Auktyon / АукцЫон

Auktyon / АукцЫон

Published: September 11, 2021

Auktyon (stylized as АукцЫон) is a long-lived Russian alternative rock band formed in 1978. There are nine current members in the band, including Lenya Fedorov (vocals, guitar), Viktor Bondarik (bass), Kolya Rubanov (saxophone), Misha Kolovsky (tuba), Dima Ozersky (keyboards), Vladimir Volkov (double bass), Yuri Parfenov (trumpet), Boris Shaveynikov (drums), and Oleg Garkusha (everything else). All the band members are from Russia and many hail from Leningrad. The composition of the band has changed noticeably in the past few decades, and most of the members are involved in other artistic projects.

Auktyon has released 17 albums in total, while also winning awards, attending festivals, filming movies, and going on tour. Their first album Return to Sorrento (Вернись в Сорренто) was an immediate hit in 1986, with popular songs such as “Money is Paper” (“Деньги – это бумага”) and “Wonderful Evening” (“Чудный вечер”).

Although formed in 1978, Auktyon was largely unknown until 1983 when it was accepted as a member of the Leningrad Rock club. Their acceptance into this rock club is what forced the group to solidify ‘АукцЫон’ as their stage name, which had previously changed from Параграф (Paragraph), Фаэтон (Phaeton), and finally Аквариум (Aquarium). The band didn’t like their previous names and wanted to change it to something better before having a permanent one in the Leningrad Rock club. They settled on their current name by flipping through a dictionary and focusing on finding a name starting with the letter “А,” choosing “Аукцион” (Auction) because it had a nice ring to it. When band member Boris Shaveynikov wrote it down, however, he misspelled the exotic word, using an “ы” in place of the phonetically similar “и.” The band decided to run with it, however, and even capitalized the “Ы” (which very rarely begins words in Russian and therefore is rarely seen capitalized at all, making it particularly striking). The group felt the stylization made the name less banal and more mysterious.

What sets Auktyon apart from their Russian rock peers is that the group finds inspiration across a variety of genres, such as ska, reggae, new wave, jazz, music from North Africa and the Middle East, as well as pop music of the 60s. Additionally, unlike other artists, Auktyon allows anyone to listen to all their discography for free on their website. The band makes its money from concerts and regularly gives tours abroad, including to France, Germany, Denmark, Switzerland, Austria, Holland, and the Czech Republic.

According to the band, guitarist and singer Leonid Fedorov is the “main creative force” of the group. His songs are described as having a characteristic melodic language and unusual meters. This is seen in the 2002 hit “Winter” (“Зима”), which is sung in 5/4 irregular time meter, an uncommon choice for the rock genre. This allowed Fedorov to fit the lyrics of the verses into the song without them feeling rushed or awkward.

Fedorov was the founding figure of the group, which originally consisted of just him and his classmates Dmitry Zaichenko and Alexei Vikhrev.

In 1989, the band experienced a major scandal in the Soviet press for their behavior on tour in France. Former member Vladimir Veselkin (active 1987-1992) came under fire for imitating a strip tease to the band’s song “Nepman,” (“Нэпман”) even though the act was not revealing in any nature. Multiple newspapers called the group “tasteless” and “vulgar.” The band was not phased, and Veselkin even repeated the performance at a later show. Several audience members accused Auktyon of “discrediting Soviet rock.”

Over the course of their 43 years together, the band has experienced creative changes over the years. In 1991, Auktyon’s style became darker and more improvisational – somewhat suiting as the country fell apart around them. One of their most popular albums to date is Bird (Птица), released in 1993. This is largely thanks to the song “Road” (“Дорога”) which was featured in the soundtrack of the cult film Brother 2 (Брат 2) (2000). However, after the release of Bird (Птица), the band struggled creatively and feared they could not recreate the success of that last album.

However, what makes Auktyon so likable by their fans is perhaps their fallibility. The group does not shy away from disclosing information about their personal vices. In 1996, Oleg Garkusha underwent treatment for alcoholism in the United States and eventually quit drinking. The constant influx of new members and collaboration with other creatives, such as Хвост (Alexey Khvostenko), Yegor Letov, and Svyatoslav Kurashov, is also a notable factor towards their success, as the band is constantly exploring new inspiration from fresh minds.

The band was eventually able to overcome their creative block in part by collaborating in 2007 with American musicians Mark Ribot and John Medeschi on their jazzy album Girls Sing (Девушки поют). In 2013, the band went on a 30th anniversary tour which also featured a 20th anniversary concert for the album Bird (Птица).

Their latest album Dreams (Мечты) was released in 2020. The album blends jazz with grungy rock, primal beats, and often bard-like lyrics giving it an experimental but also highly familiar feel. In summer 2021, Auktyon is currently on tour for Dreams (Мечты), which is, so far, limited to select cities in Russia in part due to COVID-related difficulties of international travel.

Listen to Auktyon on Amazon or on their website for free.

Auktyon’s biggest song «Дорога» (‘Road’) (2014)

Lyrics for «Дорога»

Я сам себе и небо, и луна,
Голая, довольная луна,
Долгая дорога, да и то не моя.
За мною зажигали города,
Глупые, чужие города,
Там меня любили, только это не я.
О, зона!
Ожидает напряженно
Я сам себе и небо и луна,
Голая, довольная луна,
Долгая дорога бескайфовая.

Меня держала за ноги земля,
Голая тяжелая земля,
Медленно любила пережевывая.
И пылью улетала в облака,
Крыльями метала облака
Долгая дорога бескайфовая.
О, зона!
Ожидает напряженно,
Я сам себе и небо, и луна,
Голая, довольная луна,
Я летаю где-то, только это не я.


Auktyon’s first big hit was «Деньги – это бумага» (‘Money is paper’) (1986)

Lyrics for «Деньги – это бумага»

Просто так не бывает ничего,
Это знают все,
Я сижу на своем коне,
И в своем седле.
Может быть, я бедолага,
Но деньги — это бумага!

Я с утра захожу в магазин,
Мне не по себе.
Я хотел бы все купить,
Но это не по мне.
Может быть, я и скряга,
Но деньги — это бумага!

Будет в будущем все без денег,
Это – хорошо!
А сегодня я бездельник,
На работу не пошел.

Как хорошо зайти в кабак,
Просто так,
И я зашел бы туда,
Был бы хоть пятак.
Может быть, я не трудяга,
Но деньги — это бумага!

About the author

Chris Wehberg

Chris Wehberg

Chris Wehberg, at the time he wrote for this site, was a student at the University of Delaware pursuing a bachelor’s degree in International Relations, Russian, French, and Spanish. He was also studying Russian at the University of Pittsburgh’s Intensive Summer Language Institute. His future plans included continuing his studies of Russian through study abroad and graduate studies. He hopes to someday use his language abilities and intercultural communication skills to tackle the issues of climate change and barriers to immigration.

Program attended: Online Internships

View all posts by: Chris Wehberg