Tag Archives: Russian folk music

Interview with Alexey Belkin of Russian Folk Band Otava Yo

Otava Yo is one of the rising acts in contemporary Russian folk music. The Saint Petersburg Russian-based band has an excellent new album available internationally titled “Do You Love

The lineup includes Alexey Belkin on vocals, bagpipes, gusli, zhaleika; Alexey Skosyrev on vocals, acoustic guitar; Dmitry Shikhardin on vocals, fiddle; Yulia Usova on vocals, violin; Petr Sergeev on bass drum and darbuka; and Timur Sigidin on bass.

Otava Yo’s leader Alexey Belkin talked to World Music Central about the band’s background and the new recording.

Q: How and when was Otava Yo formed?

On the streets of St. Petersburg in 2003, where we decided to busk for fun. The feedback from audience was so great, so we started to busk in St. Pete on regular basis. That time we were playing instrumental Celtic music. Only after 3 years of occasional street performing we made a first record and perceived our selves as a band.

Q: What do you consider as the essential elements of your music?

We try to keep music live, in terms that we do not like to copy somebody’s ideas, we prefer to invent our own bicycle. If we see some great idea created by somebody else – it inspires us to make something too. Also we try to keep the main idea of folk songs and do not complicate them. If it is funny cheerful dance song we would not make from it jazzy lounge R&B.

Otava Yo – Photo by Daniil Moroz

Q: Who can you cite as your main musical influences?

I can talk only for myself. I used to listen to lots of Celtic artists – Chieftains, Carlos Nuñez, Silly Wizard, etc. and also Scandinavian bands like Hedningarna, Garmarna. I love Latvian band Iļģi. Penguin Cafe Orchestra, Michael Nyman. All of them could make influence on my musical taste.

Q: Tell us about your first recordings and your musical evolution.

The first recording with Otava Yo we made in 2006. After all those sessions on the streets we decide to make live album with everything we played for that time. So, it was instrumental album with just 1 song. Raw and live. No bass guitar and no even bass drum. Exactly how we played on the streets.

Three years later we made a new album full of Russian traditional songs, the most popular ones. And it was recorded with using all studio possibilities. We made nice arrangements and used more instruments then we can play live, invited some friends. So, it was fun to make that record and to see how good this music could be recorded.

The new album “Do you love” in 2018 took us a 6 months of work in studio. And I believe it is our most matured work for now.

Otava Yo – Do you Love

Q: Even though you live in a city, your music contains elements of Russian village music. How do you find traditional rural folk songs?

Well, we live in cities, but some of us used to stay in country side. I myself till 15 years old stayed in very small town in private house in suburb of St. Petersburg. I was able to go for a walk without seeing a single car, if I wanted I could make a campfire with my friends in my yard, so it was a happy childhood of small town boy. But there was no folklore in my life. It was USSR and communists did everything they could to steal folklore from Russian population and to replace it with fake academic folklore. But in spite of this the folk songs are all over, all you need just to wish to listen to them. The most of the song we sing we just know. Some of them we found in ethnographic recordings or books. But we never went to ethnographic expeditions.

Q: Otava Yo uses various traditional Russian instruments. Tell us about them and how common are they now?

The most common – electric guitar and bass, the rest are quite rare. Well, to be serious, it is a problem now with getting Russian traditional instruments. You are not able to buy them in store, the only way to get such instrument is only to order it directly from the maker and then wait for a few months. I ordered my new Russian village bagpipe in May and it is ready only now. But it is worth to wait. How common?… Well, not really.

Otava Yo – Photo by Timur Sigidin

Q: Who makes your traditional musical instruments?

Different makers. Some of them are from St. Petersburg, some from other cities. My zhaleikas mostly made by Anton Platonov and Dmitry Dyomin. Gusli by Alexander Teplov. The new Russian bagpipe by Vasiliy Ivanov. Also I am waiting for the new gaita chanter with keys from Moscow’s maker Alexander Anistratov. All of them you may find in Facebook.

Q: Otava Yo is also known for making captivating music videos. Tell us about the process of making videos and who is involved.

We make them in picaresque way. I have directed all the videos we made. As far as I didn’t study how to shoot video so I was not afraid to start to make them and just started to do it without understanding the details of the whole video production process. First two videos we even shot by ourselves, only starting from “Street cleaner” we have invited professional camera man.

The process – usually I start to think about the song for which I would like to shoot video. I listen to it more than hundred times. Then I come up with the main idea and start to work on script. Then with my partner Vsevolod together we write final script and plan all the shootings details including what kind of equipment we will use and where will rent it. Then we shoot 🙂

After shooting we edit it and make post-production.

Nothing special or unusual. The only important thing – I suppose if we would invite the professional director from the side the result would not be like what we have now, just because it is impossible to find so folklore involved and oriented director in Russia or outside of it. So, I had to invent everything especially for Otava Yo. I suppose it is a unique product we made in a single copy, it is very difficult to duplicate. So that’s the whole secret.

Q: How’s the current traditional and contemporary folk and world music scene in Saint Petersburg and other parts of Russia?

To be honest quite bad. The amount of folk groups which on regular basis can play the concerts is very little. The ones which could attract more than 100 listeners even less. We do not have infrastructure for world music. The quantity of world music festivals also is quite low. But I think it is changing a little bit and also with our help too.

Q: If you could gather any musicians or musical groups to collaborate with whom would that be?

Well, I like Hedningarna and Penguin cafe, I think we could make something interesting together. And Rammstein of course 🙂

Q: Do you have any upcoming projects to share with us?

We are getting ready for Christmas tour, which will happen in January 2020. Now we are in the middle of “Once upon a time” tour which is dedicated to 10 year anniversary of our second album “Once upon a time”. Ten more concerts to go.

We need to finish the new video clip, which we shot in August. I wanted to create an adventurous comedy video and I hope it will work out as I planned. We have some ideas for our youtube show “Zelyonka”, where we invite other musicians and play together. The last month we had a great guests from Sweden – Garmarna. We plan several other interesting acts within this show. And of course we are planning to work on new songs, and this is the most important thing for us now. The recent live video with new song “Zalivochka” which we just uploaded gathered more than 100K views just for 2 days; that means people look forward for new songs from us.

headline photo: Otava Yo by Maxim Drozdov

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Second World Music Networking Conference Held in Russia

Tavrida Art festival – Photo by by Anna Sadovnikova

The biggest Russian festival Tavrida Art hosted Russian Ethno-Music Conference MusiConnect Russia — the second five-day showcase conference of its kind held in Russia.

Tavrida Art festival – Photo by by Anna Sadovnikova

The gathering was aimed at the development of the Russian ethno-music (world music) industry and organized by Daryana Antipova and Alyona Minulina.

Danya Voronkov – Photo by by Anna Sadovnikova

The conference took place during August 21 — 26, 2019 and it brought together 12 directors of ethnic (world music) festivals in Russia and one special guest from Hungary.

Vera Kondratieva – Photo by by Anna Sadovnikova

The participants included: Mikhail Chashchin of Festival Heaven and Earth (Tyumen); journalist Emil Biljarski of the Hungarian Ritmus és hang (Budapest); Natalia Ulanova of the international festival Voice of Nomads» (Ulan-Ude); Marina Gulyaeva of Kupalskaya skazka festival (Moscow); Daryana Antipova, co-director of the Russian World Music Awards (Moscow); Stanislav Drozdov, former director of the international festival Folk Summer Fest (Sevastopol); Ilya Shkurinsky of festival White Noise (Petrozavodsk); Irina Shuvalova of the the creative bureau Selsovet (Moscow), Yuri Pavlov of WAFest festival (Nizhny Novgorod), Irina Palekhova of Alatyr festival (Yekaterinburg), Alexei Polyakov of Call of Parma festival (Perm), and Olga Sitnikova of Protoka (Samara).

Festival directors – Photo by by Anna Sadovnikova

Tavrida Narodnaya is a compilation CD of the best musicians presented at the showcase festival. Festival directors listened to more than 25 participants who applied to perform and were chosen among 50 applicants. All musicians are under 35 years old. If you want to get more information about these projects please contact the compiler and showcase organizer Daryana Antipova (scythianhorn@gmail.com)

Zoya Strekalovskaya

Four groups were chosen to participate at the festivals:

Staritsa from Belgorod is going to play at Kupalskaya skazka» festival in 2010; Volya from Voronezh to participate at WAFest festival in 2020; Zoya Strekalovskaya from Yakutsk will go to Nebo i Zemlya festival in 2020; and Daniil (Danya) Voronkov from Moscow is going to perform at Voice of Nomads festival in 2020.

Festival directors meeting – Photo by by Anna Sadovnikova
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Artist Profiles: OYME

OYME

OYME (soul in English) is a Moscow-based group specialized in the culture of the Ugro-Finn traditions of Russia. Currently, the ensemble presents two types of shows: the traditional program and the world music option.

The conventional ethnographic program includes traditional polyphonic female singing of folk songs and laments from the Erzya and Moksha ethnic groups in Mordovia as well as traditional tunes by genuine instruments. Based on its own ethnographic expeditions “OYME” reconstructs ancient ritual ceremonies and national holidays of the Erzya and Moksha.

The world music side of the band features electronic folk music made by using computer technologies, traditional Mordovian instruments and world music instruments.

The OYME repertoire is primarily composed of celebratory and ritual songs of the Mordovians. Each concert turns into a folk festival, a collective ritual performance engaging the audience. The shows begin, as a rule with the song named Pazchangodt – the rite of wishing each other well-being. Members of the audience raise their hands and jubilantly shout out in chorus “Pazchangodt!”

OYME’s musicians regularly embark on ethnographic expeditions across the Republic of Mordovia with the aim to collect new musical material. The OYME artists record songs performed by local babushkas using a multichannel device. These expeditions allow the musicians to implement their dream of creating an open archive of Mordovian song heritage.

The ensemble’s lineup Ezhevika Spirkina, Larisa Zybkina, Kseniia Zobanova, and Anastasia Kosova on vocals; Elena Barskova on drums, percussions; and Vladislav Oskolkov on violin.

Discography:

Штатол. Традиция = Shtatol. Tradition ‎(2016)

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Artist Profiles: Terem Quartet

The Terem Quartet is one of the leading proponents of “new Russian folk music” on the international music scene today. The Terem Quartet was founded more than 13 years ago, when the participants were still music students in St. Petersburg. Mischa Dziudze explains the choice of the ensemble’s name: “Originally the word terem describes a loft, and therefore the place in which virgins used to live in the house before their marriage. Today, it is generally used to describe a pretty Russian-style house, but also,” he adds, “a wonderful place in which many different animals live in peace together, as in a Russian fairy-tale world.”

The group was already well known in Russia when Peter Gabriel discovered them in 1991 and immediately brought them into the recording studio. The Terem Quartet’s resulting debut album was released in 1992 on Gabriel’s Real World label and led to the group’s international breakthrough and popularity. After the great success of this first album, the Terem Quartet has had no shortage of invitations to play beyond Russian borders. They performed at the Summer Olympic Games in Barcelona in 1992, at the anniversary of German reunification in 1992, and have even been invited to the famous Venice Carnival. In January 1994, the musicians celebrated their thousandth concert together in Russia and took the opportunity to record their second album.

After making a studio album and a live production, it was decided that the Terem Quartet’s third album would be a concert performance recorded with the technical standards of a studio session. The venerable Teatro Civico in Tortona in Italy proved to be the ideal place for such a project, and No, Russia Cannot Be Perceived by Wit was recorded there on October 2, 1998.

On No, Russia Cannot Be Perceived by Wit, Igor Ponomarenko (alto-domra), Andrei Kostantinov (soprano-domra), Andrei Smirnov (bayan-accordion) and Mikhail Dziudze (bass-balalaika) present themselves in top form, both in terms of playing and in high spirits. The album title gives an idea of their general attitude, while wonderful track titles such as “Sounds Like A Twist,” “Must Be A Foxtrot,” and “Positively A Waltz” inform the listener that this is a quirky, non- traditional folk album. In addition to their own fascinating compositions, the Terem Quartet also present original interpretations of selected pieces of classical music (including an exquisite adaptation of Rossini’s “Barber of Seville”).

Discography:

Terem quartet (Melody, 1989)
Terem (Real World Records, 1992)
Classical (Real World Records, 1994)
St. Petersburg (Radio Bremen, 1994)
1000th Concert. Live (Terem Quartet, 1994)
Dog’s Waltz (Manchester Files, 1999)
No, Russia Cannot Be Perceived By Wit… (Terem Quartet, 1999)
Russian Passion (Manchester Files, 2002)
Diddú Og Terem (Sögur Útgáfa, 2008)

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First World Music Networking Conference Held in Russia, a Success

The Kamwa International Ethno-Music Conference was the first three-day conference of its kind held in Russia. The gathering was aimed at the development of the Russian ethno-music (world music) industry and organized by the Kamwa festival, Natalia Shostina and Daryana Antipova.

The conference included a series of round tables on current topics of the ethno-music industry such as “Features of ethnic festival organization in Russia. The best form of legal registration for festivals”, “Folk Music Industry in Russia” and others. The main goal of the event was to foster professional industry partnerships, business contacts, opportunities for exporting Russian ethnic music, and international cooperation.


Kamwa International Ethno-Music Conference 2018

 

The conference took place during July 27 – 29, 2018 at the grounds of the Architectural and Ethnographic Khokhlovka Museum, located 40 km from Perm on the picturesque banks of the Kama River. It brought together directors of ethnic festivals in Russia, managers working with world music groups, tour agents, representatives of ethnic labels and journalists ranging from Siberia and Moscow to France and Hungary.

 


Tatiana Fokina (Nebo i Zemlya festival), Tatiana Lambolez (Altan Art agency, France), Marina Gulyaeva (Kupalskaya skazka festival, Moscow), Denis Davydov (Myrkr label, Ekaterinburg), Emil Bilyarski, Daryana Antipova, Glafira Utyomova and Angelina Abdulova at Kamwa International Ethno-Music Conference 2018

 

Denis Davydov of the Myrkr record label in Ekaterinburg said: “I am very glad that I was able to take part in the Kamwa ethno-music conference. It was a new and useful professional experience for me. Finally in Russia there is a platform where you can meet and talk with the organizers of ethno – and folklore festivals, representatives of groups, publishers and journalists. I hope that the conference will be an annual one. Thanks to its organizers, and, in particular, Daryana Antipova and Natalia Shostina for the invitation“.

Tatiana Lambolez of booking agency Altan-Art (France) expressed: “The atmosphere was wonderful at the conference. We had interesting topics for discussion and all members actively participated, which is important. The Kamwa festival itself is wonderful, with a very rich and varied program in a wonderful place and nature. I enjoyed the full program and the choice of artists as well as communicating with conference participants and organizers. Thank you!

More at www.kamwa.ru

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Winners of The 2nd Annual Russian World Music Awards Announced

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.

 

Nikolay Oorzhak

 

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!

 

Natalia Myazina and Daryana Antipova

 

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.

 

The Russian World Music Awards team

 

The best authentic project – Merema:

 

The best world music project – Seven Eight Band:

 

The best experimental project – Nadishana:

 

Listener’s choice – Gilead:

 

Debut Group – Karelia:

 

Best Music Video – Ottawa Yo:

 

World Music Legend – Sergey Starostin

 

Contributions to world music – Theodor Bastard

 

More information:

www.russianworldmusicawards.ru
vk.com/russianworldmusicawards

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Alluring Songs of Cossacks and Old Believers

Chitinskaya Sloboda – Songs of Russian People. Cossacks’ songs / Song of old-believers and Transbaikalien Cossacks (Sketis Music SKMR-129, 2016)

Songs of Russian people. Cossacks’ songs / Song of old-believers and Transbaikalien Cossacks is a two-CD set by Russian folk music ensemble Chitinskaya Sloboda. The group is part of a movement in Russian folk music that is researching and recovering ancient musical traditions.

Disc 1 focuses on Cossack songs. It features a mix of polyphonic choral a cappella pieces along with songs featuring accordion and percussion accompaniment. The ensemble provides fascinating vocal interplay with a wide-range of vocal ranges featuring female and male singers.

Disc 2 includes songs a cappella old believers songs (an ancient Russian orthodox sect) and traditional cossack songs from the Transbaikal mountainous territory east of Lake Baikal in Russia.

Chitinskaya Sloboda includes Alexander Avdeyev, Vyacheslav Egorov, Vladimir Kravtsov, Arina Nekrasova, Larisa Pakhomova, Alexei Ryumkin, Natalia Ryumkina, Leonid Subotni, and Lyubov Tkachenko.

The CD booklet includes liner notes in Russian and English and song lyrics in Russian.

Buy the digital download version of Songs of Russian People. Cossacks’ songs / Song of old-believers and Transbaikalien Cossacks. The CD is available from shop.sketismusic.ru

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Renaissance of the Vargan

Vladimir Markov – Out of time. Russian jew’s harp music

Vladimir Markov – Out of time. Russian jew’s harp music (Sketis Music, SKMR-126, 2017)

The jew’s harp had disappeared in Russia until Vladimir Markov (Владимир Марков) and other enthusiasts revived it. Markov, a musician from Irkutsk conducted research and started playing the vargan, the Russian jew’s harp in the 1990s.

Out of time – Russian jew’s harp music (Вне времён. Русская варганная музыка) is Markov’s vision of how the vargan was used. It’s a fascinating album of traditional Russian folk songs adapted to jew’s harp.

Buy Out of time. Russian jew’s harp music

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Artist Profiles: Reelroad

Reelroad in 2008

Reelroad plays traditional Russian music in an original post-folk style in concert halls and festivals throughout Europe and Russia.

In 2008 the band crossed the Atlantic to perform at world music festivals in Mexico and the United States. In early 2009 Reelroad celebrated its 10th anniversary.

Reelroad’s repertoire favors obscure folk songs from northern Russia and central Siberia, music driven underground for decades. Reelroad has two styles of performing Russian folk music. The first echoes the village with the sound of Russian instruments such as the gusli (zither), zhaleika (fife) and kaljuka.

Traditional vocals are prominent, due in part to Reelroad members Anastasia Karaseva and Aleksandrs Dmitrijevs, founders of the traditional village choir “Dubinushka.” Acoustic guitar, violin, flute and bagpipes round out the sound.

In the second style, developed for the large stage, Reelroad projects and amplifies the village sound with bass guitar and drums. All seven Reelroad members are musicians. Four serve as vocalists as well, singing in traditional Russian village vocal style.

Anastasia Karaseva plays the tin whistle, Spanish pandereta and Irish harp.

Alexey Belkin manages Reelroad and plays Galician and Scottish bagpipes, zhaleika (fife) and winged gusli (dulcimer).

Aleksandrs “Kep” Dmitrijevs plays acoustic guitar, banjo and harmonica.

Natalia Vysokikh is a professional violinist.

Alexey Skosyrev made the fretless bass guitar he plays, as well as Anastasia’s harp.

Svetlana Kondesyuk, a graduate of the Academy of Arts, plays the flute and Galician bagpipes.

Denis Nikiforov learned to play the drums in the army, studied at the Academy of Arts, and works at the famous Hermitage museum.

In addition to concert performances, Reelroad teaches Russian folk dances in clubs and dance schools. The band welcomes dancers of all skill levels and aims to dispel the belief Russian folk dances are boring or difficult.

Discography

Reelroad (2001)
Стрела – Arrow (2003)
Гуляю, гуляю – I Walk I Walk (2007)
Выйду за ворота – Past the gates (2014)
На море орёл (single) (2016)

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Andrey Vinogradov to perform at Hyperion

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).

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