Daryana Antipova has been working as a journalist since 2001 and is involved in radio (Scythian horn program), print (The Moscow News, Russia Beyond the Headlines, Fanograf) and online media related to world music. Drummer in Vedan Kolod folk band, director at Scythian horn agency and label. Her main focus is on traditional folk music, Siberian music and Russian world music in general.
Kamwa international world music conference is the first three-day conference in Russia, aimed at the development of Russian ethno-music industry, and organized by Kamwa festival. The gathering will take place on July 27 – 29, 2018.
The conference will include a series of round tables and lectures on current topics of the world music industry such as “Features of the ethnic festivals organization in Russia. The best form of legal registration for the festival”, “How to promote your folk group abroad?”, “Music folk industry in Russia” and others.
Main aim of work: professional industry partnership, business contacts, opportunities for Russian ethnic music export, international cooperation. The conference will take place on the territory of the architectural and ethnographic Khokhlovka museum, located 40 km from Perm (Ural region) on the picturesque banks of Kama river, and will bring together the leading directors of ethnic festivals in Russia, managers of clubs working with world music groups, tour agents, representatives of ethnic labels and journalists.
Participants: the organizer of the Tyumen festival “Nebo I Zemya” Tatiana Fokina; director of the French art-agency “Altan-Art” Tatiana Lambolez; host of radio program “Folk Room” in “Svoyo radio” and director of the music label “FireStorm Production” Lev Belyakov from Moscow; musician of the group Meszecsinka and curator of the Hungarian ethno festival Babel Sound Emil Bilyarsky; director of the international festival “Voice of nomads” Natalia Ulanova (Ulan-Ude); director of the Novosibirsk festival “WhatEthno” Yuri Romanov; director of the ethno-festival “Midsummer tale” Marina Gulyaeva; co-director of the Russian World Music Awards Daryana Antipova from Moscow; director of the international Kamwa festival Natalya Shostina (Perm); art directors of the Orenburg promo-group “Wonderland” Iskander Marat and Milakova Alexander; and director of the music label “Myrkr” from Ekaterinburg Denis Davydov.
There are not so many ethnic [folk or world music] festivals in Russia. Most of those I wrote about a year ago do not exist or will be held every two years, like the Taibola Festival and White Noise, skipping 2018. Also, many have not yet published their promo with the line-up announcement 2018, but it doesn’t prevent people from planning their trips and buying tickets in advance.
27 – 29 of July, Perm region
Kamwa festival celebrates 13 years old this year, and this was the first ethno festival I attended in my life 13 years ago. I always compare other festivals I go to with Kamwa. The festival is held in an unrealistically picturesque place – in the museum of wooden architecture of Khokhlovka, a few kilometers from Perm. All Russian ethno-musicians and many foreign ones performed here, for example, Trad.Attack!, Oratnitza, Vedan Kolod, Merema, Sattuma, Namgar, Volga, Kila, Authentic Light Orchestra and many-many others.
9 – 11 of June, Tula region
The biggest multi-genre festival of Russia. This year more than 70 bands from around the world will perform within 3 days on Wild Mint: Mgzavrebi, Mujuice, OLIGARKH, Aveva, but not so many folk bands as before.
Folk Summer Fest
20 – 22 of July, Kaluga region
Saltatio Mortis, The Rumjacks, Russkaja, Heidevolk, Kalevala, Spire, Teufelstans, Nytt Land, Gilead, Midvinterblot, and more than 50 other bands from all over the world mostly playing pagan metal or Viking folk.
Nebo I Zemlya
8 – 12 of June, Tyumen
There you’ll be able to participate at 700 master classes, to listen to over 200 invited speakers with lectures on health, relationships, needlework, business, cultures from all over the world, 400 events for children, 50 concerts Russian and foreign artists; Holi holiday, fire shows and many other things.
1 – 5 of August, Nizhni Novgorod
WAFEst – this is Water-Air-Fire-Earth-festival! This is not a purely musical festival – there are fire shows, master classes, the quality and quantity (more than 400!) are unprecedented, so you can call it educational too.
13 – 15 of July, Shushenskoe
Since 2003, Shushenskoye has become a place of unprecedented musical, ethnic, cultural leisure for thousands and thousands of guests, whose number and geography increases every year. The first name of this festival was Sayan Ring, later changed into Mir Sibiri, now the biggest ethno festival in Russia.
19 – 22 of July, Altai
International EcoCultural festival WhatEtno it is three-day event, consisting educational and cognitive meetings dedicated to world music, festival also organizes tours for musicians in Siberia.
18 – 22 of July, Republic Tuva
XIX International Festival of Live Music and Faith “Ustuu-Huree -2018” will be held in Chadan of the Republic of Tuva from 18 to 22 July. Festival was established in 1999, during the realization of the idea of restoring the ruins of the once magnificent Buddhist temple Ustuu-Huree.
24 – 26 of August, Bashkortostan
This is the chance also to visit one of the biggest (and almost endless) lakes in Bashkortostan, the lake Aslykul. There is no entrance fee, the festival made by volunteers and enthusiasts. Tribal mood and a lot of beautiful fire shows with live folk and electronic music.
Solar Systo Togathering 2018
17 – 21 of May, Saint-Petersburg
Quite small and private festival that annually changes its location. This year, the “ecological meeting” Solar Systo Togathering took place on the picturesque shore of the Finnish Gulf, 120 kilometers from St. Petersburg towards Primorsk. This year’s headline includes Ikarushka, Testo, Noid and many other folk-electronic projects.
Voice of nomads
20 – 21 of July, Buryatia Republic
International Music Festival near Baikal lake. Invites local stars like Namgar as well as International world music stars like Casuarina from Brazil, the bands from Mongolia, China, Ukraine, Hungary, Norway, USA, Japan, Belgium, Brazil, Zimbabwe, France come there regularly.
Daryana Antipova: Hi Katya, we have known each other since the Kamwa Festival in 2005 when you performed with another folk band. How old is Merema?
Ekaterina Modina: Merema was created in 2010. We called it a folklore ensemble first, and it turned into an ethnographic folklore studio in 2014. We sing Erzyan and Mokshan song and recreate folk rites on the stage. We go on ethnographic expeditions to villages and record and release albums. We are engaged in collecting and preserving folklore. “Merema” means “a story, a legend” in the Erzyan language.
Daryana Antipova: Tell us a little more about the Mordovian culture- how many people in Mordovia still speak their native language?
Ekaterina Modina: Almost no one speaks our national language any more. Basically, this language is preserved in the villages of the districts of the Republic of Mordovia. Maybe there are many more of us than is officially confirmed but the Erzyans and the Mokshaans are disappearing. During the population census, people are embarrassed to say they are Erzyan or Mokshanin- they prefer to say they are Russians.
Daryana Antipova: Oh, that’s sad. It seems to me that the young generation, especially children, do not understand folk music at all…
Ekaterina Modina: We invite children to our children’s studio and a children’s ensemble. There is an amateur ensemble and there is a professional ensemble for old Mordovian songs, “Moroma”. We perform in kindergartens and in schools. Of course, it’s hard to compare and compete with modern genres in music. But if kids get to know their native ancient culture from a young age, culture becomes a part of their life. And yes, it is becoming more and more difficult to attract young people. Teenagers don’t come to our concerts anymore. Our audience is adults who have already formed their own interests. Some of them come from the village and still remember living traditions.
People in Mordovia don’t understand their own culture, because it is incomprehensible to them. The songs are strange and unfamiliar, and they don’t speak this forgotten language. But they still have a unique opportunity to listen to ancient, prolonged polyphonic singing. The songs are original and not everyone likes them, because we have a lot of dissonant chords. In our culture, we sound more like singing traditions in Georgia and southern Russia.
Daryana Antipova: How can we attract people to authentic folklore, if it does not exist on Russian television?
Ekaterina Modina: People are not ready for this. Not everyone can understand the beauty of multi-voiced lyrical songs. We usually combine our shows with the theatre. It all depends on how you present this folklore. Make it tasty. As a collector and a connoisseur I can listen to grandmothers all day long. We go to villages in different regions of the Republic of Mordovia. I made an agreement with our local TV channel 10, and they now travel with us and film the program “The Tradition of Antiquity”. I first go on an expedition, record, watch and listen. It’s so nice and amazing, it’s not possible to convey in words, you just need to be there. This program is shown all over Mordovia. When I come to the village, maybe I can find just one song, but for the sake of this song it is worthwhile to come there and spend a few days.
Daryana Antipova: What instruments do you use in Merema?
Ekaterina Modina: In our work we use household tools — uhvat, pechnaya zaslonka, rubel (traditional Russian kitchen implements). We have our own national drum, but at the moment we have not received any support to order and have it produced. It turned out to be easier to go to the store and buy an African drum than to make our traditional one. We are not proud of this. We also play our traditional, very capricious instrument — “nyudi”. No one plays it nowadays. We have restored it and managed to have an older person show us how to play it. The tool is very impractical. It manages to play for only five minutes. Because the “tongue” is very wet, the instrument shifts tonally.
Also we are actively engaged in traditional costumes. As you can see in our photos and videos, all the costumes are authentic; we do not alter them. If you do not show costumes and do not popularize them now, then they will be completely lost and will remain only in textbooks. To fully understand the culture, you must not only hear, but still see and, perhaps, feel culture.
The Erzyan outfit consists of a bottom shirt — a ”panar” and a top robe — “rutya”. Female amulets (“pulays”) are very important in our culture. The word “Pulax” is translated as a tail. This is a woolen floor skirt, which is tied at the front. “Syulgam”, according to traditional beliefs, protects the female breast, which feeds the new generation. The Erzyans were pagans, very superstitious people, so every Erzyan wore an amulet everywhere. The bells were hung on ”pulays”, since it was believed that the ringing repelled evil spirits. They even said that you hear a Mordovian girl first, and then you see her.
Our costumes are very different from all others, even from Udmurts and Mari, Finns and Estonians. Although we are one group, we have very different costumes.
Daryana Antipova: In Russia, there is little support for folk culture. How do you continue your work?
Ekaterina Modina: People come and leave my ensemble due to life circumstances or because of the low pay for culture in general. People work on their own initiative- no one would have stayed in this system if they had not been so keen on culture, folk traditions. I myself still teach at the university. During their studies, students are satisfied with their salary in ensemble, but when they graduate and receive a diploma, they don’t earn enough to provide for their family. I myself have a family and three children, so I have to work other jobs so that I can do what I love and at the same time have something to live on. This is very sad. I would like to devote myself entirely to one pursuit.
During these seven years “Merema” changed several times. Now we have six people, but one will enter the army soon. It’s also kind of difficult to find new people for our kids ensemble. The Mordovian government pays more attention to sports, and it’s important for kids to be physically fit. Mordovia is famous for athletics- we have a good sport school and kids are eager to get into it. Even my son has recently joined the football team. I tell him that he will not be able to get by on folk singing, so he should just think of it as a favorite hobby.
One of the WOMEX highlights in Poland this year was for sure the opening performance of Kapela Maliszów, a family band from Poland, including the multi-instrumentalist Jan Malisz and his children, Kasper and Zuzanna. As said on the band’s official site, Jan Malisz got most of the instruments from his father, Jozef so the band called their music “Father’s notes.” I so rarely meet female drummers in Eastern Europe, especially in folk music, so from the first second I decided to talk with Zuzanna.
Daryana: Ok, first of all of course I would love to know your personal story of becoming a musician — how and why did you start playing, singing, which instruments and so on?
Zuzanna: I think my story has begun when I came up to this world. It’s a generational thing, my grandparents were musicians, and lots of my family members still are. They aren’t educated musicians, they are just people who love music. So, with so much genes and family I think I couldn’t have a choice… could I? I mean, of course I did but music is something that grew up with me, has been with me since I was born, and I didn’t even realize how much I was soaked by it, how much it affects my life.
My first serious instrument was piano. I went to a music school as an 8 years old child, and, it would be worth mentioning, that a music school had a huge influence on my adventure with music (and it still has). I’ve met teachers that taught me a lot, made me love classical music.
I’m not sure about singing, I believe that I started singing right after I learned how to speak. But 2-3 years ago, I started being interested how to sing properly, and, again, music school, and choir that I have been going to, has helped me to learn technical stuff.
What kind of percussion do you play? Is it a totally traditional way of playing? Does this drumming and percussion tradition exist in old folklore? Is the number of girls playing drums growing or spreading in Polish folk tradition?
Zuzanna: The drums I play are traditional polish drums called baraban (the big one) and bęben obręczowy (the small one). My way of playing is based primarily on improvisation. It’s obvious that the rhythm must be preserved but except that (and some parts in our compositions which I always play the same) the only limit is my imagination.
I always try to play to my brother and improvise with him. I can’t tell if it’s traditional way of playing, I think that in the past there also were several madmen that broke down the rhythm in every possible way… but perceived as more accurate and traditional is playing simpler and without so many wonders. The way of drumming depends on what region you play in, because it can be a little different in different regions. When I started playing drums, I listened to drummers from central Poland, so if you hear central-drumming-style in my playing, maybe that’s why.
Traditional drumming, as a traditional music was dying out few years ago, but now, fortunately, there are many young people who are interested in it, and want to resurrect it. There are also some girls that play drum pretty well and I often meet them at festivals like Wszystkie Mazurki Świata. Regarding women drummers from Eastern Europe, I don’t know any, but I hope that it’ll change soon. In general and apart from percussion I play piano, drum, sometimes trying to play guitar, I can also play on traditional Polish cello.
Why folklore? Don’t you plan to try out some other genres?
Zuzanna: Folk and traditional music have always been in our house. My parents always listened to it, and played it so I think they had a big influence on it. It wasn’t like one day we decided to play traditional music. The traditions chose us, and we had to continue it. Everything came naturally.
But, of course I listen to a lot of different genres! Jazz, indie pop, pop, rock, folk from different countries like Ireland or Bulgaria and a lot of others styles. I love listening to blues, soul, jazz, R&B singers and singing it. And, who knows, maybe this is what my future will be about. I wish it would.
What’s special in working in a family group?
Zuzanna: Probably the best thing about a family band is that we all live in the same place, so we can play whenever we want.
Once, at attempt, we got angry at each other, and we were arguing a lot. And then, Kacper started to play a random melody, improvisation. With all of those emotions, we made a new song.
Please tell about your repertoire and what are your favorite songs?
Zuzanna: We mostly play our compositions, based on tradition. There are some traditional songs that we changed a little bit. All of our compositions are unique and have a nice story behind it, but my favorite is “Chodzony od Józefa” (Kacper’s composition), which is played on our grandfather’s violin. It was broken by a horse, and after grandfather’s death, our dad fixed it.
Best World Music Band – Seven Eight Band
Experimental Award – Nadishana
Best Authentic Band – Merema
Newcomer Award – Karelia
Best Video – Otava Yo
World Music Legend – Sergey Starostin
Audience prize – Gilead
Contributions to world music – Theodor Bastard
The 2nd Annual Russian World Music Awards were held on Thursday, November 23rd at the Moscow’s Central House of Artists in Moscow, Russia. Shaman Nikolay Oorzhak from Tuva opened the ceremony with a traditional prayer.
Russian musicians are rarely present on the world music scene so this project is created to change this situation. On the Awards’ social media page vk.com/russianworldmusicawards you can listen to all the tracks from nominees for free.
Our ceremony in Moscow on November 23rd was very successful. It gathered lots of musicians, directors of all the main world music festivals of Russia (Andrei Klukin from Wild Mint festival in Moscow, Natalia Shostina – director of Kamwa festival from Perm and Yuri Romanov – WhatEthno festival director from Novosibirsk), and many fans of Russian culture. It was a please to hear from the audience that it was a cultural revolution in our country!
The ceremony was conducted by Andrei Bukharin, music critic and columnist for Rolling Stone magazine. This year, 46 music collectives from 25 cities were nominated. Voting was conducted with the participation of 12 jury members, consisting of the largest specialists in the field of folk music from 9 countries: Ben Mandelson from the UK, Jarmila Vlchkova from Slovakia, Nataliya Shostina from Russia, Simon Broughton from the UK, Aengus Finnan from the US, Rolf Beydemuller from Germany, Alexander Cheparukhin from Russia, Arne Berg from Norway, Andrew Cronshaw from the UK, Nick Hobbs from Turkey, Carlos Seixas from Portugal and Yury Romanov from Russia. In total, 12 samurais and absolutely wonderful people.
The special guest Arne Berg from NRK (Norway) and musical journalist Vadim Ponomarev (Guru Ken) had a networking meeting named “World music today: identity, migration, context” the next day on November 24th at Pioneer Cinema Bookstore.
Organizers are Natalia Myazina and Daryana Antipova.
Hungarian world music band Meszecsinka is back from its Russian tour. The group performed in Saint Petersburg, Moscow, Dubna and Sergiev Posad from November 2-5, 2017.
In Bulgarian, Meszecsinka means a “small moon” and comes from vocalist Annamari’s favorite Bulgarian folk song. Annamari Oláh sings in seven languages (Hungarian, Russian, Bulgarian, Finnish, English, Italian and Spanish) and one of their own. The group itself comes from two countries (Hungary, Bulgaria) and leads listeners into a wonderland, where Bulgarian and Hungarian folk lives together with Latin music and funk, Eastern and experimental.
“This was my second time in Russia. I only was in Moscow 3 years ago so now I could see more details of Russia,” said Annamari Oláh to WorldmusicCentral. “Sometimes I felt I was in a movie or at home or like ’Hedgehog in the Fog’. I loved to travel between cities. The worst thing was that we hadn’t enough time for sightseeing but I got a lot of hugs, energy, unforgettable moments and words and shining eyes, gifts, and it was an incredible surprise when a couple who live in St. Petersburg, but they missed our concert on Nov. 2nd, traveled to Sergiyev Posad to see us (it’s in the Moscow region). I totally filled up with energy and this trip was inspired me a lot”.
Meszecsinka’s members are Annamari Oláh on vocal, Biljarszki Emil on guitar, Krolikowski Dávid on percussion and Vajdovich Árpád on bass guitar.
“Russia is a special story for me,” says Emil Biljarszki, “ because I grew up there. I took up its music, culture and still swear in Russian sometimes even if I left it in 1982 (I was born in Bulgaria and since 1984 I’ve been living here in Hungary). I met old and new friends in Saint Petersburg and Moscow. Meszecsinka tours regularly in Europe, we’ve been twice in America and it was our second time in Russia. Recently we started playing mostly in Eastern Europe and the reason is that it’s more interesting and the audience is better. Maybe we’re paid more in Germany but in Bulgaria, Russia and Poland I always feel that we’re loved. There is a short video from our Saint Petersburg backstage:
https://www. facebook. com/meszecsinka/videos/10159899375605393/
Our organizers Daryana, Maria and Yuri worked as magicians, they organized concerts 2 weeks before our coming to Russia exactly on dates and places we needed. For example there was a sold out concert in nuclear city of Dubna, we played for the atom workers!”
Meszecsinka has performed in the biggest venues of Hungary like Millenáris or Palace of Arts and at many festivals in the country and almost all European countries.
The band tours frequently in many European countries. They visited the USA and Canada, recorded video on the Red Square in Moscow and a Balkan road movie. Their art video “Kinyílok (I open up) reached the sixth place on the video chart of World Music Network (UK) and fRoots Magazine (UK).
Meszecsinka is one of the 12 best Hungarian world music bands according to the WOMEX edition of Dal+Szerző magazine.
OneBeat Russia will arrive to Moscow this weekend. The event brings together nine socially engaged musicians from Russia and the United States to compose, create and perform original music, and explore ways that music-making can build community across cultural and geographic divides.
OneBeat Russia is comprised of three one-week residencies, starting in the medieval city of Suzdal, continuing to Sviyazhsk Island and Kazan in Tatarstan, and ending with a week in Moscow, co-organized by Ground Khodynka.
Our one-of-a-kind ensemble will celebrate the 100-year anniversary of Stravinsky’s ‘L’Histoire du Soldat,’ reimagining the work entirely while drawing inspiration from its original intent to use the power of myth and folk tales to bring art and music to people from all walks of life. Conversely, OneBeat Russia draws the sounds and stories of the public into the art world. In addition to performances and workshops, OneBeat Russia fellows and staff will produce original recordings, music videos, photos and social media to share the experience with wider audiences.
In times of challenged US-Russia relations, this program emphasizes the creative connections and enduring good will between the people and artistic communities of the United States and Russia.
Saturday, June 24: Powerhouse Moscow — 8pm — Free admission
Sunday, June 25: Ground Khodynka — 4pm/8pm — 100 Rubles
The second edition of the Russian World Music Awards application process is now open until July 15, 2017. To apply, go to worldmusicawards.ru. The voting process will be held during 15 days – from July 15 till July 31. People choose the best nominee for the Listeners Choice nomination until July 31. The jury will evaluate nominees based on 4 criteria: professionalism, authenticity, experimentalism, personal attitude. The winners will be presented in 5 categories: The Best Authentic Project, The Best Experimental Project, The Best World Music Project, The Best New World Music Project, and Listeners Choice Award.
In 2017 jury members are Ben Mandelson from the UK, Jarmila Vlchkova from Slovakia, Nataliya Shostina from Russia, Simon Broughton from the UK, Aengus Finnan from the US, Rolf Beydemuller from Germany, Alexander Cheparukhin from Russia, Arne Berg from Norway, Andrew Cronshaw from the UK, Carlos Seixas from Portugal and Yury Romanov from Russia. In total, 11 samurais and absolutely wonderful people.
The first Russian World Music Awards Ceremony was held in November 2016 in Moscow. The winners were chosen from a large amount of nominees for the first time – 149 applicants from 25 cities of Russia. The best world music project was Authentic Light Orchestra; the best experimental, Inna Zhelannaya; the best authentic project, Nerechtskiy Rozhechniy Choir; and Listeners choice, Robert Yuldashev and Kuraisy band.
Jury members in 2016 were 9 professionals from 7 countries: Juliana Voloz from Estonia, Ton Maas from the Netherlands, Johannes Theurer from Germany, Andrey Kataev from Russia, Timur Davletov from Turkey, Tristra Newyear Yeager from the USA, Aengus Finnan from the USA, Joe Boyd from the UK, and Ankur Malhotra from India.
It was a big surprise for us, organizers, that our idea with the world music awards had a resonance in hearts of many people, the activity in social nets was really impressing! Over 2000 visitors per day! Organizers are Natalia Myazina and Daryana Antipova.
We ordered handcrafted statues with the symbol of our Awards – a bird, made of cedar wood in Siberia. Totally we spent about 500 dollars for all the project work.
In 2017 year we are planning to present our winners at WOMEX in Poland. And this year it’s going to be free for the musicians to apply to our Awards. As what we offer is really a substantial deal: an international and Russian jury will listen to nominee’s music, will watch their video, we publish the band’s profile at all our social media, so later bands will be in our compilation CD and online (for the best nominees), so many new people will know about nominees music and can become their fans!
Some people ask us why we are positioning ourselves as an international project. The answer is vivid, we almost don’t have a world music market in Russia. Our bands are traveling abroad to earn money. The Russian reality is that world music is an unknown term for our specialists; we misunderstand ethnic and folk music, often taking communist lubok balalaika and garmoshka as national folk. That’s why we gather international specialists for the Awards’ jury, as we see the lack of international-class specialists in world music in Russia. We hope this will change in the future, and our mission is to be the locomotive of this process in Russia.
The best authentic project – Nerechtskiy Rozhechniy Choir
The best world music project Authentic Light Orchestra
The best experimental project – Inna Zhelannaya
Listeners choice – Robert Yuldashev and Kuraisy band
The Russian World Music Awards welcome professional bands and soloists, performing in world music genre living in Russia. How do we determine who is professional and who is amateur? We decided that to be a professional musician in world music is not about documents, diplomas, it’s about listener’s’ choice. It’s impossible to lie to people, they feel what has a resonance in their hearts, and what does not. That’s why a professional musician for us is who has a vast concert activity and has at least 1 album.
Russian composer and arranger Andrey Vinogradov (a former member of the legendary Russian band Arsenal) is set to play on hurdy-gurdy March 30th, 2017 at Hyperion club, Moscow.
You will hear Andrey’s own songs and instrumental compositions, as well as Russian, Bulgarian, Macedonian, Serbian, Greek, Austrian music, contemporary classical melodies, and jazz improvisation on hurdy-gurdy. This exact instrument was made by Wolfgang Weichselbaumer from Austria.
Andrey participated at several prestigious folk festivals recently like Krutushka (Kazan, 2015), EuroFolk (Bulgaria, 2015), Medunarodni Festival Tradicijskih Glazbala (Croatia, 2015), Manor Jazz Rosa Khutor (Russia, 2016), Music on the river (Russia, 2016), and Pilsen Busking Fest (Czech Republic, 2016).
For about 4 years Alyona Minulina has been known as Alyona FolkBeat – a beautiful folk singer and beatbox musician from a rising star group FolkBeat. In February 2017 Russian label FireStorm production released their new album “I’m marching on my own” that was recorded and produced by Alyona but at the same time their fans were shocked by news about her leaving the project. Alyona tells us what happened and what’s next.
Q:How did the group FolkBeat get started?
Alyona Minulina: FolkBeat grew up from a student’s ensemble. It was called differently and consisted of a large number of participants. Later I began to study beatbox and electronic music, so I thought it was interesting to combine it with Russian folk songs. So FolkBeat has traditional Slavic polyphony, surrounded by electronic arrangement, which is close to the styles of EDM trap, dubstep, trance and crunk. The compositions are often performed with beatbox – imitation of drum machines and music effects using vocal apparatus and articulation organs.
Q: How would you describe your musical journey so far?
AM: When we started we made music for ourselves and gradually our music started to be interesting to other people. We didn’t think about genres, we were passionate about making music with each other, it was really awesome. When we went on stage the audience felt our special energy.
Q: Did you perform in Europe or only in Russia?
AM: In 2016 Folkbeat took part at EuroRadio Festival and had a concert in Viljandi (Estonia). Besides this we visited Madrid, Munich, Athens and Tallinn with festival of Russian cultural FeelRussia.
Q: As I know – you love collaborating with different music genres and bands: what are the features of Russian folk music that makes it possible for you to collaborate with other musicians?
AM: The most interesting thing for me is the fact that people connect with each other, share cultures, and different genres and traditions mix too. Now I have plans to record some songs together with the master of throat singing Alexei Chichakov from Mountain Altai. This will be the connection of his own Altai traditions and Slavic melodies.
In every collaboration I’m looking for special feeling when the spark runs between musicians (chemistry in our relationship), because then, every performance becomes memorable for listeners. This is the highlight for me. Of course with Folkbeat we often had this feeling. When the head is full with ideas – I always find the way to realize them. But sometimes I get tired and I need to allow some rest for myself. This is the most difficult thing for me.
Q: What music instruments do you use?
AM: Different electronic things (loop station, keyboards), sometimes folk wind instruments like kugikly and kaliuk, khomus.
Q: What can you tell us about the contemporary Russian folk scene?
AM: Despite the fact that the Russian folk scene is a real “folk star” and a budding young musicians, it hasn’t been formed yet. We do not have enough support and solidarity between each other. Although we have more opportunities for advancement than 10 years ago.
Q: How are your albums being received by audiences?
AM: Our first album «Joyful meeting» became favorite Russian-folk album on EBU Folk Festival in 2016. In Russia it was in the top twenty music albums of 2016. This year we released the album «Sama idu» (I’m marching on my own). We collaborated with different electronic musicians and DJs, so it can be classified as pop-folk.
Q: Who would you say are the leading influences in your musical career?
AM: My teachers, who always said something like this: pull yourself and work, work hard, if you really love it.
Q: So what happened to FolkBeat?
AM: With Folkbeat we are friends, but we do not work together anymore. If the world gives us a chance to sing together again, I will take this chance.
Now I work on original songs album with the texts of famous Russian poets from XX century. And together with Jewish, Armenian, Russian musicians and composer from Canada, Ivan Popov, we have created a world music project “Under The Same Sky” which intertwined tunes and melodies of different national cultures. In March we will have a concert of Slavic-Jewish music.
Q: Are Russian audiences, venues, labels and artists open to collaboration?
AM: It depends on various factors, but if you play interesting music, you can always find a way.
Q: Where do you see yourself 10 or 15 years from today?
AM: I see myself chewing pasta in my favorite little pizzeria in Italy, resting in a cozy wooden house on the Solovetsky Islands in Russia, and playing my set at the Burning Man.
Q: Do you also teach workshops for students and musicians?
AM: I opened vocal beatbox and body percussion workshops named “Pulse” in Moscow recently and it’s getting popular. I have a lot of new ideas and projects in my head and I hope my music experience with FolkBeat will help me to create something really unique and internationally interesting.
Your Connection to traditional and contemporary World Music including folk, roots and various types of global fusion