ASTANA, Nov. 6 – One of Astana’s most popular entertainment venues, the Eight Drops karaoke club, is also an incubator for the capital’s creative talent and a place to gain experience in creative professions. Galiya Kassymova and Askar Suleymenov, both customers-turned-employees, spoke with The Astana Times about their work at the club.
Kassymova started coming to the club frequently about five years ago, and after showing up regularly to sing for six months, she was invited to try working there. “I got the job of administrator. My job included meeting guests, finding suitable tables for them and other duties. After working as an administrator for a month, I got interested in sound. For a while I’ve been filling in for the sound director and at the same time I was singing.”The club has moved several times since Kassymova joined, and each time she has followed it. Eight Drops has settled for now at the Cascade Business Centre.
“After we moved here, I got professional singing classes—we have a colleague who teaches singing,” she said. “I had five or six lessons, in which I worked on my breath … then I worked on developing my voice myself by singing every day. Now, I continue my work here as an administrator, at the same time singing and leading a creative life.” Suleymenov also started his career as a visitor to the club, dreaming of becoming an anchor, or resident singer. “About six months ago, my dream came true,” he said. “The day after my interview, I was anchoring onstage. Now I lead the evenings and I try to introduce something new. Every guest is a friend to me. Regular guests are almost my relatives. Now I treat guests the same way I was treated here.”
Suleymenov said he had no training in how to be a master of ceremonies and host the club. Rather, the club relies on natural charisma. “We spot people with these abilities at once,” Kassymova said. “For example, Askar [Suleymenov] came once and went onstage when Azamat [another host] was anchoring here. They started freestyling. All the guests were amused and everyone saw that he had this ability to light people up. Anchors should be very kind, cheerful and have creative ideas.”
Residents and anchors must also be able to interact with guests, tell them club policies and offerings and be able to do a bit of acting on special occasions. “For example, if we have a theme party, the resident should get into character,” Kassymova explained. “Two days ago we had a Halloween party, and our residents played their characters very well. If one was a zombie while meeting guests, he didn’t move or react at all, but just stood and stared. Guests even asked us, ‘Are you sure they are okay?’”
Playing the part requires dressing the part. Suleymenov said he spends part of his salary on accessories and clothes for the stage.
“The club is not just the walls of a building; this is our team,” Kassymova said. She credits Eduard Em, the head of the club, for creating an inclusive, creative atmosphere that attracts the type of employee the club wants.
The Eight Drops brand has branched out: there are now Eight Drops sound, recording and photo studios, a producing studio and even a spa. Talented guests and anchors are sometimes invited to record at the studio, though it mostly works independently with its own clients and projects. Kassymova said the club plans to create events overseas in the future and work more closely with the tourist industry.
For now, Kassymova said, Eight Drops tries to be an oasis of warmth in a sometimes-cold club scene. The club’s “face control” is very relaxed, no one is obligated to buy food or drinks in order to sing, and it is even possible to get in for free through their occasional invitation campaigns. “If we spot someone who is creative and has talent, we’ll do our best to help him come here,” Kassymova said.