The story of Regina Spektor’s rise to pop stardom is something that you might find as the plot to a Disney movie. The quirky piano-pop queen was born and raised in Moscow, learning about Western rock and pop music from her father’s bootleg cassette tapes, while becoming quite adept at playing the piano. At the age of nine, Spektor’s family emigrated to the United States, during Russia’s period of Perestroika, landing in the Bronx. Without access to a piano of their own right away, Spektor practiced anywhere she could, which included playing a piano in the basement of her synagogue, while other times meant just pretending on play on tabletops, until her family could get one of their own.
Fast forward several years later. After discovering a knack for songwriting on a trip to Israel, Spektor became a fixture of the Lower East Side’s anti-folk scene (which included acts like The Moldy Peaches) in the early part of the aughts, where she was introduced to Gordon Raphael, who produced The Strokes first two albums.
It was through Raphael, who produced Spektor’s third studio album Soviet Kitsch, that Spetkor wound up on her first nationwide tour as the opening act for The Strokes, for their Room On Fire tour, which also included the Kings Of Leon as the middle act on the bill. It was also during this tour that Spektor recorded Modern Girls & Old Fashion Men, the B-side to The Strokes’ track Reptilia, and was invited nightly during the tour to play it with them, introducing the then virtually unknown singer-songwriter to a wider audience.
That’s probably where the movie version of Spektor’s story would end, as the camera pulled out to reveal Regina headlining her own concert at a large venue and a title card listing her accolades and accomplishments, which include two Gold records, with her last studio album Far pearking at number three on the Billboard charts. On May 29, Spektor will release her latest studio effort What We Saw From The Cheap Seats via Sire Records, and last week dropped the music video for the record’s first single All The Rowboats. Let’s check it out…
Another sign that Spektor has come a long way from practicing in the basement of a synagogue? Regina has been tapped to open a string of gigs for Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers this spring, and has also announced a handful of headlining shows of her own, which includes a hometown gig at the United Palace on May 15.