Big in Kirgisistan (Kyrgyzstan) was a seven-part miniseries that ran during Season Two of I Kveld Med Ylvis. Bård and Vegard travelled to the city of Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan to try and become pop stars. During their time in Kyrgyzstan Ylvis wrote and recorded a Russian-language song called Janym (“Darling“ in Kyrgyz) and shot a music video to go with it.
The episode begins with Ylvis driving in a yellow car and describing traffic conditions in Bishkek. It is revealed that they have the owner of the rented car sitting in the backseat in case they get stopped by the police.
Next they meet their new manager, Ilya Lukash. Ilya invites them into his apartment and starts playing with a gun, which makes Ylvis a little nervous. Ilya reassures them the gun isn`t real then shows them his collection of souvenir plates from trips he`s taken. Ylvis tell Ilya his apartment looks like an old woman lives there.
Ilya takes Ylvis to meet a music and video producer called Alexander Velov, or just Big Boss Sasha. When Sasha askes to hear one of their songs they play Choices by Bernhoft, since they don't have their own repertoire. Sasha and Ilya like it, but say since Ylvis only have a short time they should do a Kyrgyz style song.
That night Bård and Vegard noodle around with a guitar and keyboard trying to come up with a melody, and Bård tells Vegard he should do the singing because he sounds more Kyrgyz.
Quote: “I sound too Norwegian. You sound like you were born with a kebab up your ass.”
Ylvis go to a recording studio to listen to the instrumental track for the song. They like it but still need lyrics and vocals. Then they find out they are going to be on a TV show the next day to play the song they haven't written yet and the lyrics have to be in Russian, which neither of them speak.
Ilya works on the lyrics with Ylvis, but they don't find his input especially helpful.They eventually write some English lyrics they're happy with, and Ilya translates them into Russian. Big Boss Sasha and Maja the interpreter coach Ylvis on Russian pronunciation while they're recording the vocals. At one point Maja asks Bård if his voice is hurting him, but he tells her he`s just trying to sound passionate.
After recording the new song, called Janym, Bård and Vegard stay up all night in their hotel room practicing so they can play it live on TV in the morning. Vegard gets frustrated because he has no idea what he`s singing. Bård says he`s starting to regret the whole project
Quote: “We are looking for breasts in Bishkek?”
Ylvis arrive at the TV station early in the morning for their appearance. They have e-mailed their backing music as instructed but find out the station has closed downloads and the file hasn`t gotten through yet. They meet a musician named Andoura who is going to play the komuz, a traditional Kyrgyz string instrument, to accompany them. Since they don`t have the backing music Bård plays the song on acoustic guitar for her.
There are two versions of the morning show, in Russian and Kyrgyz. They record the Russian segment first. As the show is about to go on air they still don`t have backing music and Andoura`s komuz gets stuck in the case. It takes several people but they manage to remove it before the show starts.
The Russian language hosts ask Ylvis to sing a Norwegian song and since they have no backing music, they play a children's song, “Labbetuss har bursdag” (Labbetuss is a very large sheepdog.) The hosts appear to enjoy the song, singing along and asking to learn it when the show is finished.
The music has been downloaded by the time the Kyrgyz segment is taping and Ylvis sing with Andoura playing the komuz. The show's crew love the song, predicting it will be a a hit in a week.
Quote: “Gold hit!”
To get Ylvis some exposure, Ilya takes them to busk in Bishkek's largest amusement park. They feel very self-conscious but start playing anyway. After a bit, Ilya suggests they move to a spot beside an ice cream stand to attract more people. They get a bigger audience - people stop to watch, put money in the hat and take photos.
After singing in the park Ylvis take their single to Kyrgyzstan`s hippest radio station. The programmer likes it but says it doesn't fit their format so he can't play it.
Quote: “I`m the manager!”
Now that Janym has been recorded it`s time to make a music video. Ylvis are taken to be fitted in traditional Kyrgyz warrior gear. Bård is very pleased with his outfit. Vegard rips the crotch of his pants before he's even worn them out of the store and apologizes profusely to the costumers.
The video shoot takes place in the mountains. Ylvis will start the video in modern clothes then switch to their warrior costumes and ride horses to rescue a beautiful princess from a rich bad guy. Bård gets sulky when the hairstylists decide to give him curls like Vegard's. There`s no mirror so he has to take a selfie to see his hair and after exclaiming “fytti helvete!”, starts doing an impression of Merry from Lord of the Rings. He and Vegard laugh about Bård's new look and clown around pretending to be hobbits.
The shoot progresses - Ylvis ride horses, practice fight scenes and get coaching from Ilya on swordplay. Vegard rips his pants again, this time in the back. Then they get to the video section that is supposed to be a dance number, but no one`s hired any dancers. Ilya, Maja and Big Boss Sasha`s wife fill in for the missing dancers.
Quote: “Do they need to find out how big my balls are?”
Ilya books Ylvis to play a concert and makes up a color poster for them. He is very excited about seeing Ylvis' reaction. They are delighted with the poster - Bård embraces Ilya and calls him “my friend”.
Ylvis are not so thrilled when they find out the concert venue is a restaurant called Aroma Pizza. Ilya points out that everyone has to start somewhere - Bob Marley started out playing in cocaine bars, Ylvis is starting in pizza places. They drive around town putting up posters, then Ilya gets a call for Ylvis to play at a wedding reception.
The reception is already under way when they arrive. Ylvis sing Janym and the bride and groom clap politely, though one little girl runs around with her hands over her ears. Ylvis are invited to stay for the reception afterwards, and Vegard starts tearing up when the bride and groom have their first dance (which features laser beams and pyrotechnics.) Ylvis and Ilya chant and shout along with the guests, and dance to Ai Se Eu Te Pego by Brazilian singer Michel Teló.
Outside the restaurant Bård and Vegard discuss what an intense experience the gig was and agree that it's the craziest thing they've ever done.
Quote: “Play at a wedding in Kyrgyzstan - check!”
Ylvis are booked on a radio show to promote their show at Aroma Pizza, They sing Janym live in the studio, Bård gives out his cellphone number over the air and answers the texts and calls that come in. They also discover that Ilya has a Madcon song as his ringtone. They tell Ilya they've met Madcon and Ilya gives Madcon a video greeting.
Ylvis go for another interview and a photo shoot, then get ready at the hotel for their show. Aroma Pizza has a good sized stage and lots of people get up to dance while they're performing. There's a quick review of everything they've done and they conclude they succeeded at becoming Big in Kirgisistan.
Quote: “Hello, dyevushka...”
Ylvis performed Janym live for the 2013 Gullruten award show in Norway. As a joke on the producers, they sneaked some Kyrgyz obscenities into the number. The license plate on the car says "Whore 1" and they shout a rude word for male genitals at the audience in the middle of the song.
The prank went unnoticed in Norway but caused some controversy in Kyrgyzstan when the video became available online. Many Kyrgyzstanis were offended by the raunchy language and thought Ylvis were mocking their country. Vegard was interviewed on a Kyrgyz radio show and assured the host that the intent was to make fun of the Gullruten producers, not the Kyrgyz people.
- Norwegian Music Video Offends Kyrgyzstanis (2013/06/06)
- Listen to Vegard being interviewed by Kloop.kg here (interview in English)