Music scene in Russia is quite diverse. You might want to explore it for some reasons. For example, learning Russian is more fun by music and lyrics than other conventional method. Or you’re simply a music lover and want to change your music atmosphere a bit. You can be glad, because regardless of your taste, you can find what you like with no difficulties.
What about folk genre? not to worry because there are plenty to discover in Russia. Folk music can be recognized for its long and plaintive melodies. Sounds that instantly remind you of a mystical land somewhere. Folk incorporate sounds from many cultures, especially north Europe ones. If you’re a fan of folk, you have quite a selection here. Check out the most common music taste in Russia today.
if you dig deep into the music scene in Russia, you will encouter the folk band Melnitsa. The name itself sounds catchy, but if you start getting to know this band, you’ll find that many other aspects are more interesting than the name itself. They are one of the best russian music groups. Here are some facts and myths about the band. You will read about their history too.
The formation of Melnitsa
Melnista was formed in 1999. So fast forward to today, the band has been around in Russian music scene for about 20 years. The end of the millenium was marked with the rising of popstars such as Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake. Those days are long gone now, but Melnista persisted.
Melnista is founded by Natalia O’Shea aka Hellawes. She plays celtic harp and folk flutes in the band,as well as the lead singer. She formed the group with Alexey “Chus” Sapkov. They both just graduated from a former local folk band called ‘Till Eulenspiegel’. The band was consisted of several other former members such as Alexander Leer who plays drums and Inessa Klubochkina who plays violin.
Raise to popularity
In the beginning of their career, the band made frequent appearances in local clubs and music festivals in Russia. If you visited Russia during early 2000s you might have spotted them when you do to the local music scene. Soon the band get a cult followers and raised their status as a must listen folk and fantasy genre.
They released their first album, titled Doroga Sna (The Road of Dream). In this album, the featured song is Gorets (Highlinder). Their first album is more on the accoustic side as they still hadn’t explore fusion of rock and folk on their music.
Their fame began in 2005. It’s the year when they realeased their second album Pereval (Mountain Pass). This second album is different from their first one as it is more pop-infused. The abum’s lead single, Nochnaya Kobyla (Nightmare) was become an instant hit on Radio. It reached number one position on local charts, as well as the “Best of Year” title.
Melnista is translation of “Mill”
If you’re curious what’s Melnista means, it actually means mill. From the sound of it, you might have guessed that it’s a word that relates to folk or music in general. It does. It does also sound beautiful. But who would have thought that it means “mills”, although mills are folky enough.
Songwriter, an academic by day
Before a musician, Natalia O’Shea was a linguist. That’s why the band was able to procure songs with almost dream-like lyrics. She specializes in Celtic Languages. Aside from eing a singer and a songwriter, she’s a professor at Lomonosov Moscow State University.
It’s also interesting that with her language knowledge, she and her band was able to somehow incorporate Celtics, Balkan, and Scandinavian into their work and compose songs in Russian language.
A fusion of pop, folk, and rock
Fans love Melnista because the give them a rich musical experience. Listen to the sound of violin as well as the blasting drums. Harp, flute, and cello work side by side as the bass gives variation somewhere behind. On top of that, the long plaintive melody is sung by the lead singer, Natalia. If you have never heard about their music, it’s recommended to go on YouTube to check them out!
Change of crews
Throughout their existence as a band, Melnista have changed personel in several instance. Before the lead singer was Alevtina Leontyeva before Natalia O’Shea took over.
Their current formation is as follows:
Natalia “Hellawes” O’Shea as vocals
Alexey “Chus” Sapkov as guitarist and vocals
Sergey Zaslavsky who plays flute
Alexey Orlov who plays cello
Alexey Kozhanov who plays bass
Dmitry Frolov who plays drums
In the past, these are Melnista former members:
Alevtina Leontyeva who played vocals
Alexander “Grendel” Stepanov who played guitar
Natalia Filatova who played flute
Natalia Kotlova who played cello
Evgeny Chesalov who played bass
Alexander Leer who played drums
Inessa Klubochkina who played violin
A song that causes nightmare
One of their songs are so skin-crawling that people say it cause nightmare. This song is also titled “Nightmare” or Nochnaya Kobyla in Russian. This song is what made them famous since it’s the song that made them recognized. The song is inspired by Norse mithical entity Mara, which can cause nightmare.
So, those are facts and myth about Melnista. Aside from Melnista, there are other folk band you can check. For example, Kalevala is for you who likes combination of folk and metal. If you visit Russian summer festival, you’ll often encounter the band “The Hatters” playing, They are described as soulful Russian gypsy folk for their music. Others band include Little Big, Grai, and Theodor Bastard.