How did I miss this? About one year ago, in December of 2007, during the Superstar KZ (Kazakhstan’s version of American Idol or Pop Idol) auditions a guy came on clearly from the villages with a cheap sweater and a bad haircut. He was holding a dombro and the judges perhaps expected a typical Kazakh folk song about beautiful women or fast horses. Instead they got techno translated onto the two string lute and a Kazlish translation of “Freestyler,” which in Russian refers to a rapper who freestyles or a DJ who creates music. Instead of freestyler the world was introduced to Freestailo:
The judges, a well-known Kazakh actor/gameshow host/spokesperson and a famous Kazakh estrada singer, were clearly amused, if intrigued. If not for the magic of YouTube, this might have been the end of the saga. But someone put this guy on YouTube, it is unclear which freestailo video is the original. And it got remixed, put behind video of Borat dancing, mashed up with the techno songs people believed he was imitating. One of the better remixes is here for your viewing pleasure, with scenes of jumpstyle dancing:
At some point, it got picked up by a Kazakh band, R. Lizer, who added words in Kazakh to make a full song, and the video was passed around Kazakhstan from cellphone to cellphone (which is the rural Kazakh substitute for You Tube). Evenutally the clip made it onto Khabar TV, the official channel of the Administration of the President!
It also got remixed by Sound Brothers and Klubbshakers (download the MP3) and is I understand playing in discos and clubs all through Europe. You can even get the music transposed for guitar here and anyone who has ever touched a dombro will be able to easily translate it back for dombro.
So has this poor guy, apparently from a remote part of Kazakhstan, seen a penny for his fame? For the millions of views of YouTube his videos and remixes have gotten? He certainly knows about his fame because he got invited back for the final concert of the Superstar KZ 2007 season, where he really did freestyle, sans dombro:
They certainly gave him a more stylish wardrobe and hair cut. Hopefully he’s somewhere recording the new Freestylo style album. Which is to say, techno played on Kazakh traditional instruments. Based on the comments on YouTube, he’s popular around the world and doing a lot to erase the memory of Borat!
Anyone with any information on this song, this guy, please feel free to post in the comments. I’d love to clear up the mysteries of how he got on YouTube, how R. Lizer picked it up, and where he is now. And also whether the preferred spellling is Freestylo or Freestailo
Freestyler, the roots of Freestailo.
Transcription of the words and translation into English.