When Ronald Reagan “invited” Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall” in 1987, most people thought that the U.S. President was striking a blow against communism. But what no one knew at the time was that Reagan was a huge fan of EDM. Hey, the guy was an actor!
So the next time you hear Irina’s “Something About You” or “One Last Kiss,” well, you can thank the Gipper. Infusing her explosive, club hopping tracks with exciting synth-pop and rock energy, sultry sex appeal and charismatic star power, the Moscow-born, Los Angeles based artist is quickly becoming a multi-media sensation.
Irina’s breakthrough hit “Something About You” hit the Top 40 on the Billboard Dance/Club Play songs chart while the steamy, inviting video for the tune racked up over a million views on YouTube. The smash and its sizzling follow-up “One Last Kiss,” provide powerful testament of Irina’s extraordinary talents as a vocalist, songwriter and dancer.
The sultry performer spoke with about her amazingly diverse background as she prepared for the release of her eagerly awaited single, “Believe.” Proving that she’s much more than just an incredibly pretty face, Irina Shapiro has college degrees in worldwide economics and psychology — but performing arts have always played a pivotal role in her life.
“In Russia, we have a little bit different way of living. We concentrate more on financial stuff, on economic stuff – everything that can bring you real money and can help you to survive. Our creative stuff right now is 20th century.”
“In my family, my father was the engineer, my mom was an account manager. They were in great positions in life, so they were trying to get me to do the same, achieve my highest level of economics.”
“But my mind has always been creative. I don’t like economics and numbers and counting things. I'm more creative. I'm like a treatment for people. Some of my friends call me ‘happiness’ because I can make people happy. I was not really ready for economics. So I searched for something different where I could be more helpful. I became a psychology therapist. I was treating the people with their problems.”
Yes, you read that right. To support the ultimate pursuit of her musical dreams, Irina launched her career in the field of psychotherapy. Though her work as a therapist partly fulfilled her lifelong desire to “bring happiness to people,” it wasn’t long before Irina chose to travel a different but even more fulfilling road.
“I had a quiet moment and decided I needed to follow my dreams. I needed to start my career. I can heal people with something different then just talking to them. They have to believe in themselves. Music can do this, you know? My words through music can really heal their hearts. You’re putting a lot of effort and a lot of love in this music and you are sharing your own experience through it.”
“You help and it’s not a sacrifice. And you get it back because everything in this life is a circle. You give good, positive energy, it’s gonna get back to you. It’s gonna find you wherever you’re at on the planet. So for me, lifting people up and making them confident is everything I want to do in my life. For me it’s a joy.”
Joy isn’t just idle talk for Irina. It only takes a few minutes with her to realize that she has an innate desire to bring happiness to people. And people pick up on that.
“In my life, I've been through a lot of different situations with my friends and with my relatives, and I see that people are struggling a lot, especially to find themselves. They are really stuck on something that doesn’t matter, which doesn’t give them the faith and the strength and the love they are looking for.”
“I just want to see them happy because we have so much that hurts around us. People really don’t care what they do to each other. Everything you bring to people is just your energy. And if the energy’s positive, you can really make them feel confident.”
“This is what I'm bringing with my music: my perception, my feelings. I'm trying to make people a little bit happier, more open to each other. Because everything we’ve got right now is fights, wars and conflicts. I just want to avoid all of that stuff because it just brings destruction.”
“Music and creativity brings us happiness and success and positive energy. So if you can bring that and make people a little bit happier with your lyrics, with your music, with your art, just do it.”
The Russian-born singer has been bringing joy to others with her art for a lifetime. Her many years of writing poetry translated easily into songwriting and by her mid-20s, when she began writing songs with Russian artists — some of which were played on the radio.
“I was writing lyrics when I was in the first grade and I was a great composer. That gave me a lot of background and strength when I was writing lyrics for the Russian singers in Moscow. And it’s different when you are trying to write in English here.”
“Sometimes you see the lyrics of different artists are very simple and sometimes the lyrics of artists are really intense, really poetic and really filled with literature language. I'm trying to keep my background in Russian poetry composing. But here in America, people really get used to comfort, to things which they can digest (laughing).”
“It’s a different flavor probably. Sometimes people are really in love with it, sometimes people just don’t get it. But most people are interested because it’s a different flavor, it’s a different energy and it’s a different part of the world I'm coming from.”
Based on the response to Irina’s music, Americans must love the exotic taste. “I was really impressed by the reaction on my two singles; ‘Something About You’ and ‘One Last Kiss.’ People really like it and I was not expecting this success in America, because I'm a foreigner.”
“People really like it because they like this Russian flavor. They want to know about this a little bit more. They are interested in how it is for the foreigner here. People are getting used to this way of living here and they want to see something new, so I'm trying to bring in something new.”
“I see the reaction through the magazines, through the interviews, through the radio promotions, Facebook and chatting with people. They really like it. They really want to know me more and this is so exciting for me.”
“I feel really blessed when you feel like people really want to know you. Music can give them something which you have. And this is really amazing. This is blessed doing. This is everything which you can ever hope and dream about.”
The dream can only continue for the steamy entertainer as Irina is working on her next single as well as her anticipated debut album. “Yeah, I'm trying to collect old stuff, what I've done already. My next single is going to be ‘Believe.’ We are trying to find a good re-mixer for the song. It’s about love. It’s about corrections in life. It’s about sick kids who should have hope. It’s about belief. It’s about faith.”
“This single is a strong examination of belief in God, of love, of faith and in helping each other to be more loving, giving and sharing. It was a little bit hard to write about it because each of us had some troubles in our lives that we were trying to explain in the song, trying to achieve the most important goal of belief. It’s lifesaving.”
Okay, so it’s a bit of a stretch to think of electronic dance music as “lifesaving.” But EDM is more popular now than it’s ever been – and Irina provided the reasons why.
“Generations are changing. The energy of the world is just changing. We’re becoming faster. We’re doing more. We’re driving faster, we’re eating faster, we’re eating fast food. We’re not really putting a lot of our attention into something.”
“I don’t know what’s gonna happen and how we’re gonna proceed. But when you hear the songs, they’re completely filling you with energy. You’re drinking the Red Bull and you’re just waking up.”
And so intrepid music fans, the next time you’re reaching for a cheeseburger and an energy drink, just pop in the video of Irina’s “Something About You” – and wake up.
You can watch that video here.