Irene Nelson: “Barack Obama has made me a birthday gift”

Interview with Irene Nelson for the newspaper “Telenedelya”

When Reflex soloist went to the United States two years ago, the fans were sure that she will not return.

         I have never even thought about emigration. I love Russia. When my husband and me finished the work on my solo album in the United States, I came home immediately. I’ve been touring with my solo program and as a soloist of Reflex since 2011. During the eight months since my return, Reflex regained the status of the charts leader with our new song “I’ll Be Your Sky.” A video for this song was voted the best music video three times.

         Two years ago, when my husband Vyacheslav Tyurin and me were packing bags before a trip to America, we had a lot of plans. First of all, we went to Los Angeles, the capital of the world’s show business, to learn how they make music. After all, Slava and me were always our own producers, but our knowledge was not always enough. I wanted to learn the new things and to be always at the peak. And even then we were planning to record a solo album «Sun Generation» there. Now it is ready and is sold throughout the world including Russia starting December 5. At last! Because my goal was to please Russian fans, I write my songs for them in the first place. Unfortunately, our country was not ready to sell some music albums using the latest technologies that are now common around the world, via the Internet, for example, and the world’s largest music store iTunes Store. It was finally open in Russia December 4! I am, like all other musicians, very glad. Each listener can now download my album for just 100 rubles.

          In the days when I returned, I was met with resentment and skepticism, some saying that if you recorded an album in America, now go and live there. But in the two-year absence I realized that I terribly miss motherland, my friends, my home. When I returned, I was amazed at how Moscow has become quite a self-sufficient city with a developed infrastructure, civilized pedestrians and drivers. This is true, do not be surprised. People just have not realized it and continue to be skeptical to themselves and to their country. I have never had this by the way. In the U.S., I always positioned myself as a Russian singer. I even told it to Barack Obama.

          - How did you meet him?

         – I’m a stubborn, and when I put a goal, I always achieve it. While living in California, I’ve read about the Senator Barbara Boxer, and the woman fascinated me. Having determined to meet her at all costs, I found mutual friends and gave her my CD through them. She liked my songs and began to invite me to their official receptions, including the one where Obama was due to arrive. It was April 19, which is my birthday. After visiting the hairdresser, I got dressed nicely, came early and stood next to the stage. Obama arrived, gave a speech, and then “went down to the people.” He saw me and said hello, and heard that I was a Russian singer. He was very surprised at how I got here, so far away from home. And in the end of the meeting after he found out that it was my birthday, he gave me a beautiful glass hemisphere, where there was engraved: “Barack Obama. April 19.” Now this souvenir takes an honored place among my most valuable birthday presents.

          - You didn’t lose time in the U.S.

          - Moreover, I have received a diploma of yoga instructor in the last two years. Yoga occupied all my thoughts for more than 10 years. When I first moved to Moscow from the province, the life was difficult. Sometimes there was no money even for food. I was very worried and asked myself why all these problems like total lack of money and life challenges always follow me? I started reading philosophical books and eventually concluded that a person has tremendous inner resources and should be able to connect them to solving the problem, to arrange his life by himself without relying on any government or relatives or fate. I started to seek out these very powers in myself. I bought a book on yoga, did exercises and gradually accumulated a huge store of knowledge over 10 years. Now I can cope with cold and depression only by the forces my body and know how to not slip into pessimism, resentment, frustration and anger. I learned how to be totally free and how to brush up in order to maintain beauty and harmony without spending a dime on expensive drugs and cosmetics. And now, having a diploma of yoga instructor, I can share this knowledge with the others.

         By the way, show business helps me with this. Firstly, many people in show business have lots of problems and complexes and yoga can solve them. And secondly, being famous, I can collect far more vast audience because people trust a familiar singer more than some Indian guru with the unpronounceable name. Though not a guru, I can also open many secrets to the people.

          There is a girl among my fans that was s basketball player in the past. The doctors recognized her as nearly disabled because of the long-standing injury – her knee did not bend. She heard one of my interviews, took the books that I recommended and started to make regular exercises. Now she does not even recall about her trauma. There was another case, when a friend, who suffers from sinusitis came to me just recently. “I’m going to the hospital for a puncture now, it is absolutely impossible to endure. Wish me luck!” – He said. I showed him a special exercise where you have to sit on your knees and fold your hands behind your neck. You need to tilt your head with the quick inhalations and exhalations. He made this and his problem disappeared at once, right there! When he left, he didn’t go to the hospital but home. And it’s not magic, it’s just the knowledge that I possess.

     – Share at least one of your secrets with our readers

    - A lot depends on what we eat. I am a vegan, that is I do not eat animal products. Earlier, when Vyacheslav and me invited guests, they were skeptical about a dinner without meat, but eventually we were able to convince them in the opposite. Now, almost 80 percent of our friends, including men, refuse meat and feel great: they lose weight, improve their complexion, become more active both physically and even, believe it, sexually! But they have decided to take this step not because I always advertise my veganism. I just know the secret of how to make any dish delicious. All good cooks at all the restaurants around the world know it. You just have to combine all five flavors in one dish: salty, sweet, sour, bitter and tart. In various proportions, of course, but all the shades are required. Add a little sweet to the soup and a pinch of salt to the dessert. This addition will not be notcied, but your guest will be satisfied. So you can prepare both eggplant and zucchini, as well as any other vegetables. That will be so delicious that you will not need another food, heavy and harmful.

         – You know so much about cooking. Does the kitchen take a special place in your new apartment?

         – In fact, I do not really spend much time at cooking, because my diet consists mainly of lentils, beans and fresh fruits and vegetables. But my husband cooks, and he often does it for me. He is not such a strict supporter of vegan principles, but has not eaten meat for a long time. So the kitchen surely has its place in the new apartment, but it’s not central. Generally, we got this apartment unexpectedly, we can say unplanned. After returning from the States, we were confident that we would live in our country house. But after experiencing Moscow traffic jams we realized that the road home consumed too much time and effort.

          Once I talked with Sasha Ivanov from “Rondo”, who also had a country house, and asked him if he was not tired to travel 100 kilometers every day. He answered that he ​​had discussed this issue with many artists, and they all agreed that the country house is great but there should be also an apartment in Moscow. And then I realized that we just needed an urban housing. Together with our designer, we came up to the conclusion that it should be some headquarters – a place for interviews, meetings with friends and colleagues, business negotiations. And since it would be the headquarters, we decided to make the interior in a classic style of the state rooms where formal receptions at the highest level are held. We have put a huge round table so that a large company could sit and talk about things in the center of the room. We planned a living room with a huge TV and sofas, a kitchen and an isolated vacation spot – our bedroom, which leads to the bathroom. I have always been convinced that it will not do, even in the house receptions, without a bathroom where you can relax. It turned out into a completely different style than the rest of the apartment. Everything there is black and white, no gold and plush. It looks such a contrast to the main décor, and it is quite interesting. We did not contribute any personal traits to the design of the apartment, so that it would be strict and a bit impersonal. However, recently I could not stand it and brought several sacred figures that are dear for me: a real bell from the Tibetan monastery and the figure of Buddha and Ganesh (the god of wisdom and prosperity in Hinduism) will now stay here. So far, only they, but we’ll see. I love changes, I love experimenting with styles in everything: music, clothes, and even in the interior. And who knows what I will want in a year or even in a month.

Interviewer: Maria Adamchuk

 Photo: Andrew Ershtrem