Monday, August 6, 2007

Post Soviet popular music outside the post Soviet space

While the study of post Soviet popular music could be limited to the post Soviet geographical sphere (e.g. Russia, Ukraine) that would not cover all the Russian/Ukrainian/Belorussian (and other) language music within that area. Due to large waves of emigration to mainly Germany, Israel and the United States there are a lot of (mainly) Russian speaking communities outside the former Soviet Union. These groups still have strong connections to their origin (home country is not quite accurate, since the Soviet Union ceased to exist...) and these ties also include music. These communities provide a market for groups singing in Russian like Akvarium, Auktsyon, Billy's Band, Iva Nova, Markscheider Kunst, Leningrad and others. This is an important factor enabling them to tour outside the former Soviet Union (when talking about a tour to the US, Efr, the singer from Markscheider Kunst, told me that they mainly played for emigrants).

However, the emigrants themselves also make music and sing in Russian. In line with this there are organizations like the Русский Рок-Клуб в Америке (The Russian Rock Club of America) and Пи-Рок (Pi-Rock - Germany) aimed at providing a community for these "local" groups, promoting them and as with the Russian Rock Club of America, to organize concerts/festivals. These organizations are primarily orientated towards the emigrant community (although Mikhail Yaroshevskiy, one of the founding members of the Russian Rock Club of America, told me that through press coverage also people with no link to the emigrant community have appeared at their festivals).

But there are also attempts to target both the emigrants and the non-Russian speaking inhabitants. One example is the monthly radio show Schum. Based in Halle (Germany), the show features (mainly) groups from the post Soviet Sphere and Germany (singing in Russian). The show itself is bilingual (Russian, German) thus targeting both a German as well as a Russian speaking audience. The fortnightly event Russendisko in Berlin (Germany) focuses even more on a non Russian speaking audience. The DJs Wladimir Kaminer and Yuriy Gurzhy play music both from the post Soviet sphere as well as from emigrant. According to Yuriy and other regulars only about 15% of the Russendisko's visitors are emigrants.

While emigrant music is not widely listened to in e.g. Russia, the music coming out of Russia is an important element in these emigrant projects. So the study of post Soviet popular music also has to take groups and musical practices outside the former Soviet Union into consideration.

Постсоветская популярная музыка вне пределов постсоветского пространства

(Русская версия - адаптирована Sergio Mazzanti)
Вследствие больших эмиграционных волн, много русскоговорящих общин оказались за рубежом, преимущественно в Германии, Израиле и США. Эти группы тесно связаны со своем месте происхождения. Эти общины приносят немаленький рынок для музыкальных групп, поющих на русском языке, как Аквариум, Аукцыон, Billy’s band, Ива Нова, Markscheider Kunst, Ленинград и др. Это им помогает гастролировать за границей.
Но сами эмигранты делают музыку все равно на русском языке. Для того, чтобы организовать их концерты и рекламировать их музыку, возникли организации, как «Русский Рок-Клуб в Америке» и «Пи-Рок» (Германия), прежде всего ориентированные на эмигрантскую публику.
Тем не менее, предпринимаются попытки добиться также к не русскоговорящему населению. Как примеры, можно указать на радио-шоу Schum (Галле, Германия) и особенно на Russendisko (Берлин); по мнению Юрия Гуржего, одного из главных ди-джеев Руссендиско, эмигранты составляют только 15% их посетителей.


Sergio Mazzanti said...

For a deeper scientific analysis of Russendisko see Giacomo Bottà, “Interculturalism and New Russians in Berlin”
Here's the abstract of the article.

In his paper, "Interculturalism and New Russians in Berlin" Giacomo Bottá discusses aspects of the community of Russian artists in contemporary (post-1989) Berlin. The Berlin-based Russendisko night has been held in Tel Aviv, Milan, or Frankfurt, where enthusiastic people danced to songs of obscure Russian bands. In 2004, a new CD compilation, Russensoul, was published and in 2005 Karaoke, the ninth novel by Russion-born and Berlin-based author Wladimir Kaminer appeared in book stores. Russian culture is experiencing global success curiously tied to Berlin. How could the German capital have channelled this interest? Is there a particular historical, social, geographical, or cultural factor which has been decisive in this phenomenon? Why are these artists in Berlin? How important has Berlin been in the production of Russian artists? These are the basic questions Bottá explores in his study in an exploration of Berlin as an intercultural city and the locus of an Russian artistic community as intercultural practice. Bottá includeds in his analysis Wladimir Kaminer, Natalia Hantke, both writers, and Wladimir Skokov, a painter. Their biographies and some of their works, relating to urban subjects, are analysed and embedded in the urban context.

Anonymous said...

While it's true that when they went to the US (once) they performed for audiences consisting of the Russian diaspora, it doesn't mean that (e.g.) Markscheider Kunst everywhere perform mainly for the immigrant communities.


dew said...

Of course - and thank you for your comment. In Markscheider Kunst's case this is especially valid in Germany (and probably also in Finland). My point was just that the emigrants provide an initial market for the bands to play for and Efr had given me a good quote (during the interview he seemed a little disappointed because they also want to play for non-emigrants when on tour).

dew said...

while cleaning up my computer i found a chernov's choice on auktsyon which according to chernov has now also gained popularity with an american, non-emigrant audience (not only emigrant audience):

"The avant-rock band, in existance since 1983, seems only now to be embarking on a brand new American career.

Even though Auktsyon usually travel to the U.S. once or twice a year to perform for mainly Russian immigrants, the band’s performance at the third Globalfest, an annual showcase of international music, in January brought it to the attention of the general public and mainstream media. The band returned for a tour a few weeks later and is now set to record its first American album.

The band — largely is seen as rock veterans in its home country — looks like a new and fresh discovery to the American press." (Chernov 2006, see the complete article at