Mischievous Muscovites
bring a taste of borscht to Kerrville by Lindsey Eck


Q How long were you performing in Russia before you came here?
Khramov About five or six years.
Fedorko We started the band in 1986 — five years.
Q Back then did you get radio airplay in Russia?
Khramov Yeah, radio and we were on t.v.
Fedorko — On a big station like if you have Jay Leno here, we even got that high.
Q What’s the broadcasting system like over there? Are there national networks?
Fedorko Yes, also like this [in the U.S.] and also there is radio [that’s] translated into other countries.
Khramov Like the Far East …
Fedorko Once we did a program [in which] we sang a song in Chinese. Because they were translating all this to China. … So we had to learn a Chinese song. Really funny.
Q Was that hard?
Fedorko Well, it was pretty hard and when we sang for some Chinese people who listened to us and they said, “Oh, very very good! We understood 50 percent!”
Q Fifty percent!
Fedorko Yeah, yeah, usually when in Chinese — five percent. [All laugh.] They said we did pretty well.

Q Let’s talk about your songwriting. Which band members write?
Khramov I write and Yuri writes as well. So pretty much now we write mostly original music.
Q You do a little bit of traditional but mostly original?
Khramov Yeah, that’s right. And in fact on the last CD … there’s two songs in English. …
Q And how do you go about writing a song?
Khramov Sometimes we get together and we create a song. Sometimes we have everybody in the band do that and bring the idea with our arrangements. This is the way I do it.
Fedorko I … write lots of music and sometimes I want to put some words and I do it.
Q And sometimes you ask another member to help with the words?
Fedorko Yes.

Q I really enjoyed the song “Traffic Jam in Moscow.” The horns really sounded like auto horns. Is that something you were aiming for?
Fedorko Yes. …
Q What was your inspiration for that song? Just the traffic in Moscow?
Khramov Actually I started that with a different idea. But the way it happened to be on the stage — it’s become “Traffic Jam in Moscow.”
Q What was the original idea?
Khramov The original idea was, uh, something … I need to translate it — “From the sea the wind is blowing,” blah blah blah blah blah, and there’s some connection with nature, and something which is not ended all the way and you’re still looking for it.
Q Which is more of a serious idea.
Fedorko It’s a philosophical question.
Khramov But on the stage, choreographically it’s become a traffic jam in Moscow. And it actually was Yuri’s idea. He just named it. Remember? You did say that …
Q And then that became the title of your album.
Khramov Yeah.

Q You were doing a children’s set this afternoon and then you’re doing a show for the older crowd tonight. Do you play for children a lot?
Fedorko Yeah, a lot. In fact we just came back from Canada and we’ve been … a month on the road, traveling: Seattle, Pittsburgh, Vancouver, Calgary, and Saskatoon, New York — all children’s festivals.
Khramov Now we’re going to be doing mostly music and folk festivals.
Q What’s different about playing for a children’s audience as compared to an adult audience? Do you do pretty much the same show?
Fedorko We talk more with the children. And we explain more about instruments, about culture; sometimes … I’ll let them ask questions and answer them. With the adults we just go through the program and put lots of energy …
Khramov Yeah, we cut some songs also when we’re playing for children.
Fedorko But basically we play comedy festivals, children’s festivals, folk festivals …
Q A lot of festivals.
Fedorko Yeah.
Q You ever thinking of playing Austin?
Khramov Outside [of] South by Southwest?
Q Oh, that’s right — you were at South by Southwest.
Khramov We were, a couple of times. … We played [the] Saxon Pub —
Fedorko — The 311. Cactus Café, Babe’s.
Khramov And we’re planning to come in September. We’re working with the University of Texas at Austin — negotiating right now to do the show. …

Q Where do you see the group going in the future?
Khramov My opinion — I would like to continue writing music, continue in the same direction, the Russian folk mixed with — of course it would be fresh ideas, alternative, some craziness in the music and continue what we’re doing right now. And develop it in the direction of the performing arts — professional dancers around it with this background of music. So that’s what I’m looking for.

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