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13 Mar

After self-releasing her first three records and gaining popularity in New York City's independent music scenes, particularly the anti-folk scene centered on New York City's East Village, Spektor signed with Sire Records in 2004 and began achieving greater mainstream recognition.

"They made you pull numbers, and I got, like, number 747, and I didn't get to perform," Spektor said.

Part Björk, part Billie Holiday, it's a style that got Spektor noticed by the Strokes. "But I'm so out of the loop I just found out about David Bowie.") She released two albums on her own, 2001's and 2002's Songs, and she's perfected her style on Soviet Kitsch.

"English was my second language, so words became a second language," Spektor said. Being an immigrant, being Jewish, listening to classical music as a kid; it all has an impact on what comes out of my mouth." On songs like "Ode to Divorce" and "Chemo Limo" Spektor flits between whispers, shouts and something resembling beatboxing.

I saw her pen for the Strokes in the fall of 2003 at the Hollywood Paladium (the same day that Elliott Smith died).

Sometimes an artist's greatest songwriting aid isn’t their instrument but the famous person who inspired them to pen a song in the first place.