Saturday, June 19, 2010

До связи!

As you might have noticed this blog's activities have due to several reasons slowly declined. While Sergio's professional interests and dues have moved in new directions I completed my PhD last year and thus also my research on Post-Soviet popular music as a professional activity (at least until the next funding opportunity).

The reason we waited until now to officially close the blog was so that we could publish the review of "Good-Bye Leningrad". That done we feel it is time to say good bye for now. This does not mean that our interest for the music has disappeared - we might very well be back very soon (and I might have some posts on Post-Soviet popular music in my personal blog). Of course, if you have any proposals or idea, don't hesitate to contact us!

Until then, thank you for dropping by and до связи!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Good Bye, Leningrad

After the special issue of Popular Music and Society on post-soviet popular music was published I was contacted by the movie director and photographer Christine Bachmann who asked if I had heard of the movie "Good Bye, Leningrad" - which I had not. After some technical complications I finally got a review copy of the bilingual movie (Russian, German) released in 2005.
Directed by Bachmann "Good Bye, Leningrad" follows 5 musicians from the St. Petersburg based band Pudra. Interplecting images from their daily routines the musicians describe their ties to St. Petersburg and how Pudra was founded. While thus essentially a band portrait the movie at the same time offers a good glimpse into the life of an upcoming St. Petersburg based rock band: most of the musicians moved to the city, they are not full time musicians but have day jobs and they rehearse in the basement of a residential building. Ideologically St. Petersburg is seen as the Russian rock city, but the musicians are as pessimistic regarding the state of Russian rock music as they are optimistic about why their music is special - something common for many underground bands I talked to during my fieldwork in St. Petersburg. In my fieldwork this disregard for Russian rock was most poignantly reflected in Leningrad/Spitfire's Roman Parygin's answer to my question what russkii rok is: "Polnoe gavno!" (Complete shit! - interview with author, 23.06.2006)
Leningrad also brings us to the movie's title "Good Bye, Leningrad" and what makes Pudra a little different from most other similar St. Petersburg bands: they warmed up for Leningrad in Palast der Republic in Berlin on November 9th, 2004 (while Leningrad's vocalist Sergei "Shnur" Shnurov sees himself as the grave digger of russkii rok I will leave any interpretation of the movie's title to the readers ;-)). The movie does not indicate how/why the band played in Germany, but Pudra has a connection to Germany through the bass player, who studied in St. Petersburg as an exchange student and who joined the band while living there. Playing abroad is a logistic and bureaucratic nightmare since not only are contacts in Germany needed but the band members need foreign passports (zagranpasport / zagranichnyi pasport), visas and some kind of upfront financing. Seeing Pudra warm up for the cult band Leningrad which has gathered a considerable fan base in Germany is thus quite impressive.
The concert in Germany, however, only bookend the movie – the main theme is the band in St. Petersburg. This is also what makes the movie in my eyes special since it offers a nice description of the musicians' life and motivations. In other words, the movie is definitively recommendable for anybody interested in Post-Soviet popular music!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Popular Music and Society on Popular Music in the Post-Soviet Space

A happy summer announcement: The journal "Popular Music and Society" (32:3 2009) titled "Popular Music in the Post-Soviet Space: Trends, Movements, and Social Contexts" of which Yngvar Steinholt and I, David-Emil Wickström, were guest editors is now out. Concluding about two years of editorial work (and a lot of really interesting submissions) the journal includes the following articles ranging from Russian pop and rock over Uzbek Estrada and Kazakh music videos to Georgian world music:

  • Yngvar B. Steinholt; David-Emil Wickström: "Introduction"

  • David-Emil Wickström; Yngvar B. Steinholt: "Visions of the (Holy) Motherland in Contemporary Russian Popular Music: Nostalgia, Patriotism, Religion and Russkii Rok"

  • Polly McMichael: "Prehistories and Afterlives: The Packaging and Re-packaging of Soviet Rock"

  • Stephen Amico: "Visible Difference, Audible Difference: Female Singers and Gay Male Fans in Russian Popular Music"

  • Tanya Merchant: "Popping Tradition: Performing Maqom and Uzbek “National” Estrada in the 21st Century"

  • Megan Rancier: "Resurrecting the Nomads: Historical Nostalgia and Modern Nationalism in Contemporary Kazakh Popular Music Videos"

  • Lauren Ninoshvili: "The Poetics of Pop Polyphony: Translating Georgian Song for the World"

The article abstracts and – for those who have access to the journal through the university library – the articles can be found at

happy reading! ;-)

Monday, February 16, 2009

"Rock in the Reservation" as a pdf-version

A pdf-version of Yngvar B. Steinholt's dissertation "Rock in the Reservation" (currently out of print) can now be downloaded from Yngvar's homepage:
For more information on the book see Sergio's post "Steinholt’s Rock in the Reservation (a review)".

"Drive-ethno-Dance" and "Hutzul Punk": Ukrainian-associated Popular music and (geo)Politics in a Post-soviet context

A short mention that my article on Haydamaky, Ruslana and Svoboda was just published in ICTM's Yearbook for Traditional Music. This article focuses on how the Ukrainian groups Ruslana and Haydamaky fashion themselves based on their country of origin and what role history and traditional musics play in that process. Using a post-colonial perspective I argue that the identity constructed functions to assert Ukrainian sovereignty and thus distinguish the Ukraine from its former colonizer Russia while at the same time Ruslana draws on similar methods of representation when appropriating the Other (the Ukraine in Russia's case and the Hutsuls in Ruslana's case).

The complete reference to the article is:
Wickström, David-Emil: "'Drive-ethno-Dance' and 'Hutzul Punk': Ukrainian-associated Popular music and (geo)Politics in a Post-soviet context"", Yearbook for Traditional Music 40 (2008), p. 60-88

Monday, November 3, 2008

BG in Milan

November 8th, 2008: For the first time in its over 30 year existence the rock band Akvarium will perform in Italy: the only concert will be in Milan at the Teatro degli Arcimboldi. Actually, it is more accurate to say Boris Grebenshchikov is performing, since there is not much else left of the original Akvarium besides its incontestable leader. The other musicians are from the Post-Soviet period: Boris Rubekin, the group's keyboard player (since 1998) and one of the three violinists, Andre Surotdinov (since 1995). 

BG's band will perform with a non rock group, without guitars and a drum set, but with a lot of orchestral instruments (such as violin, flute and cello) and folkloric (such as Indian tabla and sitar and Irish uilleann pipes and bodhrán).

The concert looks very interesting and original - unfortunately, I cannot make it...

БГ в Милане

8 ноября 2008г.. Впервые в его более чем тридцатилетнем существовании группа Аквариум выступает в Италии: единственный концерт в Милане в Театро дельи Арчимбольди. Точнее, было бы точнее говорить только о Борисе Гребенщикове, поскольку от Аквариума, кроме его неоспоримого лидера всех времен, осталось очень мало: Борис Рубекин, клавишник группы с 1998 года, и один из трех скрипачей, Андрей Суротдинов (с 1995 года). 
Группа БГ будет выступать в нероковом составе, без гитар и ударных, но со многими оркестровыми инструментами, вроде скрипок, флейты и виолончели, и фольклорными, как индийские табла и ситар, ирландские волынки "uilleann pipes" и бодхран. 
Концерт обещается очень интересным и своеобразным. Жалко, что мне не получится туда попасть...

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Marusia visits Berlin. Cultural flows surrounding the Russendisko

Just a short mention that my article "Marusia visits Berlin. Cultural flows surrounding the Russendisko" was published in the Danish academic journal "Musik & Forskning" (the article is in English). There I discuss the Russendisko in Berlin focusing on the music played and the target group.