Siberia to ATL with artist Evgenia Leshchinskaia

By: Unisa Asokan

Her voice is sharp with a harmony of accents, mostly Russian. She speaks German, English, Spanish, Russian and a little bit of Hebrew.  There’s a certain cadence to it.

Our album is about pictures and what you remember from life. Aliens and parallel universes. Or like some dark stuff, dream pics. We like it to feel like a movie when you’re hearing a live band. The dynamics of watching theater, there’s ups and downs and a climax. We’re trying to find different experimental sounds, but at the same time, point out parallel realities.
– Low Valley Hearts’ songwriter and synth vocalist, Jane Leschinskaia, aka Evgenia pronounced with a hard G


If you blink really fast it looks like a movie. – Zalika Yavlinskiy, keys and vocalist


From Russia to Atlanta

Jane says,

“Music is my biggest passion. Without it, I would be so unhappy. For me, it’s not important to have a job in an office or something. It’s nothing. To compare with if you find a person with who you can create and see the world in a creative way. You know. This is the best thing ever.

This is a new experience for me. Always wanted to play in a band. I like keys, because I play the piano. When I came to America, I became interested in sound engineering, how you can make all these different sounds. I’m from Siberia, it’s far away. When I was growing up in Russia, we didn’t hear a lot of bands. We had this curtain, you know the Iron Curtain. I mean right now, it’s not like that, but when I was growing up I didn’t hear all these cool bands.”

What’s the music scene like in Siberia?

“Now, I don’t know because I haven’t been there in four years. It’s not like here. There, just a couple people doing rock. It’s like Russian rock, more guitars, not so much electronics, keyboards. I just love it here. It’s full of art, Cabbagetown, hearing music everywhere. This is my home.

From Ross, I’m learning all these cool bands. I’m basically was living this last year experiencing 20 years in one.”

Jane doesn’t know pop culture. That’s the purity of it.- Zalika

Three-fourths of Low Valley Hearts' Ross Politi, Jane Leshchinskaia and Zalika Yavlinskiy

Three-fourths of Low Valley Hearts’ Ross Politi, Jane Leshchinskaia and Zalika Yavlinskiy

Sean Zearfoss - Low Valley Hearts

One-fourth of Low Valley Hearts, drummer Sean Zearfoss

From Atlanta to Russia

Jane grew up in the city Irkutsk, the music capital of Siberia. She was writing piano compositions by the age of ten. Ahanova Olga Urievna, one of Jane’s early teachers once said to her while practicing, “Here is like a sunrise. You see the sounds as much as hear it.” She passes this visualization technique on to her piano students in Atlanta. “Your music is like moving picture. It happens to you. You have to see the music.” 

In Siberia, children have to audition to get into school. The teachers choose who studies what, and they decide what instrument to play. In Russian music school, they pegged her as a Balalaika player, a traditional Russian string instrument that looks as if a Flying V bred with a mandolin.  A teacher advocated for her to join her piano class, so she studied piano, instead.

All my music is about oceans, waves, and space. Day and night. 

She plays the Balalaika here in the symphony orchestra of the Atlanta Balalaika Society with bandmate, Zalika. It only took 6,476 miles distance and time to pick it back up.

“I was surprised so many American people know the Russian folk music. Even Russian people don’t know this music.”

Is it catchy?

“Yeah, it is!  You know it has depth.  If it’s a sad song, it’ll be really sad. All minor key and stuff. A happy song will celebrate the joy of life. It’s really deep. It’s good for me because I miss my home. Going to rehearsal is like going to Russia.”


I believe in the American dream. Its energy. America is so different. 

Jane wants to learn saxophone, been playing with the drum machine, and wants to learn how to scream-sing louder into the mic. Zalika would love to play some metal. What if they plugged the balalaikas into effects and wrote the darkest abstract Russian folk-metal, ever?

The future is wide open.

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