Kyrgyz Music Friday

Kyrgyz Music Friday is a (sometimes) weekly feature in which I post a pop music video from an artist in Kyrgyzstan. It could be catchy, annoying, funny, insightful, brilliant, awful, or anything in between. It’s what’s playing on the radio, what all the cool kids are listening to these days. Kyrgyz Music Friday is not trying to appeal to your musical taste (which I’m sure is awesome), but simply gives you a glimpse into how pop music is done on this side of the world. Feel free to share your thoughts on this week’s video in the comment section!

Another special edition of KMF; a review of Gulzada’s super exclusive presentation of her debut album Tolgonuu. I’m very lucky to have a well-connected friend who scored an extra ticket for me to attend this private event. It was held at the Park Hotel in Bishkek last week and I had the perfect excuse to look fancy and leave my baby boy at home for a few hours.

Words that can be used to describe Gulzada’s singing style are folksy, shamanistic, ethnic, mystical, and the like. She’s soulful and very much rooted in Kyrgyz language and culture when performing. All of her songs are in Kyrgyz and several are written about Kyrgyz national heroes.

Gulzada was amazing. She’s gorgeous and lively and powerful to hear in person. She performed almost all of the songs on her debut album, plus one that will be on her next album. So far, I have to admit, I prefer her live singing over the album. Maybe it was the way they were mixed, or the certain combination of instruments and background singers, but some of the songs on the album ended up sounding too folksy compared to how they sounded in person.

Here’s a video I recorded at the show of Gulzada performing her song “Kurmanbek” (it’s about a national hero in Kyrgyzstan, not the former president). It was the closing song, definitely a strong choice to end the show on.

(For more videos from the show, you can check out my Youtube channel.)

After the show, Gulzada set up a table to autograph CDs and posters. Awesome, right? I get to meet Gulzada and get my CD signed! Unfortunately, I apparently have the most difficult name known to mankind. When I said it to Gulzada, she made a face and yelled for several of her friends to come over and write it down for her. She actually started spelling it incorrectly, crossed it out, and then wrote it again after my friend spelled it out. In fact, someone managed to capture the exact moment that Gulzada expressed her confusion over my name. Umm… priceless? Yeah, it was really embarrassing. I’m thinking I should just adopt an easy Russian name when I go to these sorts of events from now on, or wear a really giant name tag.

Dammit, just call me Katya or something. I still love you, Gulzada!