New East Digital Archive

Watch now: the new music video addressing issues of Russia’s prison system

30 August 2017

Socialisation of former inmates back into society is a problem that rarely finds itself as a topic of mainstream discussion in Russia, much less so in trendy music videos. The electronic hip hop band Aigel, however, whose latest album 1190 came out in April this year, is fighting to change this.

While the band’s album, praised for its outstanding poetry, focuses on issues of justice and incarceration, blending surreal themes with the genre of Russian chansons, the music video for one of the songs (Tatar, or Tatarin in Russian) takes these issues to a visual level. The video depicts a man coming out of prison, who, on his way to his girlfriend’s house, experiences several new aspects of life – like craft beer, skateboarders and vaping hipsters – and is confused by what he sees. The band, which consists of Tatar poet Aigel Gaisina and musician Ilya Baramin, say that the particular experience is a metaphor for the overall issue.

Gaisina has also noted that the song’s and album’s theme is based on her personal experience of waiting for a loved one to come home as her fiance is currently in prison: “The world now changes so fast that even after two or three years in prison the person comes out and ends up in a new environment, one that has already spat them out once and definitely doesn’t want them back. You’ll have to catch up somehow and fit yourself into the existing order. And of course this is traumatic for both the person returning to regular life and those to whom they return to.”