Otava Yo
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Otava Yo

Centralniy, St.-Petersburg, Russia | Established. Jan 01, 2006 | SELF

Centralniy, St.-Petersburg, Russia | SELF
Established on Jan, 2006
Band Folk World




"review from Viljandi folk festival 2010"

Otava Yo from St. Petersbourg were sweating in their ‘ushankas‘ and old t-shirts together with the audience; they played and danced in the ‘night club’ from midnight until 4am, speaking English, Russian, Estonian and Finnish (especially by showing their ‘great ability’ of counting until four).

Their music mixing Russian folklore, punk, rock, film, cartoon, and world music all of a sudden allowed to leave behind all the ‘propaganda war’ or any other problems between Estonia and Russia because people were able to just enjoy the music and have a good time together
- Estonian free press

""Otava Yo is our Russian miracle this year" (Ando Kiviberg - The Head of Viljandi Folk Music Festival)"

Otava Yo is our Russian miracle this year. That group from St. Petersburg is memorable for their especially good state of mind. They use folk songs very attractively and can take great concert halls by storm with their Slavic temperament and fire. They also perform such tricks that they play tunes known from Russian cartoons and children movies of their own arrangements.
They look gorgeous on stage. Imagine slim boys with stretched-out light blue singlets and fur caps with ear flaps keeping away from their heads like wings! (Laughs.) They make wild fiery music!

If I paraphrase one of their tunes, then Otava Yo is an authentic example of what will happen if a classical Russian Ivan gets into groove.
Something like that! But, for heaven's sake, they do groove to the fullest. Those who wish to dance till they drop, then Otava Yo masters that task with ease. - www.finugor.ru

"Album review ("Once upon a time", 2009)"

What impression do you think 5 guys in old grandfathers' clothes and ear-flapped hats plus 1 girl wearing an old fashioned dress make on visitors at a Moscow music club? Exactly – the audience forgets about beer and food – they start staring at the stage! But if Otava Yo starts to play polka or lezginka the crowd will go to the dance floor! The band plays old Russian songs and tunes which are well known in Russia. Probably the musicians of Otava Yo are just taking a break from their serious music projects in which every of them takes part. But the music of Otava Yo is much more interesting and funny than the music of their main bands. I do not know why… Maybe because they do not have to keep the old conception they chose for other bands – in Otava Yo they can play anything! The main rule – the result should be funny. So they use everything – old Russian kadrils (traditional dance), traditional Soviet songs, even strings a’la Apocaplyptica. They recreated the well known “Grey goat” in such a funny and great way, I can hardly say that they seriously recreated it (but they kept the tragic ending of the story).
Usually I am happy if a band does not use all 74 minutes of CD’s space and produces 30-40 minute albums. But this time 41 minutes of Otava Yo’s “Once Upon a Time” was not enough for me. I would love to get an album with this kind of music at least twice as long!
I’ll be honest – it is an album for anybody who loves cheerful, funny music. Of course after some time you can get tired of it, but I myself after listening to it for 2 weeks still like it and will be waiting for the new albums from the funny men wearing Russian ear-flapped hats. - Oleg Bobrik


Still working on that hot first release.



A group of folk musicians in St. Petersburg, Russia, spontaneously formed Otava Yo in 2005. They wanted to create new interpretations of Russian folk music, open to everyone with open ears (and legs), and to revive neglected tunes from bygone times. Their first album "By the pharmacy" was released in 2006. After experimenting for three years, the band released their second album 'Once Upon a Time' in 2009 and here their notion of Russian Beat came fully alive. The next album 'Christmas', an exquisite album of traditional songs celebrating Christmas, released in 2011 was in a very different direction. And in 2013 the album "What Are Those for Songs" further developed their music with wonderfully uplifting music.

They've been called "modern buffoons" and the music has been described as "communal groove". Both are true. Otava Yo play their music in a vigorous manner with uninhibited humour, mixing firely-played traditional Russian instruments with a look straight out of Gogol - one which simultaneously frightens and attracts the tourists. Otava Yo aim to shatter the clichĂŠ that Russian folk music is boring and undanceable.

Last year the band plays some 80 concerts at different clubs, theatres, festivals and weddings. They've broken records in festival CD sales and have been introduced to the President of Estonia. They've received an award from Bratislava’s Academy of Humor; and with support from the St. Petersburg Committee of Culture produced a play and an album based on Russian Christmas songs. Apart from Russia, Otava Yo have performed in Mexico, France, Estonia, Portugal, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Poland, Germany, The Netherlands, Austria, Finland, Belgium, India and Spain.

The band's second music video, "The Tale of Ivan Groove", was No.1 on World Music Network's October 2012 Video Chart and received positive reviews and nearly 200,000 views since it was published on YouTube in April, 2012.  

In October 2014 Otava Yo had a showcase at the World music Expo - Womex 2014.


Belkin Alexey - gusli, bagpipe, fife, vocal
Sergeev Petr - percussion

Shikhardin Dmitriy - fiddle, vocal

Skosyrev Alexey - guitar, vocal
Usova Julia  violin, vocal

Sigidin Timur: - bass guitar

Band Members