Alina Simone is a singer and writer based in Brooklyn, NY. She was born in Kharkov, Ukraine and came to the U.S. at a young age as the daughter of political refugees after her father refused recruitment by the KGB and was blacklisted for ‘refusal to cooperate.’ Raised in the suburbs of Massachusetts, Simone moved to Austin, Texas after graduating from art school in Boston. It was there that she first started singing in public, in the doorway of an abandoned bar on Sixth Street. After the release of her first EP, Prettier in the Dark (2005), and her debut album, Placelessness (2007, 54º 40′ or Fight!), Simone became known for her sparse instrumentation and raw and powerful delivery, earning national airplay and critical acclaim.
In 2008, Simone released Everyone is Crying Out to Me, Beware, an homage to the music of Russian cult icon, Yanka Dyagileva, a Siberian punk-folk singer who drowned under mysterious circumstances in 1991. Sung entirely in Russian, Everyone is Crying Out to Me, Beware both echoes the lo-fi samizdat quality of Yanka’s recordings and subverts it with lush arrangements and intricately textured layers of trumpet, cello and guitars. The album received widespread critical acclaim from major national and international outlets including The New Yorker, BBC’s “The World,” Billboard Magazine, Spin Magazine, New York Magazine, NPR, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal and Pitchfork among many others. Alina Simone was named one of the ‘Top People of 2008’ by USA Today’s Pop Candy and among the ‘Top 12 Bands to See’ at SXSW 2008 by Billboard Magazine.
A second original full-length album is also on the way. Make Your Own Danger was produced by Steve Revitte (Yeasayer, Liars, Black Dice) and promises to be Simone’s most lush and fully realized work to date, with a larger cast of musicians and exotic touches including flute, autoharp, horns, Brazilian drumming and vocal loops.
Over the past five years, Simone has performed under a windmill in Aarhus, Denmark, at a club located within the Arctic Circle in far northern Russia, as well as hundreds of lonely bars throughout the United States. She has shared the stage with artists including Final Fantasy, Loney Dear, Alele Diane, The Dodos, Fiery Furnaces, Castanets, Dead Meadow, The Duchess and the Duke, Franz Ferdinand and many others.
Most recently, Alina Simone received an odd message from an editor at the publishing house Farrar, Straus and Giroux, and a guy who happened to like her music, asking whether she’d be interested in writing a book. Though she feared he was, at best, playing a weird joke on her, at worst, a creepy stalker, this unlikely request turned out to be a serious offer. “You Must Go and Win,” Simone’s collection of essays about Russia, family and the tragic-comic struggle to make it in indie rock, will be published by the Faber imprint of Farrar, Straus in early 2011. Since unwittingly becoming a writer, Simone has shared the stage (either reading or singing or both) with a number of notable authors including Sam Lipsyte (FSG Reading Series at the Russian Samovar), Aleksandar Hemon (Upstairs at the Square), Stephen Elliott, Rivka Galchen and Tao Lin (The Rumpus One Year Anniversary) and Nick Flynn (NYC book release for The Ticking Is the Bomb).
She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, philosopher Josh Knobe, and their daughter Zoe.