‘AWAZ united Russia and the whole world’
Masters of the independent music stage arrived in Kazan
AWAZ music festival that gathered not only musicians but also spectators from Russia and foreign countries took place in Kazan. During the pandemic, when every big event is considered as a miracle, Tatarstan became the heart of the country’s musical life for a few days.
Moscow never sleeps in Kazan
Muscovites were the majority at AWAZ — organisers had warned that about 3,000 people would come to Kazan from the capital. Realnoe Vremya’s journalist met a lot of colleagues from Moscow on the first day. Somebody arrived as an expert, somebody came with the whole family, so one could see a couple heading to the Demidov Mansion to listen to ambient music.
The eyes immediately singled out famous artists among hundreds of artists who performed on nine sites (mostly in the centre so that people who especially wanted to listen to everybody had to splash out money on a taxi to get to Werk). For instance, it is Morning post-punk band from Rostov or Kazan-born Kate NV who found herself in homage to Japanese and Soviet pop culture. Ethnic musicians from neighbouring regions such as Irhagar metal group from Ulan-Ude that united Buryat shamanism with traditional throat singing, for instance, became interesting guests. Zafaq duet from Nalchik used national traditions too — they played Cherkessian songs on a distorted guitar to insistent drums. After the concert, guitarist, Ored Recordings’s ideologist Timur Kodzokov complained that the sound was a bit low — the strings should have conveyed the ritual character of music better.
Among other interesting examples, there was The Pamir Echo, Tajiks who arrived in Moscow to earn money and hosted an Eastern carnival in the courtyard of Sol bar. Though there gathered quite a lot of spectators, it was easy enough to get to the concerts (though spectators in the same Sol had to line up in a queue). Although, of course, the full sites a bit frightened amid COVID-19 measures (organisers had to change the programme for midnight closures). But more responsible places like Verka handed over masks at the entrance, they also designed a very comfortable courtyard zone.
A lot of Kazan artists performed at AWAZ too. For instance, Mitya Burmistrov who recently finished shooting a trip to Altai created Californian joy in Sol. Holofonote project played in Werk. While Usal rap artist made noise together with a drummer in The Library bar, which recently opened.
Juna band also performed in Werk where it shared the stage with a Tuvan student of a local conservatory, a master of throat singing Sugder Ludup. At the end of the performance, the band noted: “We have translations of songs into Russian on social media, though you will anyway understand little, the songs are mainly about nature.”
Marat Suleyman was probably the luckiest man. The festival’s key organiser Stepan Kazaryan noticed him, released an album of his Tatar songs with his label. During the festival, experts like Afisha’s music editor Nikolay Ovchinnikov optimistically described his composition The White Fog at an audition of tracks.
Benefit from the pandemic?
The educational part of the festival is also worthy of attention. At times, of course, experts started to explain obvious truths. For instance, Anton Vybornov claimed that no matter how much a musician invests in song promotion, if the audience doesn’t like the track, no investment will save.
Life stories sounded compelling. For example, Ivan Zoloto said that his strangest tour was when a promoter decided that his experimental but rhythmic music fit dances, included him in a dance event, and the audience had to listen to noise.
Masha Pyankova from Gnoomes band remembered how the group confused the date of a concert in Lyon, happily missed it and learnt about her mistake on the Internet a day later.
Ploho band’s leader Viktor Uzhakov shared his thoughts about Russian tours:
“If you create a tour, the Trans-Siberian Highway is the foundation for you. But at times you can exactly know the state of affairs in transport in neighbouring cities. I come from Siberia. And when Siberia is booked for me, musicians know how to get to Novosibirsk. But they don’t know how to get to Tomsk. A flight to Tomsk takes just 20 minutes but it is expensive, it is easier to take a taxi. I have gone to the south now — from Tula to Crimea. The pandemic has a positive effect. A lot of establishments that were about to close but stood afloat thanks to the Holy Ghost and earnings closed. However, new places opened, young people who know what is noise, the difference between post-rock from post-punk rule there...”
Mitya Burmistrov talked about the local stage and noted that the main problem is that musicians don’t know each other repeating: “AWAZ united Russia and the whole world”.
“There are examples of musicians that could make themselves known. And they have probably already moved to Moscow. There isn’t a gradual bridge between your great music in Kazan and joining the Russian industry. Perhaps, AWAZ is one of such ways of development. People for the first time go to Kazan to listen to contemporary music. Shouldn’t people maybe leave Kazan but change music here?”