Ukrainian Field Notes VII

A Dragon Descends on Ukraine by Maria Oksentiyivna Prymachenko

Bob Valentyn from Kultura Zvuku, Maiia Renevich and Maksym Merkulov (Sum), Leonid Zhdanov and Nata Hrytsenko (Casa Ukraina), Bohdan Konakov (Alien Body and ШЩЦ), Eazyopoluse, Kichi Kazuko, AXT and Nonsun are our guests for the current episode of Ukrainian Field Notes, taking us from Kharkiv to Odesa and from Lysychansk to Kyiv and Lviv through a mix of DJ sets, minimal techno, experimental music, darkfolk and post-metal.

We also feature four more electronic compilations courtesy of Krill Music, Uzavar Sound, Wex and Camera Magmatica, raising funds for a number of local volunteers and charities including Come Back Alive and  Dlya Tebe. Plus ANIMA L an all Italian fundraiser in aid of the animals of Ukraine.

But for what must be a first for ACL we open with Eurovision and the Vilnius version of Kalush Orchestra‘s 2022 winner Stefania feat. Monika Liu and Daiva Starinskaitė. And to round things off we look at the most recent episode of The Voice of Mariupol series from Ukraїner after taking a train ride with Anton Somewhere with some sobering stats, since the beginning of the war, 3.8M people have been evacuated by Ukrainian Railways and 161 Ukrainian Railways employees have been killed.

 

MAY 25 2022 – KHARKIV

Bobylev Valentyn – Kultura Zvuku

Hi! I’m Bobylev Valentyn and I’m the founder of Kultura Zvuku. I have been working in e-commerce all my life.

In 2017, I decided to move into the music industry and started with some friends a record and Hi-Fi store in Kharkiv. We had DJs and musicians in the team and during 2017-2018 we staged 8 parties in different clubs in Kharkiv as a promo group, Kultura Zvuku. Our parties was so popular that in 2018 we opened a club and powered it with a VOID sound system.

In parallel with the record store and club we launched a music school in Kharkiv in 2018.

In 2020 we opened our residence in Kyiv with a school and the same year we released 2 albums on vinyl on our label with the same name – Kultura Zvuku.

During 2017-2020 we did about 10 episodes of the city rave YAMA – free uncommercial raves near the Kharkiv theatre of opera and ballet.

During the 2020 quarantine we did a lot of streams from our studio. One of the broadcasts lasted for 36 hours.

In 2021 we held our first open air festival – Voyage Culturel, 30 km from Kharkiv near a lake, forest and hills. It lasted for 2 days, with 2 stages and 23 artists in the line-up.

On February 22, 2022, just 2 days before the war we launched our new project, Gasoline Radio, an independent uncommercial online radio focused on Ukrainian producers, musicians, DJs and music researchers and enthusiasts. The project temporarily ground to a halt, but it has now come back to life and is growing. We will be having a lot of radio shows, as well as music and video podcasts. Alexei Makarenko, our chief presenter at Gasoline Radio, hosts a few radio shows in our studio in the Podil district of Kyiv almost every day.

That’s probably not all, but definitely the main part of our project.

Could you describe the electronic and experimental scene in Kharkiv and what would you say differentiates it from that of Kyiv?

Over the past few years, I saw the music scene developing in Kiev very rapidly. As the capital of Ukraine, many progressive people are often looking to move there.

In Kharkiv the situation is a bit different. There hasn’t been as much enthusiasm and enough resources for different music communities and clubs to grow, especially those of an underground and experimental persuasion. That said, we did hold some conceptual music events here. One of them, Synthnight, was a night of live performances where we invited musicians to perform only their own music.

Our club music program often was full of experimental music.

Kharkiv photo by Konstantin Brizhnichenko wiki commons

Kharkiv has been hit especially hard by the Russian war machine. The situation now seems to have improved, but what is the reality on the ground? Has much of the city’s infrastructure been destroyed? 

For the first few weeks of war with russia, Kharkiv was under heavy attack from artillery, missiles, and aviation. A hundred meters from our club in the historic centre of the city a lot of ancient buildings were destroyed. The damage is massive even if the city’s infrastructure is still relatively intact. Some of the districts to the East and North of Kharkiv had to be almost abandoned.

How many of you from Kultura Zvuku have stayed in the city throughout the Russian shelling and how did you manage to keep going as a collective?

On the 24th of February, when russia invaded, panic broke out in the city. A lot of people tried to flee by car to the west of the country which resulted in heavy traffic on the highway.

The majority of our team remained in Kharkiv, relocating from our homes to the Kultura Zvuku club which has thick walls and no windows, and a water filter system.

Over the next few days the situation became even more unstable. The road to Kyiv was closed by the russian army and there were battles there.

After 8 days, when we started to get a better sense of the situation and the way the enemy forces operated, the whole team moved to the west of Ukraine with 2 cars.

Kultura Zvuku is many things, a shop, a label, and even a music school. Let’s go through the different activities. In terms of the shop, have you stopped stocking Russian releases and how do you feel about the ban on Russian music? 

In terms of banning russian artists and music, I understand that in russia there are many who don’t support their government and the invasion of Ukraine. But we need to put pressure on all sides to exclude russia from all fields, including sports and culture, manufacturing and engineering, oil and gas, and anywhere else. It’s unacceptable to support a country who invades a neighbouring country for no reason in the 21st century. That is my view.

So, if any artist is opposed to the russian invasion, they should openly state their position. Only then, the ban should not be applicable in their case.

How difficult is it for a Ukrainian label to gain global reach, and did you find the international press and festival circuit not paying enough attention to the burgeoning music scene in Ukraine before the Russian invasion?  

Of course before the war, the brand «Ukraine» was not as popular as it is now. It’s always difficult to take a part of something on foreign ground when there are local artists there. I hope that in future Ukraine will become even more deeply integrated into the European music scene. We have a lot of talented people and this would be a mutually beneficial exchange. Everyone would benefit from it.

Monomonster and Zaiets

In terms of the school, how is this structured? Aside from your resident teachers, do you have external lecturers, and what can you tell us about the new crop of Ukrainian deejays and electronic musicians? 

We have 2 school departments in Kharkiv and Kyiv. The teachers are both residents of Kultura Zvuku and visiting professors also) We’ve invited the DJs and musicians whose music we like. In both departments we teach to mix and produce music.

Over the years, we have had more than 250 alumni. Some of them already play music in clubs and festivals both in Ukraine and Europe.

I’m proud that we are playing a role in forming a new generation of musicians in Ukraine.

How have you been dealing both with the pandemic and now the war?

Covid put a stop to all gigs and live events all over Ukraine, but this was not as dramatic as with the war now. We had online shows, and continued the lessons in our school. With the war it is different. The whole country is focused on defeating the powerful enemy. To begin with, it was difficult to even think about music, when your friends and fellow Ukrainians are giving their lives for our country.

Right now the music scene is coming back to life. It is probably a good way to keep mentally alive and motivated to fight until victory. A lot of musicians are currently volunteering and do all that they can to help our heroes – the Ukrainian army.

Putting Ukrainian musicians in a global context seems now more important than ever. What steps are to be taken in order to achieve that?

We support Ukrainian musicians via Gasoline radio. I think it is important to acquaint the world with Ukrainian music producers, to give promoters and labels the opportunity to hear the material that is being created in Ukraine. This is a realistic objective and one that we can influence.

How do you see the Ukrainian music scene developing?

I think the main thing now is to stop the war. The Ukrainian music scene was very strong before the war and after our victory, I believe Ukrainian artists will be even more relevant on the world stage. Ukraine as a brand has now become stronger and I hope this will give artists the opportunity to get better known.

Could you recommend a book / film / podcast / artwork / TV series / radio station about Ukraine? 

Ukrainer – The project about our country.
Spalah – 10 episodes about Ukrainian folks, cinema, music scene, gastro, fashion, dance culture etc. It’s in Ukrainian language with English subtitles.
Gasoline Radio – Our SC page of Gasoline radio to listen to all podcasts and shows.

 

MAY 27 2022 – KYIV

 / IVANO-FRANKIVSK

Maiia Renevich and Maksym MerkulovSum

Maiia: I’ve been working in different genres, including screamo, shoegaze and before that indie. It all started after I met some musicians from other cities. This made me realise that together we could create cool stuff. With a similar approach I started making music with Whaler [aka Maksym Merkulov]. Besides, he worked in a new genre for me.

Maksym: in our joint project, most of the setup is from me. Maiia has a mic and effect processor to work with the voice, while I record and play synths and drums. Our collaborative process is a simple search for a tune that we both like and can work with, while sticking to the original lyrics/track idea. It is improvisational in many ways, the result of dozens of such improvisations you can hear on our live shows or in the album we released.

You released your album Heohrafiia osobystosti on Mystictrax on May 5. I assume this was already complete, or at least almost, by the time of the Russian invasion, and yet, the lyrics are rather dark with songs such as пізно having a prophetic quality to them. Was the making of the album coloured by the possibility of war?


Maiia: Yeah, our album was complete long before the russian invasion. Some lyrics were written in 2014, like for the song “пізно”, “хвилі”, “біля ніг”. I didn’t try to predict things, it’s just the way I felt the world at that time. Also I often try to make lyrics a bit vague, so that everyone finds their own interpretation.

Maksym: We felt the war coming and going and I believe this must have affected the music on a subconscious level, but it was not our intention. Although, personally speaking, it gives me the chills to see how much it reflects the present time and my own feelings.

At a festival near Kyiv

The music scene in Ukraine seems to have developed considerably in the past few years with a number of new labels and radio programmes nurturing and promoting local talent. What would you say have been the most interesting  and / or surprising discoveries you’ve made yourselves and how does one keep the momentum going at present times?

Maksym: I constantly try to mix genres and styles to compile something that feels like integrative music. It’s always a a journey of discovery filled with happy accidents. In recent times, I discovered a lot about my roots, my motherland and the history of my nation. I understand more about who I actually love and care about. It is what keeps my momentum.

Where are you currently based and what is the situation on the ground like for you?

Maiia: I’m from Ivano-Frankivsk and have been staying here almost throughout. There is nothing to complain about, everything is calm, except for air raid sirens.

Maksym: I am in Lviv, it’s calm here, we try to use this opportunity for good.

Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance are the five stages of grief. Are these applicable in any way to your personal experience of war and if so, which of these stages do you currently find yourself experiencing?

Maiia: Personally, I don’t experience grief. I feel hatred and confusion. And sometimes I experience something like derealisation. I rethink everything that’s been happening from the very beginning till the point where I understand again: It’s war and it’s here.

Maksym: whatever stages you want, it’s either really easy or really hard to put it in a descriptive and simple way. I would say that I experience gratitude and dedication, but I’m also broken inside for what has been done to my neighbours and the people I know, to my family who needed to flee from their home.

How would you say your personal response has changed over time since the invasion of February 24? For instance, many have told me that they have now grown used to air raid sirens, others that they’ve stopped speaking Russian. Have you noticed your behaviour changing?

Maiia: Sure, I think each of us went through personal changes. Before the war, I was interested in how russia tried to eradicate Ukrainian culture one hundred years ago. Now, russia is still trying to reach that objective. And when you see it’s really happening, you can’t tolerate anything russian anymore. Music, information, youtube videos, even dubbing for films.

Maksym: Personally, I try to learn and speak more Ukrainian than russian, I can clearly see the political bias towards russia in some of the people I used to know. Honestly, I would say everyone has changed in a lot of ways since Feb 24. Accepting that one can be killed at any point is something one needs to contend with. That and the fact that one will lose friends and loved ones.

We also both volunteer in various activities, for example we recently raised around 150k UAH to buy a car for a friend on the frontline. We are constantly sending critical medical and tactical supplies in my hometown and nearby to help our guys and girls out there, either as civilians or serving in military.

How would you qualify the response of the international music community to the current situation and do you feel there’s been fair coverage in the music press?

Maksym: I still see russian artists in the line-up of festivals, and still see artists associated with russia not speaking out and remaining silent. In spite of that, I do feel the support from the international community shining a spotlight on Ukrainian culture. It is important this sentiment keeps growing no matter what, it’s what we are fighting for.

I think fair coverage would be consistent coverage. Right now the media is “bored” with the war. But every day civilians and children die on the same streets I walked to school.

[Maksim] photo from my flat in Kyiv before the war

Are you able to think of the future and can you see yourselves being able to play your album live anytime soon?

Maksym: We plan to organise a small live show in Ukraine this summer to raise funds for charity and for our friends on the frontlines. But above all, we aim to perform in a free Ukraine. Until then we will maximise all our efforts to achieve this objective.

On a more general level, the fog of war envelops the future, rendering everything uncertain. But we have a strong desire to continue creating and exploring, and by doing this we can find peace. This is something we can always fall back on, for sublimation or otherwise.

What film / book / blog / podcast / traditional dish / radio programme / artwork best captures Ukraine for you?

Maiia: Podcast “Поплава” 🙂

Maksym: I would hazard an analogy that actually works. Antifragile is a book by Nassim Taleb. It describes a system that gets better with every challenge it faces. I would say that Ukraine shines brighter and brighter throughout all of the struggles that shaped this diamond in the past (although a diamond is not quite antifragile according to Nassim)

 

MAY 28 2022 – ODESA

photo by Sasha Proletarsky

photo by Sasha Proletarsky

Leonid Zhdanov and Nata Hrytsenko – Casa Ukraina

Could you start by introducing yourselves and describing how you both got into music?

Leonid: I’m the mastermind behind the project, making arrangements, programming and mixing – doing all the tech stuff and also working on the concepts.

I fell in love with music when I started watching MTV and bought my first Offspring cassette in the late 90s. I began my first attempts with musical software in 2004, joined a rock band a year later and my first electronic band three years after that.

We’ve been working together since 2012 and created Casa Ukrania in 2014, after the Ukrainian Revolution of Dignity when the urge to create something folk-oriented was especially strong.

Nata: I went to a musical school when I was 7 and eventually ended with a musicologist diploma some 17 years later so it was a long and wild ride. I’ve always preferred the underground over the classics though, so I’ve got into folk music and singing first and dived deeply into industrial and electronic music later. Today I am trying to combine all of these strands, writing songs for Casa Ukrania.

Fun fact: we first met at some gothic/industrial party in 2009 and absolutely disliked each other. Five years later we were already married and performing together as Casa Ukraina.

What is your studio set-up and how would you say your collaboration has evolved over the years?

We started with lively ethnotronica on the first album, then tried some acoustic darkfolk stuff on the second and came to our characteristic dark sound on the third. But now we’re not fully satisfied with that either so we’re trying to add some folkish psychedelics to dilute that darkness, and also test ourselves in the instrumental music area.

We’re recording everything in our bedroom so our setup is naturally limited to what the room can accomodate. We have a couple of budget analogue synths from Behringer, a couple of digital ones from Novation, a couple of midi-keyboards, a toy piano and a xylophone, a drum synth from Nord and some acoustic percussion and flutes, and also some basic recording equipment.

Casa Ukraina with Lubomyr Melnyk

Myroslav Protsan from The Wicker Man first mentioned your name to me. How would you describe the dark-folk and experimental music scene in Ukraine and are you in any way influenced by the work of Foa Hoka or Svitlana Nianio?

We were mostly influenced by Western music, with the most notable exception of the cult Ukrainian darkfolk band of the early 2000s Nekraїna. We’ve only played traditional Di6-like darkfolk [DI6 is an acronym commonly used as shorthand when referring to neofolk group Death In June] for a short period of time and this is exactly the case of most other Ukrainian bands that were trying to play it. Ukraine has a deep and versatile folk tradition so our bands prefer to base their music on our own folklore and not on the modern European song scene. So what most people call darkfolk here is usually a darkish folk music and not the kind of apocalyptic folk that Of the Wand and the Moon or Rome play. That kind of music is really rare here.

As for the Ukrainian experimental scene, our best acts come from the small Southern city of Nova Kakhovka (currently occupied by the russians, unfortunately). Those are Kadaitcha, Starless, Edward Sol and all the musicians released on the local label Despot.

In your Bandcamp profile you state that, “Casa Ukrania is an understanding of Ukrainian mentality as a part of the world culture, the link between the living voice of folk music and the urban world.” Could you elaborate on this notion of Ukrainian mentality, especially in view of the impact of the Russian invasion?

We have a centuries-long culture but a young independent state currently breaking free from russian colonialism. We’re living in a postcolonial situation actually, trying to restore our long-neglected cultural heritage and to decolonize it at the same time, to separate what’s truly ours from what was forcibly imposed on us by moscow. We’re also interested in the integration into European and world culture and it means we have to find a balance between keeping a traditional foundation and bringing some fresh and modern vision into the world cultural heritage. So we seek to flow into the big world without losing our identity.

Ukrainian culture, specifically literature, is ironically seen by many Ukrainians as grim and mournful – we call it ‘zhurba’ (the grief). Not that this is far from the truth, because Ukrainian people have suffered a lot in the past, but we don’t have to exploit that mood only, we have so much to offer beyond that. So our music combines that natural grief and chthonic folk themes with a colourful psychedelic passion for life.

Are you both still in Odesa and, if so, what is the current situation on the ground? I am told they’ve removed the sandbags. And could you describe a typical day for you if there’s any such thing?

We were extremely lucky that one of the best Ukrainian generals stopped the invasion in the South in neighbouring Mykolaiv. They basically sheltered us and let Odesa become the biggest Southern humanitarian hub to spread the help over the less fortunate regions. Their protection also stopped us from being shelled, but the rockets launched from occupied Crimea, and the Black and Caspian Seas are still hitting, from time to time, the infrastructure in the city and beyond it.

Russians have also blocked our port and all our sea trade, causing the global food crisis. They have also bombed our local oil storage so there’s an acute fuel shortage in the city. But it’s still much more comfortable in Odesa now than in half of the Ukrainian cities and we try to keep to our usual daily routine as much as possible, drinking our morning coffee, making music and reading books.

How would you say your personal response to the current situation has changed since February, if at all? For instance, many have told me that they have now grown used to air raid sirens, some no longer speak to family members, others have stopped speaking Russian. Has something similar happened to you?

We have grown used to air raid sirens indeed, but we can’t say our attitude changed a lot – we were more or less sure in 2022 already that war would begin soon. The only thing that really shocked us was the scale of the atrocities carried out by the russians, that’s hard to digest for any sane person. We happened to work on the new album about Holocaust in Odesa for the last several months, and while we were reading about a lot of horrible things that Germans and Romanians did, we just couldn’t imagine russians would significantly outdo them in their cruelty. So one thing that all Ukrainians definitely agree on today is that those savage acts must be punished, and when the war ends no russian would set foot on Ukrainian soil ever again.

Have the notions of time and space changed for you, and has this had an impact on your behaviour in any way?

They definitely changed. The first days of war were awfully long, the longest in our lives, and then it all compressed in a weird lump of uncertainty and endless anticipation. We know for sure this would be a long, painful and exhausting way to victory, and we all have to accept our new reality – restricted movement, limited resources, dense information flow. It’s a moral endurance test basically when you wake up every day reminding yourselves many Ukrainians were and are not so lucky as you are right now, so just try to hold on and do whatever you can.

photo by Renata Kazhan

How do you view the response of the International music community and did you by any chance watch the Eurovision song contest?

We’d say that the music community’s response was as surprising as the European political community’s response, for example. We’ve found some new unexpected friends among those supporting Ukraine, Polish musicians especially. At the same time some of those pretending to be the friends of Ukraine have totally disappointed us. Many musicians enjoyed their concerts in russia and some of them can’t seem to understand what’s going on and why do they have to lose their russian market. Some musicians like Rage Against the Machine or Serj Tankian who based their careers on political statements proved themselves to be totally impotent when it came to actually doing something, they’re all just empty words. On the other hand artists like IAMX and Behemoth are raising money for Ukraine and spreading the word about our plight. We’re also preparing our own international fundraising compilation right now on our label Khatacomb. Many musicians from Europe, USA and Australia have been willing to take part, and we appreciate that.

We’ve not watched Eurovision closely, only some videos on YouTube, but we were rooting for Ukraine and it was a very important moment for us to make a statement that the whole world would hear. We hope we will host the competition next year in a peaceful and renewed country. We would be glad to welcome Moldova’s Zdob si Zdub here, that’s the kind of vital energy that the competition lacks.

Have you been able to listen to and / or produce new music since the 24th of February?

Leonid: We can see that’s a real issue for many of our friends but not for us. I’ve immersed myself in many genres of music for the last three months to tune the brain in and to find some emotional relief. Listening to Carbon Based Lifeforms was great for finding some inner peace, and to Behemoth for releasing anger. There was an initial creative halt of course but in the second month of war I started working on some solo material purposely to resist that stressful situation, and we’ve fully returned to our work on Casa now.

Are you able to think of the future?

Though we’re going through hard times, our voice as an independent country is finally being heard and not distorted by moscow as it was before. And though our main goal is survival right now, we’re glad that the world finally starts to see us as equals. Few people cared about our agricultural sector and now that it’s blocked by russia, suddenly a lot of countries realise they’ve been dependent on our products. Few people know how strong our Ukrainian IT sector is. Few people know about our culture and its contribution to the world. We’d like that to change at last, so we’re thinking of the future eagerly.

Artwork by Ivan Marchuk

What film / book / blog / podcast / traditional dish / radio programme / artwork best captures Ukraine for you?

Our own personal Ukraine is best expressed both in the artworks of Ivan Marchuk and Maria Prymachenko, and in the antique music of the Khoreya Kozatska band and traditional songs performed by the Drevo ensemble.

We can also highly recommend the Ukrainian film Brama (The Gateway). Producer and director Vlad Troitsky is also the special ambassador of Ukrainian culture with his innovative music bands like DakhaBrakha and Dakh Daughters and his modern theatrical performances that are rather popular in Europe today.

 

JUNE 1 2022 – LONDON

Bohdan Konakov – Alien Body ШЩЦ

My name is Bohdan Konakov I am a musician, DJ and founder of the music label ШЩЦ. Also, together with Alian Core we are Alien Body.

I started to make music before I even started to talk. I was always singing songs (or sounds) while lying in bed before falling asleep.

I tried a lot of different music styles, from jazz to emocore, but I feel more comfortable in electronic music, where thanks to my computer I can do whatever I want.

What is your studio and live setup at present? 

I really like analog stuff, these old big synthesizers and these different magic boxes, but I now only use a laptop, a couple of pedals and a little synth, ’cause I need something mobile that I can easily take with me. Actually, this set-up is more than enough, and it’s where I started from. I am really glad that I can pack all my life in one bag and one backpack, but I hate cables, they are half of my bag. I hope to find another solution soon. On my laptop I have a few DAWs a few VST, you know all this regular stuff.

Alian Core

You were in the UK when the war broke out and have not been able to go back to Ukraine since. How did it feel to watch the situation unfolding remotely and how has the war been affecting your friends and loved ones? 

I was shocked when my Alina [Alina Gelzina aka Alian Core] woke up me early in the morning with the words: “WAR STARTED, they are bombing our cities.” I immediately called my family in Poltova, and still call them a couple of times a day, every day. Fortunately, people from Ohtyrka, north of Poltava, stopped the russian army and they are “safe”.

The first week was the hardest. I didn’t know what the next day would bring, because I didn’t believe in the escalation of the russian aggression, it’s incomprehensible to me. So I started to do everything I could as a musician to support Ukraine and my friends. I wrote dozens of emails to the media and other musicians to ask for help and support. I did fundraising and other stuff – I couldn’t just sit there and not do anything. There were times when I wanted to go back to Ukraine, but my family asked me not to, because they were worried. So I tried to do my best from London.

Some of my musician friends are now on the battlefield, they joined the army and civil defense. It’s so crazy, – so sensitive and emotional people, now defending their homeland with weapons in this insane war. Some are volunteers, I am proud of my friends!

Over three months into the war, are you still doom scrolling?

If you mean reading news, yeah, it’s my only way to understand what’s happening at home. News and stories from friends. Knowing info makes me feel calm and prepared in some way

The original remit of ШЩЦ was to build strong connections between different communities and artists in Ukraine, did the war derail that project or strengthen your resolve? And how do you see the label developing under the current situation?

ШЩЦ have made its role to unite music people in Kyiv, who now make new communities. As for me, I am currently more focused on our electronic band Alien Body. The label has now slowed down, because I don’t have enough time to devote to it, but I’d love to develop it in the future. A month ago I released a fundraising compilation with music from my friends. It was spontaneous and I was happy with it. We have a great team and made a few events in Kyiv, so hopefully it will grow into something bigger someday.

There is a time before and after. Because of the war everybody forgot about petty arguments. I think when we win we will have a lot of new communities because united we are strong.

How do you feel about the number of fundraising compilations out there and about the ones that include Russian artists? 

I don’t care about russians, they are slaves. Compilations are great, make art not war.

Alien Body sitting outside Cafe Oto, London

You played at a few fundraising events here in London in May, including at Iklectik and Cafe OTO. How do you view the response from the international music community to the war? Also, did you manage to see Ukraine winning Eurovision?

Eurovision it’s not the kind of show I watch, but sometimes it’s freaky funny. I’ve heard that there are a lot of politics on it, which country supports another… which not. Something like diplomacy on TV.

London is very supportive and kind to us. Everybody help us. As for the music community I see a lot of support from artists that I love. It’s so incredible! Thanks, love these people.

At the same time a lot of them keep silent, arguing that they are not into politics. It’s a weak argument and sad, even instagram stories can help to save lives, but they don’t care.

You will be playing as Alien Body together with Alian Core at the Unsound Ephemera Festival in Poland on the 18th of June. Also present are a number of other Ukrainian musicians including Poly Chain, Taras Gembik, Jana Woodstock, and Katarina Gryvul. Do you feel festivals are doing enough to support Ukrainian artists?

Sadly, I saw only 3-4 festivals in Europe inviting Ukrainian artists. We have some great talented acts btw and most of them are struggling now. On the other hand we will go to Estonia next month and they have only Estonian and Ukrainian artists in the line-up, it’s brave!

In the intro to the first compilation on ШЩЦ released back in 2019, you draw connections with the UK music scene in the 90s. In the immediate aftermath of the invasion, many artists found it difficult to listen to music let alone produce or release new music both for practical and psychological reasons. However, now that some have been able to go back to their studios, do you feel it will be possible to recapture that same impetus that characterised the times after the Orange Revolution and Maidan? 

Yeah, I think there will be a new wave of music in Ukraine, and it will start with victory parties and raves.

How do you view the way the UK government has been dealing with refugees from Ukraine with its complex visa system? Also are in touch with many Ukrainians here in London and the UK?

I got my visa quite easily, but I had to pay a lot of money for it, even if they promised it would be free for Ukrainians.

Having been in the UK since the invasion, how do you feel the Western media have reported the war and what is your feeling about the people’s perception of the situation?

I see some differences between Ukrainian and Western cultures, but I don’t understand most of them. I saw some strange narratives in the media, maybe because those who wrote the articles are not on the ground and far from the war, but you know, the media is the media. I prefer to pay attention to the way people engage and help in a practical way.

1000 hryvnia banknote with Vladimir Vernadsky portrait Ukraine’s largest banknote

What do you miss the most about Kyiv?

I miss my mates and the spirit of Ukrainian nature.

What books , music, movies etc. 

best represent Ukraine for you?

I would recommend Serhii Paradzhanov’s movie Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors.

He is a genius director who filmed a story of life, death and love in the Hutsul region in Karpaty, a beautiful piece of art. About the music I really like Vezha Khmar (dark ambient band), Ihor Tsymbrovskiy (piano vocal ambient), Skryabin – that’s what springs to mind.

Skovoroda on Ukraine’s second largest banknote

As for books, I would love to read Kazimir Malevich‘s (who was actually Ukrainian) philosophy of art, and Vernadskiy‘s science research about Noosphere. I also really like Hryhorii Skovoroda, an XVIII century philosopher. And I remember from my time at the faculty of History a really interesting study by Ihor Shevchenko on Ukraine between East and West where he described how Ukraine lives between two civilisations (and today we see that it is really the theme). These are the names that came to my mind. Obviously there is so much more.

 

JUNE 1 2022 – INTERNALLY DISPLACED

Alexander – Eazyopoluse

My name is Alexander. I am a musician and live performer. My musical project is called Eazyopoluse. I come from the city of Lysychansk (Lugansk region, Ukraine). I started my musical career seven years ago. It all started when I bought some analog gear to produce techno and minimal music. I have performed in a number of clubs including Otel'( Kiyv) and Kultura Zvuka (Kharkov).

What is your studio setup and favourite piece of gear and what is your approach to a live set?

My studio setup was constantly changing as I was trying to find my own sound for a long time. At the moment, I use a Eurorack modular system, suitable both for live performances and studio recordings.

How would you describe the electronic music scene in Ukraine and would you say it is adequately catered for both in terms of venues and labels?

In Ukraine, the electronic scene is very developed and will develop even more after the war, I am sure. Over the past few years, I’ve been following the underground scene and many events with great artists both from Ukraine and Europe. I look closely at the emergence of new names and styles of music, and check out Ukrainian labels. There are several on which I would very much like to release my music in the future.

Over three months on from the Russian invasion, how has your life changed, and how would you say the war has changed you?

My life has definitely changed, my mind was turned upside down. On February 24, I had to leave the safety of my own home and take my family to a more secure place in Ukraine closer to the border.

In terms of your day job (should you not make a living out of producing music) what impact has the war had on your industry?

I did lose my day job when I moved to a different city where there is no work in my speciality. I’m now trying to work as a freelancer, but I’m having to learn a new profession.

I never had any intention of making money from music, but that’s something I wouldn’t mind doing in the future.

Have you been able to listen to, produce and play music since the invasion?

For the first two months after the invasion, there was no time whatsoever for music. It was just a matter of survival and helping friends and family. Now I keep producing music just to keep me from going crazy.

Are you able to think of the future?

I have a small daughter so I have to think about the future. For as long as I have to live on this beautiful planet, I aim to develop and achieve as much as I can.

 

JUNE 4 2022 – PORTUGAL

Inna Shapovalova- Kichi Kazuko


Hi! I’m Inna, I live in Kyiv, and my artist name is Kichi Kazuko. The Kichi Kazuko moniker comes from Japanese culture. “Kichi” means kind. “Kazuko” is a cheerful child. I collect vinyl and have recently become interested in modular synthesis. Also, I am a promoter and boss of the label Kazuko Music.

Apart from music I like to draw, play basketball, snowboarding and I am crazy about birds, especially parrots. I have a funny parrot, his name is Johnny Liquid.

I was 13 when I attended my first techno rave. It was an open-air party on the riverside, under the bridge. My parents sent me on a summer camp holiday, and the techno event was held not far from the camp area. I knew about these open-air parties because my older friends always talked about them. I was so excited and dreamt about the moment I could go too. Because I was only 13, my mother was against it. So I understood that I had a chance to go to a real techno rave. As a result, I persuaded the girls, and we ran away to the party.

I started to live my dream only when I was 23 years old.  Then, in 2013, the revolution happened and the TV project where I worked was closed. I couldn’t find a job for a long time. So, I asked myself: Inna, what do you want to do? What were you dreaming about during all your childhood? What is your dream? The answer was clear… I took the last money I had and did a music production course.

What is your setup and what would you say is the most important aspect of your sound?

I had to leave my Technics 1210 mk2 and Pioneer CDJ 2000 at home in Kyiv. I really miss that setup, and especially the Technics. But I managed to take with me the Moog Mother-32, Roland TR-8S, Moog DFAM, and Roland SH-32 synthesizers. I like to squeeze interesting rhythms out of these machines, and the Moog Mother-32 adds raw analog, saturated sound. I now also use Logic Pro and couldn’t do without my Genelec monitors.

How did Kazuko Music come about and how do you go about selecting the artists and running the label? 

I always want to acquire new skills, I have mastered vinyl mixing, I produce music and I try to improve the sound quality. Together with some friends we promoted parties in Kyiv. It wasn’t long before I began to think about creating a label. Especially, since there are not many techno labels in Ukraine. When I started getting more and more demo tracks to play, I thought, “Wow, with so many talented musicians, I need to create a label.”

When our team is preparing for a party, we agree on everything together, and sometimes we need to compromise. But when I am working on my label, I can decide everything myself, even the covers I began to create myself. In terms of artists and music, it’s easy – I take what I like. I now also plan to learn how to do quality mastering and then I will be able to take part in each stage of production.

The only thing I am happy to delegate is promoting the label on social media. I don’t like posting and even from a personal account, I often have to force myself.

How would you describe the electronic music scene in Ukraine, and in Kyiv in particular, both in terms of labels and venues?

We have a very demanding audience. If you come to a party in Kyiv, you will see that every third person on the dance floor knows how to mix tracks. There are many great sound producers and DJs in Ukraine who are constantly improving their skills, it is impressive and inspiring. That’s why at least two players are added to the international electronic scene every year, and it’s very nice to see.

I have been to many parties abroad and I can say with confidence that in Ukraine they know how to create a cool space, and fill it with atmosphere and good sound. It often happens that our young DJs play much better than experienced guests.

I really like the Rhythm Büro and Brave events, for me they’re a sign of quality.

Once a year we have a psytrance festival Kaleidoscopie. The festival takes place in the woods near the Kyiv reservoir. More than 1,000 people come for 3 days, set up camp, and immerse themselves in an amazing trance trip. These are special 3 days which my friends and I are always looking forward to.

Speaking about Ukrainian labels, I would say that they’re only about music, not commerce. The label heads are dedicated to create interesting and conceptual content. My favorite Ukrainian labels are: Kashtan, Corridor Audio,  Subself Records, and the young label PURE TOOL.

A label is more than just endless grooves, there are emotions in records that people want to feel.

You have been described as an avid collector of vinyl, what are your most treasured albums?

Planetary Assault Systems – Arc Angel
Aphex Twin – Selected Ambient Works 85-92
Kraftwerk – Computerwelt
Robert Hood – Minimal Nation

Have you left Kyiv and where are you at present? And could you describe a typical day for you, if there’s any such thing?

A few days before the war, I went to the Czech Republic, then to Portugal, and after that, I was in Brazil for a month. But I realised that it was too far away from Ukraine, so I decided to go back to Portugal. Honestly, I don’t know whether I would be here if it weren’t for my boyfriend, Ross. He was sure that a full-scale war would start, and he thought it would be safer if I left the country. I didn’t have to think about it for too long, as I had bad feelings, anxiety, and terrible nightmares about the war for quite some time. I started to realise that there was going to be a war.

Back in Kyiv, I liked spending a lot of time at home, as I had a studio there where I could make music, and when I got too tired of doing that, I would paint pictures. During the pandemic, without being able to play live and go to gigs, I mostly painted, and people bought my paintings. I even managed to buy one synthesizer with that money.

I must have my own space with everything I need to create. I love being on my own. I can be in a special state of mind in those moments. All that has changed. I move to a new place every two weeks or so. But now I want to make music like never before. Having to move constantly and worrying about my family back in Ukraine is draining. It can be complicated for me to get focused, but when I somehow manage to, I can spend all night working on a track. I want to create something new, and currently, I’m trying to improve my sound quality. I always get all my energy and inspiration at night. Even now, it’s 5 pm, and I am writing all these answers for this interview after drinking coffee because in the morning I moved to another new flat and had almost no sleep as I was writing a new track. Every day is different, I’m still a bit jet-lagged, and it is impossible to plan anything. Over the last six months, I have made quite a lot of music. Now I have to send all the tracks to different labels. However, some of them will be released on Kazuko music.

You recently posted a video of your grandma on Instagram and Facebook. You mentioned that she is in a relatively safe part of the country and that you’ve decided not to tell her about the war. I expect it must be hard not being able to visit her. How is she doing at present?

Sometimes I’m not sure whether I can handle the emotional burden of it all. My grandmother was the one who raised me, and we’ve always had a special bond. And now I can’t even talk to her on the phone, because she can’t hear anything. This is also because of a war. Some shrapnel hit her neck when she was a kid, and she began to have hearing problems as she got older. So yes, I decided not to tell her that Ukraine is at war. Her neighbours keep an eye on her as no other family member lives in her village. Sometimes I can’t believe this is all happening. I often cry as my heart aches for my people and my homeland. But that’s life, and we have no choice but to adapt.

What book / film / album / traditional dish / podcast / blog / artwork / building best typifies Ukraine for you?

I first thought of the poem Kateryna by Taras Shevchenko in 1838. This poem begins as: “Fall in love, black-eyebrows, but not with the muscovites.” There are so many metaphors that perfectly reflect the realities of today in Ukraine. Taras Shevchenko warns Ukrainians about the danger expected from the muscovites. At first glance, he writes about personal things, but, in his words, a lot is veiled. Ukraine now appears in the image of Kateryna. But we will win. We will choose another path because we have become stronger over the past centuries.

A month ago, I created the track The Sun of Ukraine rises in Donbas. This track is kind and joyful. When I made it, I imagined that there is peace in Ukraine and that everyone is happy. I’m now preparing a new EP. There will also be two tracks: Azov – about the character and faith of our warriors; and the composition Dumky (thoughts) – there is a touching melody without a kick, and everyone will have their own interpretation…

There is hope and pain and joy in this music. This is how I feel and perceive Ukraine now.

 

JUNE 5 2022 – KYIV

Masha Kornieieva – AXT

My name is Masha Kornieieva a.k.a. AXT. I’m a DJ, sound producer and cultural activist born in Kropyvnytskiy and based in Kyiv. I started my musical journey in 2015 as a DJ, from then on I was playing at Kultura Zvuka, Keller, 20ft Radio, Otel’ etc.

Kultura Zvuka had a big influence on my musical and personal development. It’s a well known night club in Kharkiv and school of electronic music based in Kharkiv and Kyiv. I was lucky to be a part of the team and to create projects such as VITALNYA — a non-dance party-series where DJs played mainly experimental and ambient music.

What is your current set-up and what aspect of music would you say is most important to your sound?

Mostly I play DJ sets. My set-up includes two, sometimes three decks and a mixer. As a DJ I could say that my selection is full of electro, jungle and drum’n’bass with the hits of experimental music.

When it comes to live gigs — to date I have only played one together with the Kyiv-based sound producer, DJ and musician — Andrey Kostyukov at 8 club (ex 2C1B), Kyiv. We used our laptop, electron cycles and midi-keyboard. This live set was built on dreamy and catchy melodies, dense baselines and fairy-like fields.

How would you describe the experimental scene in Kyiv and how does it compare to that of Odesa or Kharkiv, for instance?

All of these three cities have incredibly powerful music scenes and underground communities. In Kyiv we listen to experimental sound in such clubs as K41, especially at Standard Deviation label nights. We also often hear it at Otel’ at such parties as Heavy Culture and Shuffle. And Kyivans were able to visit a couple of experimental-ambient nights in a club called 8.

Speaking of Kharkiv — House of Sobranie is the synonym of the experimental scene there. This party series took place in the legendary Zhivot club with artists such as Panghoud, Oleksii Podat, John Object and CANTRUST performing there.

Odesa is known for its talented child — the SYSTEM label that recently released the VA compilation “SESTRO” a fundraising compilation in aid of Sphere [Ukrainian Field Notes VI], featuring Volodymyr Gnatenko, sasha very, ϙue, Clasps, Andrey Kostyukov amongst others.

Are you still in Kyiv and if so, what is the current situation on the ground and could you describe a typical day for you, if there’s any such thing?
 
War is now in every aspect of my life. I’m separated from my family. I was with them abroad until I decided to go back to Andrey who stayed in Ukraine. Men aren’t allowed to travel abroad, in case they need to be drafted into the army to defend our country.
The war is my everyday routine. Now I’m in Kyiv. When I wake up, I look at my phone and understand that this morning is a gift, because, as it turned out — I missed several air raid alerts at night that could have resulted in my death. When I take a shower, it seems to me that there are explosions nearby, and when I walk my dog I see how the neighbors glaze their windows that were knocked out by blasts 2 months ago. For me now I would say my mental health is suffering the most. Living with the thought that you might soon be killed is awful. But the key is that you are alive and that is the main thing and a big responsibility for humans in war conditions.

Can one ever grow used to alarm sirens and how would you say the concepts of space and time have changed for you, if at all, since the war started?

In the area of Kyiv where we live, sirens are almost inaudible. Instead, we have notifications on the phone — it’s better than hearing this terrible sound every time.

The perception of time is a lot different than before. For us, the only temporary anchor now is the war. Every second of every day is dedicated to it. And while the whole world is developing at its own pace, we seem to be held back in time and space.

How difficult do you find it to listen to and produce music at present and how would you say the experience of war has altered your sound, if at all?

At the beginning of the russian invasion sound was used for self-preservation. You needed to hear how far something exploded or when the sirens would go off. Personally, I will definitely not use the sounds of sirens in any track now. This is something that you will never forget and will associate with only one part of your life. Air raid sirens are like that sound that members of Hunger Games would hear when somebody died, if you know what I mean.

Are you able to think about the future?


The future has become a less important concept for me, let me explain — it’s impossible to plan anything for the long term. You only have tomorrow and even then “morgen is die frage”. But other than plans, there is another component of my self-generated future and these are dreams. I have always been good at dreaming, so even at such a terrible moment for all of us, I manage to visualise a future without war.

Finally, could you recommend a film / book / work of art / podcast / blog / tv series / app that best captures Ukraine for you?


Film — Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors by Sergei Parajanov for sure. This movie is based on the novel by Ukrainian writer Mykhailo Kotsiubynsky, a “Romeo and Juliet tale” of young Ukrainian Hutsul lovers trapped on opposite sides of a Carpathian family blood feud.

The Union of Trident album released during the war on Progressive Future and the Grains of Peace podcast on 20ft Radio.

 

JUNE 5 2022 – LVIV

Bohdan aka Goatooth photo by Paul Alabama

Bohdan – Nonsun

I’m Bohdan, I live in Lviv, and am currently a guitarist of Nonsun. We play heavy instrumental slow music with eclectic influences.

Music has been my main interest since I can remember myself. I grew up listening to mostly rock and, later, metal.

I started composing music in 2003-2004. My first project was called Negative Plus. We recorded one single and one album in the vein of traditional, non-ambitious metal, and that was it. Then I was invited as a vocalist to a doom-death metal band Apostate in 2009 by Alex, who is currently a bassist of Nonsun.

Parallelly with being a member of Apostate, I never stopped writing my own ideas and always thought of creating a new, more experimental project. And thus in 2011, I started Nonsun. Together with my friend Alpha (drums), we recorded two EPs and one full-length titled “Black Snow Desert.” Then Alex joined Nonsun, and we recorded our second full-length titled “Blood & Spirit”, released just recently – on April 15.

Alex photo by Bram de Greve

What is the current lineup of the band and what is your writing process?

Our current lineup consists of only two members: me and Alex.

Our writing process begins with a guitar riff or a melody. During the creation of all previous albums, I would bring those guitar ideas to a rehearsal space where I and Alpha (the drummer) were jamming and improvising and we would develop them into songs. For the latest record (Blood & Spirit) it was different – I had some ideas and Alex contributed his own riffs, and the whole compositional and arrangement process was happening in my home studio (NonSound Studio), not in a rehearsal space. Alpha also came up with his drum parts in my home studio – on this record he worked as a session musician, no longer being our permanent member. We were creating them in midi editors. Only then we went to a rehearsal room to learn the songs which had been already composed.

Throughout the years, we’ve also had other musicians as live members.

Your album Blood & Spirit received glowing reviews and seems to have resonated with many with its prescient quality. How would you explain its success?

Success is a relative thing 🙂

But yeah, the album indeed received many beautiful reviews, it’s clear that the reviewers, and other listeners who gave us feedback, really got the point of what we were trying to convey with our music. It’s a true reward for us as musicians.

As for its prescient quality, in a weird way, the album had that tragic relevance at the time of release. The album title ‘Blood & Spirit’, the artwork, song titles such as ‘That Which Does Not Kill’ or ‘Days of Thunder Bring New Wisdom’, and the general mood of the music – all resonated with the current events in our country.

For example, I saw comments about ‘Days of Thunder…’ in particular, that some guitars (e-bow swells, tremolos) sound like air-raid sirens, then you have a part which kinda reminds of explosions, and the final part (the drums) is a military march. I thought: “Holy fuck, indeed… How did that happen”. In many reviews of the album, there are also mentions of how palpable those references are.

So maybe the record gained some additional attention because of that. But maybe, on the contrary, it had a repelling effect for some. Or, perhaps, the album would have succeeded more without these circumstances, because in dire times like these, music is not what interests people in the first place. Who knows.

The truth is, at the time of writing the album, I was struggling with very personal issues. That’s what the album was originally about. Look, I’m not a social person at all. But maybe we all are somehow connected to collective unconsciousness in some way, even those who are not sociable. Or maybe “its prescient quality” was just a coincidence. Who knows?

photo by Nonsun 2019

How would you describe the metal and post-metal scene in Ukraine?

Ukraine has been mostly known for its black metal, and bands like Drudkh, Nocturnal Mortum, Lucifugum, Khors.

Also, I’d like to mention Apostate – our bassist Alex was one of its founders. They played doom-death almost simultaneously with the rise of the genre in the world, which is quite rare for Ukraine’s scene.

Other veterans in this genre – Mournful Gust.

Today, probably the most popular metal band from Ukraine is Jinjer.

In our city, we also have a quite well-known band called 1914 – their concept is fully based on WWI.

From post-whatever metal, I would like to mention White Ward, Octopus Craft, Nug. Here in Lviv, we have Pušča.

I think that’s far from a complete list.

In an article for The Quietus, Yaryna Denysyuk has detailed the stance of many metal bands since 2014 towards touring in Russia and their intention to now sing in Ukrainian. Have you read the article and what are your feelings on this?

I’ve read the article – thanks to you 🙂

You know, I live in a Ukrainian-speaking region, where russian cultural impact has always been much less prominent than in the Eastern or other regions of our country. But when I was in school (it was the 90s), most kids were listening to russian ‘mass-product’ music, and I could never comprehend that. This ‘product’ was disgusting for me – not because it was russian, but because it was of a real shitty quality. You may say that mass cultural products can be of low quality in any country, including the US, UK, etc. But russian mass culture – be it pop music, TV shows, or series (which occupied our media until recently) – is, like, the bottom of the barrel. And it influenced Ukrainian mass culture a lot.

And many years later, even after 2014 (when the war started in Donbas and Crimea was occupied), the most popular music amongst kids and youngsters in Ukraine was still russian pop, rap, whatever. Even in Western Ukraine. And this is the internet era. Unbelievable.

This might be some kind of Stockholm syndrome, I don’t know. Or, indeed, a very effective aggressive cultural expansion from a neighbouring zombieland. So yeah, I agree with Yaryna that “we should remove all russian cultural products from our country for at least 50 years, till our own culture is free of any postcolonial influence. Because it was this “soft power” that held us mentally, and we often didn’t even think about what it did to us. But now we do.”

If not now, when? Enough is enough.

rehearsals photo by Paul Alabama

You’ve mentioned in an interview with Jools Green from Metal Talk that you currently listen mostly to drone, ambient, noise, contemporary classic, new age, avant-garde, free jazz, so-called ‘sleep music’, and anything else in-between. What are your most recent discoveries and can music heal the soul? 



Right, this is the music I’ve been primarily listening to for the last 5-6 years or so. And yes, its therapeutic effect played a significant role in this choice. Music can be helpful, why not, as one of the means in the healing process. Or at least for relieving the symptoms. Just like pills or medication prescribed by a doctor.

I don’t quite follow new music, especially in recent years. I’ve been rather digging through old stuff, there are so many gems, apart from well-known classics. So I’ll mention some of my favorite artists/albums from the last couple of years, those that grabbed my attention – I’ve even added them to Favorites on YouTube, hah. Many of these are classics too, but I discovered them not that long ago. In no particular order:

Pauline Oliveros, Stuart Dempster, Panaiotis; Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders & The London Symphony Orchestra; Joanna Brouk; Pharoah Sanders; Ann Southam; Alice Coltrane; Dennis Johnson; Laurie Spiegel; Louis Andriessen; Pauline Oliveros; Moondog; Valentina Goncharova.

As for more recent albums, I would like to mention Heinali, Katarina Gryvul (they’re both Ukrainians), and Lingua Ignota.

photo by Nonsun 2019

In the same interview, you also say that, “music should exist even in the darkest times.” Many I have spoken to told me that they’ve only recently started listening to music again after February 24th and are slowly returning to producing new material. Have you been able to work on new material yourself?

Like many, in the first two-three weeks, I was unable to listen to any music. That said, I am used to music playing in the background while I’m working – it’s better than silence – so I started with New Order, and Depeche Mode from the 80s. Light, nostalgic, ‘naive’ music, that could take you to a totally opposite reality. It reminds me of a careless childhood. It works well as a time machine. Escapism, you know.

Now, for the last month or a little more, my playlist has been pretty much a continuation of what I listened to before February 24th.

We recently started rehearsing again, playing songs from Blood & Spirit. Haven’t tried producing anything new yet. When we’ll find some spare time, we’ll try. Not sure about the result, because, although the initial panic has gone, there’s a constant sense of dread and danger hanging over us. Not the most favorable circumstance for creativity.

“Music should exist even in the darkest times.” I mean, music is not only entertainment. It could be therapy, or a spiritual experience. As it originally was, in its primal form. So it should exist in dark times.

Nietzsche said, “Without music, life would be a mistake.” Without music, it’s not life, it is survival. Fear, panic are dominant. All else falls into the background. Nothing’s glorious about it.

Taras photo by Paula Alabama

You have lost your former guitarist Taras Lavriv who served in the Azov Battalion to the war. How can one even begin to process a loss when the war is still ongoing?

It is a heavy loss for everyone who knew him well, but foremost for his family, of course.

Honestly, it’s still hard to believe. Taras is the one loss that is really hard to accept. In his case it is absolutely right to say, “Gone way too early”. So multi-talented: a musician, painter, sculptor, children’s art school director, martial arts coach (aikido, combat hopak). Just imagine how much he was giving, and would have still been able to give to the world.

What is the current situation on the ground in Lviv and could you describe a typical day for you, if there’s any such thing?

Lviv is now one of the centers for internally displaced refugees, a humanitarian hub. It’s relatively ‘safer’, except for air-raid sirens sounding almost every day, and missile strikes from time to time. Civilians have already been killed and injured.

Once a few missiles hit an oil depot like 800 metres from where I and my friends were at that moment – they flew literally above our heads. There were a few explosions not far from the area where I live, and once electricity and water in our house were gone, but restored in a few hours. Anyway, it’s nothing compared to some other regions where the real hell happened or is happening. Apocalypse here and now. It’s what those ‘liberators’ bring wherever they come.

A typical day now doesn’t differ much from a typical day before the war, except for regular news checking and air-raid sirens. So, I do my job, and also still work on promoting the new album (email communication, social media posts, interviews, etc.). Some physical activity, some rehearsals (two video shoots planned right now). All this under a sense of constant threat, with awareness of uncertainty.

Trying to pretend things are ‘normal’.

Are you able to think about the future?

No. There’s no future, at the moment. I see no light at the end of the tunnel. The present must be changed so that the future appears again. We need a reality shift so that a light gets through the black.

What book / film / album / traditional dish / podcast / blog / artwork / building best typifies Ukraine for you?

I’ll choose here something not well-known enough – the Ukrainian poetry of the first half of the XX century. In my opinion, poets like Bohdan Ihor Antonych, Yevhen Malaniuk, and also those belonging to Executed Renaissance (which is, by the way, another example of russian genocidal politics against Ukrainians), have raised the Ukrainian culture to a new height. Their poetry was music – their mastery of the word was phenomenal. Sadly, translations cannot convey that.

Also, I need to mention a song here – it is called Plyve Kacha. It’s a Ukrainian folk song, or more precisely – Lemko folk song (Lemkos are an ethnic group. My grandfather was Lemko).

I have always been fascinated with this song, even before it was adapted by Pikkardiys’ka Tertsia – though it is a brilliant adaptation. Love it because it’s ‘doomy’ (could easily be a drone-doom or funeral-doom song), profound, it just can’t leave you untouched, and maybe because I have Lemko blood running in my veins. The song was used as a requiem, a mourning song during the Maidan events in Ukraine in 2014, and has since been played or performed at soldiers’ funerals.

There are plenty of versions on the internet, and most are really great. I choose these two different, but both amazing, versions. One is a string instrumental performed by Kyiv Soloists National Chamber Ensemble in Stockholm Concert Hall, and the other one, on the contrary, is a liturgical a cappella version performed by the Choir of the Kyiv Orthodox Theological Academy. Just look at how genuine these performances are.

The second one is my favorite. Such great dynamics, and that church natural reverberation lifts the ‘epicness’ to seemingly incredible heights.

Please consider supporting Ukraine in these dire times:

https://standforukraine.com/
https://linktr.ee/HowToHelpUkraine2022

 

FUNDRAISING COMPILATIONS

I Stand With Ukraine

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”

In solidarity with the people of Ukraine, a special release with various artist will be dropped on bandcamp on @krillmusicofficial in collaboration with @krillfoundation and @kyivdots.

Over 40 tracks from over 40 artist from across the globe and Ukraine

We want to thank every single one sending music to contribute to the fundraiser for the brave people of Ukraine. All profits will be donated to: Come Back Alive and uahelp.monobank.ua

 

“Charity for Kherson” 🇺🇦

“My native Ukrainian city was occupied on the first days of the war.

People were left without work and housing but still remained in the city. Many could not run away from the occupation, they do not have the opportunity and funds. I want to help people who remained in the occupation and most of all needed food, medical and psychological assistance.

All proceeds will be shared between the Kherson people, through trusted local volunteers.

This 23+ track compilation costs just 20€ (less than €1 per track) and includes international music producers.

Big thanks to all the artists who have contributed.” [kirik]
💙💛🇺🇦 ✌️

 

Wex Ukraine Support Compilation

“Ukraine holds a special place in the heart of the Wex label.

We are excited to share this special compilation featuring twenty seven different artists, showcasing the various sides of electronic music. This compilation features some artists you may already know from the catalog along with some new names. We really hope you enjoy this eclectic selection of music.

We will donate directly to some of our friends in Kyiv who are constantly gathering supplies to help and protect those in need. A special thank you to all the artist who participated in this compilation.”

 

Fundaraiser for Ukraine

“The Camera Magmatica compilation is focusing on out-of-the-radar experimental electronic music, each time curated by an artist. The second volume of this series was entrusted to Jacopo, Midgar label boss and longtime friend.

Jacopo selected 6 tracks by 6 different artists: Munich based multitalented Polygonia, Harmony Rec affiliated artist Shoal, Swiss rhythm master Agonis from Amenthia Recordings, London based Taiwanese artist and sound designer Jin [靜], French born and Berlin based ambient and texture prodigies Ōtone and – Midgar ambassador – Ground Tactics.

The proceeds of this release will be donated to Ukrainian Charitable Foundation Dlya Tebe (For You) (Dnipro) – humanitarian aid to children.”

 

ANIMA L

An all Italian funderaiser with familiar names to ACL listeners including Giulio Aldinucci, SaffronKeira, Stefano Guzzetti and Attilio Novellino, in aid of the Humane Society International, helping Ukrainian refugees fleeing the conflict with their beloved pets by providing funding and supplies such as pet food, collars, leads, toys, treats and water bowls, as well as veterinary care.

Twelve tracks from ambient to drone woven with soothing piano melodies and abrasive textures.

 

 

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