Friday, July 10, 2009

Artist of the week: Regina Spektor! (July 5-11)

***So I've decided to try a weekly column called "Artist of the Week." I'll pick an artist and write a little bit about them, their sound and other various anecdotes about them. I'll also include any websites/twitter's they have and youtube videos. Hopefully, I'll be able to keep this going weekly!
(Pictures from

Regina Spektor was born in Moscow, Russia to a very musical family. Her father, Il'ya Spektor, is a photographer and violinist while her mother, Bella Spektor, was a music professor in a Russian college of music, and now teaches in Mount Vernon, NY at a public elementary school. The family left Russia (then it was called The Soviet Union of course,) in 1989, when Spektor was nine and when Soviet citizens were permitted to leave the country.
As a child, Spektor already became fascinated by piano and started playing around her early childhood. After leaving Moscow, the family settled in the Bronx, where she began to write songs and be exposed to singer-songwriters such as Ani DiFranco and Joni Mitchell. This was when Spektor created her style and found her creativity as a songwriter.
Spektor attended SUNY Purchase College in Westchester County (Represent!) and was enrolled in the Conservatory of Music. She completed her degree in 2001.
After Purchase, Spektor gradually achieved popularity in New York City through performances in the East Village area, most importantly at the Sidewalk Cafe, the Living Room, Tonic, Fez, the Knitting Factory, and CB's Gallery. She also performed at local colleges, including Purchase and Sarah Lawrence College, with other musicians. She sold her self-published albums, 11:11 and Songs, at performances during this time. In 2004, she signed a contract with Warner Brothers' record label Sire Records to publish and distribute her third album Soviet Kitsch, which was Spektor's breakthrough album.
Soviet Kitsch is like if Gogol Bordello was a girl and wrote lyrics like John Mayer. In fact, I think that might describe Spektor as a whole, perfectly. Key tracks on Soviet Kitsch include "Us," "Ode to Divorce," and "Carbon Monoxide." When asked about her music style, Spektor has said that she works hard to ensure that each of her songs has their own musical style, rather than trying to develop a distinctive style for her music as a whole.

On June 13, 2006, Spektor released her second and best album on Sire called Begin to Hope. The album was certified Gold, the single "Fidelity" became Spektor's first Billboard 100 entry and is her most successful track to date. Key tracks for this album include "Fidelity," "Better," "Samson," "On The Radio" and "Hotel Song." (Can you tell I really like this album?) Begin to Hope also received strong critical acclaim and made Spektor a more popular singer-songwriter to the public.
Just recently, on June 23, 2009, she released Far, her third album with Sire. The album has already peaked at number 3 on the Billboard music charts and is just as creative and quirky as Begin to Hope and Soviet Kitsch. Key tracks include "Folding Chair," "Machine," "Dance Anthem of the 80's" and "The Calculation" (featured on The Preston Beat's playlist!)
Spektor's lyrics are sometimes inspired by the literary works of F.Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemmingway and William Shakespeare. Spektor is also known for sometimes deliberately using a strong New York accent in some of her songs, which is due to her love for New York and its culture. In Spektor's early albums such as Soviet Kitsch, many of her tracks are a lot less experimental. However, Spektor's more recent albums, particularly Begin to Hope, have incorporated more emphasis on song production and are more experimental, with instruments as well as with vocals.

Video for "Fidelity"

Video for "Laughing With" (from Far)

Video for "Us" - Regina Spektor official website

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