Ukrainian Field Notes X

Three Parrots on a Soldier’s Grave by Mariia Oksentiyivna Prymachenko

Time for some number crunching as we’ve reached the tenth episode of Ukrainian Field Notes. What started off as a one off has become a fortnightly series comprising interviews with over 60 musicians from all over Ukraine, many of them internally displaced or having left the country. Most interviews were conducted by email, some through Telegram, and one as a video chat on Signal. Of all those we approached only one band declined to discuss the Russian invasion with us.

Over more than 4 months we’ve also featured 80+ fundraising compilations adding another 11 to the list to bring that number close to 100.

Our most popular episode remains the first, with physiological dips in interest, but with no end in sight to the war, we consider it our duty to keep a spotlight on the Ukrainian electronic and experimental music scene.

Aside from the interviews, we’ve embedded a number of radio shows and docs, with highlights including Nina Eba‘s monthly Air Raid Siren podcast and Anton Somewhere‘s despatches.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their generosity in sharing their experience of displacement and war, with some grieving friends and band members. It’s been an education and a privilege. I apologise if I have been slow at times in recognising my misconceptions of all things Ukrainian. There is much I’ve yet to learn.

But back to our present episode that sees us traveling to Ivano-Frankiwśk to chat to Yurii Dubrovskyi about delayed projects and dubious metal bands. Speaking from Zhytomyr, Oleh Koliada takes us through his many incarnations while pondering the fate of humans as a speck of absurdity. Andrey Sirotkin in Kyiv triples his output as a direct reaction to the war, while Dmytro Bobryk returns to his home in Bucha. Finally, fresh from her selection for the Shape+ platform, Katarina Gryvul extols the joys of schooling whereas Lvcerate opens up about anxiety and questions the unity of the electronic music scene in Ukraine.

Updates come from Hanna Svirska, who has a new EP out, and Oleksandr Demianenko (whom we first chatted to when discussing the fundraising compilation …for my Ukraine he released on his Tbilisi based label Giraffe Tapes). Also included is the latest by the ever prolific 58918012.

To round things off we’ve chosen the recent Beatport portrait of Nastia, who, like our guest Dymtro Bobryk, shows us the ruins of Borodyanka. Plus, we look at the latest from Ukraїner, an account of 52 days in the Azovstal bunker through the testimony of Katia and, one month on from Pride, we close proceedings with the short film Pride Is Not Available In Your Region, featuring Koloah’s Millenium Sun.

But to begin with, Ukrainian Field Notes has now also become a podcast for the UK based community radio Resonance FM, with the first episode addressing the sonic impact of the war and the use of field recordings as rhythmic structures through interviews and music from Zavoloka, Burning Woman and Vlad Suppish. You’ll find it embedded just below from our Soundcloud page.

 

 

Tracklist:

Mishka Ziganoff – Oi oi di Koilen
Cluster Lizard – Music of Creation
Troxellemott – Trauma
Zavoloka – Obriad
Vlad Suppish – A Hobbyist of Hellworlds
Burning Woman – Nightingale Song
Dmytro Bobryk – Goverla
Stas Teterevlev – Ambience_Kyiv_24_02_022
Vlad Suppish – Bergamot Lyre
Zavoloka – Vilna
Sean Deigh – Gardens of the Mind
Mishka Ziganoff – Oi oi di Koilen
 (reprise)
Vlad Suppish – Glimmer of Hope

As always, happy listening, reading and viewing. And to support Ukraine visit: supportukrainenow.org/

 

JULY 17 2022 – Ivano-Frankiwśk

photo by Serhiy Hrytsay

Yurii Dubrovskyi – Octopus Kraft; Asthme

I am the guitarist and vocalist of the project Octopus Kraft, Asthme, I also play the synthesizer and I’m the vocalist in the band Nug, and my debut album as an electronic artist Zlele will be released soon.

I have been listening to music since childhood, starting with my father’s vinyl records of Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Genesis, Pink Floyd, Peter Gabriel, as well as classical music, which I listened to with my brother, who studied piano. Then there was 90s pop, rap, and then grunge, metal, nu-metal, then the band Tool and Isis, and that’s how I got to post-metal, but there were always parallel styles such as trip-hop and various kinds of electronics.

Octopus Kraft started off as a band but was reborn as a studio project. What is your current setup and what can you tell us about the making of Null, which lists amongst its collaborators Katarina Gryvul on violin in За межею (Beyond)?

In Octopus Kraft it’s only me alone, but I plan to record the next album I am working on with a team that I am currently looking for. The album Null was a long time in the making, some of the riffs were created collectively, but most of it was of course created and recorded by me, so it’s very personal and with minimal compromises. This album was conceived as a personal medicine and it works perfectly, it’s a reset of everything that came before, a certain result to start creating again without baggage.

The visual accompaniment for NULL comes from Maria ABRA. This may be a personal question, but do you have any tattoos and have you had any new ones done since the Russian invasion?

ABRA is a wonderful artist and it is not the first time she has helped me, which I am grateful to her for. I don’t have any tattoos, but after the release of the Null album I wanted to get one, but it never came to that.

How would you say the war affected you?

The war definitely had an effect and it is quite difficult to explain how, but it seems as if time is passing more slowly, you do not have the strength to do anything and you are constantly waiting for the end that does not come. But I need to say that the war is still affecting us, and no one knows what the outcome will be in the end.

I understand you are from Western Ukraine, where are you at present and what is the situation on the ground?

Yes, that’s right, the situation here is not so critical, thats why most of the people came here from the eastern part of Ukraine and the number of people who evacuated from here is small. Almost every day we hear sirens, but it has already become our everyday life.

nug

You are also part of the post-metal band Nug together with Vitaliy Rysakov, Bogdan Kalynets, Jevgen Tarasenko, and Yurii Popov (familiar to ACL readers under his  ambient moniker 58918012). How would you describe the post metal scene in Ukraine? 



It’s hard to characterise the scene when it consists of several bands 🙂

When speaking to Goatooth from Nunsun in a previous episode of Ukrainian Field Notes, he told us that being from Western Ukraine, the influence of Russian music was always less evident to him. You’ve been writing lyrics in Ukrainian yourself, but where do you position yourself on the language debate within the metal scene and what is your take on metal bands touring Russia as detailed in the article Bloody Ground, Fertile Soil Part 2: Russian Influenced Music & Ukraine by Yaryna Denysyuk for the Quietus?

I condemn such bands, I have never supported or listened to them, I am sad that such facts exist, but I hope that karma will do its work. And yes, in Western Ukraine there is less of an influence of russian music, but this is not enough. Many young people still like to listen to crappy russian music, and it takes time to change that.

There’s a line in the song Ангели (angels) included in Null where you sing “Мій дім вже не тут і дух мій не в мні” (My home is no longer here and my spirit is not with me). Have present circumstances made you reevaluate the concept of “home”? 

This is a song about the end of physical life and about the fact that the spirit has left its home (body) and is no longer in it, so the current circumstances do not affect the understanding or interpretation of these words in any way.

What do you do to unwind in present circumstances?

Mostly by writing the music that will be on my new album. When doing so, I completely immerse myself in the process and can distract myself from current events. Also, I don’t forget the routine and small things such as delicious morning coffee, cleaning the house, and playing with the cat.

Nug have released one track since the invasion, Потрісканий світ (A Cracked World) feat. Sasha Proletarskyi. Have you been working on anything new and when can we expect the next album from Octopus Kraft?

I don’t have enough time at present, and I want to get a lot done, so I’m working on different projects simultaneously, it’s both nug and zlele as well as octopus kraft. I was planning to release the new album this year, as I have the concept, a lot of riffs are ready, and the lyrics are already written, but the war pushed the release. I am trying to do my best to make it happen this year, but I am not setting any dates, because it needs to come out when the time is right, both emotionally and qualitatively.

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

In terms of films, I’d say Atlantis by Valentyn Vasyanovych – the most emotional film about future postwar Ukraine and My Thoughts Are Silent by Antonio Lukich – a lighter film, but with a touch of drama. As for music, I’d pick the album Досвід by Vivienne Mort. Books – The Forest Song by Lesya Ukrainka. Artwork – Kateryna by Taras Shevchenko.

 

JULY 17 2022 – Zhytomyr

Oleh Koliada

Ciao, Gianmarco. Oleh Koliada, 44, is in touch from Zhytomyr, Ukraine.

I have been actively into post-industrial music with my first underground recordings since the mid 1990s, but early interest might have indirectly been instigated by auteur cinema when I focused more on the unconventional sounds, broken rhythms and noise, rather than a narrative.

On a personal level, I was influenced by the post-nuclear environment I grew up in and by a military milieu due to my father’s work.

You’ve been making music since 1997 and you’ve used a number of monikers over the years, including Kostolomo, FHF, In Meditarivm, and Andromeda Orlguistaa. Do you consider these projects closed or have they been simply paused? 


Also, and this could be a vast topic, but broadly speaking how would you say the experimental music scene has developed in Ukraine in post-Soviet times?

Some of the names you mentioned are side-projects, some are just the intermediary narrators I used to represent a particular point of view or broader discourse from. While studying at the Uni (where I have worked since 2007), I definitely strived for complexity, paradox and post-modern flexibility, yet I could never contemplate the recording process, constantly demotivated by the social landscape I plunged myself into, or frustrated because instead of harmony I encountered chaos.

Way later, I touched upon the sonic and thematic areas I needed to meditate on, yet again disturbed by current events. In a word, I have come to see humankind as a speck of absurdity.

Today, I do not need to generate noise as this is a part of me and echoes inside of me, so most of the musical projects have been put on ice indefinitely.

In terms of Ukrainian experimental music, it has probably evolved, but I have never considered myself a part of the scene, so I don’t feel a need to evaluate it or even consider its direction and position from an academic point of view.

How would you describe the current dark ambient and post-industrial scene in Ukraine?

I wouldn’t describe the scene, but life in general in Ukraine as dark ambient and post-industrial.

Your Oda Relicta project aimed to represent the legacy of the Zhytomyr Military Brass Orchestra that your uncle was involved in while serving in the army. It celebrated the army in its fight against fascism while musically close to spiritual liturgy. Leper Mass, for instance, was composed in the aftermath of the Russia – Georgia war of 2008. Are we going to see a new chapter in response to current events?


Oda Relicta has been a special project to me, especially when collaborating with the late Ukrainian composer Mykhail Shukh (1952-2018); I used this project as a platform to voice my concerns about the political elite and the religious theocracy vs our illusionary independence and privacy. Several albums illustrated the tragic events of Ukrainian history with a strong anti-russian stance. This is something I have always been right about, but ridiculed till the outbreak of the total war of today’s neo-nazi russia against peaceful Ukraine. Now, no one dares to consider my criticism of that sinkhole country with violent populace of das Man worshippers as over the top.

I am not sure about making new recordings, as I have a feeling I have already contributed everything I intended to the debate and do not want to repeat myself. That said, there are some recurrent narratives, so it is not over yet, I assume.

You also run the Old Captain label. Has the war had a direct impact on the production and distribution of physical releases and merch and how do you see your label developing over the next few months?

Since 2012, and for a decade now, I have managed the Old Captain label, alongside the Faust sub-label and the independent Old Captain Press publishing house. The war has nullified or postponed any future plans I might have had, and forced me to find new manufactures abroad, so much so that at the moment I follow the carpe diem motto and do not have any specific plans for upcoming releases. Surprisingly, the label merchandise section has been thriving and has recently become popular again.

photo by Dmytro ‘Orest’ Kozatsky

One thing you have scheduled is the solidarity to Ukraine compilation Unio Solidarium, coming out on the 15th of August in multiple editions. One of these editions includes the famous Snake Island stamps, which are already a collector’s item and must have been difficult to source.

How did you go about curating the compilation and how do you feel in general about the number of fundraising compilations that have come out since February the 24th?

Unio Solidarium is the quintessential compilation about the war in Ukraine, yet it is transcendental in its message. It features the projects I have been friends with or enjoyed their music for many years, so it is very personal and meta-textual at the same time.

The boost of the fundraising projects worldwide to support Ukraine against the leprous terrorist russia has been unprecedented so far and I believe it is a trait of any civilised person to share one’s solidarity with us to eradicate ruscism.

 

You are from Zhytomyr, what is the current situation on the ground?

The city, and especially the region, was bombarded in March from the territory of neo-nazi belarussia, a russian collaborationist. Since then, there have been air raid sirens sounding on a daily basis, day and night. Like everywhere else in Ukraine life has changed in Zhytomyr.

How would you say the war affected you on a personal level?


Although I have not yet taken a direct part in warfare, I have experienced the loss of people I knew, but overall, no matter how depressing the situation can be, I have been ready for this real and metaphysical war for a long time. Paradoxically, the war has made me more optimistic, outspoken, enthusiastic and ardent, balancing the opposites, I reckon.

Are you able to think about the future?


If the present is plausible, then the future is feasible.

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

Poet: Vasyl Stus / Director: Kira Muratova / Singer: Kvitka Cisyk / Artist: Kazimir Malevich / Meme: “russian warship, go f**k yourself!”

Glory to Ukraine!

 

JULY 18 2022 – KYIV

photo by Igor Tarasov

Andrey Sirotkin

All my life, for as long as I remember, I’ve always been into music. At 4yo I started to listen to the vinyl records of my parents – from instrumental/acoustic music to some kind of electronic music. In school, my parents bought me a computer with which, besides from hardcore gaming, I started to discover music production programs.

Since my youth, I discovered music in all genres I could find – pop, rap, rock and ultimately I dived into electronic music.

In 2004 when I finished school I started to learn djing. A couple months later I identified myself as a drum and bass DJ. Three years later, my first tracks were released.

What is your current studio setup and what would you say is the defining aspect of your sound?

Now, after the terrible experience of russia attacking Ukraine, I have two setups – studio based and bag-based.

For my studio I have 2 pairs of monitors, some hardware synth (which are changing pretty often), a pair of guitar pedals and a modular synth system. This setup is hardware-oriented, most of the tracks there being produced with those synths. For sure, I can make 100% track in the box there, but it’s one in every 5-6 tracks.

My mobile/bag setup consists of a macbook, a small DAC and a pair of headphones, which allows me to work anywhere. This is software experimenting stuff – I use 2 different DAWs there and also just got into MaxMSP and produced my 1st track with it.

Having a look at the tracks I finished, I would say that the defining aspect of my sound is a deep and minor mood with slow evolving sounds. I just introduce that mood via the current setup that I have near me at the moment.

photo by Igor Tarasov

How would you describe the experimental and electronic music scene in Ukraine and how diverse would you say it is? Also how do you believe it will develop given the current situation?

Ukraine has a full scale range of artists, from well known names in the techno scene, to those familiar mostly within smaller communities. Like the modular synth community from Kyiv or the ambient music community from Kryviy Rih for instance.

Also, generally speaking, in terms of the electronic music scene, there are different things going on at present:

– there are those who have been allowed to leave the country (or have found ways to do so), and who are making the most of the opportunities offered to them to play abroad, as they are in high demand as artists from Ukraine.

– and there are those who are not able to continue operating as they did before the invasion and that take part in fundriasing events or small private gatherings.

I found that under these conditions, the conditions are favourable for unexpected collaborations, collective projects and new encounters that will lead to new interesting projects in the future.

While some of the artists have reduced their activity because they are not in the right frame of mind or have no energy left to move forward, others, like myself, have doubled or even tripled their productivity because of a need to express their feelings or are motivated by an impulse “not to die with their music inside them”.

 

How would you say the war has impacted you?

In a way, I have already answered that, so I’ll just make a summary here:

– I tripled my productivity and increased the frequency of my releases.

– I created a mobile setup to make music anywhere.

And a 3rd thing is that I started my radio show, even two radio shows — for both of my projects at the local independent station Gasoline Radio. This was something I meant to do but kept postponing waiting for “better times”. The current sequence of global events has shown that those times cannot come.

Where are you at present and have you been displaced by the war at any point?

From 26th of Feb to May 10th I was in Lviv. I fled there from Kyiv with my family with a minimum of items in a bag. Since May we’re back in Kyiv.

Is there anything you believe the West has not properly addressed or understood about the current situation?

In the EU, and in Western countries in general, people are ready to help out by donating to medical and humanitarian causes, but are reluctant to contribute to military needs, and I understand that. But this delays the victory of Ukraine and causes more deaths in the long term. Also, our soldiers are protecting basic human rights, which russian soldiers do not share.

The repercussions from this war are already being felt by Western countries with increased prices for energy (heating and electricity) and a slump in the currency exchange rate of the euro.

Delaying the end of war will increase all these problems, something which we will all have to face in the future.

How difficult have you found it to listen to new music and to produce new material in the aftermath of the Russian invasion?

For me music is the cure. I immerse myself in all aspects of it, listening to it, producing new material and djing, and for these moments I forget all this pain that surrounds me.

I’m scared of “being late” — of being late to release a track, of being late to play a dj set, of being late to hear new music.

Are you able to think of the future?

The future for me is shaped by two crucial dates connected with the war. The first one is the end of August — when we’ll be able to see any possible change on the war front (towards russia or not). The second one is the end of the year — when some say the war will end (or at least the active phase of the war).

Nothing exists besides these two dates for me.

Does Eurovision need to take place in Ukraine next year?

I think we all should do our maximum so it can happen in a free, peaceful and independent Ukraine. It’s the act of uniting people!

Residential flats in Kyiv hit by a Russian rocket – photo by Andrey Sirotkin

What book / film / artwork / podcast / meme / landmark / building best describes Ukraine for you?

For me it’s all about this emoji ❤️‍🩹

Ukrainian people are pure love and there are so many great kind people who help us to heal our wounds.

Who should I interview next?

Here are the artists that I deeply love and adore their music

  • Vlad Suppish (Vladlen Mytianski) — ambient live act from Bucha
  • Wavescania (Kateryna Shyian) — ambient artist from Kryviy Rih (now in Berlin)
  • Na Nich / Sunchase (Oleksandr Pavlenko) — techno, ambient and drum n bass artist from Kyiv, Ukraine
  • Lostlojic (Volodymyr Baranovskiy) — electronic music artist from Kyiv, owner of Mystictrax label
  • Oleksii Makarenko — cultural activist, journalist and cultural projects curator (Katacult, ex-Gasoline Radio)

 

JULY 18 2022 – BUCHA

Bucha – photo by Yuliia Bobryk

Dmytro Bobryk

Hi, my name is Dmytro. I was born in Borodyanka. My family (my wife, seven-year-old daughter) and I have been living in Bucha for the past 4 years (Borodyanka and Bucha are small towns in the Kyiv region). I work for a large European bank and write music in my spare time. Musically, I would describe myself as a self-taught Ukrainian musician with no academic music education, recently working in the deeper realms of techno music. I have always been interested in understanding and exploring different genres of electronic music.

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

Currently, my setup includes: Xiaomi Mi Air, Ableton Live DAW+Push 2, KOMPLETE AUDIO 6, nEar 05 eXperience by ESI, Korg Volca Bass. When I create music, I try to express a maximum of feelings with a minimum of sounds.

Bucha – photo by Yuliia Bobryk

You are from Bucha and have had to flee the Russian invasion. You’ve also dedicated an EP to Bucha out on Insectorama. Was this composed before the invasion or in the immediate aftermath?

Leaving Bucha, we didn’t know if we would ever be able to return back. In those days, all my thoughts were about my home. That’s why when Markus Masuhr (the owner of the Insectorama label) asked me how to call the release, I had no doubts about the EP’s title. All Bucha EP tracks were composed before the war.

By the way, thanks to Marcus and his label Insectorama, I received 100% of the proceeds from the sale of the release, which gave me the opportunity to donate a part of it to the Ukrainian army. So, I am grateful to Marcus for his care and support in this difficult time for us!

Carpathian Mountains – photo by Yuliia Bobryk

On the same EP there’s also a track dedicated to Goverla, which is Ukraine’s highest peak. Does this have a personal or symbolic significance for you, or is it both?

The source of inspiration for composing the track Hoverla was a trip to the Carpathian Mountains, in particular, conquering the highest peak of Ukraine.

However, since the beginning of russia’s invasion, this title has acquired a new meaning – there are no peaks that cannot be conquered, I am sure of Ukraine’s victory!

Borodyanka – photo by Yuliia Bobryk

The third track on the EP is titled Ketamine Dream. Without wishing to get personal and at the risk of asking a dumb question, is there a specific story attached to this track?

Also, with ketamine providing amongst others pain relief, sedation, and amnesia, can this acquire a new meaning in light of the current situation?

Actually, there is no specific story associated with this track. The meaning of the title is simple – it’s about immersing yourself in your own thoughts and emotions when listening to music. It’s like a kind of meditation.

Although, I agree that the title is quite provocative. And yes, I also agree with you – in light of the current situation it acquired a new meaning, like everything else.

Borodyanka – photo by Yuliia Bobryk

You have now returned to Bucha. What has that experience been like and how have you been able to process it?

Unfortunately, our lives will never be the same again. Everyone tries to be useful in their place. This is the only way to bring our victory closer. As for me, my family inspires me to do my best.

Are you currently working on new material?

Of course, I have several new tracks that I hope to release in the near future. However, right now I don’t have as much time to write music as I wish I had.

Ivan Marchuk – «Ніч у степу»

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

Art: Ivan Marchuk – «Ніч у степу»
Documentary: Who are we? Psychoanalysis of Ukrainians.
Podcast – Kashtan radioshow
Traditional dish – borsch

Who should I interview next?

Vera Logdanidi
Sunchase

 

JULY 19 2022 – GRAZ

photo by Sam Clarke

Katarina Gryvul

I’m a composer, violinist, sound artist, music producer and educator. The list is of course quite long, but it shows how different things are in my life, but they are all related to music. I have extensive musical experience, I started playing music as a child and was immediately sent to a specialised music boarding school. After graduation, I studied at the Lviv and Krakow Music Academy, (Violin Performance, Acoustic Composition and Electroacoustic Composition), and now I study Computer Music and Sound Art at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Graz.

What is your studio setup and how does it differ from your live setup?

I have a lot of things in the studio, but somehow I’m more into microphones and recording than analog synths, so I have more different acoustic instruments, different microphones, and a lot of midi controllers. My live setup depends on the gig, if it’s my songs then I’ll sing and play some parts on midi keyboard, I’ll use Ableton Push 2 for various effects and sample triggers. The structure of my music changes very quickly, so I think this way is the best. If it is experimental music, then I like to work with multi-channel composition and ambisonics, or acoustic instruments with live electronics. Now I started to learn Super Collider and Pure Data so it is lots of fun.

photo by Sam Clarke

I’ve listened again to your album Inside The Creatures after learning you’ve been working in the gaming industry, and I could see the influence in the creative process behind it. It’s brimming with ideas and full of tonal shifts. I don’t know if the two things are related, but what would you say are the lessons you have learnt from your gaming work that you’ve been able to apply in your albums?

Making music for games taught me to be very flexible and to be able to write in different genres. I learned what a deadline is, and that it is the best inspiration. In the first album, I was discovering the world of electronic music, I wanted everything and as much as possible. It has a certain epicness, which I have worked with a lot in games. As for tonal changes, in general when you’re working for a commercial project, you can’t do it without good composition skills, especially if it’s the Japanese game market. That’s why game music helped me hone my skills a lot.

Inside The Creatures has a strong narrative drive to it. Are you interested in writing scores for films and TV or have you already worked in that field?

Now I started working a lot with animation, I love it very much. In animation, from the musical side, timbre is very important, and the ability to convey the texture and style of animation with music. If you compare animation with movies, it has more freedom, I think. I have worked with short films, but I have not yet had the opportunity to work with full-length films. However, I would be very interested in trying it.

photo by Sam Clarke

Your album Tysha came out just before the war on the Ukrainian label Standard Deviation. It is already on course to feature in many end of the year lists for best album of 2022. It was composed during the pandemic but its mindset seems to be applicable to present circumstances as well. Has that been key to its success and do you consider your album to have been prescient with its undertone of uncertainty and its “society under siege” framework?

Actually, when I wrote this album there was a lot of personal stuff. Everything that hurt or brought me joy is there. When I thought about the names of the songs, it reflected everything around. I do not want to draw these parallels now. I used timbres that evoked in me some long-forgotten memories, it’s like a collective memory…the poem I used as a description of the album works for me the best. It seems to me that when everyone reads it, they will find something for themselves.

when the world accidentally
runs out of blood
out of our bodies will grow
tulip stems
viscous
you hear the silence cracking under your steps
like thin ice
sudden winter
words with flat feet
flexible lips
birds like black dots
cutting through
the confined space
and you cannot move
can not m…

But if I had my will, I would never explain anything about my music, everyone would listen and hear something only theirs..

photo by Sam Clarke

You moved to Austria before the Russian invasion. How difficult was it to experience events in your country remotely?

…It is extremely difficult and there is always the feeling that you are not doing enough, that you cannot help. This feeling just cuts you from the inside. This hopelessness and despair. It is especially difficult, because Austria as a country supports Ukraine much less and you have to fight with much more.

Have you had any awkward conversations with friends or acquaintances in Austria or Poland since the invasion who don’t how to relate to you in terms of the war and either avoid the subject completely or may on the other hand turn out to be overbearing in their concerns?

Awkward conversations were everywhere in the beginning. Especially when some new acquaintances hear that I am from Ukraine. People did not know how to behave. Many did not know the real situation and you were explaining to everyone what was happening over and over again. When you convey information in such a personal way, empathy is activated in people and they are much more aware of the whole situation. Now I continue to do the same, the main thing is not to stop and I really ask everyone else not to forget about the war and continue to talk about it, because people’s lives depend on it.

Have you experienced burnout in relation to the war and if so, have you been able to develop coping mechanisms?

With the war, I lost any desire for music. I simply had neither time nor energy for art. At that time, art was something very distant for me. When loved ones die, I can’t imagine what it’s like to sit down and write. I admire people who can be so abstract. I just started writing again. Everything is very difficult, but slowly I try and it moves, but it does not compare to my productivity before the war.

Has the international music scene been doing enough to support Ukrainian musicians and how do you view the response of music festivals to the Russian invasion?

International support for the Ukrainian scene will always be insufficient for me. I am very grateful to everyone who supports the Ukrainian scene, but it seems to me that, especially as the war drags on, it is gradually weakening, so it is necessary to continue to fight on all possible fronts.

photo by Sam Clarke

You’ve been selected by the Shape+ Platform as one of three artists from Ukraine together with Maryana Klochko and NFNR (Olesia Onykiienko). Has this come out of the blue and what are your expectations?

Yes, it happened suddenly, because I did not expect it at all. I completely forgot that I applied there. I don’t really have any expectations, I don’t like to expect anything. I am very pleased that I was nominated by Musikprotokoll, it is the festival that is probably the closest to me, because it reflects more the world of modern composition.

You also run a music school, which has so far only been open to students from Ukraine. Are you going to expand this and how do you find the time for it? Also, what have you been learning from your own students?

The school is probably my pride. I am very proud of this, because I managed to realize my childhood dream. I have been professionally engaged in music for more than 20 years and always wanted to become one of those teachers that I was missing in my path. Therefore, the opening of the school is much more important to me than all my achievements in music. My students are like a part of me. It is important for me to be able to explain even the most complicated things in simple words and also to be flexible in order to feel which teaching method suits better. I really like structure and it seems to me that it is impossible to talk about music without it. I even approach music analytically. For me, it is not an inspiration or something abstract, but a clear system.

Instead, I learn to think differently from my students, because everyone is very different and sometimes sees the situation from a completely different angle than I do, and this inspires me a lot. This kind of thinking is very noticeable in music. It’s hard for me to explain in words, it’s more about feelings, but it’s like someone is speaking your language, but the order of words, the accent is completely unusual, you understand and don’t understand everything at the same time.

The school is now only for Ukrainians. But I plan to make the next set also in English.

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

I can’t choose one without offending the other 🙂

Who should I interview next?

Svitlana Nianio

 

JULY 20 2022 – KYIV

Lvcerate

My name is Valera, I’m 24 and I’ve been doing music for around 10 years, but electronic and djing for the last two years. Before this my main instrument were drums and I played in a lot of bands through my teenage years (maybe too many). I also play guitar and bass guitar.

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

I have a pair of yamaha hs8 monitors, roland tr-8 drum machine, roland system-1 synth, a&h xone 42 as a mixer, a pair of audio-technica at-lp120usb to practice vinyl skills and ibanez electric guitar. But I would say my main setup is just a laptop with Ableton 10 because most of the synths I have like vst, and I have gotten kind of more confident about this setup since full-scale invasion started and it’s hard to keep all your stuff safe.

In terms of most important feature in my sound, I would say it’s the rhythm section, since I really like to experiment with rhythms even if it’s about a straight kick.

How would you describe the electronic music scene in Kyiv and how would you say it compares to that of the rest of the country?

For me Kyiv’s sound is of course special and distinctive since it’s my city and I grew up here in all senses, but considering Kyiv is also the capital, I guess we have a combination of representatives from all there regions here. So, in terms of the Ukrainian scene in general, the main thing I would say is that most artists take electronic music as a really serious art, they want to bring something special to it, especially in the underground. I couldn’t pinpoint this tendency to a specific genre of electronic music, it’s more of a general attitude.

You have taken part in fundraising compilations, how would you say the international music community reacted to the Russian invasion?

Actually, for me the electronic music scene is one of the communities which is not unified in its position against this war, from what I can see. I mean, for sure there are a lot of people from the scene who take it seriously, but there are still some people from the scene who don’t seem to care about anything else other than lineups and money. Their position, I guess, is not even about russia and Ukraine, it’s mostly about their ego.

The international electronic music scene, especially the European one, has opened its door to Ukrainian artists, but at the same time this door is still open to russian artists. Some festivals, clubs and artists don’t see anything bad about having russians in their lineups and this, sadly, applies to some ukranians too. I would be happy if it was only for those russians with a “no war” “position” (if this can be called a position), but this also includes russians who have not spoken out or have a very explicit imperialist position. So, yeah, I’m very disappointed about some of the scene members and I wish that they would never come back to Ukraine.

You are also 1/3 of Radiator Black, and electro punk musical project that reflects the cultural identity of your city. Would you say the war has had a direct impact on the cultural identity of Kyiv?

If we talk about full-scale war it’s hard to say right now, as only one in seven residents were left in Kyiv in the first months of the invasion. Many people have now returned, but the city has only just started getting back on its feet. But If we look back to 2014, when the russian aggression started, we could see that the war was actually one of the main reasons for this boom in electronic music, this music and related events were the main option to unwind for a lot of people.

You are also co-founder/resident at The Linez. Have its aims and objectives changed since the war?

Yeah, actually we couldn’t plan anything at this time and one of our event projects was turned into a volunteer organization where we provide people with humanitarian aid and also we are trying our best to be help our soldiers.

Have you been in Kyiv throughout and what is the situation on the ground?

Yes, I stayed in Kyiv throughout the full-scale war. It was important for me to stay in my hometown and do whatever I could to be helpful. The first days were very hard. In every sense, but the hardest thing is to stay sane when you constantly read the terrible news, hear the explosions every day and see that russians are getting closer, bringing pain and blood in the wake of their “liberating” march. I did things almost automatically and just tried to be as helpful as I could. Of crucial importance was the realisation that everyone around you was going through the same experience as you. You care about everyone and everyone cares about you. It’s critical to stay strong at times like these, and it’s much easier when you understand that you’re absolutely not alone.

How has the war affected you on a personal level?

I always had issues with anxiety and since the full-scale war has started it has become a really big problem.

How do you unwind in present circumstances?

Work, books, and of course music. At present, it’s really paramount for me to distract from my inner voice, so I try to do something all the time.

You have released a number of tracks since February the 24th. How difficult have you found it to listen to and produce music since the invasion?

For the first couple of months, it was just impossible. I didn’t find any sense in music and especially in producing, but now I understand that it’s crucial to do the things which keep you sane and which you love, even at such hard times.

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

I would mention the film Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors, which is based on the novel by Ukrainian writer Mykhailo Kotsiubynsky. We have a lot of great artworks, but this one is a good starting point, I would say.

Who should I interview next?

I would mention guys from gasoline radio, they have a lot of interesting shows along with guest mixes. Their project is really helpful to discover underground or just not usual names and faces from our scene.

[All photos by Lvcerate]

 

UPDATES

photo by Giorgi Nakashidze

Oleksandr Demianenko – 𝐼𝑛 𝑀𝑒𝑚𝑜𝑟𝑦 𝑂𝑓

“Though recorded before the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February of 2022, Oleksandr Demianenko’s 𝐼𝑛 𝑀𝑒𝑚𝑜𝑟𝑦 𝑂𝑓… cassette very much serves as a meditation on the importance of preserving art, culture and roots at a time when war threatens to erase all of them. Dedicated to the memory of the late Olga Fedoseevna Sergeeva (1922-2002), a folk artist whose voice is featured in legendary director Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1983 film 𝑁𝑜𝑠𝑡𝑎𝑙𝑔ℎ𝑖𝑎, Demianenko immerses tape-looped snippets of Sergeeva’s singing – culled from field recordings made in her village – in layers of synthesizers and pedals. The result is an invocational auditory experience that, bridging the worlds of traditional folk music and modern ambient, coaxes Sergeeva’s spirit out of the past and into our tumultuous present. The fact that Demianenko used first-takes exclusively only intensifies the living presence already embedded in this striking music.

At the same time, 𝐼𝑛 𝑀𝑒𝑚𝑜𝑟𝑦 𝑂𝑓… contains deeply personal dimensions for Demianenko. ‘As a child, I spent a lot of time in my homeland. I often heard the folk singing of my grandmother and her friends,’ he says. ‘To me, [this music] is also a fond memory of my childhood and adolescence in my native village in the forests of Ukraine.’ So while the pieces certainly exude the aforementioned somberness, they’re also gently pastoral and heartening reminders of a homeland and Demianenko’s love for Ukraine.”

 

photo by Iryna Vlasiuk

Hanna Svirska – Echo

Last we heard from Hanna Svirska, she’d left Kyiv for Western Ukraine. Since the Russian invasion she has contributed to the fundraising compilation Sestro and has now just released the EP Echo. The three tracks were produced after February 24 while she was internally displaced and away from her studio with only her laptop and her voice and Ableton. And yet, in spite of its limitations, Echo has an airy and expansive feel to it. It may come charged with stress and fatigue, but it draws strength from memory with what sounds like field recordings from a children’s playground recalling happier times. Far from being solipsistic it sketches open horizons with bright piano lines letting the light in.

“I wanted the EP to look like an old, forgotten record in grandma’s attic, light lo-fi sound and ambient atmosphere,” – she writes. “It is a work about love that heals and gives meaning to everything. That’s what keeps me going now.”

Hanna is now back in Kyiv. “Rockets sometimes fly here, and the danger continues, but it’s always better at home,” she tells us.

 

58918012 – Timeless Perspective

Timeless Perspective may be more subdued than its predecessor, A Spot, but Yurii Popov aka 58918012 has not relinquished his anger. This level of simmering tension is hard to sustain, with sudden bursts of thunder forecast on the horizon. And yet, Popov chooses to exercise restraint, neutralising negative thoughts to turn inwards.

Holding its breath and perilously close to flatlining, Timeless Perspective emerges from the still of the night drained of colour after a long journey, at times languorous and mournful, ready to conjure the ancient spirits of the land and to prepare once more for battle.

 

FUNDRAISING COMPILATIONS

Dniprovia by Khatacomb // ambient, experimental, industrial, neofolk

“Ukraine has been at war since 2014, but this year’s full-scale russian invasion has finally changed the perspective on our fight — twisted by russian propaganda media outlets for a long time — for the rest of the world. Right now our country is defending not only its own territories and people but the very idea of a peaceful and respectful global democratic community. Staying silent on the matter is not an option anymore — the consequences of the russian threat affect everyone, and the terrorist country must be stopped once and for all.

While the majority of the civilized world has united in their military, financial and humanitarian support of Ukraine, Dniprovia compilation has brought together underground artists and friends of Ukraine from Europe, U.S., Australia and New Zealand. This versatile collection of neofolk and ritual, industrial and ambient, IDM and field recording reflects the idea of unity in diversity: we could never meet each other in person, we can all have different background and interests, but we can support each other in need, standing against barbarity and injustice together.

All profits from this compilation are going directly to current medical/humanitarian/military needs in Ukraine. All financial reports will be available at our website khatacomb.com.”

 

OBSKURA : Various Artists by OBSKURA // electronic, exeprimental

“On the 100th day since the Russian Federation began the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, we hope that this release will support Ukrainians in their fight for freedom and liberty.

We will donate all proceeds from the sale to trusted organisations that care for Ukrainians who are suffering due to the war.

In addition, we wish to thank all the artists who contributed to our initiative, as well as the visual artist Maxim Bardin, who created cover and bonus mini-clip by generativity processing the Intro to the build and cover of the release, as well as the NFT collection with compilation tracks.”

 

UKR FUNDRAISER by outlet // 18 tracks / electronic, ambient, experimental, techno

“This is still going on. We currently can’t stop the war but maybe help people who actually suffering from this insanity. Our solidarity also goes to the people who risk their lives protesting against Putin’s government.

100% of all proceeds go to aid organizations for the support of Ukrainian citizens and the one who already left.”

 

DADDYPOWER presents: “5qmt” spring comp by DADDYPOWER RECORDS // world

A clever, left field compilation by Daddypower, a record label & event series dedicated to experimental arts based in Budapest, Hungary. Casting its net wide with contributions from a number of countries including Taiwan, Austria and Czechia, it ranges from ambient to more experimental fare with a healthy dose of glitch and electronica, all the while managing to remain cohesive and challenging in the best possible way.

🇺🇦 🕯️ all proceeds go to the International Committee of the Red Cross in support of the current humanitarian crisis in Ukraine
www.icrc.org/en/humanitarian-crisis-ukraine

 

МИР Traxx by Polish Juke // electronic, ghetto, jugle

This one is a targeted compilation by Polish Juke, “the CREW collecting Polish musicians, producers, and DJs who love the sounds of Chicago juke/footwork music”, raising funds for Suck Puck a kindred label based in Odesa. It’s all good fun with mostly bite sized tracks raising a smile and showing solidarity.

 

Ukraine Fundraiser VA by Schimmer Records // electronic

“More than 30 Artists and Friends from all over the world, joined our project and offered their services free of charge.
Thank you for participating and making this project happen!

We must also express special thanks to Clasps.
Clasps is an Ukrainian citizen who is sitting in Kyiv right now and agreed on mastering the submitted tracks.
We have chosen him so we can donate the costs of the creation process to a person that shares the same interests as we do and is in need of help more than ever.”

100% of the revenue will be donated to:
savelife.in.ua/en/

 

WSPÓLNA SPRAWA (kompilacja dla Ukrainy) by VA – plusz tapes // punk

Fast and furious compilation from Kraków with an experimental bent and occasional retro feel to it.

“- ALL PROCEED FROM SALES WILL BE DONATED TO THE POLISH CENTRE FOR INTERNATIONAL AID AND GO TOWARDS HELPING THE UKRAINIAN PEOPLE AFFECTED BY THE WAR. –

pcpm.org.pl/ukraina

WE HAVE ONLY TWO THINGS TO SAY:
1. SUPPORT THE UKRAINIANS HOWEVER YOU CAN
2. FUCK PUTIN AND ALL THOSE RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS MADNESS”

 

Dove – Various Artists by Freerotation // downtempo, electronic

This is a compilation of music donated by Freerotation Artists to raise money for humanitarian aid for the people of Ukraine and war-torn communities across the world, through The International Committee of the Red Cross. 100% of the proceeds will go to the charity.

 

Ukraine Fundraiser by Eone // electronic, grime

SLAVA UKRAINI.

If you donate £5 or more to Sunflower of Peace and send proof to eonesounds@gmail.com we shall send this compilation to you for free.
www.sunflowerofpeace.com

 

A Drop In The Sea (A Compilation in Aid of Ukraine) by Cursed Monk Records // dark ambient, metal

Same labels have been quick off the mark in producing fundraising compilations. Amongst them is Cursed Monk Records an Irish DIY record label releasing all forms of dark musical esoterica, the darker, weirder, and heavier the better. 50 shades of metal from the label roster with proceeds going to MSF’s emergency response in Ukraine.

 

Setting Thoughts On Fire by Various Artists – Vaagner // ambient, experimental

Sparse and meditative tape release from the Berlin based label Vaagner. Organic in its feel with artists seemingly drawing from the same palette of faded colours, Setting Thoughts on Fire is a slow burning (no pun intended) album tracing the ebb and flow of memory with incremental loops crackling with the residue of time. Naked and vulnerable it stands in defiance. Proceeds go to Helping to Leave & Kyiv Angels.

 

 

(Gianmarco Del Re)

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