Just as the mythic Phoenix rising out of ashes symbolizes the rebirth of a soul, it is not a coincidental symbolic theme that signifies the state in which Irene Nelson currently finds herself. This exotic Siberian songbird has risen from a successful career as the lead singer of Reflex, Russia’s biggest chart and sales topping act, to begin life as a solo artist in a new land. Already receiving rave reviews from early believers, Nelson’s debut single and video, “Sunrise” (NTMG/Bungalo/Universal) is winning hearts stateside via thousands of hits on her myspace.com and You Tube sites.
Recorded at George Martin’s legendary Air Studios in London, and produced by Steve Orchard (U2, Coldplay, Peter Gabriel, Dido) and Russian music producer Vlad Tyurin (Reflex), “Sunrise” is as aurally stunning as the video is visually striking. The song metaphorically tells the story of a love affair that survives the everyday challenges of love lost and won: “…they set fire to our wings as we rise from the ashes and flames.” Nelson’s lyrics are reminiscent of great songwriters of the past; marrying the story-telling skills of Carole King and Diane Warren, and the emotion and passion of her favorite artists, Yann Destal, U2, the Beatles and Sting.
The mention of Siberia conjures a vision of a vast frozen tundra, and home of the legendary Trans Siberian Railroad. But for Irene Nelson, her homeland is a lushly forested place of warmth, culture and beauty…where a respect for nature and its animals are taught at a young age: “On my Grandmother’s farm we were taught subtle senses and delicate treatment of nature and to love and give care to animals,” Irene explains. “I don't eat meat of birds and animals and I'm still thinking that the ancient people were right when they asked for forgivness before killing an animal for their needs.” This gentleness, love and respect of nature and all living things has become a recurrent theme in Irene’s music.
The theme of trial by fire, rebirth and redemption has been constant in Nelson’s life: born in a poor village in Siberia, the difficulty of being deprived of much during her childhood has implanted resilience deep in Nelson’s psyche. Upon completing high school, Nelson was forbidden to take the next step: “I wanted to pursue a musical education, and had to quietly escape away from my parents to the capital of Siberia: Novosibirsk. I didn’t know any one when I arrived, and I had no money, so I would go door-to-door seeking shelter,” Nelson explains. “I was accepted to one of the universities to study piano composition and theory, but I was too poor to afford to rent a piano, so I drew a keyboard on paper, and would unroll my piano and practice daily.” Joining a jazz/big band after finishing school, Nelson spent the next few years touring Europe, participating in festivals and winning various awards.
Nelson continued touring with her jazz band until she met songwriter/producer Vlad Tyurin. A legend among Russia’s musical elite, Tyurin has made his mark as one of the most outstanding and distinguished composers and sound-producers in Russia. Creator and producer of one of Europe’s hottest and biggest-selling pop acts, Reflex, Tyurin has written many songs for other artists and worked closely with the Reflexmusic record label which released Paul Van Dyk, the Reflex albums and The Bhangra Knights project. In 2007, he produced for one of the most successful groups in Germany, System in Blue. Tyurin, who has worked with multi-talented musicians as the German hit-maker DJ Bobo, System in Blue, Secret Service, DJ Freza, DJ Voodoo, and Britian’s The Bhangra Knights, invited Nelson to collaborate with him on a dance project, and Reflex was born. The band released 8 albums and successfully toured Europe, the U.S. and Asia.
For 4 years Reflex became the most outstanding dance project on the Russian pop-stage and winning an amazing amount of musical awards, including 3 Russian Grammy Awards: In 2006, Reflex was awarded the giant Swarovski Crystal for Russia’s Most Fashionable Artist on Fashion TV, 2004 Dvizhenie for best video (The Movement premium) "Non Stop," 2002 Golden Gramophone (Russian Grammy premium Song of the Year) for “I Lose My Mind,” 2002 Pesnya goda (Song of the Year Premium) for “For the First Time” (Song of the Year/Debut of the Year); 2001 Ovation Premium for Best Composer (“I Lose My Mind”) and 2000 Muzikalny Podium (Music Podium Premium) award for the most fashionable achievements made in music to name just a few.
In 2007 Nelson and Reflex were at the pinnacle of their success. Not only was Nelson named “FHM Magazine’s Top 100 Sexiest Women on the Planet,” but Reflex would go on to win their 3rd Golden Gramophone for a recurring hit: “Dances.” It was during the acceptance speech that Nelson stunned the worldwide audience by announcing her departure from the group. Nelson elaborates: “I had been feeling unfulfilled, I needed to grow and to evolve, and I knew that the only way I could do so would be to leave. I went to a lovely mountain retreat in the United Arab Emirates. I lived completely alone for 2 months, completely cut off from the world with no electricity or running water. I practiced meditation and lived in total quiet. When I returned from my retreat, I was better equipped with a new form of self-expression that I like to call romantic rock.”
“Sunrise,” the accompanying video was filmed in a 50-room 14th Century castle in Sweden and on Iceland’s black-sand volcanic beaches boasts one of the most scenic and jaw-dropping panorama shots and awe-inspiring special effects. Working with director Niclas Fronda (Bjork, Rasmus) was a creative coup for Nelson. With shots of Iceland’s visually stunning vistas, thrill-ride helicopter shots accompanying Nelson’s sweet, lyrical voice, “Sunrise will quickly become one of the most viewed videos in 2009.
Summer 2009 will find Nelson touring the U.S. with her new band in support of her yet-to-be-titled debut album.
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