Skryabin

Skryabin (Скрябін) is an alternative pop band from Novoyavorivsk (Новояворівськ), Ukraine. Proceeding through many stylistic changes throughout its long career, from rock and punk, through synth-pop and techno, to more standard pop-rock ballads, the band’s artistic trajectory is normally divided into two periods: old (pre-2003) and new (post-2003 to 2015) Skryabin. Formed in 1989 by frontman Andriy Kuzmenko (Андрій Кузьменко) and other musicians from the Spaty (Sпати) studio, the group has gone under considerable lineup changes, with only Kuzmenko as a consistent creative force. The premature death of Kuzmenko in 2015 in a car accident thus leaves the future of the group uncertain. To date, the band has released 17 full-length records and made a lasting impact on the Ukrainian music as scene as one of the first, and perhaps most successful, alternative electronic acts.

The Spaty studio was set up in 1988 as a rehearsal and recording space by Kuzmenko’s earlier musical project, Our Cantor (Наша Кантора). It became a sort of central hub for many other projects associated with the group. Skryabin, in turn, would form out of the fallout of many of these bands, which dissolved as members pursued other professions. However, the early output of the newly constituted group was often unfocused and meandering. Kuzmenko has also expressed disappointment with the quality of his vocal performances in the early recordings, blaming the lackluster results on his limited confidence and experience.

Although the band achieved minor success in their early years, most notably with a third-place finish at the Red Rue (Червона Рута) Festival in the pop category in 1991, their first big break would come after a trip to Germany. Already exploring electronic music in their third album, Technofight (Технофайт), Kuzmenko felt inspired to explore the new dance music trends in Germany at the time. After being introduced to the highly popular band Camouflage, he decided to experiment with new electronic instruments and DJ equipment. The result of these endeavors was Skryabin’s first high successful album, 1994’s Birds (Птахи). The following year would see the band hit the festival circuit and win numerous awards, including the first-place finish at Melody ’95 (Мелодія ’95), for their song “Birds” (“Птахи”).

This success would continue throughout the rest of the band’s career, despite their eventual shift in style. By 2003 many of the old members of the group had been cycled out, in large part due to conflicts over the artistic direction of the band. The decline of electronic elements in the band’s songs would occur gradually, beginning with 2000’s Fashion Nation (Модна країна) and ending almost completely by the 2003 album Natures (Натури). What emerged was a much more accessible pop-rock act that only increased the band’s popularity over time. A duet between Kuzmenko and the hugely popular pop songstress Iryna Bilyk in 2003 called “Silence” (“Мовчати”), as well as a subsequent tour with the singer, would introduce Skryabin to a much wider audience.

Since Kuzmenko’s death in 2015, the band has been on an indefinite hiatus. A tribute concert organized at the Olympic Stadium in Kyiv the same year drew more than 10,000 mourning fans and many notable musicians from throughout Ukraine.

Find Skryabin on Amazon

 

The video for the band’s first successful single, “Birds” (“Птахи”):

 

The lyrics for “Птахи”:

Раз високо в небi
Я зустрiв чужих птахiв
Всi вони летiли
Звiдтам де i я хотiв

Крилами шумiли
Наганяли дикий страх
Потiм в воду сiли
Просто в мене на очах

I я собi захотiв
Полiтати десь пiд небом
Двоє гарних крил
I менi вже нiц не треба
Я собi захотiв
Подивитися на люди
З висоти птахiв
Я побачив то шо буде

На старих деревах
Вони мають свої хати
То не є далеко
Та не можна їх дiстати

Вони мають крила
I не роблять зла нiкому
А як стане зимно
То летять собi додому

I я собi захотiв
Полiтати десь пiд небом
Двоє гарних крил
I менi вже нiц не треба
Я собi захотiв
Подивитися на люди
З висоти птахiв
Я побачив то шо буде

 

An example of the “new” Skryabin, the video for the band’s hit “Mothers”(“Мам”):

 

The lyrics for “Мам”:

Я завжди мрiяв написати пiсню про маму
Але рiзнi поети всi слова вже сказали
I я не хотiв би повторити когось iз них
Я бiля своєй мами буду завжди маленьким
I як тiльки покличе прибiжу скоренько
тому я їй i написав цi слова
Як мiг

Мам!
Ти мене вибач що я став дорослим
I вже минула сорок третя осiнь
Як я побачив перший раз свiй дiм
Я може трохи пiздно став її розумiти
I не часто дарував на день народження квiти
I були часи коли я тижнями їй не дзвонив
Але тепер коли вона мене обiймає
I разом iз татком щось про внучку питає
Я з радостю плачу що маю живих батькiв

Мам!
Ти мене вибач що я став дорослим
I вже минула сорок третя осiнь
Як я побачив перший раз свiй дiм
Мам!
а можна я до тебе завтра приїду
I ми на кухнi не одну годину
Собi на рiзнi теми посидим
Я дякую тобi за то що я вмiю
I я дякую тобi за то що я розумiю
Тi речi якi не пояснюють навiть в книжках
Хай буде бiля тебе завжди ангел-хранитель
I я тоже десь поряд буду завжди бродити
щоб не мiряти наше життя в телефоних дзвiнках

Мам!
Ти мене вибач що я став дорослим
I вже минула сорок третя осiнь
Як я побачив перший раз свiй дiм
Мам!
а можна я до тебе завтра приїду
I ми на кухнi не одну годину
Собi на рiзнi теми посидим

 

Find Skryabin on Amazon

 

Michael Filitis is a recent MA graduate from the University of Chicago where he concentrated on early Soviet nationalities policy, propaganda, and the rise of nationalism in Eastern Europe. A recipient of SRAS's Home and Abroad Scholarship his current focus is the improvement of his Russian language skills with the goal of pursuing a Phd in Russian history and political science. Outside of academia, he enjoys playing and composing music, eating to excess, movies about space, and contemplating a more active lifestyle.