Digging For Soviet Grooves In Kiev

The New-East holds more mysteries for a Western-born person than its political and cultural situation might suggest. Record digging is definitely one of them! Limited to one state border for a long, Soviet, time, one would think that censorship and political omnipresence would prevent peculiar gems from seeing the light of day. Well, think again!

Listen to an exclusive mix of Soviet Grooves

Having lived all my life surrounded by music, I picked up on one constant love over the years: Groove! Falsely assumed to be only funk, disco and other party music from the 70’s, groove can be found anywhere; from pagan metal to classical music and even minimal electronic styles. Soviet musicians have found a very peculiar way to express their vision of it, through many different styles. Groove is truly a musical melting pot to rule them all!

I was introduced to Soviet Grooves by the Original Soundtrack of the Soviet movie “Shaman’s Dance” and its eponymous track. When I decided to head to Kiev, known locally as Kyiv, on holiday, only one thing came to my mind: dig Soviet Grooves. After a few conversations via Discogs with the different Sellers I could find on Discogs, I ended up being invited to 4 different venues with various collections and one goal in mind.

Diskultura True Record Vinyl Store

Diskultura True Record Vinyl Store in Kiev, Ukraine

The first Seller I had the chance to visit, in the western part of the city right underneath Old Kiev, was Diskultura True Vinyl Record Store. Before entering the shop, a very authentic graffiti of a TB-303 caught my attention. I immediately knew I was in the right place!

Their collection was quite impressive. As I roamed around the shelves, I noticed many genres and sub-genres of jazz, electronic music, disco, soul, rock! I was impressed by the coupling of intimate settings with flashy coloured couches and very organised shelves set on 3 different rooms. Welcomed by Yarrick, co-owner of the shop, I rapidly got my hands full of Ukrainian folk, Polish jazz, Hungarian funk, and so many other Soviet records, mostly released on Melodia, state label of the USSR.

Those 2 hours of record listening seemed like a few minutes to me. Exchanging words about the records with Yarrick, I could already get an overview of Soviet record history. There was way too much stuff to dig and I lost myself checking out American, European and a few Brazilian records, “What a Shame!” I thought, “This will not happen again.”

However, I left the shop quite happy with my first Soviet 12”s as well as a few western 7”s. Diskultura is definitely a must-go!

Vinylotheka

Vinylotheka Record Shop in Kiev, Ukraine

On my second day of digging in Kiev, I headed to a more abandoned part of the city on the west side. I was welcomed by one of 3 owners of Vinylotheka record shop, Sasha, who was accompanied by another character in Kiev’s record scene: Vitaliy, co-founder of a vinyl auction group on Facebook with one of his friends.

This shop is really something else. Surrounded by rubble and crumbling buildings, an old factory or warehouse stands in a private courtyard. The light sign above the entrance gives a hint of what’s awaiting inside: a DIY place decorated with perfection. All 3 owners are longtime record collectors and DJs who decided to share their hobby and bought this place to make it a temple in the name of music!

Records everywhere, an old jukebox, the beginning of a Soviet psychedelic sleeve exhibition, you can find anything in this place! Deciding not to make the same mistake as my previous shop visit, I kindly asked Sasha to select a few records for me as I was myself going through the Funk/Soul crates. A drink in my hand, my right foot stomping the ground, I enjoyed a nice conversation with both men, as a funky beat filled the air.

At one point, Sasha dug out the Shaman’s Dance OST and put on the track that had introduced me to the Soviet Grooves world and I knew I could trust his knowledge! I purchased around 7 records, 6 of them from the Soviet Era and one Japanese jazz-funk UFO. No need to say that I was extremely pleased with that digging session. Finally, Sasha gave me a flexi 7” with a few tracks from the sought-after Azerbaijani artist Gunesh as a present making this encounter even more special.

Shop the groovy selection of Vinylotheka on Discogs or contact them on Facebook for a visit and a nice time digging for gems!

Waxntalks

Waxntalks Records in Kiev, Ukraine

On the 3rd day, as a deadly temperature of 31°C hit the city, I was invited by Waxntalks shop’s owner, Rustam, to his own home in Kiev. Over a drink, he told me the story of his shop, originally located in Odessa, that he opened with his wife and fellow DJ partner to share their passion to the fullest!

Sitting in his living room in front of a DJ booth reminded me of my own setting at home. Rustam had selected more than 50 Soviet Groove and folk records for me. Right from the start of the pile, I was in love with the groovy vibe coming out of the sound system. As we talked about Soviet Records and selling on Discogs, I dug through the crate and kept on finding hidden treasures. The peculiar thing about Soviet Groove records is that most of them only offer one, maximum two, good tracks in a sea of folk songs and ballads. You don’t know what to expect to find which is more or less the beauty of it!

As we were talking about that Shaman’s Dance Original Soundtrack, Rustam spent 15 minutes looking for a copy that he kindly let me keep. This went straight to my heart! In addition to his gift, I was able to find 6 other groovy-ass records to add to my collection.

For now, Rustam is looking for a nice place to open a shop in Kiev, but you can find the Waxntalks online store on Discogs and have a look at what they have to offer. You will not be disappointed!

SuperShop & the Petrovka Market

SuperShop Record Shop in Petrovka Market Kyiv, Ukraine

On the Northern outskirts of the city, you will find the Petrovka Market. An authentic flea market, the Petrik section is host to many record dealers from professional to amateurs selling their old collections. I took a walk through the multitude of shops selling postal cards, agricultural tools, old Soviet trinkets and vinyl crates, to finally arrive at Vadim’s shop.

Just like any other flea market, you will find plenty of cheap records for over a euro, as dust covers your arms while going through the crates. Vadim’s shop, however, offers a collection of gems that you are not prepared to see! Nicknamed “The Professor”, this old but active man will not let you rest for a second! The first piece he took out was a 1000 euro Italian free-jazz record. In between jokes and stories, he will guide you through his crates to find stuff you will not find anywhere else.

Signed pictures of old-school stars cover the walls. In this place, you can almost literally smell history! I dug out a few records but as the trip ended, my wallet was getting thin. His collection is mostly rock-oriented so if you dig that style and are interested in Soviet Rock history, Vadim’s place will bring you happiness!

Vadim is definitely the kind of guy that you can listen to for hours. His stories are refreshing and his humour will definitely lighten up your time there! If you’re not able to make it to Kiev to see Vadim in person, you can check out his Soviet grooves for sale by visiting SuperShop on the Discogs Marketplace.


To conclude this wonderful digging trip to Kiev, I must say that I was happily surprised to discover such love for records and music in Kiev. Even though I focused on what I truly enjoy and play in my shows, any other genre can be looked for in this city. Soviet rock, jazz, even metal or classical pieces have a peculiar and very interesting background.

In addition to this record passion that a few countries share in the New East region, you will find good music mostly anywhere you go. Ukrainian people seem to have a strong sense of what intelligent culture means. You can find it in parties, restaurants, bars and many other places! The underground culture entails more than its mainstream counterpart and you can easily find cultural pieces that have not been warped by their actual money value in Ukraine.

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