It’s freezing, it’s only Tuesday and the streets are paved with black ice. There has never been a better time to mix up some mulled wine and listen to the first five songs on our post-Soviet playlist.
Sanctions levied against Russia for its role in the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine haven’t stopped Russian artists from sharing and collaborating on various musical projects with musicians outside of the country — all thanks to the internet. Our experience in Serbia, a place that was subject to harsh sanctions on and off for the better part of a decade, tells us that maintaining these lines of communication is a good thing. As UCL professor Eric Gordy has written in his book, Culture of Power in Serbia: Nationalism and the Destruction of Alternatives, in atmosphere of “enforced separation and isolation”, it is important that “contact, support, and the exchange of information” continue.
So here’s some good music from the former Soviet Union. Sometimes we don’t want to think about politics. Sometimes we don’t want to think about sanctions. Most of the time, people from countries that aren’t under sanctions don’t want to think about what sanctions really are. We’ll reserve that much-needed discussion for another article for now and let the music speak for itself.
Here are five good songs from artists in a variety of genres, from Lviv in Ukraine to Russia’s Ural Mountains. Let’s hope they continue to share their music with the rest of us.
In no particular order whatsoever:
1. Gillepsy, “Core” Remix (Beryoza, Russia)
2. Little Magic Shop, “P.A.L.P.” (Samara, Russia)
“In the end, the most important thing is to be true to yourself – and those you love – and work hard. Work like there’s no tomorrow. Train! Strive! Really train and cultivate your talent to the highest degree. Be the best at what you do. Get to know more about your field than anybody alive. Use the tools of your trade, if it’s books or a floor to dance on… or a body of water to swim in. Whatever it is, it’s yours.”
3. 181h, “Nuptial Nightmare” (Riga, Latvia)
“Dirty loops… investing in hip hop since 2003”
4. Gnoomes, “Popol Vuh” (Ural Mountains, Russia)
“Any member of our band can play the role of frontman while performing. This is real democracy”
5. The Cancel, “Everyday” (Lviv, Ukraine)
“We operate in the name of love, peace, unity, and our ability to have fun”
For more music from the post-Soviet space, we suggest you check out the great website and resource Far From Moscow.