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This live webcast is a production of NPR Music's All Songs Considered and the 9:30 Club.
Regina Spektor makes quirky, artfully orchestrated music with hip-hop rhythms, inspired pop melodies and the passion of punk rock. On tour for her latest CD, Begin to Hope, Spektor visited the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C. for a night of music, originally webcast live on NPR.org Oct. 3.
Now in her mid-20s, Spektor is a Russian Jew who fled the anti-Semitism of the Soviet Union with her parents and immigrated to the Bronx when she was nine. Spektor studied classical piano at the SUNY Purchase Music Conservatory, where she was also exposed to jazz and blues.
By the time she was 20, Spektor was playing small clubs in and around New York. At the shows, she'd sell copies of her homemade CDs 11:11 and Songs. In 2004 she released Soviet Kitsch, drawing comparisons to Tori Amos, Fiona Apple and Cat Power. The album was later featured on NPR's Open Mic where Spektor was showcased as a great, unknown artist. Soviet Kitsch was later picked up and re-released by Sire Records.
Spektor's latest CD, Begin to Hope is her most fully-realized and sonically adventurous collection of songs to date. "Before I even started I knew I was going to experiment with things I've only thought about, like beats and drums," says Spektor. "I really wanted to play with electronic instruments and bigger arrangements. Still, on this record, there are some songs where it's really sparse. You don't want to arrange just for the sake of arranging. I had to be careful so the music wouldn't be more fun to make than to listen to."
Though fans and reviewers have praised Spektor for her intimate and personal songwriting, she says most of her work is purely fictional. "They're not about me," says Spektor. "I think songwriters are more related to fiction writers. There is so much fun and there's so much privilege in being able to create stories in song.
"The Odyssey was a story in song. To me that's so beautiful, all those painted characters, all those travels and adventures. Why does a songwriter have to sing in their own voice? It's almost like putting this ball and chain around your foot. Being sentenced to being yourself. Who in the hell wants to be themselves all the time? It's so boring."
Spektor's full performance from Washington, D.C. will be webcast in its entirety on NPR.org with All Songs Considered host Bob Boilen. The concert will be archived later on the NPR Web site for anyone who misses the live show.