Symbolic weight

Evgeny Nikitin‘s controversial tattoos have left many people puzzled and given rise to a good deal of speculation. In June 2008, Nikitin wrote an autobiographical essay for the St. Petersburg magazine “Dog” (Sobaka) which sheds further light on the Russian singer’s body art and world-view. I’ve provided a rough translation below and will let readers draw their own conclusions.

(As a side-note: the swastika tattoo formerly on Nikitin’s right breast is still clearly visible in the photo associated with the article.)

Murmansk – the city of my childhood. The rowan trees, very late summer,  the great joy in everything coming up through the first grass, the smell of lingonberries, the cries of seagulls, and of course very good friends, my beloved little yard in which we made mischief.  I haven’t been there for seven years.  I don’t have any family there anymore – we all came here to St. Petersburg.    Nothing to do there – go,  get stuck, turn around and come home.

I’d like to say thanks to my father, who introduced me to music and thanks to whom I became a musician.  He taught at the Murmansk School of Music and he said to me: “Son, you don’t seem to have made a go of anything.   Come with me to the chorus.  I also grew up without education.”    So I went with him, for the first time I opened my mouth, learned notes.  And where else should I have gone?   Either into the army or to the naval school, because I wasn’t going to get past the first year of mathematics.

I not only sang, but I also started to compose music (alone in my study), I played musical instruments, I do all this quite seriously, but I never showed it to anyone.   I try to keep myself as busy as possible because otherwise I’d hit the bottle.

My body is covered with tattoos.  Mostly they are old tattoos, not very well done.  Childish pranks, the result of a huge amount of free time.  But there are a few which carry symbolic weight:  for example, there are old Scandinavian runes, because I’m really fascinated with medieval history.

In France I am a member of club of medieval warriors.  We have real battles, not staged ones, using genuine cold metal, weapons forged according to medieval fashion.  I’ve got  a spear, axe, one-handed and two-handed swords.  The best ones, by the way, come now from the Czech Republic.

Perhaps my favorite historical figure is Harald the Stern [King Harald III of Norway],  there is a great book about him by Mikhail Veller.  He was the King of Norway who tried to conquer England, and who fell in battle at Stamford Bridge.  He worked his way up from a lowly seamen to a ruler, and his fate – an example of a real warrior.

I read a lot of historical literature, because you cannot escape your roots.  Many of us have forgotten who we really are.  We have forgotten than a man should be a man, not snot.  Today were are alcoholics and drug addicts, we pound down beer and sniff speed.

I am not a Christian and have never professed this faith, because for the past thousand years the Orthodox faith has not fulfilled its task.  It has not made people good.  Do not kill, do not steal – where has that gone?  At every chance, we try to cheat.  We were heathens once, we should remain heathens.   If someone hits you in the face, you have to break some eggs – that is paganism, that’s what we should live for.  Turn the other cheek?  That’s not my style.

I might forgive once, or not forgive at all.  I am like a cat: I remember, I turn everything around in my head for years, and then when everything has settled down, I take serious revenge.

I’ve never been one to pick a fight, but I rarely forgive one who does.  I’ve put a lot of bastards in their place, but I never started anything because that would be wrong.  If you don’t disturb anybody, don’t attack  anybody – the everything will be fine.

I don’t like Moscow.  If tomorrow someone invited me to go to Moscow, I wouldn’t go.  My inner rhythm doesn’t fit at all with Moscow’s.  I can’t sniff that cocaine.