I asked Alexei, the brutual death metal musician, if he was from Moscow. He said yes, but that he wasn't 100% Russian. I expected him to say Ukrainuan, Bulgarian or some other East European background. He said he was part Spanish and that thise roots go back to his great grandparents, communists who first fought Franco in the 1930s before coming to the Soviet Union to fight Nazi Germany.
I will continue with the music theme today before moving on to Voronezh portraits. I saw Alexei in his unusual boots and just had to stop him for a chat. Just as he told me he played 'brutual death metal,' some other guy also noticed Alexei and came over to join us. The other guy interrupted me and started talking to Alexei about boots, music and something else, but I couldn't understand him well as he was quite intoxicated and his words slurred. Alexei gave him some change and he walked away, a bottle of dark liquor sticking out of his bag. Alexei then told me a bit more about his music and that he was also studying computer programming. He ended our conversation with his family history that I will share in my next post of Alexei.
Zhenya was taking a cigarette break when I saw him with his red guitar in a side street a stone's throw from Red Square. He said he was born in Ukraine and then moved to a small town in Rostov oblast, near the Ukraine border. A welder, Zhenya says people in Moscow put too much emphasis on money and material goods and that society has become more divided as a result. He said he prefers small town life.
Victor was sitting on the sidewalk near a Moscow metro station singing softly as he played the guitar. A sign next to him said he was raising money for a damaged church in Lugansk in Eastern Ukraine. He said plays to raise money on his days off from work and that he has raised money for other churches in the past.
Sergei creates music using a saw, playing classical songs. He mainly plays in the underpass near Red Square. He said he grew up playing the guitar in Altai in Siberia and then studied the contrabass at university. About 15 years ago, he take up 'the saw.' The unusual skill has enabled him to travel abroad as well as around Russia.
Russia Street Musician Series: Dima was playing in the underpass beneath Tverskaya, one of Moscow's main streets, in about 0c (32F) temperature. He said he started learning at 6 and at 9 when to a music school. After high school, he studied at a technical college and worked in construction til he lost his job. Now, he said, he travels once in a while from the suburbs to Moscow to play for money. He said he likes 1990s rock.
Another photo of Dima playing music as a city works sweeps cigarette butts and dirt around hit. Dima was singing a song by Tantsi Minus that translates roughly as "I am coming for you," a love song. It was coincidental that the woman just happened to be walking by as he sung that song.
I approach the people I photograph 99% of the time. Valery is among the 1%. While taking a boring photo of a restaurant at night on Old Arbat with my tripod, he walked up and said he would like to ask a question. I told me to fire away. He said he worked at a theatre as a sort of handy man, but rock-n-roll was his life and he needed someone to photograph and shoot video of him and his group.
I was a bit suspicious considering the late hour, empty street and his dramatical behaviour, so asked him to sing some of the songs he said he composed. He sung me a song that might translate as 'Queen with a Top Rating'. The song is about a guy that falls for a girl drinking vodka from a bottle. I will post a short video of his performance.
Nikita, a beatbox performer, said he got into the music genre after seeing a video on the Internet. He said his father works in the lucrative oil and gas industry and wants Nikita to follow in his footsteps. Considering his father's background, I was surprised to hear that Nikita did his military service rather than find a way out. He added that he was discharged early after an argument with his senior led to a few knife wounds in his side.
Igor was playing next to the exit of a Moscow suburban train stop at the edge of the city. I askedif I coukd take his photo and he said yes if I gave him a beer or cigarettes. He asked where I was from and when I told him NYC, he said 'take me with you.' I asked him why he wanted to leave. He said people don't understand rock music here like they do in the US. Ironically, he was playing 'Smoke on the Water' by Deep Purple, thd favorite band of former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.