Anastassiya Andrianova: Something in the Key of A


Andrianova recounts her upbringing in the Ukraine and New York through her passion for music @ Global Graffiti. Armed with my ax, I was about to enter a midtown studio to play some rock music, and maybe some emo. We were supposed to have met up the week before, but my friend Andy, the drummer of a fairly known indie band that had first gone to Portland and was now trying to make it in the Big Apple, called it off at the last minute. “The band needed to talk,” he later texted me. “Sobriety…you know how it is.” I did know, but those last few days really built up the anticipation.

I hadn’t played with anyone since I had received a mass invite to my band’s show six years earlier, my then singer’s cowardly way of letting me know I had been replaced. Grad school took over, though, and with a tight teaching schedule, I was not really cut out for all that glam. And now, as I was scrolling through my phone contacts to let Andy know I was at the door, my shivering yet clammy fingers reminded me of the many piano recitals I had dreaded as a child, eager, yet terrified of forgetting hours of scales and Czerny’s études, and of falling flat on my face right into the shameful spotlight. That whole week, my husband had been imagining how I would drop everything and go on tour. “But what about my classes?” – I kept asking. “This is New York. Tons of unemployed grad students. Someone will take over. But being a rockstar – now that’s a one-time opportunity. Don’t blow it.”

Andy’s other two band mates were working on some harmonies and didn’t seem to notice me at first, but I plugged in, tuned, and we started to play. It was something in the key of A, and it was good. * * * When I was eight, I wanted two things and two things only: a sheltie and a piano. My parents bought me a collie and a synthesizer which, my mom never failed to remind me, cost 500 dollars and was one of the first to have full-sized keys. It also had only four octaves; the keys were not touch-sensitive; and there was no pedal. We took it back to Ukraine when we left the US in December of ‘89, and it was only two decades later, after bringing it back to New York once again that I finally parted with the old plastic carcass, the unlikely Orpheus that enchanted me with its cheap prerecorded demo, a lambada-esque tune set to a disco beat with pots and pans for percussion. With the demo running, in this player-piano mode, I would raise my fingers and sway side to side like Stevie Wonder. Those home videos are still tucked away somewhere on my parents’ balcony, amid others of my brother strumming “Stand by Me” on a poorly-tuned Strat, or those of “Guitar Sisters,” the duo my best friend and I put together playing air-guitar on tennis rackets to Lita Ford’s “Kiss Me Deadly.” The old VHS tapes must have dried up and become unwatchable by now, or, at least, I secretly hope they have gone the same way as the rest of my childhood mementos, discarded following the Chernobyl meltdown. read more