Last week Mullum’s very own Russian boy band Dustyesky found themselves in a most peculiar situation: this group of 50-something Aussie blokes who sing Russian working songs were a hit on Moscow media! Mark Swivel spoke with The Echo.
How has a Russian boy band from Mullumbimby found its way to Russian prime-time TV?
Con is to blame. Mr Constanin Drozdovskii, a 72-year-old in Brisbane, recovering from a double bypass, asked Dustyesky to do a fundraiser for his Russian Community Centre. He got an article into Unification, the local Russian paper, and before you could say ‘Trotsky’, Dustyesky was all over the Moscow media.
Starting on the lunchtime news on Channel One – which broadcast to 250 million people – we had a three-and-a-half-minute story on their evening news (Sat 27 May). Rehearsal last Tuesday at the Ex-Services Club turned into a live stream for Life TV News and we were interviewed by REN TV. That was not happening so much in previous weeks.
What do they think of you? Are they thrilled? Insulted? Amazed?
The Russians are bemused, delighted and proud. The response has been exceptionally positive. We always worried that ‘real’ Russians might think we were making fun of them. We’ve had offers of tuition to sort out our accents but Dustyesky seems to be an outlet for Russian pride at a time when the great country is not getting such a great press.
What has been the response online?
A dead-set deluge of messages, love and invitations from Moscow to Melbourne, from Rostov on the Black Sea to the town of Blagoveshchensk – which is Russian for ‘No, this really is the middle of nowhere’. Most comments emphasise that we sing with soul. It is obviously a huge nostalgia trip, too. We do songs grandmothers sang as lullabies or were popular during the Great Patriotic War (WWII).
One guy loves the way we pronounce krassnaya – red – in The Red Army is the Strongest. He said, ‘Oh, krashnaya – that’s adorable’. Must be like singing The Wed Army is the Strongest. Not so macho, right?
What do you think the secret is to the ‘authenticity’ of this fake Russian band making the actual ‘real’ news?
We sing these songs because we love them. We really are just a bunch of ratbags who love to hang out, have a beer and talk Total Bloke. It’s amazing that our wives and partners let us do it. We thank them (and promise to get back to tiling the bathroom shortly). The shows we do are a bonus. We have performed very little really in three years, so this is a massive surprise, like walking through a worm hole.
Perhaps we are in a special Russian episode of Doctor Who?
How did you explain to the Russians what an Esky is?
We sent a picture. Apparently Google searches for ‘esky’ in Russia are up a touch this week. Though the market is small, our commemorative Esky for the centenary of the 1917 Revolution goes into production on Thursday.
What’s ahead this year?
Dustyesky plays Bello Winter Music on 8 and 9 July, Brisbane on 12 August, Melbourne 22–24 September, Sydney 28 October (tbc), Mullumgrad Music Festival 16–19 Nov. After that, who knows?
Ever tried to get 28 hygiene-challenged men into a Lada? Check Facebook: @DustyeskyChoir for details.
Come to Mullum Ex-Services on Sat 10 June from 7pm for our big party: Dustyesky. From Mullum to Moscow. We sing. We tell the stories of this amazing week. We thank our families and community. We send off the boss, Andrew Swain, without whom Dustyesky would be tuneless quarks in an impersonal universe of toxic gas and populism.
Dustyesky. From Mullum to Moscow. Saturday 7pm. Club Mullum, Mullum Ex-Services Club, 58 Dalley St, Mullumbimby. Tickets $20 at the door or online: https://mullumexservices.com.au/event/1957967/426434240/dustyesky-fundraiser-concert.