Hidden in Apogee’s small, yet spacious private recording studio in Santa Monica, California,KCRW held an intimate, invitation-only performance and recording of Regina Spektor following her sold out show at the Greek Theater the evening before. In a live interview with KCRW DJ Annie Litt, the gorgeous, Russian immigrant spoke of underground music sharing in communism, the pros and woes of the Internet, and how it feels to be so loved by her fans.
The petite and at first, painfully shy singer and songwriter entered the stage giving no indication of the power that would soon come from behind that grand piano. The classically trained pianist brought to life songs like, “Ballad of a Politician, How, “Party, “and her new single, “Ne Me Quitte Pas” with the reoccurring contradictions of joy and despair. Lyrics like “You’re like a big parade through town. You leave such a mess, but you’re so fun,” show her ability to beautifully disguise a sad song with such negation. Adding mouth-made trumpet noises and fist pumps to the air gave her regal climaxes even more meaning, and her humble nature gave us even more reason to applause. Haunting melodies glued to seemingly trivial lyrics like “Shake it, shake it baby. Shake your ass out on that street” confuse the senses. It is typical Spektor, finding the the light in the dark, as much as she draws the dark out of the light.
Perhaps her two-sided music is representative of her upbringing and life under the Soviet regime. There was good to be seen in the difficult. Spektor recalled her early influences–infamous Soviet folk singers (aka Bards) who undermined bans against live performances. These forbidden shows would take place at a home, get recorded on to a cassette, and copied. Tape-by-forbidden tape, the music of a generation was shared from home to home all around Russia. Spektor smiled at the remembrance of such a beautiful rebellion against the Soviet’s vision for music, and the power left in the hands of the people to share a censored art form amongst each other. She now thanks the Internet for being able to share her own music with fans, quickly and freely. And, of course, public radio like KCRW.