It all started out in 1997, when artist/painter and songwriter Ilias Muratov together with a Music College graduate and bass player, Leo Zanis, decided to form a music group. This group was going to be slightly different than others. Not only will Ilias sing in Russian, but the music would incorporate swing and Latin touches along with modern pop and rock.
The duo performed in small clubs and cafes in the lower Manhattan area. Though the lyrics were in Russian, the audience response was very good. Inspired by this success, they decided to record an album. In the studio they were joined by a percussionist, Ernest Brown, and a talented arranger/guitarist, Ilan Frid. Ilias's songs are deeply rooted in Russian folk music. With Latin and Afro rhythms and Ilan's background in jazz, pop and rock, the different styles complemented and invigorated one another.
Yoke's first self-titled album was released in March 1999. With no corporate label behind them, they've been on the road promoting since.
The Russian lyrics are a lure to capture the listener while the music vividly draws images, each song a different story, time and place.
PRESS QUOTES ABOUT YOKE
"Yoke is not just your run-of-the-mill guitar-smashing, Russian-speaking, Hendrix-quoting, surrealist-poetry-spouting bar band. No, the years in New York have left their mark on these Russian-born rockers, which means that during any given show you might see the band joined by a small horn section, an opera singer, a Latin percussionist, and a Trinidadian rapper. Toto, I don't think we're in Moscow anymore."
Joshua Tanzer, Offoffoff.com