Geri X.: St. Pete's beguiling queen of indie folk
Who is she? Bulgarian-born Geri X., a.k.a. Geri Micheva, enchants fans with her raspy-angelic singing voice and skilled guitar playing. Her passionate, confessional anthems reveal her uncanny ability to play in the light and dance in the dark ‚Äî all the while sticking her tongue out at the demons and anything else hemming her in.
The goods: Click here to listen to Geri X.'s Kiss On Both Eyelids, then watch the video below to see why she's such a beloved performer. Then click here to vote for her as Tampa Bay's 2009 Ultimate Local Artist. And after the jump, keep reading for the full story on how the mesmerizing singer finds inspiration in her boyfriend, her family and more...
Geri X doesn‚Äôt hide her feelings ‚Äî when she‚Äôs not hiding, that is.
The alluring performer from St. Pete sometimes eludes and confuses peers in the music scene while enchanting fans with her raspy-angelic singing voice and skilled guitar playing.
It‚Äôs a mixed public persona that to Geri X makes perfect sense. ‚ÄúI stay true to things I want to do,‚Äù she says in a blunt tone and slight Eastern-European accent.
Born in Bulgaria, Geri Micheva has the tough exterior of someone with a troubled past, but the hard shell has softened in recent years. The light has entered in through her music.
In January, she released the unapologetically optimistic Anthems of a Mended Heart on 24 Hour Service Station, inspired in large part by boyfriend/bassist Greg Roteik ‚Äî the guy who sacks out on the couch with her to watch Law and Order reruns.
Through the delicately moving songs on Anthems, Geri has come of age. She combines earthy sweetness with ghostly fragility amid a collection of luminous guitar interplay and powerful drumbeats.
Tunes like Kiss on Both Eyelids and When I Die reveal her uncanny ability to play in the light and dance in the dark ‚Äî all the while sticking her tongue out at the demons and anything else hemming her in.
‚ÄúPeople don‚Äôt take me seriously sometimes,‚Äù she says, attributing impressions to her jeans and sneakers, green hair and bold tattoos.
Perhaps, it‚Äôs more of a big deal to the classically trained musician than in reality. In the past year, the daytime henna artist has gotten a new band together, released a nationally distributed CD and attracted a wider fan base to her shows. Hippies dig her, as well as hipsters, boomers, yuppies, academic types, old people, young people, beach bums.
‚ÄúWhether someone is 13 or 80, they connect to me through my music,‚Äù she says.
Not one for the bar scene, Geri admits she doesn‚Äôt socialize with friends, just the people who make up her main support system ‚Äî her mom, sister and Roteik.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs amazing to make that work,‚Äù she says of her live-in boyfriend and bassist. ‚ÄúMixing a relationship with business can be deadly. We don‚Äôt separate. We live and breathe music, and music makes the relationship.‚Äù
The act acquired two more musicians this past year, lead guitarist Justin Kampert and Matt Bennett, formerly of Win Win Winter, who helped record the CD.
‚ÄúWe transformed what the music had been to something twice as intense,‚Äù Geri says. ‚ÄúWe all bring out the best in each other as musicians. It‚Äôs quite incredible.‚Äù
What is Geri X‚Äôs next adventure? ‚ÄúWe are in the process of writing a new record. One of the songs is called Black Bird. It‚Äôs about carrying around emotional baggage that constantly reminds you of the past and you can‚Äôt rid yourself of it. It‚Äôs a dark romantic song.‚Äù
--Story by Julie Garisto, photo by Lance Aram Rothstein