Regina’s new album ‘What We Saw from the Cheap Seats‘ is available now:
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About Regina: “Regina Ilyinichna Spektor (Russian: Реги́нa Ильи́нична Спе́ктор, IPA: [rʲɪˈɡʲinə ˈspʲɛktər], English: /rɨˈdʒiːnə ˈspɛktər/; born February 18, 1980) is an American singer-songwriter and pianist. Her music is associated with the anti-folk scene centered in New York City‘s East Village.
Spektor was born in Moscow, Soviet Union in 1980 to a musical Russian Jewish family. Her father, Ilya Spektor, is a photographer and amateurviolinist. Her mother, Bella Spektor, was a music professor in a Soviet college of music and now teaches at a public elementary school inMount Vernon, New York. She has a brother Barry (Bear), who was featured in track 7, “* * *”, or “Whisper”, of her 2004 album, Soviet Kitsch.
She learned how to play piano by practicing on a Petrof upright that was given to her mother by her grandfather.
She was also exposed to the music of rock and roll bands such as The Beatles, Queen, and The Moody Blues by her father, who obtained such recordings in Eastern Europe and traded cassettes with friends in the Soviet Union. The family left the 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 USSR, but they finally decided to emigrate, due to the ethnic and political discrimination that Jews faced. Spektor is fluent in Russian and reads Hebrew, and has since paid tribute to her Russian heritage, quoting the poem February by the Russian poet Boris Pasternak in her song Après Moi, and stating “I’m very connected to the language and the culture.”
Traveling first to Austria and then Italy, the family was admitted to the United States as refugees with the assistance of HIAS (the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society) and settled in The Bronx, where Spektor graduated from the SAR Academy, a Jewish day middle school in theRiverdale section of the Bronx. She then 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.
In New York, 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 her husband, violinist Samuel Marder. Although the family had been unable to bring their piano from Russia, Spektor found a piano on which to play in the basement of her synagogue, and also practiced on tabletops and other hard surfaces.
Spektor was originally interested only in classical music, but later became interested in hip hop, rock and punk as well. Although she had always made up songs around the house, Spektor 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 and realized she had an aptitude for songwriting.
Following this trip, she was exposed to the work 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, ( a suburb ofLondon) for one semester.
She gradually achieved recognition through performances in the anti-folk scene in downtown New York City, often as a duo with drummer Anders Griffen, and most importantly at the East Village’s Sidewalk Cafe, but also at the Living Room, Tonic, Fez, the Knitting Factory, and CB‘s Gallery. 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). In 2004, she signed a contract with Warner Brothers‘ record label Sire Records to publish and distribute her third album Soviet Kitsch, originally self-released in 2003.
Spektor is married to Jack Dishel, guitarist with the band The Moldy Peaches.”