taken me to this place where I can make music with people that I love and admire.

Izzy: A few years ago you recorded with a handful of Belle & Sebastian, whom, I must admit, are my all-time favorite band.  How was that?  And, for that matter, what is, personally, your all-time favorite B&S track?  I regularly go back-and-forth, but I think mine has to be “Expectations.”

Lourdes: Recording with these amazing people was one of the biggest and most unexpected presents in life. I go for “The Fox in the Snow” in their more acoustic period and “We are the Sleepyheads” in the more electric one.

Izzy: You recently relocated to California.  What inspired that and how has it been?  What are your thoughts on being a musician in the US?

Lourdes: I had the need and intuition for a personal trip, change of residence, more than professionally speaking. But I made it coincide with the recording of my third album so I could have a more complete inlook on actually trying to build a new home far from home, which worked out very well and I now still live in LA.

Izzy: You recently released Agent Cooper.  Have you had any particular favorite reactions to it, whether from critics, fans, or friends?

Lourdes:  My favorite part is how I get a closer outlook on people that tell me which is their favorite song from the album.  That, for me, means which of the men of my life they like better (As all the songs on the album have the name of the man that inspired them.)

Izzy: What were the album’s most significant influences and inspirations?

Lourdes: While I was recording the album my grandfather died and I also fell madly in love with someone. These were very relevant experiences that conditioned the aura of the album. Music-wise we would dig in sounds from Julee Cruise, Concrete Blonde, Raveonettes or The Smiths…

Izzy: You recently released a video for “Casper,” which strikes me as essentially the inverted version of John Waters’ Polyester (Hopefully you don’t find that insulting.)  What is it that inspires your visuals?

Lourdes: My visuals are inspired by the people I work with when it comes to visuals and how I both share my sense of aesthetics with them, but also give them all the freedom to work and interpret their perception of my music. I do love Lynch and Miranda July.


Izzy: And I understand that your moniker was inspired by your favorite shade of lipstick, so I have to ask: Who and what are your most significant influences as far as your fashion goes?  It’s totally lovely, sexy, and awesome… feel free to focus on whichever of those adjectives you find most flattering.

Lourdes: When it comes to fashion, I’d say I get inspired with fictional characters from movies and TV shows, so I guess the adjective to define my style is “cinematic” and also sensibly contradictory.

Izzy: How do you hope and plan to spend the rest of 2014?  You have a handful of tour dates, but any chance of a full-scale US tour?  If so, what can be expected of the live experience?

Lourdes: I’d love to have a full-scale US tour. The three moments that make the most sense for me in this life are coming up with a melody, getting to know the world/travelling, and falling in love with people.


Band Interviews

During the day Izzy Cihak teaches transgression, subversion, and revolution at Temple University. At night he haunts Philthy's best venues to cover worthwhile acts for Philthy Mag. Morrissey is everything to him and, in their own heads, all of his friends see themselves as Zooey Deschanel.