It's impossible to categorize Regina Spektor. Somewhere between whimsical and wistful, she coos, she croons and she even clicks like a dolphin. And her stream-of-conscious songs match her stream-of-conscious speech.
We spoke to the Moscow-born, New York-based singer-songwriter early one morning last month, during a tour stop in Cleveland to promote her latest album, "What We Saw From the Cheap Seats." She'll play the Fillmore Miami Beach this Saturday.
What are you like? Are you eclectic like your songs?
I definitely care a tremendous amount about my family and my friends. Even though I'm away so much, I really try to be there for them. … I love art, obviously, really prioritize making it a part of my life, not just making it you know, but taking it in.
Your songs seem wise beyond your years, yet really silly. Are you like that, too?
I don't know about the wise-beyond-my-years part, but definitely silly. I find a lot of stuff funny. The world is just very bittersweet. … There's so much tragedy, and there's so much irony. So somewhere in between that, it's just funny.
Your songs often tell stories. Do you keep track of everything you see and hear?
People think you're just making art when you sit down … but I think that it's actually happening all the time .… You're always processing in some way, and whether or not you're writing at the moment, you're always taking in the world. It all comes out in your work, eventually.
How do you reflect your dual identity — being Russian and American?
I have much more than a dual identity — the female and just, like, New York. We're all products of so many things of where we're from, everything from our actual DNA to our parents and the kinds of families that we have, what we saw growing up and just everything. So I think it's all in the music. I don't really believe in compartmentalizing, breaking down yourself, like, 'Oh, this part of me is the Jewish part. This part of me is the female part. This is the Russian part. This is the American part.' … The more we stop trying to come up with that one defining identity and find some sort of pride in it, the more we're connected to the rest of the world and the rest of the people in the world. Empathy comes from stopping to divide yourself.
You played at a fundraiser for President Obama. What would a Regina Spektor campaign song sound like?
I've had the chance to play twice, once at the White House for him and Michelle and once in New York for a gala. I don't believe that my music can be like fully agenda-filled. It just comes from a different place. … I think there's political feelings. Maybe they come through some of my music, but I get surprised somebody is very, very conservative is surprised that I'm not, that I'm a liberal-minded person, because I think it's obvious. … Then again, I think the place where my music comes from is more abstract.
When: 8:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 17
Where: Fillmore Miami Beach, 1770 Washington Ave.
Contact: 305-673-7300 or FillmoreMB.com