Irene Nelson is a Russian singer who is bringing her talent to the United States. She has already won three Russian Grammys with the group Reflex and now hopes to find success as a solo artist.
Nelson’s debut album is forthcoming, but her single, “Sunrise,” has already been featured on Billboard’s Dance/Club Play chart. Following her success in Russia, Nelson hopes to win America over with her voice as well.
Nelson answered some of Blast’s questions via email regarding how she broke into the industry and what she has planned for her career future.
IRENE NELSON: My songs are about eternal human values such as good and evil, war and peace, true freedom and love. In my first single “Sunrise” I consciously avoided the description of the physiological love. Using metaphysical images, in this case the two birds, I am (singing) about two beloveds who dissolved in their love, turned into holy souls and (were able) to rise from aches and walk on water.
My music is simple. In my songs I reflect on (questions such as): “When we want to be ahead of the game by any means necessary or win in fierce fight, don’t we follow the thought path of our own sick ego?” or “Is the winner in war really a winner … or killer?”
BLAST: Do you have a release date set yet? What is it titled?
IN: I think in the near future we will decide whether we will remain independent or to go with one of the major labels. The release date depends on it. In any case it will be in the spring.
Regarding the title of my album, we have different opinions. My music producers, Gary Miller and Vlad Tyurin, like Ahead of the Game, but my first American single, “Sunrise,” is very precious to me. This is the song with which I became known in US and entered the American Billboard chart — I would like to name it Sunrise.
BLAST: How long have you been working on the new album?
IN: It has been two years since the (creation of) the first single “Sunrise,” which I recorded in London at George Martin’s legendary AIR Studios. Sound producer Steve Orchard (U2, Coldplay, Peter Gabriel, Dido) and sound producer and hit-maker Vlad Tyurin (Reflex were working on this single. To continue to work on the rest of the songs Vlad and I went to Los Angeles. Here we met another big producer Gary Miller (David Bowie, Simply Red, Kylie Minogue etc.) and have worked with him since. The new album was born in our close collaboration. All music was created by Vlad Tyurin, Antony Tyurin and me, all lyrics written by myself.
BLAST: What was your inspiration for the album?
IN: I was inspired by my inner transformations (such as) knowing my own difficult path as a girl from a deep Siberian province who literally escaped home. Experiencing many troubles, I started thinking about the (meaning) of different occurrences; I started to look for answers in the books of philosophers and yogis. Over 10 years, I have accomplished many spiritual practices and yogi techniques on my own. I always wanted to (look) beyond the borders of a physical world.
IN: Upon completing school I wanted a musical education and had to escape from my parents to the capital of Novovsibirsk, Siberia (New Siberia). I didn’t know anyone when I arrived and didn’t have any money, so I would go door to door seeking shelter. I was accepted by one of the music colleges to study piano. I could not afford a piano so I drew a keyboard on paper and would unroll my “piano” and practice daily. After finishing my musical education I was invited to a jazz big band as a vocalist—it was my first experience as a singer. I sang the famous jazz compositions of Ella Fitzgerald, Diana Ross and Billy Holiday and spent the next few years touring, participating in festivals and wining various awards.
Later I met songwriter Vlad Tyurin — a legend among Russian’s musical elite. Vlad has made his mark as one of the most outstanding and distinguished composers and sound producers. He invited me to collaborate with him on a dance project and Reflex was born. I was not only the lead vocalist in the very famous girl band Reflex, I was also a songwriter and generated all the ideas. This project was created by Vlad Tyurin and me, so oftentimes we had to do and manage everything ourselves! (In addition) to composing music and lyrics, we were also the producers during every step, including: sound engineering, making videos, styling and setting photo sessions. It was a huge experience and as a result Reflex became a seven-year-old success story — the most outstanding dance project on the Russian pop stage that won an amazing amount of musical awards. We have received medals and orders “For professionalism and contribution to culture.”
As you know, right now I am working here, in the United States.
BLAST: Why did you decide to bring your music to the US?
IN: The United States is a country that is open to everything new. I like to take unknown paths and coming to America was literally like a jump into the unknown, almost like visiting another planet. I have been listening to American music since I was little and my skills were perfected by (having) American role models. America is a land of outstanding musicians. I have always had a sincere dream to sing a duet with American artists.
BLAST: Who would you like to work with in the future?
IN: You might think that I am crazy, but I dream of singing a duet with U2’s Bono.
BLAST: Do you hope to live in Los Angeles permanently or do you have plans to return to Russia.
IN: Over the past two years I have spent in LA, I have absolutely fallen in love with this city. I have a lot of friends here and even my own recording studio in Malibu where Gary Miller, a platinum songwriter/record producer, is my partner. LA became my second home. But when I start feeling kind of homesick, I immediately go back (to Russia).
BLAST: Do have any upcoming performances?
IN: At the end of the last year I was enthusiastically putting together a band and started rehearsals. But suddenly my father got very ill. For almost six months we were fighting his fatal disease, but unsuccessfully. For a long time I could not think about anything else. But now that my album is finished I will gather a new band, and by autumn we will be all ready to move forward.
BLAST: Is there anything else that you would like to add?
IN: I want my music to be a reason for communication between me and American people. We have a lot of things to discuss! As I said before, (I’m) a girl from Siberia who (took) a long path to end up in America to see everything with her own eyes and prove to herself that we are all the same and that we are all seeking the same thing — Love!