What direction were you given from the show’s producers before writing “You’ve Got Time”?
Regina Spektor: There wasn’t anything given to me. Jenji [Kohan, the show’s creator] is really cool and she knows my music. She understands that I’m not a “this is the direction that we want” kind of a writer. While they were still casting the show, we had a great meeting in person in New York and she told me what the show was about and her feelings about it and some of the stories from the episode, almost the way you would tell your friend what happened in the show. She said, “It would be great if you could write an opening song for it,” and that was about it. I said, “This sounds really amazing, I’ll try.”
I had some ideas and then, as they would get certain episodes done, she would give me a password so I could go and watch it in a little bit of a raw, unmixed state. All the episodes were there and they were edited. Then I wrote the song. I went ahead and produced it with Rob Cavallo and just made it heavy — what seemed right to me for the show.
After we did that, it sounded really great to us, so we thought it was great for the show. But I was very much prepared that Jenji would hear it and say “This is not was I was thinking.” Me and my husband drove to her house in L.A., and she’s such a great person, she’s got such a great family, and we had a lot of fun there. Then the moment came where we took out the rough mix and listened to it with headphones and sort of held our breath, like, “Is she going to like it?” And then she said, “This is fucking awesome, I love it! It’s going to fit really well!” And that’s how it got on to the show. It really could have gone any way. It really gets to me… I’ve only watched a few episodes, but the more I watch, the more it fits the show.
How did Jenji originally explain the show to you?
RS: She told me about the premise, she told me about Piper, she told me about the book. She told me what happened to her. She told me some of the story that happened. I don’t want to give anything away for people who are watching, but she told me the chicken story. She told me little stories of what they’re going through so I could get the feeling of what kind of environment they’re in, what they’re dealing with.
Was that your main inspiration for writing the song?
RS: It was mostly just that and thinking about the idea of what it must be like to be in prison and the different states of mind. One of the things she told me when we had lunch that first time was that it might be really cool to use ideas that obviously come to your mind if you’re thinking of somebody in prison. It wasn’t anything super duper out of the ordinary.
Have you watched all of the show?
RS: I’m up to episode nine. I watched up to episode seven, but in the rougher states. I was waiting for my husband to catch up so we could watch it together. We watched episode eight like two days before going on tour and we watched episode nine in the airport. And then we were like, “Oh shit, we don’t have Netflix in Europe,” so we’re stuck at episode nine. We’re gonna have to finish it when we come back in September! Now I have to be really careful whenever I’m being asked about it. I have to say, “Don’t tell me anything!”
What do you think will happen — if you had to guess — at the end of the season?
RS: I don’t know! The thing is that I’m actually really excited. Even before the show came out, they already got picked up for a second season. That never happens — it’s super rare. I think that it’s sweet and funny and touching. One of my pet peeves with television is that people look boring and are the same. I don’t watch much TV, but sometimes you’ll walk into a place and the mom looks like the daughter looks like the neighbor. There’s a type. It’s nice to have a show where people look interesting and diverse and cool. Female characters that don’t just all look like they’re working out models in L.A.!
What have you been doing to kill time between shows on tour? If not watching Netflix…
RS: On American tours, there’s satellite TV and everyone is watching movies, but on the British tour there’s not really any working media. There’s no Wi-Fi, it’s kind of a little bit ancient. We’ve just been hanging out, it’s really cool. The band and the crew just kind of hangs out on the bus and has snacks and drinks. Old-school socializing! It’s really fun.
Is your husband with you?
RS: Yeah. We perform a song together that we wrote together and he has his own band and he opens the show with his band Only Son. It’s really fun. We get to run around Europe and hang out and keep our minds off the ending of the show.
What else are you up to right now? Are you writing new music?
RS: Right now I’m doing road things. I’m really excited to play these shows and we’re going to a lot of new places that I’ve never played before. I’ve never played in Prague; I’ve never played in Budapest. It’s really exciting! Oh and then I think we’re gonna go back and I’m definitely going to write more music. It’s hard to tell. When you’re on the tour bus all you can really think about is the next show.
Pitchfork: One of the Jeff Lynne-produced songs is called “The Wallet” and it’s about finding someone else’s wallet, then finding a Blockbuster card in the wallet, and then returning the wallet back to a Blockbuster. It’s great. But, listening to it, I couldn’t help but think: “Who goes to Blockbuster anymore?”
RS: That’s funny because I wrote that song a bunch of years ago and I remember playing it on tour and thinking, “Do they even know what Blockbuster is in other countries?” Now I might need to change it to Netflix. [laughs]
It’s like one of those songs that you listen to from the 20s and ask, “What’s a kaputnik?” It’s this thing that was obviously very important because they’re singing about it, but it just doesn’t exist anymore. That’s why Bach and Mozart had it right by not putting in any words and making timeless instrumental music. In 300 years, when our great-great-great-grandchildren are checking out music by putting their finger into entertainment sockets, they’re not going to know what “Blockbuster” or “Netflix” or “Juicy Fruit” are. They’ll be like, “What’s fruit?” They’ll probably be living in a cement pod and eating food through intravenous tubes. They’re not going to know any of this shit.
Regina Spektor Interview for Youtube Presents
Regina Spektor interview with Evgeniy Dodolev, summer 2012, during her first visit to Russia since she left at 8 years of age. Translated!
To wit: I have interviewed Spektor three times. On the first occasion, she was profoundly late (so much so that she could’ve actually been considered early). The second, she was profoundly late and her handlers could not get in touch with her because, as it turned out, she had walked into a telephone pole. The third time was Tuesday, and once again she was late, and once again her handlers could not get a hold of her, though this time it wasn’t because she had injured herself — it was because she had fallen asleep and missed her alarm.
I am not including this information to point out how “quirky” or “childlike” or “naïve” Spektor is — because, really, those seem to be the only three adjectives music journos use to describe her these days — but rather, to prove a point: Spektor’s new album, Far, hit stores on Tuesday. It is the follow-up to her breakout Begin to Hope, which, if you’ve watched a TV drama aimed at the 25-54 demo, you’ve probably heard sprinkles of by now (Spektor, it should be noted, does not own a television set). And this makes Far a really big deal, not just for her, but her label, Sire Records.
And knowing all that, she overslept anyway.
"This is the one thing I would love to change about myself," she laughs. "Sometimes I have days when I’m really good at being on time, and then I fall off the wagon. All it takes is one time … but sometimes I also think I feel too proud of myself when I am on time, like it’s an occasion. So I should probably work on that too."
But she probably won’t, because time is a very funny thing for Spektor, and not just when it comes to scheduling. Far is the follow-up to Hope in sequence (and expectation) only — the songs on it date from as far back as 2001 or as recent as five months ago. She didn’t write, say, “Dance Anthem of the ’80s” or first single “Laughing With” specifically for the album — she just had them lying around and figured now was as good a time as any to release them onto the world. She decided to work with four producers — Mike Elizondo, Jacknife Lee, David Kahn and Jeff freakin’ Lynne — not because of their decade-spanning résumés, but rather “because they all seemed like humble, cool people.” These are not how hit follow-up records are made — not these days, and really, not ever.
Which is good, because the jury’s still out on whether Far will continue Spektor’s hot streak. Early reviews have been mixed — most seem to find fault in the quirk (the dolphin noises she makes on “Folding Chair,” the Germanic accent she adopts on “Machine”), while others miss the rough edges she bent her voice around on 2004’s Soviet Kitsch. These are all actually fairly accurate criticisms … I’ve listened to Far three times now, and I find myself noticing the same things; though, to be fair, I’m firmly entrenched in the Kitsch camp, as opposed to the glossier territory she explored on Begin to Hope. Then again, Spektor probably doesn’t care about this at all. Actually, I know she doesn’t, because she told me.
"I think people who really care about something they really like — it’s natural to only want more of that. Forget about music, people feel that way about shoes. They go back to the store where they bought a pair of shoes three years ago and they now all have pointy tips instead of round ones, and they don’t want any of that," she says. "I’m that way. I would wear the same pair of shoes until I’m 80 years old. But music is a breathing thing, and they’ll always have those records. My job is not to make people happy, you know? ‘Can I get you more to drink?’ I’m not a people-pleasing housewife."
And at this juncture, her handlers break in and try to wrap up the conversation. Spektor is due to leave for Europe in the morning, and there’s much scheduling to do. But before we go, I ask her about making music — twisty, turny, timeless and tangible music — in a time when none of that matters and everything is, essentially, completely and utterly disposable. She sighs and recommends a book for me to read, “The Lexicon of Musical Invectives,” which she describes as “a collection of nasty reviews of classical music, from Bach to Wagner,” then launches into a rant that one could describe as “delightfully quirky,” if one were a lazy music journo, though I prefer “timeless.” Or, rather, beyond the concept and constraints of time itself.
"I mean, in this book, it’s music criticism from the 19th century, and they’re ripping Tchaikovsky a new a—hole, but the thing that really gets me is that it’s written so beautifully. It’s nasty reviews in beautiful language, and that’s what I want," she says. "My dad will forward me some of the stuff people write about me, and I think it’s all bullsh—. It’s all, ‘Oh, this sucks, that sucks, blah.’ I don’t want that. I want you to write poetically about how bad I suck.”
By James Montgomery
Regina Spektor - WNYC Radio Interview 29 May 2012
“Just being in Russia was amazing — it was completely bizarre, and everything still feels like a dream,” she says. “I was there for a week, and I’ve come home and I’m just sort of in borscht withdrawal.”
She was determined to visit her first piano teacher; the house she grew up in, where she learned to play on a Petrof upright; and the historic Arbat Street abode of renowned Muscovite songwriter Bulat Okudzhava.
“Regina Spektor: Her Russian Roots and New Music” - New Interview with Theworld.org.
Regina is ABC’s person of the week! In this interview/video there are some clips of her old piano teacher, Sonia Vargas, as well as some never before seen photos from Regina’s childhood.
Regina appeared on The Colbert Report last night, where she performed two songs (one on air, one off air) and did a short yet hilarious interview with host, Stephen Colbert.
Listen to the interview
She joked that she stayed up until 3:30 a.m. writing a song, trying not to wake the neighbors, but never wrote anything down. She still doesn’t.
"I try to be better now, at least about recording little things, because sometimes I still have things just disappear," Spektor says in an interview with All Things Considered host Audie Cornish. “You always think, ‘Oh, I’ll never forget that. That’s so obvious.’ And then, of course, you forget it.”
For a Regina Spektor fan, the fact that there are “lost” Spektor songs is scary. But there is hope. "I am so lucky, because almost from the beginning, people would record the shows," Spektor says. "I am just so thankful to them, first of all, for taking the time and putting it up online and sharing it with other listeners, but also mainly [for] myself, because there are so many songs I would not know how to play. It gives me so much relief to know that they’re somewhere."
”It’s easy to see why fans of the 32-year-old singer-songwriter – whether the (female) colleague who told me “I’ve sobbed with heartbreak watching her” or the (male) colleague who admitted to holding a crush or perhaps even Barack Obama, who’s seen her play live twice – might still want to parse her lyrics for a sense of who she really is……..
Spektor is a newlywed, but of her recent marriage to Moldy Peaches guitarist Jack Dishel she won’t say anything; and nor, understandably, is she keen to discuss the drowning of her cellist Daniel Cho in Lake Geneva the day before she played the Montreux jazz festival in 2010, or the recent death of another close friend. But she does say, turning hushed and sounding understandably uncomfortable: “I’m definitely in the club of people who have experienced great tragedy in their life. Nothing bad had ever really happened to me but now I’m in this club – and it’s a really big club. I don’t think I was prepared for the level of pain I’ve been experiencing in the last few years. As you go through life you try to take all the things that come your way and process them with as much strength and kindness as you can muster. Obviously it transforms you as a person, but I don’t think it’s necessarily a final definition.”“