Take Aim: Elizaveta vs. Amy Sciarretto
Tue, 17 Jul 2012 14:12:25
Russian-American chanteuse Elizaveta has enraptured us, with her unusual music and her gorgeous, artistic headdresses. She is as visual as she is auditory. One in a million? Yep, that's an appropriate term for this unclassifiable musical nymph.
She has released an exclusive iTunes Session EP, out now. The six-song EP also includes six videos from the intimate session. The track list is as follows:
5. Armies of Your Heart
6. Hand to Mouth
Recorded at the legendary Capitol Studios in Hollywood, the iTunes Session EP is comprised of five song selections from Elizaveta's critically acclaimed debut album Beatrix Runs as well as a very special cover of George Michael's "Hand to Mouth."
Elizaveta's 2006 EP, Breakfast with Chopin is also available, newly mastered specifically for iTunes, ensuring the delivery of the music to listeners with increased audio fidelity more closely replicating what the artists, recording engineers, and producers intended.
Now that you've digested all that info, read on, as we go deep about everything from her regal name to her elaborate wigs to her music!
You have such an unusual, beautiful name - can you share the origin?
Actually Elizaveta is my first name and it is a Russian version of Elizabeth. My full name is Elizaveta Igorevna Khripounova. I believe my parents named me after the Russian Queen Elizaveta, who took the throne at a young age and didn't allow Russia to engage in any wars during her reign.
Pick one song from your iTunes Session EP and tell us why we should listen to THAT song first - be it a recording or a writing story. We just want a little inside insight that we can't get just from listening to it!
'Orion' is a very special song because I wrote it for/about a friend who was dying from a terminal illness. I never told him, though, not directly. I was not sure how he would react to it.
There also is a cover on the EP, and it's George Michael's 'Hand to Mouth.' My music director Michael Valerio wrote a brilliantly poignant string arrangement for it. I was struck by the original song's lyrics when I first heard it years ago - it's a B-side on his break-out hit album 'Faith' - and it stood out to me because its lyrical content is so stark and unlike any of the other songs on there. The rest of them, I believe, are mostly about love, sex, relationships - I mean, they are brilliant songs, but this one had a very significant social message: it is about poverty and disparity between classes. I think George Michael wrote it in the early 90s when he first came to the US on a tour - I could be wrong, however. Anyway, I have wanted to cover this song for ages now, and this was a perfect opportunity. If you listen to the lyrics you shall notice that not much has changed since then: if anything, the gulf between the haves and have-nots may have widened. Apart from that, I always wanted to do a different version of the song because its original is deceptively jazzy and playful - if you are not listening to the lyrics you'll never know what the song is about. It's something I often do myself in my writing/arranging, but here, I wanted to bring this piece of music to a stark place. I think it worked - I hope so.
Do you have any non-music skills or hobbies?
I love to write poetry and prose. Actually, at the moment I am writing the story behind the Beatrix Runs record. It's a time-traveling adventure, and the heroine's name is Beatrix. We have digitized the map of the story (it's a picture story map and it's found on a poster inside the packaging of the record) and we (my graphic artist and designer Missy Washington of i102fly and myself) are launching it July 17 (the day of the release), and populating it with written content, graphics, sketches, and comics. It is also going to be more and more interactive in the coming weeks, as fans will be able to participate in the world-building.
Apart from that I dance, ride bicycles & motorcycles (I owned a Ducati, but between bikes at the moment), learning to surf, and I am a Flower Essence practitioner. I am also a big fan of languages: I am bilingual in English and Russian, speak Italian & French, and learning Chinese, albeit very slowly.
If you were not making music, you would be?
A marine biologist/oceanographer.
Your style is so not like anything else, blending different centuries. How are you able to bridge both worlds, musically?
It is something that comes from the inside. I didn't set out to do it on purpose: I think my background and the fact that I grew up in Russia and got a very classical education are certainly a factor. I have also traveled widely. My mom calls me a little Gypsy. I like to think that if in theory there is no Time - and everything is happening all at once - then music can also be like that, except it comes through me, so it's also personal. That way it doesn't matter if I am using 19th century violins or an electronica beat, opera or pop guitars: as long as they are not "fighting" within an arrangement/song, why not? We live in a world where "mashups" are becoming more and more common - in fact it is now almost a genre and everyone knows what "mashup" means, so what I do is a form of that.
Tell us about your headdresses - how many do you have? Who makes them? Do you have input? Where do you store them?
I have quite a few now. They are made by my designer Missy Washington, who also designed the cover of Beatrix Runs and hand-illustrated the story map. We have been working together for a while now and we are also best friends. The new website that launches July 17th features a Sketchbook section, which is comprised of Missy's sketches of costumes, headdresses, designs etc. We have similar tastes, and most of the time I trust her implicitly to design something for me. There have been times when I wouldn't see a costume/headdress until a couple of hours before a performance and I was always happy with the result.
I do get input, however, and sometimes I'll have an idea I'll take to Missy or show her a picture: she will either take it further or shoot it down - or improve upon it. I think oftentimes it's hard for me to evaluate my own image/physicality properly and that's where Missy's input is also invaluable because she 'gets' me. We got to have some fun together in the last year!
As to where the headdresses/costumes are stored, that is becoming a problem - neither Missy nor I live in places that have extra space, and we are starting to overflow with stuff. We need a studio space - hopefully sooner, rather than later.
How into Elizaveta are you now?
Check out a preview of "Armies of Your Heart" and an interview with Elizaveta below!
Stream Elizaveta's full music video for "Armies Of Your Heart" on the homepage of your iTunes Store!