IC3PEAK are a Russian electronic music duo formed by Anastasiya Kreslina and Nikolay Kostlev in Moscow in 2013. Their genre is hard to place, hovering between experimental electronic pop, witch house, and even experimental hip hop. They have a very distinct sound and an even more recognisable gothic aesthetic.
IC3PEAK somewhat transcend the traditional definition of pop and give a lot more to the Russian musical and cultural landscape than the majority of artists on this list. An electronic duo known for their dark gothic vibe and imagery, the group comments on a wide range of current political and societal themes within their lyrics and videos.
The video for Smerti Bolshe Net (Death No More) is set outside some of Russia’s most iconic political sites, including Lenin’s Mausoleum on Red Square. It features scenes depicting cannibalism and drinking of blood, with scathing lyrics aimed towards Russia’s ruling class; have a watch below and be sure to turn on English subtitles to understand the full essence of the song.
IC3PEAK are best known for their controversial and outspoken attitude towards the Russian state and Russian society. Their stark and often graphic videos, which are accompanied by scathing lyrics, make them stand out as one of the strongest and most recognizable artists in Russia’s growing counterculture.
As well as using their music to protest, they have actively taken part in demonstrations and found themselves on the wrong side of the law. In 2018, they were arrested in the Siberian capital Novosibirsk, resulting in them missing their planned concert in the city. In the same year, a number of shows were subject to cancellation as a result of Russia’s crackdown on artists that opposed the Russian state.
From the first days of its existence the project gained popularity outside of Russia. In 2014, after the release of their second EP Vacuum, IC3PEAK performed at their first overseas concerts in European cities such as Bordeaux, Paris, Riga, Prague, and Helsinki. Two years later, in 2016, the project performed in South America. During their stay in Brazil, the duo partially filmed their music video for the song “Go With The Flow”. To this day, the IC3PEAK project continues to successfully tour abroad
On November third, 2017, IC3PEAK released their first album in Russian — Sladkaya zhizn (“Sweet life”) and the music video for the song “Grustnaya suka” (“Sad Bitch”) which quickly became a hit. The video currently has over 57 million views on YouTube.
In the duo’s earlier work their vocals performed the role of an ”instrument”. However, in Russian-language texts the semantic component prevails and references to Russian folk art are emphasized. Flowing with their increased popularity in their homeland, the duo released another Russian-language longplay named “Skazka” (“Fairy Tale”) on September 28, 2018. It included new videos made for the compositions “Skazka” and ”Smerti bolshe net” (“Death No More”). The video for the song “Smerti bolshe net” is IC3PEAK’s most viewed music video – at this time it has more than 100 million views on YouTube. The band’s third album in Russian called Do Svidaniya (“Goodbye”) was released on April 24, 2020.