The Info List - Regina Spektor

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REGINA ILYINICHNA SPEKTOR (/rɪˈdʒiːnə ˈspɛktər/ , Russian : Реги́нa Ильи́нична Спе́ктор, IPA: ; born February 18, 1980) is a Russian-born American singer-songwriter and pianist. She was born in Moscow
(former Soviet Union
Soviet Union
, now Russia
), and began classical training on the piano at the age of six. When she was nine years old, her family emigrated from the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
to the United States , where she continued her classical training into her teenage years; she began to write original songs shortly thereafter.

After self-releasing her first three records and gaining popularity in New York City's independent music scenes , particularly the anti-folk scene centered on New York City's East Village , Spektor signed with Sire Records in 2004 and began achieving greater mainstream recognition. After giving her third album a major label re-release, Sire released her fourth album, Begin to Hope
Begin to Hope
, which would go on to achieve a Gold certification by the RIAA . Her following two albums, Far and What We Saw from the Cheap Seats , each debuted at number 3 on the Billboard 200
Billboard 200


* 1 Early life and musical beginnings

* 2 Career

* 2.1 2001–06: Career beginnings * 2.2 2006–09: Begin to Hope
Begin to Hope
* 2.3 2009–12: Far * 2.4 2012–16: What We Saw from the Cheap Seats * 2.5 2016–present: Remember Us to Life

* 3 Voice and style * 4 Appearances in the media * 5 Personal life * 6 Philanthropy * 7 Discography * 8 Awards and nominations * 9 References * 10 External links


Spektor was born in 1980 in Moscow, Soviet Union
Soviet Union
, to a musical Russian Jewish family. Her father, Ilya Spektor, is a photographer and amateur violinist. Her mother, Bella Spektor, was a music professor in a Soviet college of music and teaches at a public elementary school in Mount Vernon, New York . She has a brother Boruch (also known as Bear), who was featured in track 7, "* * *", or "Whisper", of her 2004 album, Soviet Kitsch . Growing up in Moscow, Regina learned how to play the piano by practising on a Petrof upright that her grandfather gave her mother. She grew up listening to classical music and famous Russian bards like Vladimir Vysotsky
Vladimir Vysotsky
and Bulat Okudzhava
Bulat Okudzhava
. Her father, who obtained recordings in Eastern Europe and traded cassettes with friends in the Soviet Union, also exposed her to rock and roll bands such as the Beatles , Queen , and the Moody Blues

The family left the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
in 1989, when Regina was nine and a half, during the period of Perestroika , when Soviet citizens were permitted to emigrate. Regina had to leave her piano behind. The seriousness of her piano studies led her parents to consider not leaving the Soviet Union, but they finally decided to emigrate, due to the racial, ethnic, and political discrimination that Jews faced. Traveling first to Austria and then Italy, the Spektor family was admitted to the United States as refugees with the assistance of HIAS (the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society). They settled in the Bronx , where Spektor graduated from the SAR Academy , a Jewish day middle school in the Riverdale section of the Bronx. Since the family had been unable to bring their piano from Moscow, Spektor practiced on tabletops and other hard surfaces until she found a piano on which to play in the basement of her synagogue. In New York City, Spektor studied classical piano with Sonia Vargas, a professor at the Manhattan School of Music , until she was 17; Spektor's father had met Vargas through Vargas' husband, violinist Samuel Marder. Spektor attended high school for two years at the Frisch School , a yeshiva in Paramus, New Jersey , but transferred to a public school, Fair Lawn High School , in Fair Lawn, New Jersey , where she finished the last two years of her high school education.

Spektor was originally interested in classical music only, but later became interested in hip hop , rock, and punk as well. Although she had always made up songs around the house, she first became interested in more formal songwriting during a visit to Israel with the Nesiya Institute in her teenage years when she attracted attention from the other children on the trip for the songs she made up while hiking.

Following this trip, she was exposed to the works of Joni Mitchell , Ani DiFranco , and other singer-songwriters, which encouraged her belief that she could create her own songs. She wrote her first a cappella songs around the age of 16 and her first songs for voice and piano when she was nearly 18.

Spektor completed the four-year studio composition program of the Conservatory of Music at Purchase College within three years, graduating with honors in 2001. Around this time, she also worked briefly at a butterfly farm in Luck, Wisconsin , and studied in Tottenham (in North London) for one term.



Spektor gradually achieved recognition through performances in the anti-folk scene in downtown New York City, most prominently at the East Village's SideWalk Cafe . She also performed at local colleges (such as Sarah Lawrence College ) with other musicians, including the Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players . She sold self-published CDs at her performances during this period: 11:11 (2001) and Songs (2002). Spektor's first nationwide tour was accompanying The Strokes
The Strokes
as the opening act on their 2003–2004 Room on Fire tour which included performances at The Theater at Madison Square Garden . While on the tour, she and the band performed and recorded "Modern Girls "> Spektor performing in Brighton
on October 26, 2006

Listeners of Sirius Radio 's Left of Center channel voted her single "Fidelity" as the No. 1 song of 2006. Towards the end of 2006, VH1 showcased her as part of their "You Oughta Know: Artists on the Rise" featurettes, playing clips from the "Fidelity" music video and showing parts of an interview with Spektor during commercial breaks on the channel. Spektor's video for "Fidelity" reached No. 3 on VH1's Top 20 Countdown. Spektor reached No. 33 on Blender magazine's top 100 of 2006 and was also listed as one of the "Hottest Women of...Rock!". On January 21, 2007, she was given an extensive feature on CBS News Sunday Morning which showcased her musical beginnings and growing popularity.

In 2007, Spektor began performing at several major music festivals including Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival , Bonnaroo Music Festival , Lollapalooza , Virgin Festival and Austin City Limits Music Festival . On October 1, 2007, her video for "Better" was released on VH1 and YouTube, where it was viewed more than 100,000 times within the first 24 hours. Spektor performed acoustic at Neil Young\'s Bridge School Benefit at Shoreline Amphitheatre on October 27, 2007.

On November 14, 2007, at her concert at Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Spektor collapsed during the sound check and was taken to a local emergency room. According to the statement given to the audience, Spektor was fine, but doctors said that she could not perform that night. It was later reported that the cause of the collapse was an inner ear infection which caused intense vertigo . The show was initially rescheduled for December 6, 2007, but the date was once again rescheduled, and the concert finally occurred on February 29, 2008. After her initial collapse in Nashville, she was able to perform in concerts at Mountain Stage , in West Virginia, on November 18, 2007 (the concert was aired in September 2008), and at Duke University on November 19, 2007.

Spektor wrote the song "The Call" for the 2008 film The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian , which appeared prominently in the film's finale sequence. She then appeared as a guest vocalist on "You Don\'t Know Me ", a single from Ben Folds\' 2008 album, " Way to Normal ". In promotion for the single, the duo performed the song together on several late-night talk shows .

2009–12: FAR

Spektor's fifth album Far was released June 23, 2009. For the record she worked with four producers: David Kahne (who had previously worked with Spektor on Begin to Hope), Mike Elizondo , Jacknife Lee and Jeff Lynne . The record sold 50,000 copies in its first week, entering the US Billboard 200
Billboard 200
at number three; the record remained on the chart for 19 weeks. The album peaked at number 30 and 16 in the UK and Canada, respectively. She then headlined at Serpentine Sessions, a series of concerts at London's Hyde Park on June 29, 2009. Other European performances in 2009 include Glastonbury Festival , Hultsfred Festival , Oxegen 2009
Oxegen 2009
, T in the Park , Paradiso , Latitude Festival , and Rock Werchter . Spektor invited Brooklyn-based rock band Jupiter One to open concerts on her 2009 North American tour. As a part of that tour, on October 14, 2009, Spektor headlined a concert at the Radio City Music Hall in NYC. On September 16, 2009, it was announced that Spektor would write the music for the musical Beauty, a modern adaptation of the fairy tale Sleeping Beauty , which was initially set to open during the 2011–12 Broadway season. Regina made her Saturday Night Live debut on October 10, 2009, performing " Eet " and "The Calculation" off of Far.

In May 2010, Spektor performed for President Obama and his wife Michelle along with hundreds of other guests at the White House reception in honor of Jewish Heritage Month . She performed "Us" and "The Sword Spektor had not yet returned since fleeing with her family in 1989.

In 2012, Spektor was christened an official "Steinway Artist"; she plays Steinway she sings a remix of " Dear Theodosia " with Ben Folds .


Spektor in concert, February 2006

Spektor's primary instrument is the piano though she plays the guitar as a secondary instrument, primarily playing on a seafoam Epiphone Wildkat archtop hollow-body electric guitar for live performances. Spektor has said that she has created a great number of songs but rarely writes any of them down. Spektor's songs are not usually autobiographical but are based on scenarios and characters drawn from her imagination. Her songs show influences from folk , punk , rock, Jewish , Russian , hip hop , jazz , and classical music. Spektor has said that she works hard to ensure that each of her songs has its own musical style, rather than trying to develop a distinctive style for her music as a whole:

"It doesn't feel natural for me to write some diary type song. I want to write a classic like Yesterday but weird songs about meatballs in refrigerators come into my head – I can't help it."

Spektor performs using a broad vocal range , with a falsetto extension, but without any apparent break. She explores a variety of different and somewhat unorthodox vocal techniques, such as verses composed entirely of buzzing noises made with the lips and beatbox -style flourishes in the middle of ballads, and also makes use of such unusual musical techniques as using a drum stick to tap rhythms on the body of a chair. Part of her style also results from the exaggeration of certain aspects of vocalization, most notably the glottal stop , prominent in the single "Fidelity ". She also uses a strong New York accent on some words, which she has said is due to her love of New York and its culture.

Her lyrics are equally eclectic, often taking the form of abstract narratives or first-person character studies, similar to short stories or vignettes put to song. Spektor usually sings in English, though she sometimes includes a few words or verses of Latin , Russian, French, and other languages in her songs. She also plays with pronunciations, which she said on a NPR interview to be a remnant of her early years when she listened to pop in English without understanding the lyrics. Some of Spektor's lyrics include literary allusions, such as: F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway in "Poor Little Rich Boy"; The Little Prince in "Baobabs"; Virginia Woolf and Margaret Atwood in "Paris"; Ezra Pound and William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
in "Pound of Flesh", Boris Pasternak in "Après Moi"; Samson
and Delilah in "Samson"; Oedipus Rex
Oedipus Rex
in "Oedipus"; Edith Wharton's Ethan Frome in "2.99¢ Blues". Recurring themes and topics in Spektor's lyrics include love, death, religion (particularly Biblical and Jewish references), city life (particularly New York references), and certain key phrases which recur in different songs, such as references to gravediggers , the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil
Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil
and the name "Mary Ann". Spektor's use of satire is evident in "Wasteside", which refers to The Twelve Chairs , the classic satirical novel by the Soviet authors Ilf and Petrov , and describes the town in which people are born, get their hair cut, and then are sent to the cemetery.

Spektor's first, self-released album, 11:11 , was recorded and self-released while she was still in college. The album differs from Spektor's later releases as she was heavily influenced by blues and jazz at the time of its recording. Her second album, Songs , was recorded on Christmas Day, 2001. Each song was recorded with just one take and is entirely acoustic. The session from which the album was derived was not originally intended as an album recording session. Her third album, Soviet Kitsch , featured strings on several songs and was her first to feature a full rock band. Upon signing with a major label which in turn provided a bigger budget for production and studio time, Spektor's albums began to put more emphasis into song production and feature more prominent use of traditional pop and rock instruments.

Spektor says the records that most impact her are those of "bands whose music is really involved", specifically naming the Beatles , Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan
, Billie Holiday , Radiohead
, Tom Waits , and Frédéric Chopin as primary influences.


Spektor performing at the Hammerstein Ballroom on October 16, 2007 Spektor performing in the West London Synagogue , February 2007

Since 2005, Spektor's music has been used in various television programs and commercials. In late 2005, "Us" (from Soviet Kitsch) was used in a commercial as part of the What Do You Want To Watch? series for the United Kingdom's British Sky Broadcasting
British Sky Broadcasting
, and in the summer of 2006, a clip from the same song was used for the teaser website for Microsoft
's Zune project at ComingZune.com, as well as for a promotional campaign for MtvU
, and by Dutch telecom company KPN in a commercial.

"Somedays" was used in a 2005 episode of CSI: NY and "Samson" was used in a 2006 episode of the same series. "On the Radio " was used in an episode of ABC's Grey\'s Anatomy . "Field Below" was used in a 2006 episode (titled "The Last Word") of CBS's Criminal Minds , and "Music Box" has been used in a commercial for JC Penney.

"Fidelity" has been used in an episode of Grey's Anatomy (titled "Six Days, Part 2"), on Veronica Mars (" Wichita Linebacker "), on Brothers & Sisters , in the trailer for the 2007 film 27 Dresses, in the Brazilian telenovela A Favorita , and during the end credits of Love -webkit-column-width: 30em; column-width: 30em; list-style-type: decimal;">

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