I had four schools, one of them was the Tatar–Turkish lyceum [TTL]. I studied there for two years. It's a very strong language school, and all subjects were taught in English. I was already into musical subcultures. When I was in about seventh or eight grade, Detsl [a Russian rapper] put out the video for the song "Friday," then I saw "Tears," and I already knew about baggy pants, rap, hip hop ...
You and the other kids, or just you?
Just me, because the TTL, for all its modernity, was full of gopniks [neighborhood ruffians]. I mean, they were nuts there, and that was the hardest period in my life as a freak.
They didn't accept you?
Of course not! They smirked, and what's the word they use now ...
Bullying, yeah! It was real bullying, intense. But then I fought one of them, and they left me alone right after that, but that's another story. So, I already listened to, like, Detsl, Bad B., Al'yans, Legal'ny bizne$$, all the Russian rap, on the one hand and, on the other, NAIV [a Russian punk band] and I knew about punk rock ... I was already into the underground and dressed like a freak. And I was alone; it was very hard.
Then one day I was walking along Bauman Street and some freaks hanging out there. I didn't even know that they existed or that they had a hangout. After school one day I went to Bauman and just sat down with them and was like:
"Hey! I'm joining you."
"Hey! Who are you?"
"I am Bulat."
"Do you have a nickname?"
"Well, we have to get you one. We need to come up with a nickname, like, I'm Sova [Owl]. And you're Bulat. Well, we can't have that. That's your homework assignment."
And I started going to Bauman every day straight from school: I had a Sex Pistols T-shirt under my white shirt and jacket, which I would take off after school, hide in a bag, and proudly walk around like a freak on Bauman. I walked very proudly, until the first time the gopniks beat me up. Then I didn't walk quite as proudly, but, nevertheless, I walked.
As for my second influence: two high school students at TTL come to our class and were like: "Can we make an announcement?" The teacher says to them sure, please. And they say "Guys, if you happen to like break dancing, we're opening a breakdance school." And I thought that was insane. Just amazing!