On her latest disc, Regina Spektor culls inspiration from a variety of musical artists.The biography of Moscow-born, New York–raised Regina Spektor isn’t some rote pop-singer story. The 32-year-old songwriter just released her fifth studio album, What We Saw from the Cheap Seats (Sire/Warner Bros., $17), and it offers a reflection of her rich cultural and creative background: The child of a photographer and a music teacher, Spektor was a classically trained piano prodigy who immigrated to America at the age of 9. Here, she discusses the biggest influences on her work, a wide-ranging list that marshals everyone from Soviet stage icons to British rock royalty.
Vladimir Vysotsky: “He was a Russian bard: a singer, songwriter, actor and poet. He had this really crazy, raspy voice, but he wrote beautifully from so many varied perspectives. His lyrics are deep and multifaceted — funny, tragic and everything in between.”
Teachers and mentors: “I got really lucky because my teachers in Russia and America and my parents all cared deeply about music, and they weren’t frivolous. They were passionate, invested people, but they were also very gentle, kind and funny. So learning music was never scary or stiff or strict in this oppressive way.”
The Beatles: “They were always participating in the culture, looking into spiritual paths and political things — [they were] just amazing on so many levels. From them, I learned that if you’re inspired to write something that’s outside of what you normally do, it’s not a throwaway moment. It’s a wonderful thing, and you should follow that to its completion.”