In October last year, the video "Ribki" was released - overnight its author, kindergarten teacher Alena Savranenko, became the star of Ukrainian rap. She is known primarily as Alyona Alyona: the performer already has several new videos in her track record, as well as a fresh debut album "Pushka". The artist had to leave the kindergarten, but ahead of her - a tour of Ukraine and Europe. On the eve of the first big concerts, we talked with Alena about what it is like to be a woman in rap, instant fame, job change and creativity.
“I miss my children, when I have time"
I come from the Kirovograd region in Ukraine. At fourteen she moved to the urban-type settlement Baryshevka, sixty kilometers from Kiev - she lived there until recently. My parents are process engineers, they studied at the Food University and worked for half their lives together at a sugar factory until we moved to Kiev. I was an ordinary child, I listened to rap from the age of twelve, then I started writing the first lyrics.
In general, I have been writing all my life, and not only rap - some songs, just poetry - there has always been creativity. It was such an attempt to find myself: I tried to read in Ukrainian, and in Russian, and in English. I even released a Ukrainian-language album - it had a lot of tracks in which I tried to please the rappers-boys, so that the local community would accept me. I read that I, too, are so "trushy", "street", read about some kind of hidden grass under the sole, which I have never hid in my life and do not even know how it hides there correctly. The community accepted me, but only the tracks were not at all about what I really live. As a result, I wrote "Ribki" and for a very long time did not publish it anywhere - I understood that if I threw it out to these boys, they would condemn me, say: "You sold out." In general, I doubted for a long time, but finally my team and I figured out how to do everything right.
After that, life turned upside down, although not in the same way as in the American film, when I fell asleep today and woke up on a horse tomorrow. I continued to go to work, I lived as before. But the clips came out, the turnover grew, and in the end I quit my job as a teacher in a kindergarten and moved to Kiev. I had to rehearse, but in Baryshevka there was no opportunity, no room, no team with which I could prepare for performances. And people already really wanted to see me. Another round trip to the base took five hours - upon returning, the brains simply did not create. So now I live in Kiev, getting ready for solo concerts. At first, I was simply not ready to go on stage: to read a rap in public was like stripping naked. True truth! Everything trembled: the chin, and knees, and the tips of the fingers down to the nails. Now I have a team - a backing vocalist and a scratch DJ - to play together. The tour starts in May: in addition to Kiev, Odessa and other Ukrainian cities, I will also go to Warsaw, Krakow and Wroclaw.
Plus, you can't get away from condemning people. We have a small village, four hundred and fifty people, I didn't want to provoke anyone, you never know what. The management was fine: do you work? Work. Nobody breaks the law. But to live in fear that now some ministry will tell you, no one wants to - this is a risk. I miss children when there is time - in general, I really love children and would like to have my own in the future. If I were not a rapper, then I would continue to work as a teacher, and in my free time I would take pictures. Or maybe she even worked as a toastmaster - I like that too.
We are all different, and this is the thrill
At first, male rappers strongly condemned me. It was in the early 2010s, women's rap was not perceived at all: whether it is there or not - in any form it was a pass.Then he took root, some faces began to appear, and now, of course, much better. It's hard for me to say whether the attitude towards me on the part of the boys has changed, but I think there was, is and will be competition.
I do not consider myself better than others. On the contrary, I think that we are all different and this is the thrill. When we are like that, then you can, for example, organize a concert where different performers will not compete with each other, but simply show their skills. Now, of course, someone has changed their opinion on my account, someone already has respect. You can't go anywhere: I have to admit that a lot of people listen to me. Someone, of course, still thinks that there is only boom-bap, and everything else is so. Well, that's their opinion.
Perhaps this is also related to the comfort zone. You get used to being in the world like this, and then you see something new and immediately react in the spirit of "No, no, I don't want." But you didn’t even try, didn’t recognize, didn’t listen. Women face this kind of attitude in a variety of ways, not just rap. The way of working for many of them often looks like this: they throw at you, but you still go and pump, gain strength. The title of one of my first tracks translates as “Female Blow to Stereotypes”: “Do you think we're bad at that? But this is not the case. Do you think I'm unlucky? But this is not the case. " I read a lot of things on the Internet, the same "VKontakte". Men wrote: "Female rap - shit, snot-drooling", "Girls squeak, but do not read", "Go to cook borsch, your place is in the kitchen", "Sing me a chorus, but reading is not your business." And I wanted to say: "Guys, you are wrong, this is not true."
I am the same as you
My creativity is that you are you. The way it is. You have a past - it gave you knowledge, experience, you must not forget about it. It is necessary to honor both the teachers, and the place where you grew up, and the time that you spent anywhere, because it tempered you. But you can never tie yourself to one place, you always have to move on. If you can, go now. If you can't - work on yourself in order to go forward later.
In big cities, there are families in which children are brought up so that they are tolerant. There is no such thing in the village: if one is chmor, then everyone joins. For example, there is a Roma nationality, they called them "gypsies" - they were also infringed upon in our country. And indeed everyone who stood out somehow: if the girl was "too" tall or even a boy - it doesn't matter! Children - they are very caustic, do not pass by. I was treated like that for a long time too.
This, of course, leaves an imprint, but you either accept and live with it further, or you hide in a corner. And, of course, probably due to the fact that they did this to me, I became myself. At least because all my life I wanted to prove: “Guys, you offend me, and I'm not bad, I'm good. Look how much I can do. " I constantly tried to be active, performed in spite of everything - I took the microphone and went to the stage to show: “Well, look, I can do it. Well, I'm the same as you. Not better! But just like you."
We did this on freestyle
We decided that we should shoot a video for "Pushka" on the same day when we recorded the track itself. Since our operator Igor and I are busy people, it turned out that if we went, it would be tonight. And we flew to Berlin for one day. It was raining, there was practically no one on the street, and we really wanted to shoot different colorful people. Berlin has even more freedom than Kiev, no one limits themselves in self-expression. We came to look for such characters, but it was raining, it was impossible to take pictures in the premises. In the end, we did everything literally overnight, slept for two hours - and flew home.
The girl who dances in the video is also a performer. She is from Germany, she raps and sings. We met her through the musicians, told us that we would be in Berlin. She has a van in which she drives her team, and we asked her to show us interesting places. She gave us a ride in this van, and then it turned out that she also dances beautifully.And we are like: “So let's dance with us! What are you, you're cool! " Delta Arthur was also with me - the director of several of my videos. He went with us to watch, direct, and in the end he also starred. We did this absolutely on freestyle - the video came out very cool.
Everything is different from the inside
I believe that every person has their own path. I have no right to judge someone else's path, I do not go to them. I don’t know how I would act if I were in the place of another. I like Dorn's music a lot. His early music is very good and cool, I still know it by heart. It is partly thanks to him that there are young artists like me: he opened the way for us, pushed us through with his sweat and his hard work to ensure that alternative music is recognized. MONATIK is a super guy, he believes in himself, in his strength, in his music and in his dances. He lives by it, and it is felt. I have a lot of respect for all the artists for their work. When I plunged into this sphere, I realized how different everything is from the inside, how much people work - this cannot but arouse respect and admiration.
There are several female performers who inspire me a lot. Princess Nokia - I love her very much for her simplicity, for the fact that she just dresses - puts on a wide robe and goes to read, sitting in the car. The second is Lizzo. There is a girl I started following on Instagram, not knowing that she was an artist. Her account just captivated me, she's so cool! And then more than a month passed, and I find out that she has concerts, clips, that she is such a super-artist! Another cupcakKe. She has a special creativity, but it's cool that she accepted herself in it. I will not say that it is super close to me, but I like how freely she does everything. She also has a very cool instagram. Billie Eilish, George Smith - I love what the girls do, the way they sing. Doja Cat is cool too.
From Russia I love Tosya Chaikina - this is such a ray of sunshine. We somehow accidentally wrote to her on Instagram, and she just captivated me - she has very beautiful melodies. I listened to Mozee Montana at the time. She also has an interesting path, I have known her since what times, therefore I do not judge or condemn. It's cool if there is development. It's cool when you have your own loyal audience. And in Ukraine, at one time there were girls, and there were a lot of us who read, but it is difficult for me to say who is now, because many are impacted by their personal lives and children. Maybe I just don't know - throw it over to me, I'll listen!
PHOTOS: Alexander Dobrev