Ukrainian Field Notes XII

artwork by Mariia Primaschenko

Back after a break for a new episode of Ukrainian Field Notes, we talk to two veterans of the scene, Edward Sol, who, in-between releasing new material and running three labels, is preparing for winter in a quiet village in the Bucha region, and Denys Koin, who reminisces about floppy discs (yes, some of us do still remember those) whilst giving us the lowdown on the Kharkiv scene.

Meanwhile, Friedensreich enthuses about modular synthesizer that feature prominently in his latest album, the masterful AXX, out on the ever reliable Corridor Audio label; Hatroneli, having remained in the capital throughout, discusses daily life in Kyiv; hspd presents ACL with not just one but two exclusive and stellar tracks; Ocheret slips some ambient into the proceedings (under the watchful gaze of his cat), and last, but not least, we travel to occupied Berdansk to catch up with Arthur Kryulin, who captures the sound of Summer nights in the coastal town.

And yes, this is an all male lineup, and nope, this is not by design or oversight. It is sometimes difficult to put these episodes together – to give an idea, I am currently waiting for 20+ interviews to come in, a number of which will inevitably be derailed because, yeah, well, the war.

To make up for it, we have the latest from Nina Eba, who explores the Donbas region in a new episode of her podcast Air Raid Siren, as well as mixes from Poly Chain; AXT b2b with Andriy Kostyukov, and ТУЧА (Tucha), who recently saw her video for “russia is a terrorist state” taken down from YouTube before being reinstated with a warning.

To round things up, we present the customary batch of fundraising albums. Now that we’ve featured 100+ compilations we’ve stopped counting, but it’s always good to be adding new titles, including notable releases by Ukrainian communities and labels Neformat, Artdopomoga, Worn Pop and (O)SOZNANIE.

And finally, in our viewing room we look at Earth a classic film by Oleksandr Petrovych Dovzhenko and analise the way Russian cinema portrays Ukraine. Happy reading, listening and viewing.

 

AUGUST 14 2022 – KYIV

Friedensreich

Hey, my name is Mykyta and I perform and write music under the pseudonym Friedensreich. Yes, it is after Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser.

I’ve been making music for quite a while and it has been around my whole life. Most of the time I make it together with friends, but we are talking about my project here. Coming from a family of artists, I was always interested in music as a way of artistic expression. Spawning multiple styles, instruments, and even vocals, I ended up doing what I always enjoyed the most – techno and experimental.

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

My home studio, or rather, workplace, is based around a modular synthesizer, although throughout the years I’ve used them all: from obscure DIY instruments to flagship keyboards and software. Modular just gives me more control over the process and sound. It is easier to express ideas and, of course, it is fun to use. Many years ago, together with Ivan Pogodichev, we started an online community Modular.UA, which gets Ukrainian modular synthesizer enthusiasts together.

Many people would agree that the most important feature of a modular is that you’ve built it yourself; thus it is a perfect system for your needs. Of course, the downside is that it will never be perfect, as it evolves as anyone/anything does. I would add that, for me, the most important “feature” is the ability to originate a patch on a couch. You know your tools and what they can do, so most of the time I’m thinking about specifics of an upcoming something that I’m building later, when I know what it is that I want to build.

You have released several albums and tracks on Corridor Audio often with Splinter (UA). Many of your releases have a conceptual underpinning to them. Is tackling ideas the main drive for your musical practice?

Yes, every release with Splinter (UA) is accompanied by a manifesto. If you’d look at any release on our Corridor Audio label – they all have a manifesto associated. We try to discuss an idea or push a message alongside each release to underline the conceptuality and outline a direction of thoughts.

In my opinion, manifestos give more heft to an art piece and add clarity to the work.

How would you describe the experimental music scene in Ukraine and how well catered is it in terms of venues and labels?

It is hard to understand how the experimental scene will survive now and what its future is going to be like. Before February 24, 2022, I would say the scene had a good direction. We had concerts, parties, and festivals. Plenty of venues opened in Kyiv and other places. COVID also had its own impact on the scene, but this is nothing compared to current events.

Interestingly enough, now that many people have moved to other countries, we don’t see the same names headlining every weekend everywhere in Kyiv, and many new names have started to come to the surface. To be fair, there are not many events either, and where there are it’s only during daytime [because of martial law there is still a curfew in place]. Nevertheless, this is the most unexpected development in the current situation with certainly a lot of interesting artists and projects coming to the fore. Check out Gasoline Radio for more context.

What impact has the war had on you and did it make you reconsider concepts of time and space as well as language, expectations, chaos and history?

I understand that this is about my album Known Areas. It is a talkative experimental piece where I’m trying to express some thoughts about these subjects. The title kind of says it all: it is about all those things that I thought I knew something about, at least for me on a personal level.

The full-scale invasion of Ukraine by Ruzzia kind of proved one thing: we cannot know or predict, in a broad sense, our future. But we should know our past. And one of the things Ruzzia tries to do is to erase us from history entirely.

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

Yes, after the bombing in Kyiv on February 24, we decided to flee the city with my wife and my son. At that time, Timothy was almost four weeks old. Young parents are stressed enough by default, and explosions certainly swayed our opinion about our son’s safety in the direction of moving Westwards. We ended up staying in Lviv for several months but now we are back at home in Kyiv.

Are there any specific things you feel are being misinterpreted about Ukraine in the current debate by the West and what are the questions you wish Western journalists would stop asking?

There are certain forces that, with help from Ruzzians, try to push a hefty amount of propaganda in the West and, unfortunately, there are people who buy into that. “Popular” talking points are: that everyone in Ukraine is somehow Nazi, even though it is Ruzzia, who invaded an independent country using ridiculous pretexts, mimicking nazi Germany’s annexation of Sudetenland, and all this with the support of a large majority of the population; that Ukraine somehow already lost when in fact it is Ruzzia that has already strategically lost by failing to capture Kyiv in three days, as they said they would; that Ukraine has to surrender and give in to save the World from a larger conflict when it is clear that no country wants to give up territory and accept genocide of its people. And many more.

I would advise establishing a rule for one who tries to understand the conflict: when Ruzzia speaks – it is certainly a lie. People have to understand that this is a civilizational conflict, a conflict of worldview, a conflict between democracies and autocrats. The outcome of which will largely shape the XXI century and the direction we are moving as humanity. For example, does anyone think that autocratic governments, if they win, would care about, say, Global Warming, or environmental or socio-economic challenges in general?

How difficult did you find it to listen to music and to produce new material over the past four months?

It is difficult, to say the least. Somehow, I was able to assemble some material for an upcoming release: AXX and take part, musically, in some fundraising compilations like We Are Invincible.

Time moves slower now, I guess.

When was the last time you said “last time“?

It feels like a lifetime ago. Though, the title of this track has more positive connotations than negative ones, in my opinion.

Who should I interview next?

Splinter (UA) [Corridor Audio label head]
Louwave [Corridor Audio label mate]
Lu-Joyce [See Ukrainian Field Notes IX]

[All images by Friedensreich – as he explains, “Here are some pictures I took during production of AXX; this is in and around Kyiv, its parks and forests. This coincides with the main theme of AXX – the fear and respect of nature around us, how I found its importance amid war.”]

 

AUGUST 16 2022 – KYIV

Edward Sol

I’m into many different things, and composing music is only one of them. I started years ago as a guitar/bass player in some school bands, then I studied sound for cinema, TV and theatre, and through professional interest in soundtracks and sound design, I came across experimental and avant-garde music.

I was born in a small city in Southern Ukraine, very close to Crimea. A very nice place, but if one wants to work in cinema, or is into avant-garde art, one needs to relocate to a bigger city. That’s why I’ve been living in Kyiv for more than 30 years now. Still, I paid my debt to my native city: I spread my interest in difficult and weird music between my friends there and now Nova Kakhovka is quite famous for its vibrant experimental scene, the so-called “Southern Ukrainian experimental scene”.

performing at Nextsound

What skills from your training in sound-design for film and theatre have you applied to your musical practice?

I guess the drama, some editing skills, montage. Also, patience and listening carefully to other people’s ideas, finding my own ways to self-fulfillment.

Would you say you have “Strayed From The Herd” in your musical path?

Good question. Positively so, I guess. I’ve strayed from the world of cinema, as I’m too amateurish to be an academic avant-garde composer. And I’m too difficult for industrial/noise purists.

What is your current studio setup and how has this changed over the years?

Well, it’s actually very basic. I’m using different old tape machines – cheap, outdated, damaged. All kinds of reels, cassettes, scribers, dictaphones, machines for the blind etc.

Also, I own a couple of samplers and a couple of old Soviet-made synthesizers. For composing I use a very primitive DAW. My process of making music is all about recording sounds, processing and collaging.

Too simple, to be honest. Nothing fancy, tricky or expensive. From time to time I end up buying some “new” piece of gear (or rather, old and cheap) when I manage to dig up something interesting and obscure.

But I definitely have no interest in changing my gear, trying out or “playing” new models of existing stuff. I’m more into sounds and new ideas, not about new equipment.

You are one of the veterans of the Ukrainian experimental music scene, how would you say the scene has developed since independence? Also, what are the most exciting new developments you have witnessed in more recent times?

Nowadays I’m more focused on my own projects, interests and on a close circle of (international) friends. I have no idea what happens on the local “experimental” scene. That said, there are always new sounds and new names coming out, and if I liked any of them, I’d probably release them on one of my labels.

The biggest name on the contemporary industrial/experimental Ukrainian scene for me is Kadaitcha and I have been working with them from the very beginning.

You have been running a number of labels over the years and have released big names from the noise and experimental/impro scene, such as Merzbow, KK Null, Lasse Marhaug, Mats Gustafsson and Thurston Moore. What have you found most rewarding in your role as a label head and is this an activity you still plan on pursuing?

It seems that I run 3 labels now, some quite active, others not as much, or maybe they’re just dormant. And I still love to produce physical releases even after all these years. I always regret not being a part of that fantastic experimental cassette scene of the late 70s to early 90s, because of the Iron Curtain and my age.

Still, now I’m happy with my contributions, both on a personal and on a national level.

Where are you now and have you been displaced by war at any point

I live with my wife in a quiet village 15 km outside Kyiv, now sadly known as the Bucha region. I believe the Internet has tons of info about what happened here.

My family runs a small pet shelter and we stayed for 2 weeks in the epicenter of all that combat madness.

On the 8th of March we came face to face with the humanitarian catastrophe and decided to move our animals away to a safer neighbouring region, 2 hours drive from our house.

On the 2nd of April, as soon as the orcs were repelled from our region, we returned home and have remained here ever since. There’s no place like home when it’s free from any invaders.

What impact has the full scale war had on you?

I got more and more into basic “simple things”. On an existential / philosophical level and on a physical level too.

Have you been able to listen to new music and produce and perform new material since February 24?

After the shock of the first month I slowly returned to listening to my favorite music and I found it even more uplifting and “stabilising” than before. Music is a good remedy to get rid of dark thoughts.

In terms of gigs, I would say that during the past four years I performed only once and I have no appetite for it now.

Also, I hardly compose new music anymore. I must complete a few unfinished projects I have laying around, but my working flow today is slower than ever and feels harder.

What next for the experimental music scene in Ukraine and how do you see it developing under present circumstances?

As I have already mentioned, I’m out of touch with the local scene. I truly believe the future post-war period could help someone to make more serious, original and “adult” art. The world definitely doesn’t need any more superficial, pseudo-intellectual, and fake experimental content.

What are the common misconceptions about the war that you find most problematic?

The whole idea of this “modern” Ukrainian-russian conflict is a total misconception. They call it “modern” when in fact it is a 500 years old existential confrontation.

How do you deal with burnout?

I’m a devoted follower of Wim Hof‘s method. I practice the breathing technique and other exercises on a daily basis, they help to control emotional and mental states, but also to strengthen the immune system. I strongly recommend Wim Hof the great Iceman and his healthy method.

Has the motivation behind making music changed for you since the full scale Russian invasion?

My art is powered by other things, much more transcendental than war.

How are you preparing for Winter?

Oh, you caught me! It’s the traditional countryside routine here: harvesting fruit and vegetables, processing and preserving them. Making reserves for food, meds, veterinary meds, firewood, gas and fuel. Buying what we need.

Fixing the house and the yard, all the stuff and gear, making sure all is in working order and ready for Winter. Basic things people were doing for centuries to survive.

Why do Unhappy People Love to Hurt Things?

It’s because of “The Fullness of Life”. It’s a fundamental Christian principle and it isn’t easy to achieve.

Generally speaking, one is truly happy only when one’s own life as a human being is complex.
Shallow and hollow disintegrated people are deeply unhappy, they want to destroy the world around them to feel a false sense of wholeness, to find their own miserable place in it.

Which book / artwork / building / film / tv series / podcast / dish / meme / joke best encapsulates Ukraine for you?

– Ancient Cossack ballads (you should learn Ukrainian first).
Kvitka (2 albums of Ukrainian songs from an American but native Ukrainian singer).
Earth; movie (1930, Olexandr Dovzhenko).
Taras Bulba; book.
Olexander Oles‘ poetry.
Vasyl Stus poetry.
Varenyki stuffed with cherries (traditional summer dish).

 

AUGUST 18 2022 – KYIV

photo by Okbayr

Dmytro Ostudinov

My name is Mitya Ostudinov, I am a Ukrainian musician. Also known as Hatroneli and co-founder of Peauty Fute. In 2010 together with Sommer we created Peauty and started doing parties.

Background and influences. Well, Future Sound of London and Autechre made a significant impact. As fuel. And also groups like The Cure and Cocteau Twins became a big inspiration for Hatroneli’s early works.

What is your current studio setup? And what do you consider the most important aspect of your sound?

Pc and plug-ins.

Sound aesthetics are important to me — this is one of the main aspects.

NN (2011) by Hatroneli – Artwork by Sergij Sommer

Have you had any “Eureka!” moments in your musical development?

Actually, when you make music, it can happen all the time: things somehow come together into something interesting and amazing. And you are already working in this context. Some of them can be noticed not immediately, and then, “wow, it’s not bad, but how did it happen?”. So I think “Eureka!” happens more often than it seems. Or is it all in vain?

Are Hatroneli and Ostudinov different faces of the same coin, twins separated at birth, or simply your live vs studio persona?

It seems to me that it is not so important to clearly divide into A and B, because it is a universal choice of ideas, a common musical language and it is constantly changing. All this can be taken as you like.

photo by Ostudinov

Could you introduce Peauty Fute, and how would you describe the electronic and experimental music scene in Kyiv both in terms of labels and clubs and how do you see it developing in present circumstances?

Peauty Fute started as a community of musicians around 2010. We didn’t have enough parties where we could hear and play interesting stuff, including maybe some experimental local music, we lacked musical comfort. So we started doing it ourselves, hosting parties with weird music, in particular creating webcasts of performances called “Touching From a Distance”. And in 2014 we launched the Shuffle series, fully settling in the native club Otel’.

The electronic scene stunned me back in 2014. The beginning of the first phase of the war gave a huge boost to everyone around. In particular, when we gathered more than 20 Ukrainian musicians and DJs for our Glitchwein festival. Of course this was only a fragment of the whole picture, but it became clear that the scene was very big, alive and constantly growing. We saw how much music was being created around us and how much more there was to discover and how we could connect with a larger group of people. And it continues to this day. It’s just impressive.

Since February 24, 2022, local labels are releasing a lot of fundraising compilations and solo releases, and charity events are held. Everything is now activated much faster and on a larger scale, because the pain and anger of the full-scale invasion of the russian nazis has generated a feeling of complete uncertainty, making the need for mutual support and unity more present and acute. All this gives us a lot of energy for developing.

photo by Ostudinov

Are you currently in Kyiv and have you stayed in the capital throughout? Also, what is the current situation on the ground?

Yes, I stayed in Kyiv. I can say that now “everything is calm”, the city is alive and moving forward, although air alarms still sound almost on a daily basis, as a constant reminder that this relative peace in Kyiv is very precious.

How would you say the war changed you and what impact has it had on your life?

A full-scale invasion changed absolutely everything. And these changes will happen again and again. Previously unknown levels of tension, uncertainty that seems to have no end and absolute instability. To some extent, this can be called an awakening to reality.

photo by Ostudinov

Most people I have spoken to have told me that they found it impossible to listen to music in the first couple of months after the Russian invasion of February the 24th. Has your relationship to sound changed in the past few months and have you been playing live since? 

I didn’t immediately return to music either. In the first months, I was so confused that I no longer understood how to make music. There were constant explosions all around us. Things started to regain some semblance of normality sometime in April. It is interesting that friends and colleagues also talked about these couple of months “pause”. The feeling of hybrid emotions has become even more pronounced, perhaps this influence is already present in the material that I am currently preparing for release.

And no, I didn’t have any gigs lined up when the full-scale invasion began. Actually, the last live events I played at were back in 2019.

Design (2020) by Hatroneli – Artwork by Sergij Sommer


I understand you have organized or been involved in fundraising events, how does one keep the momentum going and how does it feel to play live under current circumstances?

I had the pleasure of being involved in an important cause and to curate the Peauty Fute stage at the Na Chasi charity festival.

Well, one just goes into “just do it” mode – that’s how one keeps the momentum going I guess. Actually, it is no different to many other similar situations.

Is the international music community doing enough to support musicians from Ukraine?

“International music community” — I don’t quite understand what this is, it feels to me as something very vague, so I cannot assess it adequately.

How do you deal with burnout and what are your coping mechanisms? Also, how do you relax?

Actually, this is somewhat impossible. But I reduce this effect by continuing to make music. Maybe, at times, I become less active, or I might pay more attention to learning other stuff, with the main objective still in sight. Perhaps it is a question of the speed at which one must drive. I do not know. And spending time with friends and family is a good way to relax and recharge.

What book / film / podcast / TV series / blog / artwork / meme / design work / traditional dish / best describes Ukraine for you?

Kobzar by Taras Shevchenko.

 

SEPTEMBER 5 2022 – KHARKIV

hspd

Hi. I’m Nikita from hero-city Kharkiv, Ukraine and I have an electronic music project called hspd. My musical path started from learning to play piano when I was a 8-9 yo child. Then, in the early 2000s, when I was in high school, I sold my soul to new-metal, post rock, progressive rock music and played guitar in a band with my mates.

From 2010 to 2017, I went under the name Breaksage with DJ sets containing bass, hip-hop, drum & bass, illbient, industrial and electronic music, and gradually switched to producing my own tracks, but they were so far from the sound I wanted.
 The truth is that they are still there))
. Then, in 2019 I started hspd.

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



The foundation of my setup is the Ableton push 2 controller. I can’t say that it was like a totally gamechanger for me, but it certainly uplifted me.

Of course I have a classical studio kit (sound card, studio monitors, headphones etc),
 but, honestly, 85% of the time I spend making music, I’m just moving “squares” in Ableton’s session mode. 
I think it’s because of my lack of experience with hardware synths. But I’m not bored.

How would you describe the electronic music scene in Ukraine and how do you see it developing under present circumstances?



Oh. I’m so out of the loop)). I mostly keep track of the USA music scene, because most of the musicians I like are from there.
 I have friends making music here in Ukraine, but know nothing about the actual Ukrainian electronic scene.
 I only saw how times have been hard for the past couple of years because of COVID-19, both for musicians and the public in general, and times are getting tougher and tougher.

Your album Prayer One came out in April. How much of that was already produced before the Russian invasion of February 24 and are tracks like “Hostile Sky” a direct reflection of current events?

“Direct reflection” is a very accurate description in this case. Two or three tracks were finished before the war started. Other tracks I made in the first month of the russian invasion.

How difficult have you found it to listen to and produce new music since the invasion? And what is currently on your playlist?

I know that many people have been unable to listen to or produce music since the invasion started. I had such feelings for the first 2-3 days. But then, for me, it was a some kind of private bomb-shelter. And I started to make music for 14-16 hours a day. So, after a month I had 9-10 finished tracks and jokingly asked my label head, Andrey R.roo, if we could release my album while I was still alive. 
And he answered “Yes” haha)).

Generally speaking, war hasn’t changed my playlist. It was already 99% dark, 
Lorn, Ital Tek, Om Unit, Amon Tobin, Thriftworks are in my top 5 to listen to.

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

From the 24th of February to the 10th of May I lived in Kyiv. Now I moved from Kyiv to my hometown Kharkiv, which is 30 km from the russian border and have been under russian shelling for 190 days. You may say, “It breaks any logic” and I’ll answer, “Yes, I know”. 
There are no 100% safe places in Ukraine now. And I feel myself more useful and more calm here in Kharkiv.

 

Is the international music community doing enough to support Ukrainian artists?


In this case I can’t separate the music community, but the size of overall support to Ukraine from the whole civilised world is incredible, and it inspires me a lot.

How do you unwind in present circumstances?

Hmm… I have a CAT! His name is Yahoo. He is such a cute motherf#cker.
 And I have really f#cked up friends and I love them all 🙂

Are you able to think about the future?

I would name the last 7 months “one day at a time regime”. But I could try to like it.
There will be a lot of Ukrainian blood and tragic deaths in the near future. But I am sure we will win and rise.

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

 

September 7 2022 – KYIV

Ocheret

Hello, my name is Roman, I was born in Kyiv and have lived here all of my life. Music has been a major part of my life from childhood, ever since I discovered an original tape of The Smiths’ Meat Is Murder (it was really hard to find it in Ukraine in the mid 90s) in a secret box of my brother’s, and I decided to attend guitar classes in my local musical school. I’ve played in different local rock and punk bands during my student days and continued after that.

At some point in my life, I took a long pause from playing music, but continued with active listening and built a personal collection of music in different genres.

Approximately five years ago I started to immerse myself into electronic music production – learning the basics of sound synthesis, sampling, and refreshing my knowledge about music theory, but eventually found myself practicing modular synthesis techniques and workflow.

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

Mostly I work in my home studio, unfortunately in a room not fit for purpose (maybe I’ll set it up one day, who knows), in a typical Kyiv style Soviet-era building. My main instrument is a modular synthesiser system, modules for which I’ve precisely selected to suit my needs. Also, I make heavy use of different pedal effects, since I find some of them as the most heavenly-sounding effects to work with – Strymon and Eventide reverberators, Source Audio delay, and Electro-Harmonix Platform stereo compressor to glue my mixes and slightly saturate the sound of some digital sound sources, like wavetable synth voices etc.

Everything is mixed and recorded via a Tascam Model 12 mixer deck that I’ve recently bought (and am happy with it).

How would you describe the ambient and electronic music scene in Ukraine and how do you see it developing under present circumstances?

The ambient music scene in Ukraine always remained in the shadow of more club-oriented music like techno. For many years there has been a dearth of ambient music events in Ukraine, and generally speaking, it’s pretty hard to find non-dance music events to go to in Kyiv. However, this wasn’t an issue for the growth and development of ambient/experimental artists, like Heinali and Gamardah Fungus. But now I see more interest in non-dance music and artists – it started even before the active phase of the war, a few years ago, most likely because of the dance events oversupply, which is mostly oriented on a party side of musical events, than on the music itself (which is also OK, of course).

You’ve taken part in the We Are Invisible and Obskura fundraising compilations. What is your feeling about the number of compilations out there and the fact that the vast majority of those from the West still go for big international NGOs like Unicef or the Red Cross rather than grassroots organisations in Ukraine let alone the army?

It varies from compilation to compilation. I think that the compilations released on labels outside Ukraine just don’t have enough information about volunteering organizations in our country. The Volunteer movement is a real pearl here in Ukraine, and I think the world should know more about it. For example, Angels of Kyiv is a volunteer organisation created by local guys, and some of them are from Kyiv’s electronic music scene. Musicians Defends Ukraine is created by Ukrainian cultural organisations as well, and many of the recent Ukrainian releases also support them. Support for the army is vital of course, but there are a lot of humanitarian and animal-oriented needs as well – I personally try to help people who need food and other stuff for abandoned pets, since there are a lot of them left on the streets in those regions that were dramatically suffering from partial occupation.

Both Gasoline and 20ft Radio seem to be acting as a focal point for the community, now that are few occasions for live events. How would you say the music community in Kyiv has responded to the war?

Both Gasoline and 20ft Radio are awesome guys – they have a perfect musical taste and open their doors to different kinds of music – from electronic to jazz and metal. For the past few months, in the regions where the situation is calmer now, live events started to happen again, and they are mostly charity events. I’ve participated in a few as well, and am happy to be a part of them, since musical healing and fundraising arise together for the right things.

Overall, the community has a significant boost – new and young artists have the possibility for their music to be heard.

How difficult have you found it to listen to and produce new music since the invasion? And what is currently on your playlist?

It was pretty hard for me. Actually, I stopped all musical activities from the end of February. I had no will even to listen to music, just sitting in a corridor during air raid sirens with my wife and cats… I was depressed and stressed, as many of us have been and still are. But from the middle of April, I’ve started to return back to my daily routines, since at some point of time I understood that life should continue, at least while my family is safe. And since music is my passion, and an irreplaceable part of my life, I’ve started to listen to it again and produce new material.

This is what is currently on my playlist:
* Tim Hecker. Actually, his works are always in my playlist 🙂
* Rachika Nayar and her latest awesome work – Heaven Come Crashing
* White Ward – False Light
* Recent releases from local artists – Radiant Futur, Vlad Suppish, Fedor Tkachev
* mix of A Strangely Isolated Place label releases.

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

I’m Kyiv, in my hometown, was there all the time from the beginning of an active phase of the war.

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

I’ve started to use Ukrainian, my native language regularly. Since I’m from a russian-speaking family, I used russian as my main language for communications inside the country. However, for a long time, I’ve been reading books in Ukrainian translation. I also tried to speak Ukrainian from time to time to keep up my level of language, but now it’s my main language and I feel awesome – returning to my roots feeds me with energy.

Has the full-scale invasion affected your relationship to space and time?

Good question 🙂 I started to struggle more heavily with procrastination and to complete all of the projects I could. The future is blurry, so I’m trying to live here and now, realising my dreams and wishes because I really don’t know what will happen during the next week.

Is there anything about the way the war has been covered in the West that you find problematic and / or is there anything you wish the West would stop asking?

I found one thing really problematic, just one thing – the meaning of peace. For me here in Ukraine peace will come only when russia will fall because I know the history (I think) – during the centuries we had wars with russian imperialism all the time.

How do you unwind in present circumstances?

Some escapism works for me – reading books, music, and short walks.

What makes you laugh?

My cat and lovely wife 🙂

What is your current mindset and are you able to think about the future?

Live in the “here and now”, help each other, help those in need – these things are mostly from my mindset. It’s hard for me to think about the future, but I know that I have new material that I want to finish mixing and to release. So some small goals 🙂

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

Maria Prymachenko’s art and Yaroslav Hrytsak‘s books.

Who should I interview next and what should I ask them?

Radiant Futur – I really love his music
Vadim Griboedov – we’re playing together within MachineRoom collective improvisations sessions (and there will be some interesting stuff soon)
Friedensreich – he released a very interesting album recently [see above].

Also there are a lot of people I can recommend, but I think you’ve interviewed most of them already 🙂

 

SEPTEMBER 8 2022 – BERLIN

Denys Koin

I am Denys Berehovskyi. My artistic moniker is Koin or Denys Koin. I am from Kharkiv, but for the past 5 years I lived and worked in Kyiv with my family.

When the war started I was on vacation in Israel. I moved to Berlin and evacuated my mother to Berlin. My wife is now in Israel with her parents.

I started producing computer music in high school. My mother just got me a computer, a Pentium I processor with CD-drive and floppy-disc drive. I had a classmate, Sasha, who was also producing music and we started collaborating on some electronic music tracks and used floppy disks to zip our projects. Each project could take up 3 or 4 floppy disks.

Sasha and I were crazy about all kinds of electronic music. In Ukraine there were no Virgin Music Stores and suchlike and one had to go to the local book marketplace where they were selling pirate copies of albums which one could also rent for a week. We also asked deejays if we could rent or borrow their CDs which we would then rip on our PCs. That’s how we got to listen to a lot of new music from 1999-2000 from the Warp and Ninja Tune labels. There was also a boom of Drum & Bass, as an alternative underground music, with lots of people into Drum & Bass parties. In Kharkiv there was only one night club, Zhivot, where DJs played Drum & Bass. It has now been operating for 25 years. Ok, we were teenagers at the time and security wouldn’t let us in but Sahsa had a cousin, Grisha, and Grisha had a rock band that played at Zhivot, so Grisha would let us in through the backdoor or put us on the VIP-list ^)





At the time we were both mad about real hard Drum & Bass and tried to replicate it on our PCs in early versions of music software such as Fruity Loops, SoundForge, and CoolEdit. We produced several records this way. Sasha bought a CD-RW and we self-distributed our music amongst our friends. One day a guy found us and offered for us to play at Zhivot on the strength of one of our self-releases. He was the art director of Zhivot at the time, and subsequently became our manager. We became a part of the promo group BreathColonies. Then we created the formation Infuzoria. I had different views on the music we were producing to our manager and we had a big conflict. This man secretly concluded contracts with the members of the band, expelling me and two others band members.

After that, I worked with different musicians and mostly within experimental electronic music. The majority of my output I recorded in my bedroom studio on my PC, with sampling, field recordings, and DIY midi devices and a simple oscillator. I also held, took part and collaborated in numerous events in Kharkiv, Kyiv, Dnipro, and Lviv in different venues and clubs, as well as open air stages and festivals here in Ukraine.

In 2015, after a six month cultural exchange programme in Berlin I returned to Ukraine. Back in Kharkiv there was only one club playing techno, and yes, it was Zhyvot. The club was on the verge of closing down due to debts, so I decided to build a local underground scene and help out with fundraising.

Me and my mates Asket and Seymour (with #BSKD joining us later) established LOZH promo and held parties on a regular basis as well as several more events in different music genres from house, to garage and electro. We were still operating when WAR changed everything. We are now trying to bring this event to Western Europe and have applied for a special permit from the Government of Ukraine. 

We also had a close friend, Enformig, who died of cancer a few years ago and a group of us organise a party every year to commemorate him. Eva Florinutz made a special mix in his memory. Now I am running my own label Keep It Real Records.

Over the summer I was invited to TRACKS, a small Festival in Goteborg (Sweden) where I played in collaboration with Lisa Nordstrom. It was a special live performance because we had never met each other before. I used audio leaks captured from the front line, mostly radio exchanges between russian troops. Another performance with the harp player Stephanie Irvine was also special. We played inside a cave in the mountain used as a water storage for the city of Goteborg.

What is your studio / live setup and your favourite piece of gear?

I left everything in Kyiv and now I use Abletone and started to build my own setup on MaxMSP. I also love to use the Korg EMX_1, I have one in Ukraine, but I have to be careful with it as it’s not for everyone.

What would you say is the distinctive feature of your sound?


Mostly it’s “haunted sound”, basically retro electronic or rave music as it was in the 90s or 00s. I made my own hashtag for it #haunted_rave. Haunted, because it is sound that one tries to replicate from the past that never actually existed. Coco Bryce or Dj Boring do similar stuff. And then there’s this huge wave of trance music at techno parties.

artwork by Denis Koin

You are also an illustrator and designer and have produced artwork for Andrey Kiritchenko amongst others. Is there cross pollination between your artistic and musical practices?


Yes, I did artwork for Andrey Kiritchenko. I did a lot of parties around the year 2000 and I did most of the artwork for them alongside cover artwork for my albums. In addition, I worked for a lot of other projects and bands and music festivals. 

Definitely music and art are closely related to each other. It’s some kind of poetry. Rhythms and rhymes. Tones and colours. Textures and sound effects. Fonts and soundscapes.

You have been active on the music scene for 20 years now. How would you say the scene in Kyiv has developed over the years?  

I think one cannot separate Kyiv from other Ukrainian cities, Odesa, Dnipro, Lviv, Ternopil, and Crimea as well. Every region has its special mood and scene. Crimea was a huge hub for big Trance Festivals, and not only Kazantip. Odesa was a scene for minimal techno with these hookah type clubs. Dnipro was a techno scene city in the early 00s. Kharkiv was more about bass, breakbeat culture and Hip-Hop. The Carpathian region of Ukraine is well known for its trance open-air festivals and raves. And there are some really good events like RythmBuro and their open air event Natura.

As for clubs, it is a sad story. They play the same music, the same techno everywhere. Techno clubs in Kyiv try to copy Berghain and other Berlin clubs, and it looks sometimes comical and sometimes depressing.

For people who travel from abroad to go to parties in Kyiv it is some kind of “Amusement park in a Post-Soviet country” (we don’t use the term post-soviet country in Ukraine because it has colonialism connotations and is offensive) like Berlin in the early 90s.


How would you say the music community in Ukraine in general has responded to the war and how do you see it developing under present circumstances?


Everyone supports the Ukrainian Army, donates funds and volunteers. There are many fundraising events taking place not just in Ukraine but all over Europe. Also, there are fundraisers to help music producers and DJs who have been left without work or savings. I will organise such an event in Berlin in the Fall.

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

It had a devastating impact on me. I’ve lost my home, my family is divided and I’ve lost my job (I used to work as a graphic and motion designer for a big company). A close relative who could not face the challenges of evacuation passed away. Her health was deteriorating. I was with her when she became ill. I tried to move her to a better place but it was too late and she died recently. I cremated her. I was the only one at her funeral. She was my grandmother.

Given the current constraints, has your motivation to play live and release music changed since the full scale invasion?

There has been a shift away from commercial activities and I stopped promoting myself as a brand. Now, I just listen to old music as a therapy for myself, and try to recreate a time when I felt safe and happy. Because no one deserves such pain as Ukrainian families are now experiencing.

Yes, I do some records and live performances because when one plays live or DJs, one forgets all the pain or transfers all the anger into the music.

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

I am in Berlin right now. I live in Kreuzberg. At the time when I lived in Kharkiv there was no war activity. But in general a lot of people in Kharkiv supported Russia and shared its
propaganda, because they were mostly russian speaking citizens and watched russian TV. Back then, I lived in the city centre in a shared apartment near a small park. One day, there was a
terrorist act in this the park and they blew up the monument that was there. This was organized by pro-russian terrorist groups. I was at home and there was a huge explosion. It scared me a lot and traumatised me. So I left Kharkiv back in 2016 for Kyiv looking for more freedom and a safer place for myself.

Is there anything about the way the war has been covered in the West that you find problematic and / or is there anything you wish the West would stop asking?

I want to mention this quote because it is close to my thoughts, “The time when Europe believed in resolving all the issues through negotiations is over, and we are back to the fighting attitude. Sadly, we need heroes again — in the most straightforward, military sense of the word. Those willing to risk their lives. The problem with all those left-wing pacifists, however, is that, in fact, they don’t want to lose their comfortable existence.’’ [Slavoj Žižek, interview for Birdinflight, 2022]

How do you deal with burnout and how do you unwind?

I go swimming in the lake, or spend time in nature, that’s all I can do, I don’t have another options. I mean, I could go to somewhere like Cyprus for a week’s holiday, but I can’t even do that as I am a refugee in Germany and there are things I have to comply with.

Also, I am unemployed. I don’t do drugs, I don’t drink, and weed gives me panic attacks. And I don’t like crowded places, I feel uncomfortable if there are no friends close by. I have typical PTSD.

What makes you laugh?

Bloopers videos compilations on YouTube, memes with cats, and Ukrainian memes in Telegram chats.

If you could have anyone deejaying at your next birthday party, who would you ask?

My friends: DJ Asket and #BSKD, because of war and martial law they are in Ukraine and cannot leave the country. And Eva Florinutz, who is currently in Spain. Actually, my birthday is on the 23rd of November.

What is your current mindset and how have you been preparing yourself for the winter ahead?


I have no super plans, just to take care of myself. And to try and shoot my own film. I have always dreamed of making a film. I have even attended film courses for filmmakers. Plus, I am open to all proposals as a designer and motion graphics animator, or to make music video clips.

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


Book “The Forest Song” by Lesya Ukrainka.

Film “Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors” by Sergei Parajanov

Album Планове засідання (Weed meeting) by Вхід у Змінному Взутті (ВУЗВ) (Entrance with a change of shoes)

Traditional dish is definitely Varenyky (any kind, with meat, or mashed potato, or sweet berries) and sour-cream on top

Podcast Music with stories The Ukrainians Audio

Artwork “Venice”, 1924 by Oleksandra Oleksandrivna Ekster – this artwork by Ukrainian avant-garde artist is in Moscow. It was appropriated by Bolsheviks and after the Soviet Union dissolved, russia refused to hand over the painting to Ukraine claiming that this is a Russian artist. But she was belarusian and married an Ukrainian man and lived and worked in Kyiv. I saw this artwork in Moscow Tretyakovka Gellery. It’s a huge and impressive work. The 20s are my favourite period in the arts.

Building: Derzhprom

Memes about Ukrainian Literature of the past XIX and XX century. But you must know the context, it’s not simple to get them at once.

Who should I interview next?

Vera Logdanidi, CEO in RythmBuro, Kyiv

Vlad Fisun – DJ Buro Kyiv

Asket – Art Director in Zhyvot Club, Kharkiv

Lozh

Zhyvot club

 

SEPTEMBER 9, 2022 – BERDYANSK

Arthur Kriulyn

I am an artist on the Mystictrax label.

About my musical past, at the age of 16 I got into a nightclub and I was immediately surprised by the DJ standing in the center of the dance floor and, as I remember now, he played excellent, dance electro-house.

I immediately realised that I wanted to do the same. In parallel with this, I became interested in writing music. I write music in the FL studio program.

What would you say is the distinctive feature of your sound?

A feature of my tracks is the atmosphere and experiments with vocals. And if I write dance music, then I try to make a tight groove.

You are originally from Berdyansk and found yourself there visiting family at the time of the full scale invasion. Have you remained in the city throughout and what is the current situation on the ground?

I came to my relatives’ home for the New Year holidays from Europe. I was going to go back, but the war started and Russia invaded my country, Ukraine. Our city of Berdyansk was occupied on February 28. The situation in the city and in the area today is very bad. The city and region are cut off from normal civil life.

Your Berdyansk EP evokes the feeling of summer nights and is lovingly put together. How did you find producing and releasing music since February the 24th?

So it is. I really love my city, it is provincial and there is the sea. It has very a suitable atmosphere for writing music.

Has your motivation to make music changed since the invasion?

I have a different approach to writing music, I don’t need any motivation, I just open my laptop and set the mood.

You have also produced a number of mixes in recent months. Has your playlist changed in any way since the invasion?

Nothing has changed, my favorite genres remain ambient, hip-hop, and house. Sometimes I can record some thematic mix, for example dub techno.

How would you say the international music community has responded to the war?

I don’t know. Everyone has their own opinion on this. But the main thing is that people do not speak black – white, and white – black.

Are there any releases by Ukrainian artists since the war that you feel are especially poignant or that have surprised you in a good way?

I recommend the music of the label @mystictrax, Kashtan, Noneside, Masterskaya.

Is there anything about the way the war has been covered in the West that you find problematic and is there anything Western countries should be doing to help?

I think that we should simply be given MORE WEAPONS, this is stated in plain text by our president, the people of Ukraine fully agree with his opinion and support both him and the current government, the truth is behind us. Our armed forces are the best in the world and they prove it in practice.

Who should I interview next?

I recommend interviewing Kyiv DJs and active participants in the cultural life of Ukraine, these are @lostlojic and Sasha Ushenko. Very interesting people.

What describes Ukraine best for you?

I can describe Ukraine in 3 words :  ZSU, Zelensky, borsch. Glory to Ukraine !

 

PODCASTS

“The heroes of the new episode of AIR RAID SIREN are residents and natives of Donbas, who on February 24 faced war for the second time on their land. Some of them lost their homes and relatives again and were forced to start their lives from the beginning. These stories and the pain experienced are embodied in the music that you will hear on Gasoline Radio. Tracks by @monodont, @symonenkomusic, @eyelja, @kruegersk, @sasha_very, @widiwavastaskoroliov and others will be heard on the air.”

 

MIXES

“The photo shows a place in my village, which I found a long time ago and which has become my favorite. I think the magic and significance of this place is that it is on my land, on the small homeland of my family. Who knows, maybe this is where the girl Maria, my great-grandmother, also came and dreamed about 90 years ago. Also now it is very important for us to look for our places, our music, the sound of our family.

I took the songs from the 90’s because that’s the time when I grew up and some of them I knew from my childhood and some of them I find out only now. Some songs are naive, some are more dramatic, some are real, but they are ours, and that’s the main thing now.

Separately, I want to mention a track by Ukrainian musician John Object, who is now defending our land, — listen to how he has redefined our heritage and given it a new sound. I think that’s one of our missions. Look for your own!”

 

 

 

FUNDRAISING COMPILATIONS

Друзі by Shum.Rave // electronic, experimental, ambient, techno, Slovyansk

“With the beginning of the full-scale invasion of Russia into Ukraine, many of our friends from the creative sphere joined volunteers, TRO or the front. And the question to friends: “How are you?” has become an integral part of every day.

Shum always had a lot of friends. To be honest, without them we wouldn’t be able to do what we do. And then one day I decided that it would be cool to release a compilation of tracks by our musician friends, and give the proceeds to the Armed Forces – with our friends amongst them, as it turns out.

On the cover there is a molotov cocktail, a Bandera smoothie featuring a collage of photos from our first six events. One hell of a cocktail, I tell you. We will continue to ignite!”

 

МАПА. Частина III / II / I by Neformat Family // metal punk rock black metal death metal grindcore hardcore indie metalcore pop post-hardcore post-metal psychedelic rock punk rock

Neformat Family together with the МА|ПА project (series of interviews with representatives of the Ukrainian underground scene) releases a charity compilation aimed at supporting the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Hardcore, death metal, rap, screamo and a bunch of other genres from 72 Ukrainian artists have come together for the common goal – to bring Ukraine closer to victory in this war against russia.



 

V/A “Artdopomoga Ukraine vol. 1 and 2” // experimental, electronic, indie

The compilation “Artdopomoga Ukraine” Vol.1 and 2 (2022) are released on the Ukrainian volunteer resource – artdopomoga.com

The compilations includes unique material of the legendary bands of the Ukrainian indie scene: Dakhabrakha, Dakh Daughters, Grozovska Band, Hudaki Village Band, Mama Diaspora, Perkalaba, created during the struggle of Ukraine for freedom and independence. All proceeds from the release will be used to support Ukraine.


 

Berlin Kyiv Freundschaft: Volume 1 and 2 by Berlin Kyiv Freundschaft // coldwave, darkwave, gothic

“Berlin Kyiv Freundschaft is a movement of solidarity amongst the musical community of Europe and beyond, in a time of crisis, when war has been forced upon innocent people.

In such chaotic and challenging times, when being an artist is more difficult than ever, it is now that we must do our best to support those in our community who are suffering the most.

All contributing artists come from Ukraine, and 100% of the money earned will be given directly to them.”


 

Musicians For Ukraine (volume 1 and 2) by XaVioN // ambient, chillstep

13 + 16 ambient and downtempo tracks from the Dutch label with 100% of all earnings to be donated for Humanitarian aid in Ukraine.


 

Рух 01 by Worn Pop // ebm, electronic, darkwave

Рух (Ukr. – [Rukh] – Movement) is a compilation series launched during the war in Ukraine and released by Kyiv-based label and promoter Worn Pop. All proceeds from this compilation will be donated to the ‘Musicians Defend Ukraine’ fund that helps Ukrainian artists on the frontline.

 

UNITED (O) vol.1 by (O)SOZNANIE // ambient, electronic, experimental, techno

14 tracks by the underground music community from Kharkiv, Ukraine.

“In these hard and uncertain times, despite our differences, we’re all united like we’ve never been before. In this compilation we present tracks in different genres, but one goal – to contribute to our victory. All the proceeds from Bandcamp will be donated to Ukrainian Army and humanitarian aid to our people.”

 

For Ukraine (Volume 3) by Various ArtistsHeadphone Commute // ambient, drone, experimental, modern classical

“Since the first volume of our benefit compilation For Ukraine, we have raised and donated $17k USD for the humanitarian needs of this conflict. Our last campaign has been triple matched, bringing the total relief to $31k USD. We are grateful to be back with the third volume and ask for your support once again, and in return share this beautiful music from some of the scene’s most notable artists.

100% of all the proceeds (excluding Bandcamp’s revenue share and payment processor fees) will be donated to the International Rescue Committee (rescue.org) to support displaced children and families with vital supplies during the Crisis in Ukraine.”

 

Freedom Fight V/A by Vibronica Festival // deep house, downtempo, multicultural electronic

“Brute force, no matter how strongly applied, can never subdue the basic human desire for freedom. (Dalai Lama)

All money from sales will go to support the Ukrainian Army. We give music for free. Donate as much as you can and feel necessary.”

More Info: Vibronica Festival

 

Avon Attorlaðe by Avon Terror Corps // ambient, experimental, field recording, herbalist

“100% of profits for this compilation go to Solidarity Apothecary for their work on the borders of Ukraine. £1,000 donated so far.

They are currently working from a gas station supplying herbal medicine to thousands of refugees passing by every day. Herbal medicine is widely known and used in Europe and they reported some women crying at the sight of Valerian tincture on arrival.”

 

DF 01 – Ukraine by Deep Fundraisers // electronic, experimental, ambient

For the Deep Fundraisers first fundraising release, we have assembled a variety of tracks from artists around the world in order to help raise funds for Tabletochki, the biggest Ukrainian crowdfunding charity foundation that advocates and protects interests of children with cancer in Ukraine.

 

Hope for Ukraine by Circular Limited // deep techno, electronic

100% profits from this release will be used as a donation of humanitarian material (medical supplies and non-perishable food) destined for Ukraine, through the aid NGO ”’Gala Sebital” in Seville, Spain.

Hope and peace

 

Ukraine Charity Album by Frsh Br3ath Rcrds // electronic, edm

Frsh Br3ath Rcrds & IncomingSound Records joined 9 magnificent artists for the cause.

Almost everyone has listened to the terrible news of the situation in Ukraine, and the millions of people losing their homes and lives.
We want to help them, but we need YOUR help.

Everyone can buy this album and choose to amount they want to give.

ALL THE RAISED MONEY WILL BE DONATED TO Sunflower of Peace Foundation

 

Band Together: A Benefit for Ukraine by V/A // punk hardcore indie folk metal

Death, displacement, destruction. The war in Ukraine is an atrocity. In this moment, Ukrainian voices need to be heard and Americans need to stand in solidarity. Most of all, we need to work to overcome Russia’s invasion and aid the victims of this unprovoked war.

All proceeds from this compilation of Ukrainian and American punk, post-punk, hardcore, folk, and metal bands go to Razom (Together in Ukrainian)..

 

VIEWING ROOM

 

(Gianmarco Del Re)

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