In the city of Samara is a female choir led by Dmitrii Kolevatykh: Roundelay. This substantial, shifting lineup of young woman creates a sound unique with modern Russian music. Combining an admirable amateurism with online savvy and a knowingly hip aesthetic, Roundelay have won some very distant admirers. The Moscow portal LookatMe recently invited more than six hundred performers and ensembles to submit material for a project called "Ten Young Musicians." At some point in the proceedings, 590 polite refusal letters would be required. Thanks to a system of expert juries and public voting, the numbers gradually shrank - and the quality increased.
Once those ten lucky outfits remained, LookatMe then put them in touch with a range of Western producers, including Jeremy Gara (Arcade Fire), Ramona Gonzalez (Nite Jewel), and Andy Grier (Thieves Like Us). That professional boost was eventually extended further still with the chance to play at a couple of local - and prestigious - festivals. Roundelay were given Jeremy Gara.
The same sense of emotional support, be it local or international, is especially important in a large collective. The more people are involved, the more they need to feel included. Kolevatykh adds: "It goes without saying that certain problems emerge when you've got so many people in a band. The more participants, the more individual scenarios or lifelines you'll find among them. It's considerably easier to gather four people than ten or fifteen! Our choir members can often get stuck in traffic jams [en route to rehearsals]... They might, conversely, just drive off somewhere, or do something different altogether. You must, somehow, hold eleven lifelines together. That means being attentive to each and every person."
Why, though, does Roundelay exist amid mainstream music? As we hear from Dmitrii Kolevatykh himself, there's a more immediate - and local - need within Russia’s contemporary songwriting. Primetime product from Moscow has little, if any, relevance for concrete friends and families - in smaller, specific locations nationwide. Gathering eight young singers around an old piano seems a fine response. A helping hand from Montreal doesn't hurt, either.
Самарский хор Roundelay существует уже третий год и успел засветиться где только можно: музеи, выставки, перформансы, московская «Стрелка», восторженные статьи, крупные столичные фестивали, совместный трек с Джереми Гара из Arcade Fire. Послушав их песни хоть раз, даже самый непросвещенный слушатель поймет — в Самаре есть как минимум 16 талантливых людей с отличным музыкальным вкусом, которые признаны и востребованы на мировой сцене.