New York based piano pop songstress Regina Spektor plays three songs; talks "What We Saw From The Cheap Seats."
Regina Spektor Tastemakers
"I don't know if I really believe in genre divisions," admits Regina Spektor as she reminisces on the making of "What We Saw From the Cheap Seats," her most recent offering of warm piano pop -- her sixth studio album to date. "I just think that with everything, if you're just experimenting, you can get to play with everything if you're allowed to." Spektor sat down at the keyboard for a three-song Billboard Tastemakers at New York's Mophonic's studio, and discussed the album and more in depth.
On the new album, the New York-by-way-of-Moscow singer truly takes that sentiment to heart, including experimenting within her own past. Although "Cheap Seats" was released in May 2012, its eleven songs and thirty-seven minutes weren't exactly conceived yesterday. "I think that in a way every record I make sort of incorporates older songs and newer songs," says Spektor. "I just sort of live life and then write songs as I go... when it's time to make that record it's really hard to actually limit myself. So I'm always trying to pick songs that have been waiting their turn and new stuff that I really want to get on there."
For "Cheap Seats," which peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard 200, Spektor combed the internet to brush up on old songs she'd performed (but never wrote down) that had been uploaded to YouTube by members of her passionate fan base. In addition to finding inspiration in her past work, she also indulged in her love of music's history. For album highlight "Oh Marcello," Spektor quotes "Don't Be Misunderstood," a 1964 single originally performed by legendary jazz vocalist Nina Simone, whom Spektor first discovered in college. Though Spektor doesn't just cut and paste from music's past, she greatly enjoys paying tribute to the greats.
"I always really love how in literature a lot of the time there's references to other works of literature and in music. It almost feels like a collage- the way to just use something as a color and throw it in there (and it's not yours) but it's a simultaneous homage and it's part of your own work."
"Cheap Seats" was produced by fellow genre-hopper/bass virtuoso Mike Elizondo, who first teamed with Spektor on her 2009 LP "Far." "The thing that I loved the most about working with Mike was that he was so sonically adventurous," says Spektor, referencing how in addition to producing songstresses like Fiona Apple and Nelly Furtado, Elizondo's musical roots lie in producing iconic rappers like Dr. Dre and Eminem. "He was always like a scientist and we were always building sounds. Between the two of us, we could basically play any instrument."
The product of those sessions- "What We Saw From the Cheap Seats"- is what Spektor will be taking on tour through North America this fall, beginning Oct. 2 and Baltimore, Maryland's Lyric Theater.