Indie songstress Russian Red is neither Russian nor a communist. The Spaniard’s stage name has nothing to do with either her nationality or ideology, but the shade of lipstick she wears.

And the songs she sings and pens are in English because “My parents used to play a lot of English music when I was a child,” as she tells UrbanWire at Resort World Sentosa’s Waterfront Studio on Sep 30, where she’s filming for MTV Sessions.

Where past MTV Sessions featuring Kyle Patrick and James Morrison drew crowds of about 200, Russian Red trumped that with 100 more fans who’d scored tickets through competitions, her popularity perhaps boosted by her taking home the award for Best Spanish Act at the MTV European Music Awards 2011.

“My attention was much more drawn to [English] music from the ‘60s and ‘70s, like The Beach Boys and The Beatles,” shares the 27-year oldsinger-songwriter who was born Lourdes Hernández in Madrid.

Sporting freshly dyed blonde curls, the brunette pauses thoughtfully, then continues: “We tend to be a little different when we speak one language or another. In English, I feel like I express myself in a more neutral way. In Spanish, words have to be sung in a louder way with more connotations. For me, that’s a little bit more difficult.”

Russian Red opened the hour-long showcase with a stripped-down version of her single, “I Hate You But I Love You“, before moving on to a more summery affair with “The Sun The Trees”, also off her sophomore album, Feurteventura. The album, named after one of the Canary Islands, peaked at #2 on the Spanish sales charts when it was released last year. It’s an achievement Russian Red still marvels at.

“It’s [taken me to] places I could never have imagined my music would go to, [like] Singapore or Taiwan or Hong Kong. It’s happening, and people are listening to my songs. I think it’s amazing, and it’s beautiful.”

She wouldn’t, however, be having the fun she is having now without her friends by her side. “I think it’s really important to have friends working with you, ‘cos the atmosphere that’s generated comes through in the recordings and in the videos, too,” she points out affably. “Maybe it’s not the [most] perfect or impressive video, but… it’s the energy of it. It’s different than if you were to just do it with people you don’t know.”

At the showcase, Russian Red was the picture of a down-to-earth star reveling in the enjoyment of performing. Wearing a quirky Peter Pan-collared dress matched with heart-shapes on either side, she spoke with her fans in-between songs: “This is my third time here and I still love it as much!”. The singer was last here in March for the Mosaic Music Festival.


“If I could, I would be here every day, every night” she declared to the crowd, referencing “Everyday, Everynight”, the next track of the 10-song playlist.

Showcasing her musicianship (she plays the acoustic and electric guitar, drums and recently got a white piano for her home, as she shares with UrbanWire), she strummed an electric guitar that literally sparkled. It was coated with layers of glitter, shimmering and reflecting across the strobe balls hanging from the ceiling of the intimate studio. Still, that wasn’t enough to distract fans from the star herself.

She confesses to just having picked up the electric guitar recently. “I’ve been messing around with it a bit. With each concert [the band and I] play, I get a bit better, which is nice because it takes me a looong time to learn things,” she laughs.

You notice her excitement when her recent contributions to Disney Pixar’s animated film, Brave are brought up (she sings 2 Spanish tracks with Celtic references: “A La Luz del Sol” and “Volaré”).

“I’m a bit like [Brave protagonist, Merida]… I show my rebel against things I’m not comfortable with. I think all of us have been put into situations where we had to be kind of like that, so I guess everybody can relate to it.”

Her voice is like roughened-up velvet—distinctly her, with hints of her Spanish heritage evident particularly when she’s speaking (she constantly emphasises her Rs). It’s all music to the ears even when she isn’t singing, and is one of the reasons why fans like Faith Wong, 22, are so mesmerised.

“Her voice has character. I love the way she pronounces words and sings! It’s very haunting and unique.”

Haunting and unique describe the 2 tracks she enjoys performing most: “Tarantino“, and “Loving Strangers“. The songstress was at her most raw and heartfelt here during her performance, and echoes of her voice continue to stay on in your mind hours after the showcase had ended. Fans were treated to both tracks, and then some. A cover of Queen’s “We Will Rock You” was tinged with rock star angst, Russian Red-style: mellow, because of her naturally lilting  voice, but then not quite. She swung her golden hair, banged on the drums, and prowled the stage before taking things a notch down with “January 14th“.

We’d love to have Russian Red every day, every night, too, thank you.

MTV Sessions with Russian Red will premiere on MTV SEA Saturday, Oct 20 at noon (SG/HK/PH), 11am (WIB) and 1pm (MAL) with additional content available online at