In case you haven't heard of Regina Spektor yet—and we say yet
because she's a star on the rise and we think that if you haven't already heard of her, you soon will—we're going to give you just a bit of background. She's a Russian-born American Jew whose family immigrated to New York City when she was nine, during the period of Perestroika to escape persecution from the Soviets. She trained classically in the piano, extensively studied the Jewish Scriptures, listened to all kinds of music from the Beatles to Radiohead, and is very well-read in literature and poetry, so her songs are always rich in meaning and allusions. She has said
in many interviews that the songs she writes aren't autobiographical, but rather tell the stories and lives of others, since she believes that theirs are more interesting than her own: "I think that it's more exciting to use my imagination or explore other people's lives rather than sit there and write about my own rather limited life," she said. "It's much more gratifying to me."
In an unintentionally hilarious YouTube interview (the woman who interviews her just might be on drugs and tries without much success to imitate Regina's distinctive speaking style) Spektor says, "I work a lot, I read a lot, take in a lot of art, work some more, then I come home and stay up all kinds of late hours and write songs." She refuses to say that any of her albums have a "point" or a common theme, calling them a "bunch of randomness." She was discovered by a guy who heard her playing around New York and told his producer friend "there's this girl who bangs on a chair with a stick and plays the piano with her left hand" and the rest is history (or her
When asked what advice she would give to people who want to "break into the music biz," Regina laughs and says, "don't write songs if all you want to do is be successful… the industry rises and falls like empires." She compares her song-writing process to an earthworm pooping out dirt as it goes along. Her completed songs, to her, are the "by-product" of her existence; "baby Frankensteins" that, once they're written, need to be shared with other people because music is meant to be heard.
Regina Spektor is the type of woman who can pull off the sweet-as-sugar disposition without ever seeming ditzy. Her singing and speaking voice is breathy, lilting, and soft, but when you actually listen to what she's saying, you can see that her words and thoughts spring from a tirelessly introspective and intelligent artistic soul. She's not well known on the airwaves just yet but her fan base is huge and intensely loyal. She's charming, funny, quirky, and endearing in interviews and in concert, and manages to make every performance feel intimate and personal, no matter how large the venue. She may not be a household name yet, but we at Shmoop think you'll be hearing a lot more of Regina soon.