‘I Love You, Moscow!’

PHOTO by  Sergey Fadeichev / TASS
Snoop Dogg, Jane Birkin, David Brown and other musicians share their adventures in Moscow

Insane traffic jams and amazing poputkas, weird food and passionate women, muscle cars and people who are always ready to protect you: world pop stars told MOSLENTA about their adventures in Moscow.

David Brown, Brazzaville: Poputka

One of the coolest things I found when I first came to Moscow in 2003 was the poputka. As an American, I found the idea of hailing down a random car, negotiating the price and being driven – rather safely, I might add – wherever I want, quite surprising. Attempting to do this in a city like Los Angeles – at least, when I was growing up – would equal suicide.

Over the years, I’ve had all sorts of interesting poputkas in Moscow. One time the driver was a giant. I do not mean a giant as in ‘just a very big person’; I mean a guy the size of Valuev! He was very polite and soft-spoken. Another time we hailed down the latest Land Rover. The driver was from Uzbekistan and he worked for a rich Russian woman.

On the way the guy said that he had to pop into a shop, so he left me sitting alone in this woman’s car – with the key in the ignition – on the Garden Ring for fifteen minutes. I like the convenience of modern taxi apps like Yandex, Uber and so on, but I am very nostalgic for the sweet, disappearing poputka.

Nicolas Godin, Air: A Russian Girl’s Laughter

We were going to Moscow for a summer festival with a whole army of musicians and a ton of equipment. A friend who was seeing us off said, ‘Mmm, but you are quite the Napoleon! Are you planning to take over Moscow?” I have to admit that I'm crazy about the ambitious little guy, who, to top it off, knew the real value of art. So I couldn’t help thinking of burning the city: that is, setting it on fire with our music. The huge concert hall somehow reminded me of a tomb or a bat cave in a hot country.

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Anyway, the concert was over and that’s when it got really interesting… Call it a French landing party. Paris is worth visiting for the wine and witty conversation, and Moscow is worth going to for a Russian girl’s smile and laughter. We went into one club, then another, and early in the morning I left a club on an island in the city centre for some air. And… I saw a stunningly beautiful girl riding a white horse. Crazy! At first, I was shocked and thought that I’d had too much, but then I remembered that I'd met her in the very first bar and made a bet that she would not be able to surprise me… What did we bet on? Well, Napoleon would have approved…

Marc Collin, Nouvelle Vague: Funny Hospitality

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Marc Collin on the left

In the past decade, I have often come to Moscow for concerts. There is not too much to see here, compared to St. Petersburg, at least, but the city does possess a certain charm. However, you should avoid driving at any cost!

Once, the band and I got stuck in a traffic jam that lasted three or four hours! From my first visit, I also remember wanting to try local cuisine and asking our guide to take us to breakfast. She brought us to a horrible place where you had to queue up for some very average food. I asked, “Why did you bring us here?” She replied, “Because it’s the cheapest place in Moscow.” Funny hospitality.

Anyway, I have very warm memories of Moscow and I am very much looking forward to going back!

Jane Birkin: Medieval Masculinity

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In 2009, I had my second big concert in Moscow. By that time, I already understood that Russia is a country of surrealism and absurdity. Here toothless, poor old men said ‘I love you’ to me with such sincerity and passion: the way only Serge [Gainsbourg – MOSLENTA] could have said. On the other hand, there are all those ways to express belligerence and amusing, almost medieval, masculinity. “We can protect you, baby! We are tough!” That’s what the owners of the concert hall, in the very centre of Moscow, wanted to shout, so loudly that the whole city could hear them.

But that was absolutely crazy because the director of the concert hall gave me, an anti-militarist, a Hummer, a car with a military history! Can you imagine? I asked them to set up a press conference and a meeting with the Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers, and they suggested that I take a Hummer to get there! This is only possible in Moscow, nowhere else! But I love you, Moscow! The way Serge would have loved you!

Snoop Dogg: Gang Bang With Blondes

Hey, man! Moscow is a great city; I heard in winter you got Santa Clauses walking around smoking joints. Don’t know why, but I like it.

Of course, I remember my first concert in Moscow. It’s like your first gang bang with blondes– happens to everyone sooner or later, know what I'm talking 'bout man? I remember I came up to my show, to this big house you call Bimaximal or Bimax somethin', you know it? Out the front, there's a parking lot full of Hummers. What the fuck, I thought, you’d never see this many in California, and they were driven by little blonde things wearing diamonds, the kind you’d want to spank in your dressing room.

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And yeah, backstage at the club was for real fiends: multicoloured M&Ms everywhere – you smoke a joint, eat some candy, and then you're on stage. But it’s not about the concert: it’s about the girls who jumped right onto the stage after the show and we all went to the dressing room, candy balls everywhere... The real show was in the dressing room with Boggy Bro [Bogdan Titomir – MOSLENTA]. Boggy is the god of pimps, nigga like me, knows how to have a good time.

So, I fucking love Moscow! I'm comin' back, Boggy!

Author: Roman Unguryanu