Otyken Is the Indigenous Siberian Band With Powerful Style

The group’s recent singles perfectly exemplify how they’re pushing traditional Siberian culture forward. In “Legend,” the group jams out to a mix of hand instruments and club-worthy synths, while singing in their native Khakas language. Many of their lyrics also nod back to Siberian landscapes or old folklore tales. “We use everything new and modern, as well as the well-forgotten old,” says Azyan. In “Altay,” the group collaborated with Dutch DJ Ummet Ozcan to release a track that spotlights an unsung part of Russia. “We wanted to sing a song about the northern region of Siberia, Chukotka, to support this region and its Indigenous peoples,” says Azyan. “This is the most remote and hard-to-reach place in Siberia. We wanted to tell the whole world about this place; There are a lot of beautiful, fabulous, and exciting things to see.”

Equally as impactful as their music, meanwhile, is the culturally-rooted fashions that Otyken sports for their performances and music videos. The members make most of their distinctive ensembles, referencing traditional Siberian garments that have been worn for centuries. (The headdresses and hats, are made using mammoth trunks, wolf fangs, or bear claws.) “Our group is multi-national, and this is reflected in our stage image,” says Azyan. “We present a collective image of the Indigenous peoples of Siberia; We use [clothing], jewelry, and patterns from different local sources—from fairy tales to books and museums.”

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