Regina Spektor: Cover Girl

Why the singer/songwriter is not afraid to get "Toxic."

SW: Do you do karaoke?

Spektor: I love karaoke!

What is your song of choice? Definitely "Since U Been Gone" [Kelly Clarkson]. That's always fun to do, because you get to scream at the very top of your range.

I love being an audience member more than anything. It's one of the happiest things. Nothing compares to watching your friends sing songs that they love into a microphone in a tiny room. It's the only place where I really like those pop songs.

Any others you've sung recently? I really like "Toxic" [Britney Spears]. But me and my friend always change it to " 'Cause you know you're a chopstick."

How about a favorite cover of one of your songs? Years ago, Seth Avett of the Avett Brothers sent me a really beautiful cover of "Samson." He does this thing where he just feels like covering a song, and he'll send it in the mail.

Are you sure he wasn't flirting? Yeah, I'm pretty sure [laughs].

Oh, and another one, which was kind of mind-blowing, is Peter Gabriel covered "Après Moi." He made it really mysterious, and he did it with an orchestra. I just two days ago came home from this European tour, and one of the places that I played was a festival in Lisbon. The night before playing, my road manager got an e-mail saying that Peter Gabriel was also playing. And he's made "Après Moi" part of his repertoire. He's been playing it all over the world, which is super-cool. But I'd never had the chance to hear it live, because every time he was in New York I was on tour. So he actually had me come during his set and sing the Russian verses of it in Portugal.

He's one of these people who can really riff and improvise with his voice. He's really comfortable with that. We met 20 minutes before he was going onstage, and we sort of made a plan for how it was going to happen. Then he said, "Let's trade verses and we'll just sort of improvise." And I was just like, "Uh . . . " I mean, there's thousands of people there, and an orchestra!

He's the nicest, most gracious person to try and do that with because he made me feel like I couldn't fuck up, which is obviously untrue. But he made it seem like that. I loved it.

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