Lourdes Hernández, a Spanish indie and folk singer-songwriter known as Russian Red, moved to the United States from Madrid with a successful music career in tow. But when she got here, she had a bit of a crisis. “I stopped making music,” she shares, “and I didn’t know what I wanted to do. We didn’t have the church space yet.” She didn’t even know if she was going to stay in the US.
That church space, built in 1905, is now known to the Highland Park neighborhood of Los Angeles as The Ruby Street. It’s bright. Blue. And boasts the church's original stain glass windows. Not surprisingly, it plays host many weddings. “We opened and people just wanted to get married here,” she says. ‘“In that way the building has taken on a life of it’s own.” The first event was not a wedding. It was a music show where Lourdes, AKA Russian Red, performed as did Meryl Streep’s son Henry Wolf. The space wasn’t yet complete. She says the doors were still “trashy,” and there were about 120 people present, but it created a buzzy word of mouth that got people inquiring. The Ruby Street currently hosts around five to seven events per month, mostly weddings, but the space has seen dinners, workshops, baby showers, and above-mentioned music events-- though she says, they'd like to do more shows.
"They" is Lourdes and her boyfriend Zack (and business partner), who is the one who found the church. Lourdes says, “It became very meaningful. It helped us stick together and learn that we were not only romantically compatible, but compatible in business as well.”
The duo is now two years in, after completing a record breaking six-month renovation. “The hardest part is having the vision,” she shares, “but having to adapt as you go. Sometimes the building doesn’t let you do what you want.”
Lourdes doesn’t see her two careers as separate. “They are very much related,” she says. “To put a space together like this, you need to have a creative force to make every decision. To have an aesthetic equilibrium and to create home in a space. They’re not two different things, it’s the same for me.”
“Now things co-exist with me. Or I co-exist with them. It’s a nice balance. When you work hard and create a space for yourself, you flow with it, instead of stressing.” For a woman handling two careers, it’s nice to hear that she’s not at a breaking point, but rather has found the balance that we’re all so desperately in search of. “Every decision that we make about our lives— it needs to come from the same place,” she says. “Even if it means sacrifice, it still a decision that you’re making. It’s your responsibility.”
The sacrifice she made when she stopped creating music turned out to be her biggest blessing.
“Making decisions like that is hard sometimes. I was in the infinity.” But the artist says that (however scary) decision opened so many doors. ‘It expanded my life.” She now has what she calls “a very specific way of approaching music. I used to play festivals and tour all year long. Music was my life and that was it. For me that became a nightmare at a certain point I thought, there can’t be just one way to do this. No way.” Today, alongside running Ruby Street, the creative has been recording music, “on the side,” and in May she put out a covers album, Karaoke. This August, Lourdes will hit the road in Spain and Mexico for about three weeks.
“I have such a weird, but amazing flow,” she laughs. “I don’t know how things come to me.”
We say, keep ‘em coming.
Photo credit: Hilary Walsh for Vogue Spain + The Ruby Street