Lisokot (real name - Varya Pavlova) is a singer, composer and artist. She performed around the world, from Manifesta 10 (2014), Riga Contemporary Art Biennale (2018), Ars Electronica (2020), to Berlin clubs such as Berghain, Funkhouse and even Stanford University Slavistics Department. Primarily, she works with prepared improvisation at the intersection of experimental electronics and performance art, using her voice as the only instrument. She often turns to Soviet songwriting heritage, deconstructing and reinterpreting it. Her performances often turn into entire productions, site-specific acts with animalistic fables, costumes and sets.

In 2017 she released the EP Walzerzyklus in collaboration with Uwe Schmidt
(Atom™, Señor Coconut) on the German label Raster.
She lives and works in Moscow.

Stepanida Borisova is a Yakutian singer and actress, a significant figure of the Russian folk scene, an Honored Artist of the Russian Federation, a participant in international collaborations. Her performance combines the complex traditional singing of touk and the avant-garde author's vision.

I asked Stepanida Ilinichna to tell me about her creative formation and inspiration and to base her story, of course, on the music.

About the artist:
Katerina Egorova and Egor Klochikhin
Katerina Egorova is a multimedia artist, engaged in photography and video, performative practices, working with found archival materials. Her projects are aimed at exploring the nature of identity, flexibility and impermanence of memory, the search for rhymes in the random set of ordinary things. In 2021 she became a participant of the independent artists corner at the blazar young art fair. She was born in Yakutsk, now lives and studies in Moscow.

Egor Klochikhin is a musician, artist and history teacher. Under the name Foresteppe, he released several albums on Russian and foreign labels. He participates in such festivals as CTM Siberia, Fields, Osoka, etc. Since 2017 he has been creating sound installations, participated in the 4th Urals Industrial Biennale (2017), "48 Hours - Novosibirsk" festival (2019), the festival of associations "Polya" (2021). Until 2020 he lived and worked in Western Siberia, now based in Moscow.
About the artists:

What would a portrait of Yakutsk be like?

Coming back, I still feel this place is my home, but at the same time - as if I were a guest, in someone else's land. There are many stories and voices inside this land and in the air, understandable and close, but unknown before. They become even a little quieter and more subdued with the onset of cold weather.

All that is obtainable are short meetings, long walks, search and observation, and in the end - a set of fragments, scraps, pieces that are in tune with you. That is what this portrait has become - a collage of found and encountered.
I have never been to Yakutia, so I initially doubted the relevance of my participation in this project - I did not want to engage in a fantasy without reference to something concrete. I decided to write to Katya, my friend who is originally from Yakutia, the only person who connected me with this place, and it turned out that she had just arrived in Yakutsk to visit her family. Such a happy coincidence was not to be missed.

Working with the beautiful material, which Katya enthusiastically collected in a couple of weeks, was a particular challenge. Hopefully, we collected a small but significant story about this place and the people who live here.
The mixtape includes field recordings made in Yakutsk in November 2021, as well as the following compositions:

Matvey Lobanov - Saham Sire Barakhsan (comp. by G. Grigoryan)
Klavdiya Onufrieva - Tatiyyk chyychaaҕa (from the records of the ethnographic expedition of 1979).
Erkin Khoro - Ol tүun (kylysakh, home rehearsal recording, 2021)
Gavril Kolesov - A fragment of the Olonkho "Nyurgun Buootur the Aspiring".
Erkin Khoro - Ol tүun (tangsyr, home rehearsal recording, 2021)
Olga Ivanova-Sidorkevich - Taptyaҕyҥ iyeni (from records of the ethnographic expedition of 1980)
Efim Gotovtsev - throat-singing (from the records of the ethnographical expedition of 1972).
Erkin Alekseyev - Syiyya Tardyy (khomus, 2021)
Valery Noev - Kyrakyi uolchaanym
Olga Matveeva - Өrөgөi toyuga (toyuk, 2021)
Shamanic ritual performed by Mikhail Yakovlevich Ivanov (born 1892) with the participation of Olga Ivanova-Sidorkevich (from the records of the ethnographical expedition, 1979)
Ilya Perevalov - Chuorunai muoraҕa
Altan Sandaga - Celebrate the open spaces, oh ringing bowstring (home rehearsal recording, 2021)

Special thanks to:
Kirill Tretyakov
Arkady Everstov
Irina Kub
Tymnyy media project
and musicians Erkin Alekseyev, Erkin Horo, Mark Yakovlev, Alexey Petrov, Olga Matveyeva.
Katya Shirshkova
Vocalist, experimental composer, resident of the GES-2 program and Chanel Culture Fund, Sound Art & Sound Studies instructor at the HSE.

Katya works at the intersection of academic avant-garde, sound art, and vocal techniques from different traditional cultures.
About the artist:

I thought about the time. How the time flows there?
Music in the mix:

Eliane Radique — Occam Ocean
Cергей Зверев — Кыыл Уола
Айaрхаан [Ayarkhaan] — Звуки древней земли Олонхо
Alex Zhang Hungtai / David Maranha — Eight Black Horses Crown Snake
Кола Бельды — Чайка
Don Cherry — Eternal Now
David Maranha — Antarctica
Айархаан — Кудай Бахсы
France — Do Den Haag Church

Ayarkhaan with Tuyaara and Nyurguyaana Degtyarevy

"Ayarkhaan" is an internationally recognized women's vocal group from Yakutia. Using only the voice and khomus (jew's harp), "Ayarkhaan" can simultaneously imitate the sounds of animals, birds and nature. The group was founded in 2002 as the personal initiative of Albina Degtyareva.

About the work:

The podcast is a set of selected fragments of Ayarkhaan ( songs flowing into each other, with lyrical excerpts or translations of the words of the songs (including a fragment of the Olonkho epos and Albina Degtyareva's poems). The podcast will help listeners comprehend the content of the khomus and vocal compositions of the Yakut group and understand the Sakha worldview.

About the artists:
Bulat Khalilov
Co-founder of the ethnographic label Ored Recordings. Journalist and researcher of traditional music and local music scenes. He curated the music festivals Mawaheb (St. Petersburg), The Movement Point (Museum of Modern Art "Garage", Moscow), and Platform (Nalchik).

Apart from the field and "cabinet" activities within Ored Recordings, he also runs an occasional podcast called Global Zomia about different research practices, creation, reproduction and presentation of traditional music.

He lives and works in Nalchik.
About the artist:
About the work:

My mixtape or a continuous-canvas playlist focuses on new contexts of traditional music epic forms. From the Yakut Olonkho to the Russian antiquities of the bogatyrs, world folk-epics had their specific features and forms of being. However, at the same time, all epic traditions also had common features caused by the logic of everyday life and culture in the past. An epic could tell about cosmogony and the structure of the world and love, mythical creatures or real historical heroes. In one way or another, the epic told about the worldview within a particular community. Today, in most parts of the world, especially in post-Soviet space, the epic is not a form of storytelling embedded in everyday life. It is hard to imagine how people today would gather for a whole night, listening to long, monotonous songs until dawn.

Then how and why preserve the monumental works of storytellers of the past? How are they perceived in isolation from their original context and even their meaning today?

In my mix, I united archival recordings of Olonkho, examples of the Nart epic of the Circassians, Ossetians and Balkars in the past and today, old Russian folksongs (stariny) recorded for media projects and other variations. The selection shows the range of forms in which the epic exists and addresses storytelling as sound practice. To listen to the voice, simply because it is beautiful. And to try to understand what the narrator is saying
62 parallel
The label, community and promotional agency, also known as "Youth of the North," publishes and supports Yakutian underground music ranging from pop-punk to aggressive hardcore.

62 parallel is a project of another member of our program - the "kөҥүl sir" blog. Their two completely different mixtapes reflect the musical culture of Yakutia beyond the usual images inspired by local folklore.
About the artist:
About the work:

"Again, the song of the happy people is flying, ringing all over the country, all over the world. Artists, musicians, artists are surrounded by respect and fame; in them, people see the embodiment of their culture. We offer to get acquainted with the bright representatives of the musical elite - today, they solve difficult artistic problems. Welcome to our musical palace."

1. Intro (Kamanya skit)
2. Priton - the rockers, that's us
3. Endless pain
4. Ded bibers - haranna uulussa
5. Zhivoi - A cross in the brain
6. Itz - 3.
7. Min duuham ylıyr.
8. NAP - we are against you!
9. Oblaka - tree
10. Wacky b.o. - losing touch
11. Anknown artist - hard
12. Hio - let's take a break
13. Cs - ost
14. abiboss - quarantinish
15. timur neobutov - m?
16. Krispy Newspaper - jazz
17. Dyahan skin outro

kөҥүl sir
kөҥүl sir ("land of freedom") is a semi-anonymous blog and Vkontakte public forum dedicated to the golden era of Yakut hip-hop - 1995-2010.

The blog's author finds forgotten artefacts and records that have become classics, explains the context, and tries to comprehend an essential but underestimated layer of Yakut culture. Here you can find both Russian-language old-school hip-hop and more experimental examples of the genre.

A narrative language and the author's involvement are crucial features —kөҥүl sir balances on the edge of objective optics and devoted love of Yakut hip-hop.

About the artist:
About the work:

"under the roar of everyday life - the life of this underworld" mixtape.

— First, I want to say that this mix is made up of my preferences and life experiences. Period - 2001-2010.

— There are three songs in the mix called "Sweet Town". It is unclear why, but rappers from the late 90s and early 00s called Yakutsk "Sweet Town". I heard one theory from the old-timers, but it said it was just a random set of words. I am not sure that is true.

— I like the Yakut accent in rap music read out in Russian. Sometimes it is not like that in everyday life, but it sounds exquisite on recordings. Probably some minor accent, like "Yakut" hissing sounds, not everyone will hear. But I will.

About the tracks:
1) Da Net Unity - Sweet City
one of the oldest rap groups

2) Saga - In Defiance of Fate (2003)
Life in Yakutsk is life in defiance of fate. May someone try to prove that it is not so.

3) Jeada - Kichi Ba5arar Surdeh Elbe5i (2003-2004)
"A man wants too much".
The first excellent track that had MC reading in Yakut and the MC reading in Russian.
Not his most famous song, but the very fact that you can do that in one track just shocked me.

4) Urban Rhyme - Mephisto (2001)
"2001, Tuimaada Valley, Yakutsk City. Urban Rhyme." I have had goosebumps for 20 years (most of my life) every time I hear the first seconds of the track.

5) Masta'z Fam - Between Dust and Fog (2004)
There is much dust in Yakutsk in summer, especially in the '00s. In winter Yakutsk is covered by fog almost all the time. That is why people live as "between dust and fog".

6) Wipe OUt - autumn (2003).
Autumn in Yakutsk is my favourite time of year.

7) Symbiosis - Sakha Kaskile feat Jeada,SashT
"The Future of Sakha". One of the essential tracks in Yakut rap

8) Second Block - Noise Pollution (2002)
"The lyrics are simple ... a bookworm from the noughties, swearing a lot".
This track laid down a love of "raw", primitive sound in me. The lyrics are surprisingly good for high school kids.

9) The Other Side - Music of Freedom (2006)

10) MJ - All I Need (2002)
The most beautiful song about love

11) Boogie - Jeada-Uda (2004)
Later, Boogie will go to Moscow and gain popularity as L'One (Levan Gorozia). In 2004 he was known for dissing Jeada, who peaked after creating the "Sakha Rap" genre. The song says, "it's commendable that you read in your native language". Conclusions everyone draws for themselves.

12) Jeada - Emee Manna Min.
"Here we go again"
In this song, Jeada showed me that you could rhyme sufficiently, use assonance, and other poetic devices in the Yakut language. He showed me that you could make the Yakut rap sound like a real ("foreign") one by controlling the Yakut rhymes and pauses between them.

13) Sweet Town Bros - Time (2002)
Sweet Town Bros. A significant song for me.

14) MJ - Lirarams (2006)
Best 36 bars in the history of Yakut battle tracks. Prove me wrong

15) Memento Mori - Only Expensive.
A period when some Yakut rappers got into strange themes - esoterics, space, Mein Kampf (?), nitsche, etc. Good times.
"...Sex Pistols' Sid Vicious does not make sense here.
These thoughts are associations of sorts,
But we do not remember where this shit comes from,
Where the fuck did that shit come from?"

16) Jamal - Lead Rain (2003)
Dreary storytelling to Bach's toccata.

17) X-Ray - Sweet City.
A girl-only band. By the way, there were quite a few of them. Another song about the sweet city

18) Wazimular - Kuorat Wonna Haar
"Town and Snow."
A song recorded far away from the homeland. It is impossible to listen to it anywhere outside of the Republic because it conveys a sense of great longing.

19) Urban Rhyme - Hopchiki (2002)
At the turn of the century, the derogatory word "Hopchik" was common in Yakutsk. It was a nickname for people who were so-called "posers". Imitation, fake rappers. Who came into the culture only because of fashion and did not contribute anything.
"- Who is the topic of "Hoppers" addressed to?
- The track was about young "rappers" for whom hip-hop was not a culture but rather a fashion. They were the kids who were hanging out downtown somewhere, wearing loose baggy pants, thinking they were real ghetto gangsters."

20) Night Shift - Ghosts of Freedom (2002)
"it is just dumb monotonous chugging, the same drum samples throughout the tracks, melodies in the time of four like in punk rock, some kind of animal energy."

21) Chisty Bit - In the Heart (2005)
The quintessence of Yakut urban "nostalgic" rap. Each of their tracks is a massive declaration of love for Yakutsk. Not surprisingly, the band members have not lived here for a long time.

22) Yuzhnaya Dolina - Uulussa Yttara (2003-2004)
"Street Dogs."
West Yakutia style. I cannot accurately convey my feelings when listening to it. I think only a Sakha, only someone who grew up away from the cities, in the back of the republic, can fully understand it. Very uncompromising song, powerful.

23) Ba Bai - Valley of the Deceased (2005)
In my opinion, this is the best Storytelling track in Russian rap, on the level of "Skazki" by Kasta.
It is about Yakutsk, of course.

24) Nochnaya Smena / Night Shift - After Fate (2003)
This band has defined the sound of Yakut rap for many years to come. I am talking about the signature sound.

25) Rhyme Center - Arda5y Kitta
"Along with the Rain."
Another representative of western Yakutia. It always seemed to me that even though the Eastern MCs were more "literary," the Westerners knew the language in its simple, vernacular essence. Because of this, they developed such a simple, casual style. When you can just throw in bars after bars, there is nothing really to say, but there is more to convey than you can imagine.

26) Chyornykhod - Necessary Defense (2002)
In the late '90s and '00s (and not only...) Yakutsk was the epicentre of interethnic clashes in various variations.
"I do not know about you, but I am ready to win.
We are ready to defend; you're in a fucking trouble now!"

27) Urban Rhyme - 60 Seconds (2001)
I turned on the Urban Rhyme cassette on my tape recorder, and this was the first song. That is when I knew I would listen to it for the rest of my life.

28) Wipe Out & Clean Beat - H.A.R.D.C.O.R.E. (2005)

29) Bratia - Dadaizmic Abstract
An absolute classic of Yakut rap in the late '00s. Probably the last band of the decade, which perceived rap as black music, as an "extension of black consciousness".

30) Yuzhnaya Dolina - Uulussa Yttara (New) (2005)
The same track, but in more modern treatment and presentation. A real anthem of Western Yakutia.
There is quite a big difference between the MCs from the west and the centre/east. That is a separate topic.

31) Smoke Mine - JML (2008)
This track reminds me of the time when the "Yakut language" disgrace issue started going away from the city. That is, it stopped being a mauvais ton among young people, it seems. It was in the late '00s. And largely thanks to Yakut rap.

32) 4 Rayons - By Conscience (2004)
Until the last decade, my mind was grounded in Yakutia; it seemed to me that anything beyond that just did not exist. This song reminds me of that feeling.

33) Tohsus Nota - Sanaa tuge5e
"at the bottom of my mind" (literally).
Potent track. If literally - it conveys the process of growing up as a Yakutian man in different moments. It is already challenging enough, and if you are also a rapper... Try to prove to the world and those around you that what you were doing all your youth had sense.

34) Clean Beat - The Air of the City.

35) MJ - a remix of the first track, 2006.
Alina Petrova
Alina Petrova is a musician searching for sound, form and medium of expression. She received her classical education at the Gnesins' School of Music and the Moscow Conservatory. With the help of contemporary music, she broke out of the academic vacuum and tried out various performing roles, playing viola and violin in the Kymatic ensemble. In her solo projects, she is expanding her search for her place in music: it probably lies somewhere between the stable positions and experimenting dilettante, composer and sound designer, curator and lecturer. She explores and crosses boundaries between music, theatre, and the visual arts using electronics, stringed instruments, and performative practices.
About the artist:
About the work:

When I got the offer to write a mixtape or collage about Yakutia, I got a little excited. I love the region and have been involved as a composer in several works that touched on reinterpreting Yakut traditions and culture. For example, that was the case with the work Hysteria in collaboration with the artist Dunya Zakharova. But the problem is that I have never been there, and all my ideas about Yakutia are based on what I have once seen and heard, which formed my personal view and may be at odds with reality. I was also worried whether my work would not turn out to be another cultural appropriation.

I decided to avoid direct allusions to Yakutia, avoiding speech, singing, shamanism and everything associated with that tradition since that is often what most people associate directly with Yakutia.

I wanted to show my sense of the vastness of the space, the blinding nuclear sun, the deafening cold and silence when there is a thin ringing through the frozen moisture of the frost. I imagined myself standing, somewhere in a lost, far-away land from cities and towns, numbed by the vastness, the cold, the constricting layered clothing, the fog, and the frosty air tickling my nostrils.
Maxim Goldfinger presents the Polaris project
Maxim Shaposhnikov (DJ Goldfinger) is the head of the independent label Kidnap Records, one of the founders of Moskow Diskow and SalonUSSR in Amsterdam. He is also an expert and promoter of Siberian and Central Asian music.
About the artist:
About the work:

Classical piano, digital technologies, and archaic vargan found consonance in a new compositor and performative project, Polaris.

Its creators are musicians Marinka Nikolay-Krylov (Holland) and Albina Degtyaryova (Yakutia) and sound artist Maxim Shaposhnikov, also known as DJ Goldfinger and Orphologist.

Polaris or Alpha Ursae Minoris are Latin names for the Polar star. Being almost in the zenith and marking the axis of the starry firmament, Polaris does not change its position and is considered by travellers to be a landmark, a "guiding star".

The idea of musical Polaris appeared when Albina, with her group "Ayarkhaan", was preparing for a tour in Benelux. After a few Skype talks and some files exchange, the members of the future Polaris project got together in Amsterdam in November 2009 to compose the main themes of the compositions and prepare them for live performances. Then Polaris was also successfully tried out in small halls and art galleries in Amsterdam. The musicians presented their first performance in November 2009 in Amsterdam at the famed Melkweg Club.

Each of the creators brought a particular element to the musical alchemy of Polaris: Marinka - musicality and sensuality, Albina - virtuosity and ancient Siberian Melos, Maxim - ethereal layers of musical story. The name of the composition also determined the name of its performing line-up. As if soul and body were inseparable.

Polaris' music is a journey through human dimensions to find peace, a sense of coming home. Sometimes it is deeply emotional. Sometimes it evokes the forces of nature, seemingly inhuman, but coming from the depths of our consciousness.

Polaris' music speaks of the global and the innermost, everlasting and passing, cruel and fragile, making twists and turns of rhythmic and tonal moods. Origin of the World, Harmony of Nature, Yakut notion "Kuyar" - humming Manifest Far of the Universe, breath of the North, the meat grinder of urbanism, digital ether, love and tenderness - all these musical themes are elaborated during the composition process. The strings of musical storytelling are woven from the individual themes, from which the performers weave a new canvas.

The Polaris composition was created with the support of the Netherlands Performing Arts Foundation.

Polaris line-up:
Marynka Nicolai - piano, keyboard, vocals.
Albina Degtyareva - khomus, traditional Yakut singing.
Maxim "Orphologist" Shaposhnikov - electronics, tambourine, sound devices, voice.

Drojji is an electro-acoustic improvisational duo from Moscow. Using elements of EDM, narrative structures close to rock and pop music, techniques of footwork, noise and free improvisation, Drojji create a multi-layered flow of information, the core of which is the idea of gliding and continuous change. Drojji create multiple and flexible soundscapes in which recognition becomes a process rather than an outcome.
About the artist:
About the work:

This massive piece is directly related to the Yakut tradition of khomus playing. Like many other artists of our project, Drojji takes a non-obvious approach to traditional music, and an untrained listener might find it challenging to recognize khomus in these abstract soundscapes, clicks and futuristic landscapes. The musicians purposely do not give a direct explanation or description of the composition. The attentive listener may find a clue.