Geri X
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Geri X

Band Americana Singer/Songwriter


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"X Marks the Spot"

"I don't understand the big deal about my age," she snaps. We're sitting in Geri X's favorite haunt, the Globe Coffee Lounge in downtown St. Pete, and our interview has started off a bit tense.
A petite woman who could pass for a teenager, Geri X is perhaps the most heavily buzzed performer of original music in Tampa Bay. She also might be the pluckiest. "People come up to me and say: 'There's all these rumors about how old you are,'" she says. "I just tell them that I'm 15 -- this week."
Geri X's latest album, last year's Can't Make you Happy, helped win her Creative Loafing's Best of the Bay award for Singer/Songwriter. Its melancholy, minor chords complement moving, confessional tales. Take the leadoff track "Hothead": It finds the singer waking up with a sad young man in her room. She watches him wash his face with cold water and "paint [himself] back together."
"Take my hand," goes the hypnotic chorus. "Stay, I can make you happy, I can make you happy." Like many Geri X songs, it details a heavy-investment love affair. Deep subject matter -- especially for someone who is age 17, according to her promotional materials. The issue shrouds the Bulgarian-born artist in mystery. She's reluctant to set the record straight.
"What's your birthday?" I press.
"May 6," she replies.
"What year?"
Awkward silence. Her nose wrinkles. "Yeah, I'm not 15 and I'm not 17 and I'm not 30," she quips. "Everybody puts whatever age they want on me because I won't tell anyone how old I am."
Until now.
Geri X tells me she'd rather not have her age run in the story. "I don't understand the focus on it," she adds. Or does she? Like the lyrics of her songs, she is candid yet peculiar -- and maybe not above letting the Lolita image linger in order to sell CDs or attract more attention from the national indie labels she says have contacted her. Regardless if she is 15 or 50, though, Geri X is an interesting artist, an expressive singer and an attentive scribe whose words worm their way under the listener's skin.
Her birth date out of the way, the subject switches to tattoos. She sports a striking design that sprawls from her left shoulder down to her chest and is usually visible when she performs. "My friend did it, I designed it," she says. "It was supposed to be a representation of the four seasons -- minus the snowflake that was suppose to go right here, but I never drew it.
"This is spring," she continues, pointing with the index finger of her right hand. "And then autumn is the leaves and these are summer and then it goes into winter here."
We move from body art to bio. Geri X's family moved around Europe before landing in the Bay area about five years ago, when she was in high school. She currently lives on St. Pete Beach with her mom and sister, who is a painter.
"My mother is very creative," she says with affection. "She's out there."
Does Geri X consider herself "out there?"
"I hope I'm not as big a kook as [Mom] is," she says. "But I guess I am; we're all crazy -- our whole household."
Geri X's dad is an artist. She has no kind words for him, hence her refusal to carry his surname (which she won't reveal to me). Track number eight on Can't Make You Happy is titled "Father's Stamps." Geri X's singing is characteristically cool and detached, but she sinks her teeth into the lines, "You know you're just a gaping hole, a selfless loon, a failing starlet in a minor role/ Your eyes are leaking kerosene/ Be diligent, don't catch fire."
The discussion turns to Geri's days spent at Tampa's Blake High School, where early on she could not understand a word being uttered by teachers or classmates. "It was very frustrating," she says. "I'm a very personable person. I can strike up a conversation with anybody. It was very hard not being able to speak with people."
Geri X picked up English in six months, and a couple years later began expressing herself through rhymes set to sad music. A pianist and guitar-player as a child, she began penning tunes "a couple years ago" and so far has written "probably 200," but only plays "maybe 20 of them." Her first forays into songwriting produced, she says, "some pretty depressing shit."
Geri X released several homemade CDs before Can't Make You Happy came out last year on the Tampa-based indie label Mekka Records. In addition to 10 originals, the disc includes an impassioned reading of Leonard Cohen's postmodern hymn "Hallelujah," which was most famously covered by the late Jeff Buckley. "I was watching the Jeff Buckley Live in Chicago DVD, and I was just awestruck," she says. "That song just rips you apart."
At first, Geri X revered "Hallelujah" too much to record it. "I didn't wanna fuck it up," she says. But then one night she was on stage at Sacred Grounds in Tampa and someone requested it. She punched the song up on her computer to get the lyrics and chords. "I just sat there with my computer and my guitar in my lap singing it," she says. "That was the first time I pl - Creative Loafing , Tampa Bay, FL

"Geri X-Meet the Band"

New CD: Anthems of a Mended Heart

Who is she? Bulgarian-born singer-songwriter Geri X. has a sweet but tough vocal style, somewhere between Kim Deal and Fiona Apple. Unlike most singers wielding acoustic guitars, Ms. X. doesn't fall on folksy cliches. She instead performs with a stirring and often haunting delivery, backed by spare and eclectic arrangements. We chatted with her by e-mail.

What is your birth name?

I don't like my name. It's long and Bulgarian. That's why I go by Geri X. I hate my last name because it connects me to my father, who I don't want anything to do with, and my first name is the female version of George in Bulgarian. So, Geri is good.

You write every day? And you're classically trained in piano and guitar? Both require a lot of self-discipline.

I do write pretty much every day. Writing and practicing are two completely different things, however. From so much classical training, I have been exhausted from practicing to "be perfect." I know I will mess up at shows and I actually look forward to it. I embrace the humanness of making mistakes and laughing at yourself for it. So, I like to play a song only once a day. That's all I need to be satisfied.

Do you work a regular job?

Yes. I have found my purpose in life and that is (1), to make music, and (2), to work at pet stores. I am absolutely obsessed with knowledge about animals. It comes close to my passion for music. You find that you are meant for the oddest things. I think when I grow old I will open a pet day care so I can get to play and pamper all kinds of animals.

Who are the people closest to you?

My mother and sister and my boyfriend, Greg; we all just seem to share one brain, and no matter what it is, we are always there for each other.

Can you talk about a song from your new CD?

Well, our new record actually has 14 tracks on it, so it will be hard to talk about just one song. I guess the song that the whole band enjoys playing the most is Jack's Song. That's a song about one of Greg's and my dogs. I wrote the song just as we were packing to fly down to Florida in October and Jack just refused to play with me and was just laying on the couch with his face between his paws, like he knew we were leaving him and was mad at us. So the song is basically what I think Jack thinks of us. I am pretty sure he hates us most of the time.

How do you slack off?

I procrastinate a lot because of Law and Order. ... It's horrible, but Greg and I are obsessed with the show and we put everything on hold to watch the marathons. - St Petersburg Times, Tampa, FL

"Best Singer Song Writer of Tampa Bay 2006"

Whether alone or with inventive, intuitive drummer Anthony Zollo, 22-year-old Bulgarian-born Geri X never fails to move attentive listeners. Her deceptively straightforward lyrics draw you in, and her hypnotically precise fingerpicking style turns the heads of the other acoustic players in the crowd, but it's her voice that seals the deal. By turns fragile and bold, and always tinged with an alluring hint of accent, Geri X's vocals perfectly fit her music's combination of the timeless and the contemporary — it's uniquely hip and eclectic American post-folk, but sounds like it learned about love and heartbreak somewhere unfathomably older than here." - Creative Loafing , Tampa Bay, FL

"10 Greatest Women of Tampa Bay"

"Yeah, we know, Geri X has received ample ink in Creative Loafing -- especially lately. And, yes, she's currently living in Wisconsin playing cities like Milwaukee, Madison and Beloit. But St. Petersburg is still her home -- at least part-time -- and she did spend the past year or so here as the leading lady of the local coffeehouse circuit.
Geri X earned her dedicated fanbase with detailed tales delivered in an impassioned whisper across sparse acoustic guitar plucking -- and occasional backing from her bassist/boyfriend Greg Roteik. The prolific 22-year-old has written hundreds of songs and released several CDs, including her latest, Can't Make You Happy, which came out on the local indie imprint Mekka Records.
"I write every day," Geri X says. "I could probably release a CD every week. I write a bulk amount of material and then at a certain point I just pick and choose certain ones that are more fun for me to play -- the ones I get more into. I record those and put them on CD."
The Bulgarian-born artist with the intricate tattoo running down her left shoulder writes frankly about past experiences. She covers the rather touchy subject matter with a poet's eye for specifics. The intimacy of the material endears Geri X to listeners, especially the many women who follow her from show to show. For the artist, it's a cathartic endeavor. "It's a form of therapy," Geri X says. "[But] it can be very frustrating sometimes."
Enthusiasts nationwide pepper Geri X's MySpace page with glowing comments. The singer attributes her widespread popularity to the persistence of her fans. "I love how they share my CD with people," she says. "They'll come to a show and buy five copies and say how they're mailing it to places like L.A. I'm so thankful that people want to share my music with their friends."
So, what does the future hold for Geri X?
"I've gotten offers from major record labels but what they had to offer didn't make sense to me -- so, they kind of turned me off," she says. "Right now, all I really want to do is tour. I want to be on the road. I want to play shows. That's the only way I can reach people." - Creative Loafing , Tampa Bay, FL

"Can't Make you happy Cd Review"

There's both a soft and strong appeal to Bulgarian-born Geri X's singing, similar to Fiona Apple's. When she moved to Tampa as a teen, she barely spoke a word of English, and in fact even wrote some songs in Bulgarian. She made St. Petersburg her home in 2005, and her sultry alt-folk ballads, such as those found on her CD Can't Make You Happy, quickly struck a nerve. Pray that her April 6 show at the Globe Coffeehouse in St. Petersburg, billed as her "last Florida show," really isn't." - Tampa Bay Times, Tampa, FL


Anthems of a Mended Heart (2008)
Can't make you happy (2006)
Treachery (2006)
A Bit Worried Today (2005)
Radioactive drool (2005)



Bulgarian-born singer-songwriter, Geri X, traveled the better (or worse) part of Europe before settling down in St. Petersburg, Florida in 2005. Her classical training on piano and guitar is infused with the emotional songwriting style of artists such as Radiohead, Paul Simon, Johnny Cash and Fiona Apple.

She began playing open mic night in the Bay Area not knowing what would become of ordinary hobby. The more she played more people began to notice her which led to playing shows in coffee houses, restaurants, and music venues. In 3 years of playing shows every night of the week , driving back and forth from city to city, Geri's hard work paid off - she was no longer invisible to the music scene and the local critics recognized her efforts with a pat on the back and encouragement.

With time Geri's music became more than a hobby, it became a therapy for personal struggles as well as for the struggles of others. After receiving emails from people who found help and comfort in a song by her, Geri's goal became simple: she wanted to heal with music.

Geri’s vocals have been described to "perfectly fit her music’s combination of the timeless and the contemporary " and her guitar playing as "hypnotically precise fingerpicking style turning heads in the crowd". Her music is equal parts pleasure and pain - as riveting and haunting as it is emotional and uplifting.

Recently Geri and Greg relocated to Wisconsin to explore the music scene there, while still coming back to Florida for series of shows. Geri X consists of Geri X on guitar/vocals, Greg Roteik on bass, and Matt Bennett on percussion. They have released 6 records so far and are on their way to release a new one soon.
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