Natasha Padabed was born in Smolensk, Russia although her family moved to Mogilev in Belarus which was where she grew up. It was in Minsk that she started to organize concerts for bands, many of which were from Russia and dominating the St. Petersburg scene at the time.
In early 2000 Padabed attended SKIF, an annual international festival focused on modern music and other forms of contemporary art in Russia. At the festival she acquainted herself with the organizers who then went on to offer her work, shortly afterwards she would relocate to St. Petersburg for the job. At that point she would never have imagined that one day she would be the head curator of the SKIF festival.
A year after her move to St. Petersburg, Natasha was accepted to the Free University of Amsterdam to study environmental management; she had already visited the Dutch capital several times and had felt a connection to it. Having previously established connections in the European music industry, she was already at a point where she was being asked to book shows for musicians touring in Europe. Natasha came to the realization that booking musicians was her calling and she decided to make musical promotion her main job, going on to register her own agency, More Zvukov Agency (eng. The Sea of Sounds). Now the agency not only books concerts of popular musicians and promotes upcoming bands but also curates international music festivals.
Natasha moved to the German capital six years ago: “I had always loved Berlin and I moved here at the first opportunity I got. Holland is a small country and after living there for almost ten years, you’ve pretty much explored everything,” Natasha explains. “In Berlin, I like that there are many places that are non-commercial or still somewhat underground. That there is still the possibility to organize an open-air [party] in a park or, in general, to begin something from scratch. I also really enjoy the lakes around the city, weekly festivals, museums… Freedom! Actually there are a lot of things to enjoy!”.
Natasha can be found at concerts several times during the week, driven be the constant desire to discover something new however she explains that she needs to be truly fascinated by a band to enter into a serious professional relationship. Many of the musicians she works with use ethnic sounds: “I like the band which have striking attributes. What is interesting is when a band with a bold identity also has some roots”. One of such kind is the world music quartet DakhaBrakha. They play “ethnic chaos” and are, according to Natasha’s words, the most well-known Ukrainian band outside Ukraine. Using traditional instruments and powerful voices they experiment with folk music from the region and impart it with a new, unexpected sound.
The concerts organized by Natasha attract not just Russian-speaking audiences but also a lot of locals: “Russian and Ukrainian music is gaining more and more popularity worldwide“, Natasha says. “I don’t think it is somehow related to politics, that this new wave of musicians has risen up and attracted interest outside of their countries of origin. Nowadays the European and American press also pay a lot of attention to them”.
*Text and photos by guest author Dana Ioffe.