Modern Music in the Komi Language

Olga Deminskaya

Komi songs are not limited to folklore and old ladies’ singing

Olya San sings not only about relationships, but also about social, environmental and other global issues.

Song lyrics and music by Olya San are freely available online for all to use.

Olga Deminskaya, who had been singing since the age of six, decided to organize a Komi-language modern music band in 2006. A year later, the team was formed. The project was named Olya San, where ‘San’ stands for a part of the vocalist’s patronymic name and a Komi by-name meaning ‘wolverine’. Olga admits that she wanted to break an existing stereotype about her native tongue as suitable only for the village and the elderly people by demonstrating its beauty and inspiring the young generation to speak it.

The most common associations with the Komi-language songs are old ladies, folklore, and history. Komi has been stigmatized as something bad. It is completely wrong. I want to show the beauty of this language.

Olga Deminskaya, project author

Olya San consists of Komi-language lyrics writers Olga Bazhenova, Andrey Terentiev, and Andrey Epaneshnikov, music composer and vocalist Olga Deminskaya, and arrangers Vladimir Ananiev and Aleksey Ulyashev.

The project is produced and financially supported by family members and friends of the band, as well as Komi-language enthusiasts.

Engaging the Komi language into the urban culture

Olya San represents the Komi Republic at various Finno-Ugric and international festivals, such as Moscow Befriended Us, Carelian Faces, Palezyan, Ybitsa and others.

Music tracks by Olya San are used in films about the Komi Republic.

In December 2011, the project presented a full-run show Jöktam Stavön Syktyvkaryn (‘Everybody Dance in Syktyvkar’) and, soon after, the first Komi-language musical Vaj Tödmasjam (‘Let’s Get Acquainted’). Both productions were well-received by the public. Charmed with the vibrant performance, the audience sang together with the band in their native Komi language. According to Olga Deminskaya, the urban youth rejects Komi as untrendy and obsolete, but this attitude can be changed through positive emotional experiences.

Olga Deminskaya, the first Komi-language musical Vaj Tödmasjam (‘Let’s Get Acquainted’).

It is not about the rural areas, it is about the cities. The village people remember their native language, while the city dwellers want to get rid of it. There is a need for youth-oriented entertaining events.

Olga Deminskaya, project author

Olya San understands the importance of presentation and utilizes various multimedia technologies, stage tricks, and special effects. This approach allows the team to offer spectacular Komi-language programs, attractive for the general public and devoted fans.

The band has issued a music video Töv (‘Winter’) and a dance music album Tunasjöm (‘Magic Spell Casting’).

Töv (‘Winter’)