From Trance To Folk: An Essential Guide To Modern Belarusian Music

Even though Belarusian music scene is not so well-known and widespread abroad, there are  some performers that will make your heart beat faster.

Here is a list of most authentic and popular local music bands right now: from folk, punk and pop to techno and acid jazz so even the most demanding listeners will find something to suit their music tastes.

guide to belarusian music

Turn the music on louder and start dancing! There are no boundaries when it comes to good music.

1.  Vuraj

The band experiments with authentic Belarusian folk and connects it with contemporary music styles.

The group was created as a music and theatre project in 2010, and its main genres are instrumental theater, fairy folk, folk-rock, psychedelic folk and ethno-disco.  In VuRaj songs one will spot strong cultural messages, mythological images and principles of echoism. The band takes part in many folk festivals both in Belarus and abroad.

Powerful energy and deep pagan melodies are especially admired by their fans.

2. Shaman jungle

This is one more folklore inspired music band, formed in 2011.

The music of Shaman Jungle is based on imagination and fascinating rhythmic patterns, where there are no barriers to experiments and improvisation. The musicians define their style as ethno-trance, where trance is understood as a state of mind.

Their most likely styles may be ambient, jazz, jungle. Musicians always improvise, experiment with various ethnic instruments and electronic music while performin. They often accompany their shows with oriental dances, fire, neon show and plastic theater.

3. Brutto

Brutto is a punk rock band founded by Sergey Michalok, the former lead singer of the iconic Belarusian band Lyapis Trubetskoy, whose music was forbidden in Belarus for some time.

The band was formed in 2014 right after Lyapis Trubetskoy broke up. Their genres are punk rock, alternative rock, street punk, hardcore punk, anarcho-punk.

The former members of Lyapis Trubetskoy surprised their old fans with another side of their character – in Brutto’s songs have complex lyrics and a more acoustic sound that reaches deeply to their fans. Their latest concert was held in Minsk in March.

4. Mustelide

Mustelide is a solo project of Natalya Kunitskaya who is labeled ‘the electronic princess’ by the press.

Her experimental pop music makes Natalya a special personality in the Eastern European electro-pop scene.

Fancy electronic vibes, groovy rhythms and sensual, shady vocals create a mysterious atmosphere at Mustelide’s performances. Being a songwriter, singer and producer, she is shaping and directing her artistic vision only by herself.

5. Navi

This young Belarusian indie pop duo will represent Belarus at the Eurovision Song Contest 2017. The band consists of Arciom Lukjanienka and Ksienija Zhuk who perform their songs mainly in the Belarusian language. Their  melodic lyrics and soft pleasant vibes  won’t leave anyone indifferent.

Naviband will perform in Kiev with the song “Historyja majho zhyccia” (“the story of my life”).

6. Port Mone

Port Mone is an instrumental trio influenced by jazz, minimalism and ambient music. They turn the traditional harmonies of the accordion into a mix of ambient, noise, experimental and traditional music.

Since its forming in Minsk in 2006, Port Mone has become a favorite among Eastern European music critics, they have won the hearts of fans in Poland, Croatia and Russia.

Recently the musicians have launched an original art project to draw attention to the development of renewable energy in Belarus. They are recording the new album using only green energy.

The mobile sound recording studio will be taken first to the wind turbines, and then to the solar park where the music will be played and recorded.

7. Shuma

The word ‘shuma’ derives from the archaic Belarusian word “shamiarec’ that means ‘to make noise’. But what Šuma (spelling is different from the subtitle) creates is far from noise – it’s a delicate mixture of high quality electronic music and pagan Belarusian songs performed in a contemporary manner.

Their spectacular shows are usually accompanied by traditional choreography and visual performances. Their genres may be defined as electronic, acid jazz, ambient, techno, folktronica, ethno-electronic.

It’s likely you’ve already heard Shuma: the lead singer of the band voiced the announcements at the Minsk railway station.

8. Serebrianaya Svadba

This Belarusian cabaret band appeared in 2005 and has quickly become popular not just in Belarus but in Russia and the Ukraine.

Their extraordinary musical style includes elements of chanson, country, Latin American and Russian folk music. Serebrianaya Svadba (“silver wedding”) uses a lot of musical instruments, as well as a wide set of props that turn their shows into a cheerful, bright and colorful carnival.

9. Yashar Gasanov

Yashar is a musician, producer and DJ from Minsk.

He first became famous for making rap but then switched to electronic music. He has rich experience in writing music in various genres but now works mainly in the styles of trap, dubstep, moombahcore and house.

10. Stary Olsa

Have you ever heard about medieval Belarusian instruments such as Belarusian bagpipe, lyre, svirel, jew’s-harp, ocarina, birch bark trumpet, hudok or tromba marina?

You can hear them all in the songs of Stary Olsa, a medieval folk band that plays the music of the Grand Dutchy of Lithuania, where Belarus was an important cultural and geopolitical part in the 13th–18th centuries.

The band is also known for covering popular rock songs using their medieval instruments. They actually released an album with covers via a Kickstarter campaign in 2016.

The name Stary Olsa means “Old Olsa”, where Olsa is a left tributary of Berezina in Mogilev region.

This guide was written by Nadzeya Prasvirava for BelarusFeed. Special thanks to Eugene Karpov for inspiration and to Nadia Metelitsa for proofreading.