Friday, February 22, 2019     Volume: 19, Issue: 51

Santa Maria Sun / Music

The following article was posted on August 8th, 2018, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 19, Issue 23 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 19, Issue 23

Stars in her eyes: Russian/American pop singer Marina V talks music and emotion ahead of concert in Lompoc

By Joe Payne

The Russian-born pop singer/songwriter Marina Verenikina, who goes by Marina V, has wowed audiences and critics across the U.S., Europe, and her home country with her starling voice and piano-centered pop music. Based in LA, the artist is currently on tour, and will make a stop on the Central Coast for an Aug. 10 show at the Lompoc Wine Factory, where she'll perform original music from her latest album, Born to the Stars, and covers of some of her favorite American music.

Pop singer/songwriter Marina V grew up and learned music in Russia, with a focus on classical music. She moved to the U.S. permanently at 17 and has pursued her own music career ever since, putting out several albums of piano-centered pop music over the years.

The Sun caught up with Marina V over the phone, and spoke with her about her musical background, where she finds inspiration, and what her audience in Lompoc can expect to hear. 

Sun: You're going to perform in Lompoc at the Wine Factory; have you performed on the Central Coast before?

Marina V: You know, only in Santa Barbara, at SoHo. I've done almost 1,100 shows around the world, and I come to the Lompoc and Santa Ynez area quite a lot because I'm a big wine fan, but I've never performed in Santa Ynez or Lompoc. I've been on the radio in Paso Robles, but haven't performed there either, so it's like the weirdest thing.

Sun: You began your musical journey in your home country of Russia. When you look at music history, Russia is well known for its musical culture. What was it like being educated and brought up there?

MV: I went to a school of music and received classical training on the piano and music theory. I learned for eight years and graduated from the children's school of music, and as all the Russians will tell you, the training is quite rigorous. People take their music very seriously. I remember my piano teacher slapping my hand when I made mistakes. She was not mean, but she was extremely passionate and very strict, which I hated as a child, but now I think I appreciate it now that I'm older. I grew up mainly on classical music. My grandfather and great-grandfather had a big vinyl record collection. You pretty much name a classical recording and they had it. My personal favorite, even though Beethoven was my grandfather's favorite, for me, I'm a huge fan of Tchaikovsky. I've always loved his melodies and just beautiful music, so I'm very much influenced by him. 

Sun: He's such a heartfelt composer.

MV: Yes, very much so, and quite dramatic as well. In the music, you just feel a lot of pain and beauty all rolled into one. 

Sun: Is that something that you emulate in your music? There's a lot of passion and joy, maybe not the downtrodden heartache of Tchaikovsky, but there is a lot of heartfelt stuff going on in your music.

MV: I don't really try to emulate it, it just comes to me naturally. I'm an extremely emotional person, which can be a bad thing sometimes because I really feel my highes and I really feel my lows. Music has always been the way I've stayed sane, because I would feel something so strongly and writing a song–I started writing when I was a kid–would take all that negative emotion out of me and put it in a music form, which kind of saved me, over and over and over throughout my whole life. I feel passionate, which is why I think I resonate with Tchaikovsky's music so much. And the funny thing is I didn't really know much about him personally when I was a kid, but when I got older I read his biography and he had gone through some difficult stuff, so I can understand how he put all of his passion and frustration into the music he created, which is why I really, really feel his pain coming through in the music, but in a beautiful way.

Sun: Was it difficult to leave your family to come to America?

MV: It was the most difficult thing I've ever done in my life. I came to America when I was 15 at first on a one-year scholarship to attend a high school in America as a cultural ambassador, and I really fell in love with this country and I just felt that I was meant to be here. So when I was 17, I left Russia for good and came here and that was probably, you know, it's kind of haunted me ever since. I wouldn't change that decision now, but it was so hard, and to this day it's my source of a lot of heartache when I think about it. Leaving your family, it's hard, and it's not like you can go back and forth a lot, and at first I didn't. I had no money and visa issues, so there was one point of my life, between 18 and 23, I did not see my family at all for five years. It was hard, so I really poured myself into music so strongly, and once again, it helped me process what I was feeling and help me deal with those frustrations.

Sun: When was the last time you were home?

MV: Now I go twice a year. Last year I got to go four times. I perform there and also last year I had a big tour in Germany and went to Moscow before and after because it was such a super easy flight. Then I went to Moscow in December. I helped the Grammys open their first ever Grammy Museum exhibit in Moscow, so that was very fun. And then I went there in May to see my family and play a show.

Sun: You've come out with albums in Russian, right?

MV: I have two Russian language albums, Russian Bootleg Vol. 1 from 2006, and I have Vol. 2 from 2016, so they're 10 years apart. Now I just retouched them and put them all in one album, so now I have one album with 23 songs entirely in Russian. I will have that at the show with me if anyone wants to buy that. I have many Americans or non-Russians who tell me how much they enjoy hearing Russian being sung, which I know it's odd to hear that, but I've sold a lot of those copies and people seem to really respond to that. It's very cool. I've also translated a handful of very famous American songs into Russian. I've translated Neil Diamond's "Solitary Man" into Russian and released that, and I've done other songs that I've translated.

Sun: When did you start writing your own songs?

MV: I've always been writing music in my head, and I remember when I was 4, my grandma and I sat down at the piano, and we wrote our first song together, my first and her first. Ever since I started playing piano, and I started learning around 4, I started writing songs on the piano. We had a little recording device and I was able to do all that.

Hear her live
Marina V performs live on Aug. 10 at 7 p.m. at the Lompoc Wine Factory, 321 N. D St., Lompoc. Cost is $5. More info: More information about Marina V, including music to stream or buy, is available at

Sun: What would you say you're trying to get across in your songs today, like in your most recent album Born to the Stars, and songs you'll be performing in Lompoc?

MV: A lot of my songs are about overcoming difficulties in your personal journey, or obstacles that this life throws at us and finding hope even in the darkest of times. I have suffered from severe depression most of my life. I tried medication when I was younger, which didn't quite work, but music is my biggest therapy. Many of my songs deal with overcoming, finding light when you only see darkness, and people who even don't suffer from depression tell me that they can resonate with that.

Sun: Will you be performing solo in Lompoc?

MV: It will be me and my digital piano and my husband and co-writer, Nick Baker, who will be playing acoustic guitar. He's a musician, we met many years ago, and we've done almost 1,100 shows together. We basically co-write music for me. I write most of the music and some of the words, and he's a great poet, so we really co-write very well together, especially on the lyrics. The music is all me. 

Managing Editor Joe Payne resonates with Tchaikovsky, but like Marina's grandfather, his favorite is Beethoven. Contact him at

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