Sadness is her muse

Russian Red on all the things that once were, but now are not

Story and photos by Clara Lock 

Russian Red may make twee-sounding folk pop, with her crystal clear timbre ringing through each track of her latest release, Fuerteventura. But don’t be fooled by her upbeat, child-like vocals – this indie singer draws most of her inspiration from the loss of people and things around her.

Hailing from Madrid, the 27-year-old was born Lourdes Hernandez, and named her moniker after her favourite shade of lipstick, MAC’s Russian Red. These days, she no longer has to buy it on her own – fans and friends alike gift her with her favourite shade of scarlet all the time.

Swinging by Singapore for the tenth installment of Esplanade’s Mosaic Music Festival, this chanteuse tells Campus Magazine about how she’s saving the world – one lavatory at a time.

Your style of music is very intimate and stripped down. What draws you to making music like that?

I remember as a child, the songs that used to move me the most were really intimate, sad songs. So I was always looking for those kinds of songs to listen to.

And when I learnt to play guitar, that was the kind of thing I wanted to do – the same kind of thing that had moved me in the beginning.

You’ve mentioned in previous interviews that your songs allow you an outlet to vent. What are some things you vent about?

I began to write songs as a teenager, so I would talk about the boys that I liked, or how frustrated I’d get about not understanding how and why I felt certain things. That was what I vented off about.

In a way I haven’t really evolved that much. (Laughs) My songs really talk about the same things. But these days instead of talking about platonic love I talk more about breakups, and how you think about the past or a particular person.

What inspires me the most is losing things and people, and how that changes your life.

Do you draw from your personal experiences when you talk about these things?

Most of the time I do. I don’t talk explicitly about feelings – I talk about daily things, and how nostalgia shines through these things. When you move on from things, or when you move out from an apartment to go live somewhere else, you miss the things you left behind, and all the people who were involved in your past life.

You lose a part of people and you lose some kind of relationship that you don’t have any more – the intimacy, and being really close to someone. That’s what inspires me the most. That loss.

Does that sadden you?

It does, but in a useful way. I think sadness is really useful. It’s also a way of understanding happiness.

I don’t believe in happiness if there isn’t a little part of sadness in it.

So, are you a happy person?

I am. I really like to laugh! We laugh a lot – on tour, and all the time. I’m not depressed or anything.

Her drummer, Pablo Serrano, who is sitting in on the interview, chimes in:But its okay to cry, if you have a reason to.

Tell us about how you chose the name of your album Futerteventura.

 It’s an island in the Canary archipelago. I spent a really nice time on the island, on my own, in silence. I had just finished my tour, and I decided to go there for a week in January 2010.

I rented a car and a nice apartment, and I went swimming every morning, and I drove around the island. It was really small, so I would just go round and round. It was hypnotic, and very nice.I keep a really good memory of the place.

Lastly, tell us something we don’t know about you.

When I go to public toilets, sometimes I find the toilet clogged with lots of paper because nobody flushes properly. So I always flush the toilet properly, and I save that toilet from being stuck forever.

Can’t get enough of Russian Red? Read our review of her gig! Or catch more acts from the Mosaic Music Festival, which runs till 18th March 2012. For more information, visit