Arts & Culture

Listen to Regina Spektor’s New Album, ‘What We Saw from the Cheap Seats’

The Russian-born singer first experimented with songwriting in high school, making up songs while hiking in Israel on a summer trip Read More

By / May 21, 2012

This week’s New York Times Magazine has a fun profile of Regina Spektor, the Russian-born singer and failed classical pianist, in anticipation of her new album What We Saw from the Cheap Seats. Much of her Jewish background has been happily dissected by her fans—she was also recently profiled in Tablet Magazine—including her time at Jewish day school and high school, but we like to think that all her songs were composed while hiking in the negev.

From the Times profile:

Spektor had been attending Orthodox yeshivas since the family immigrated: first, Salanter Akiba Riverdale Academy, and then the Frisch School, in Paramus, N.J. The summer before her junior year, her piano studies on the wane (“By the end of Frisch, I was already doing a lot less with Sonia. It sort of just trailed off”), Spektor went to Israel with Marsha and other Jewish kids. There, she earned a reputation for making up songs while on hikes. When she returned, Marsha transferred from their yeshiva to high school in Fair Lawn, N.J. Spektor was alone and miserable. Into that void, her new friends from the Israel trip sent cassettes: Joni Mitchell, Ani DiFranco, Tori Amos. Spektor composed her first songs, making bedroom boombox tapes for friends.

NPR is streaming the entire album (out May 29), and we strongly recommend a listen.

(Photo credit: Amy Sussman/Getty Images for The New Yorker)