One of a handful of Soviet women rockers, Nastia Poleva is best known for early work, performing the poetry of Ilya Kormiltsev over her own unembellished new wave compositions. She found fame early as a singer for hire, providing vocals for some of the biggest names in the Sverdlovsk rock scene. With a little help from husband and collaborator Egor Belkin, she went on to autonomously compose lyrics and music for her group, Nastia.
Poleva surfaced in 1980 as a vocalist for the Sverdlovsk (now Yekaterinburg) new wave group, Trek. The northern town located in the Ural mountains, was one of the few hubs of Soviet rock, outside of Leningrad and Moscow. Poleva quickly made a name for herself through her no-nonsense tomboy image. In 1984 the members of Trek went their separate ways, leaving Poleva free to pursue other projects, including a brief stint performing backup vocals for Nautilus Pompilius.
By 1986, Poleva took some initiative, still performing lyrics of collaborator Kormiltsev of Urfin Juice and Nautilus Pompilius, but this time accompanied by her own sleek new wave music. The result was a unified program of love songs and delicate melodies, destitute but for Poleva's sinuous voice. The same year she made the acquaintance of Egor Belkin (Urfin Juice) who helped her in the conception of her solo project, and an album. The partnership was made to last: marriage ensued, as did the union of their artistic forces for the group project also called Nastia, first drawing audiences in 1987 at the Second Festival of the Sverdlovsk Rock Club. Their debut, Tatzu, recorded with a battery of Ural rockers, first elicited parallels between Poleva and Western artists like Kate Bush and Laurie Anderson. In 1989 Nastia delivered a second album, Noa Noa, whose text was the handiwork of former collaborator Kormiltsev and his younger brother Evgeny. The decadence with which her voice depicted images like "lazy flames" and "glassy evenings" was foreign, but appealing to Soviet audiences oriented towards morality. Widespread touring followed, but not until 1993 did the group's third album, Nevesta (Bride), see Nastia wading in the shallows of electronic music. It was the last album in the group's so-called Sverdlovsk period, as shortly after its release, Poleva and Egor Belkin would advance to new arenas in St. Petersburg.
The next few years brought an onslaught of mercenary "popsa" to Post-Soviet Russia that silenced many rock collectives. In a show of rigidity, radio stations black-balled penniless independent musicians, causing uniformity in the airwaves peculiarly reminiscent of the Soviet format. Despite infrequent public appearances, Poleva was honing her skills. In the Sverdlovsk scene, it had been standard procedure to hand-off songwriting to poets, a nod to compartmentalized Soviet society. But following the lead of the dynamic Leningrad Rock Club, Poleva struck out on her own, busily preparing materials for 1995's album, Tanetz na Tzypochkah (Dance on Tiptoe). It was the first in a series, and went on to include 1997's More Siam (Siam Sea), 2000s Gerbariy (Herbarium), 2001's NeNASTe (Not Nastia), and 2004's Skvoz Paltzy (Through Parted Fingers), whose text and music were composed solely by the leading lady herself. Poleva's compositions distanced themselves from the abstract themes of isolation found in her earlier work, instead responding vernacularly to life and experience. ~ Sabrina Jaszi, Rovi