... a young girl born with a gift of music who was once a shy kid playing her songs on an out-of-tune upright piano in Soviet Moscow with neighbors knocking on the wall because it was too loud, and whose piano teacher told her not to write anymore, who learned English by translating the Beatles songs and whose soul cried with joy when she heard the beautiful melodies of Russian classical and folk music, who overcame a lot of adversity and moved all the way to America by herself at 15, leaving everything behind to make her music dreams come true.
MARINA V LIFE STORY - in depth:)
Born in Soviet Russia to a Communist nuclear physicist father and a child psychologist mother, Marina grew up in Moscow singing and making up her own melodies before she could talk. Marina's grandma started teaching Marina piano when she was only 4.
Noticing her daughter's musical talents, Marina's mom insisted that Marina receive her music education. So, Marina went to a school of music each day right after her regular school.
"The school of music was very rigid. I resisted it for a long time - like a normal kid, I just wanted to go play with other kids after school, and not go to the school of music every night" - Marina says about her 8 year experience at the school of music.
When she was about ten, Marina decided to play a song of her own for her piano teacher, who scolded Marina saying that it was "simply nonsense". Too young to understand why, Marina didn't realize that the Soviet culture was not the perfect environment for an aspiring young artist with big dreams. She took her teacher's negative comments to heart and put her songwriting on hold. She turned to reading, skateboarding, torn jeans, karate and swimming, went figure skating in winter and often skipped her music classes.
Then Marina discovered the Beatles. The Beatles invaded Marina's mind and she spent hours playing their songs on the piano, figuring out the lyrics word by word and even more hours trying to find more Beatles tapes (which was quite difficult as American & European music had just started to appear on the Russian markets). Marina did try to write a few more songs but was too self conscious to keep them.
Everything changed when Marina turned 15. She entered a national competition for a scholarship (FLEX - Future Leaders Exchange Program) to study in the U.S.A. for a year and won, beating hundreds of thousands of Russian peers. "I can't quite explain it, but I feel like I bloomed during that year in America. American culture has this relaxed yet 'go for it' attitude, which I think allowed me to just be myself. I fell in love with American positivity". That was when Marina knew she would move to America, no matter the obstacles.
Marina had to return to Moscow at 16 only to find out her mom was moving to Australia and that her year of study abroad wouldn't count academically in Russia. To finance her trip back to the USA Marina took a job at a beverage franchise as a secretary and saved up her money while helping support her family and studying hard to finish high school. "It was a tumultuous and a very strange time in Russia - in late 1990s - for example: I was making more money at Cadbury-Schweppes than my father, who has a degree in nuclear physics and who was working for the government!!"
At 17, Marina finally found a way back to America, but life was far from easy. "I had a lot on my mind. I felt very guilty about leaving my family and my country, I was very lonely and scared trying to adapt to the new way of life. There were visa issues. I was living with an abusive host family, commuting to college and working a few part-time jobs. I've had a number of terrible relationships & life-altering experiences of which I am not quite ready to openly talk about. This was when I started to write more than I ever have before. Writing songs became my drug, my therapy and my spiritual healer. It helped me come to terms with and overcome many things. Music saved my life".
Soon Marina met Nick Baker, who heard her songs and inspired her to seriously pursue a career in music. She sold her pickup truck to buy a piano, and sang her songs for hours every day. Neighbors in her apartment building often came to the door to hear her play, which was at first scary but quickly became encouraging. At about the same time Marina entered her college talent competition, sang her original song "Leaving" and won first prize. After receiving dozens of emails and comments from students saying how much her song moved them, Marina went into the studio and recorded her songs. She received so many pre-orders from students & faculty, that she was able to finance the whole recording session and to manufacture the CD (Let Me Dream). Her first show in a little coffeehouse in Jacksonville, IL, was filled to the fire capacity!
Marina & Nick started playing shows in Central Illinois & quickly expanded to surrounding states, but not without obstacles. One early CD release concert ended up just an inch away from tragedy, when the ceiling caved in, collapsing on top of the stage just a minute before Marina & the band would start the concert. (full story)
As soon as Marina graduated from college, Marina & Nick relocated to Los Angeles. "When I first moved to L.A., I didn't know ANYBODY. I couldn't even get a club show because all of the venues expected a certain 'draw'. I asked one booker if I could open for an act that had a good following in town, and he just laughed at me. Yes, he actually laughed! But he did tell me to start playing any gigs that didn't require a "draw" to build my fanbase. So I started playing Borders Books & Music & any other gigs I could get, and made fans one person at a time. I ended up playing 125 Borders gigs over a period of a year and a half"
After sending hundreds of demos to the music industry, Marina caught attention of David Krebs, a renowned manager from New York, who's been involved in building the careers of Aerosmith, Trans-Siberian Orchestra and Don McLean, among others. In April 2005, David introduced Marina to Jack Douglas, a legendary record producer, whose discography ranges from John Lennon & George Harrison to Aerosmith. Marina's album “Simple Magic” features two songs produced by Jack.
In Sept 2006, Marina released her first live album, "Live at SoundMoves", which was recorded in one session at a recording studio in front of Marina's most devoted fans who sponsored the entire CD production. Marina performed 12 fan favorites - some solo and some accompanied by her band. For most fans, it was their first time in a recording studio, allowing them to get up close and be a part of the magic.
In January 2008, Marina released "Modern Fairytale", recorded with Nick Baker, Marina's band & their friend/engineer Jared Brown at the beautiful home studio of legendary musician Graham Nash.
"Modern Fairytale" is a beautiful album where elements of reality & dreams co-exist in a wonderful and a creative way. With subjects such as love & loss, peace & war, struggle & success, togetherness & loneliness, intertwined with vivid fairytale images (ghosts, butterfly/guardian angels & such) Marina creates a magical, yet a very real world, full of highs and lows. From the first notes of "Hope", through the happy beats of "Sunshine Guaranteed" to the longing words in "Babushka", sung in Marina's native Russian, the album is a magical collection of songs, through and through.
In 2009, "Sunshine Guaranteed" was featured on a popular iPhone game, Tap Tap Revenge2.
In early 2010, Marina and Nick completed MY STAR, a beautiful and exquisite new album. Sponsored entirely by Marina's fans (having raised almost $30,000 from devoted listeners around the world via marinav.com) and produced by the renowned producer, Guy Erez (known for his work with the Gipsy Kings, Ryan Cabrera, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Keaton Simons and many other CBS Records artists), the album is an exciting new phase of Marina's career. "I am so proud of this album, and I cannot wait for the world to hear it!! Thanks to Guy's guidance, we have achieved the sound I've been searching for".
The first track, "You Make Me Beautiful", starts off the album with its catchy pop-hit sound and inspiring words, followed by vibey and slightly electronic gems like "Thursday Song", "My Star" and a surprise cover of Guns 'n Roses hit "Don't Cry". The album also features a stunning a cappella performance of a Russian traditional song, as well as a bonus track, a slightly jazzy original Christmas song. KISS fans, get ready: "Killing My Dream" features the world-renowned guitarist & KISS member Bruce Kulick!
In Feb 2011, Marina and Nick were flown to London to receive an award from Sir Bob Geldof for their song "You Make Me Beautiful", which was a Grand Finalist in the international song contest YouBloom. This very same year Marina has written several songs that were featured on NBC's famed show, Days of Our Lives, and released an EP, SMALL COLLECTION OF INTERESTING SONGS, with 3 of the songs from Days. In December 2011, yet another one of Marina's songs aired in an emotional Days Christmas episode, garnering significant attention to Marina's music from millions of fans around the world.
In recent years, Marina has written several songs for films, ads and TV shows, and has had her music all over the world, including Delta Airlines. She started her 2 SONGS A MONTH CLUB and DINNER/CONCERT AT MY HOUSE series in 2014, which has brought Marina even closer to her fans.
Marina has recently become an American Citizen & she now has a dual Russian-American citizenship. She has become a big supporter of the energy independence movement and is riding the clean vehicle wave with her Toyota Prius, whether on tour or at home in Los Angeles. In 2014, Marina & Nick embarked on a 11,200 mile US tour (sponsored in part by Toyota Santa Monica) and made their first official tour documentary, entitled "Enjoy The Ride".
A self-described ambitious workaholic, Marina continues touring, writing &recording while looking for an artist-friendly record label. "I love writing songs and I really love performing them for my audience. I can't imagine a day without music. I will be doing this forever."
EVEN MORE ABOUT MARINA:
She doesn't like expensive jewelry (especially anything involving real diamonds), ignores the fashion trends and wears whatever's comfortable, and has had her hair pretty much every color - from blonde to black. She loves California wine. She quit smoking a long long time ago. She loves gardening, hiking in the wild, traveling, reading, learning Yoga, eating all kinds of international food and going to see live music, theatre and stand-up comedy. She used to play ice hockey and rack up more penalties than any other player on her team. She is very much a minimalist and is saddened by over-consumption/over-production in this world. The deterioration of our environment makes her angry, but also very sad. One of her biggest passions is recycling and protecting nature.
She can't stand big egos or pretense, which is rather ironic, because she lives in Los Angeles, the center for these lovely qualities.
One of Marina's college majors was international politics, and she's trying to stay on top of the news to be a responsible citizen. Politics can be frustrating, so she is learning how to meditate.
She can often be found talking to herself in Russian. Or in Spanish.
She is very much an agnostic, although she grew up in an atheistic society being quarter Jewish yet managed to get baptized in a Russian Christian Orthodox church after the USSR fell apart. In spite of all this, she has written 3 beautiful Christmas songs, one of which Ray Evans (the famed songwriter of songs like Silver Bells and Que Sera, Sera, etc) really seemed to love.
She is a great cook.
Living in Los Angeles, she misses the Russian winters.
CRAZY APPLES BAG
January or December...
I could see the snow on the flag
But I still remember
Crazy Apples bag
"When I was growing up, I really didn’t have too many things, let’s say, I had just one pair of jeans for a few years. It was quite normal in the Soviet Union. Strangely, there weren’t too many bright things, but mostly dark, solemn colors. I don't know why that was, really. But when my mom first went to America in 1991, half a year before the USSR fell apart, among other things she brought me a small bag. It was white with bright green apples all over it, and it said in hot pink "Crazy Apples". It was the first bright thing that I ever owned." ~ Marina