Why Regina Spektor loves homework
Regina Spektor has a different understanding of homework to most.
For her, it’s far from a chore – it’s the term she uses to describe her collaborative projects.
“I really like doing homework music,” the Moscow-born crooner told Double J’s Zan Rowe. “There’s something so beautiful for somebody who’s so used to being alone… to have a collaboration.”
It’s no surprise that she works mostly independently. Raised in the musically isolated Soviet Union on a diet of classical influences and bootleg rock’n’roll tapes, she quickly developed a fiercely unique sound after moving to the US, resisting comparisons to everyone from Ethel Merman to Kate Bush to carve out her own niche in the 2000s anti-folk scene.
But when she does collaborate, the results can be serendipitous, and just as diverse as her own discography. Spektor contributed ‘The Call’, an orchestral ballad, to the closing credits of 2008’s The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. Meanwhile, we hear a growlier, guitar-ripping side of her on ‘You’ve Got Time’ which plays over the opening credits of Netflix TV series Orange is the New Black.
“I get to the hear the stories and to see things, and I try really hard to support the work,” she explained about the process behind writing these songs. “With my own music, I don’t even know where it comes from half of the time. It just kind of happens.”
She compared the difference between her solo and collaborative work to a tributary.
“They all come from the same ocean, but just… from a different angle,” she said.
We hear this on a track like last year’s ‘Just a Memory’, penned with electronic duo Odesza. With its twinkling synths and spacey production, it’s a departure from her previous work, but there’s an emotional intimacy that’s unmistakeably Spektor, that almost harks back to the lovesick earnestness of hits like ‘Fidelity’ and her 2007 Hottest 100-charting cover of John Lennon’s ‘Real Love’.
“Usually I don’t write like that,” she said of ‘Just a Memory’, “But the track was so beautiful and inspiring, and I just was able to hear this song around it.”
And what’s next on her list of homework?
“I just did another song, actually, for a project that’s not out yet but I’m so excited about it,” she said. “It’s this new show [by] Matt Weiner [creator of Mad Men] … called The Romanoffs.
“He told me this one episode just as a storyteller, and… I just heard it as a melody. Things like that to me are just very exciting.”