“IC3PEAK” is a Russian experimental electronic music duo formed in Moscow in 2013.The band is recognisable for its dark aesthetic and blend of several genres, including “Electronic”, “Witch house”, “Spap”, “Alternative”, “Rock”, “Metal”, “Synth Pop”, “House” and “Folk”. The band consists of two members, Anastasia Kreslina and Nikolay Kostylyov. Nikolay is responsible for the musical composition and Anastasia for the lyrics and vocals.
Anastasia and Nikolai met at the Russian State University for the Humanities, where they studied English and Swedish. Coincidentally, both members grew up in musical families: Nikolai’s father was an orchestra conductor and Anastasia’s mother was an opera singer. Despite the creative atmosphere that surrounded them from childhood, neither of them received a full musical education. After getting to know each other, they decided to quit their studies. To realise their joint plans, they formed a musical duo. The members realised that they wanted to create a “new art” with the aim of breaking down established musical principles.
Anastasija and Nikolai came up with the name of the band quite by accident. They named their band Icepeak because of the Finnish brand name on Anastasia’s laptop. Later, they decided to change the name slightly, changing the first “e” to a “3” to avoid conflicts with the trademark.
The band’s first recordings appeared online in autumn 2013. The band was born with the first track “Quartz”, where Nikolai tried to move away from his usual clean sound and Anastasia tried to move away from traditional vocals. The band first started performing at Moscow’s “Witchout Party”, which was organised for fans of “Witch House” – experimental electronic music with an occult aesthetic. Initially, they wrote English songs, so they had a number of shows in Europe. There were shows in Paris, Bordeaux, Riga, Prague and Helsinki. November 2017. The band released their first album in Russian, “Sweet Life”, in 2017 and the track “Sad Bitch” has received more than 10 million views on “YouTube”. Why the band switched from English to Russian, Anastasia says: “We’ve travelled and toured extensively in the West, so we were constantly in touch with local listeners and looking at Russia from afar to see something unique and interesting. And it was a joint decision between me and Kolya – we wanted to have a dialogue with the audience in their own language”.
In 2017, IC3PEAK won the electronics category at the “Jägermeister” music awards and the “Golden Gargoyle” award for “best experimental project of the year”.
“IC3PEAK” – “We are part of a cultural revolution”
The members of “IC3PEAK” have described their work as “audio-visual terror” due to their intention to subvert the principles of iconic music and culture. Due to the lyrical content of their songs, they were accused by the Russian government of distributing “subversive material”, and in 2018 the country’s security forces began to interfere with the group’s performances. This led the duo to become free speech activists. Since then, they have moderated many anti-censorship rallies. The music group criticizes the Russian government in their songs, which is why the FSB (Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation) followed them on tour, threatened event owners, and cut off their sound in the middle of concerts. Nikolay says: “They are learning to cancel our concerts in almost every city.” Nikolay adds that even a half-finished concert is a victory for them.
The fight against the new generation of Russian musicians began at the end of November 2018, when 25-year-old rapper Dmitry Kuznetsov, known as Husky, was prevented from performing in the southern city of Krasnodar and arrested. His arrest sparked a wave of protests by other rappers, which was eventually brought to the attention of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Anastasia says that “We are not revealing anything new. The government seems to lack a sense of humour. We are just saying out loud what people would like to say but are afraid to say”. Russian president Vladimir Putin believes that if he cannot ban rap music completely, then he can at least control it. For the first time, commenting on the banned concerts, the President said: “Rap and other contemporary art forms are based on the following pillars: drugs and protest”.
How to deal with the first generation of Russians born after the collapse of communism is a growing headache for the Kremlin. Young people are increasingly shaping their attitudes and expectations online.