Ukrainian Field Notes XIII

artwork by Maryia Primashenko

We’ve previously covered a fair amount of electronic and techno venturing into mixmag territory, so it’s a pleasure to approach “regular disco” with Kadiristy and Katia Stieber for the current episode of Ukrainian Field Notes, while Vlad Fisun discuss the current state of the clubbing scene.

But to open proceedings we chat to Tofudj, who declares humour invaluable, we discuss CT scans with Incorrect Waves and we chew the fat with ambient superstar Fedor Tkachev while Hidden Element expresses gratitude to anyone who sent good wishes.

We also hear from Monotonne who subscribes to the idea that every sound should tell its own story, and люсі / luci who talks Girl Power.

Repair Together – the team

And last, but not least, we have a brief chat with Repair Together, the Ukrainian volunteer initiative to restore the communities that suffered from the occupation.

Given the length of the interviews, we’ve also limited the number fundraising compilations we have featured and postponed reviews of new releases.

But first, here is our second Ukrainian Field Notes podcast for the UK based community radio Resonance FM which aired Wednesday September 21 at 5.30pm (GMT), repeated Sunday 11am (GMT), and featured Olesia Onykiienko (aka NFNR) talking about fundraising and life in Kyiv.

Tracklist: Mishka Ziganoff – “Oi oi di Koilen”; hspd – “Prayer One”; Motorpig – “Luminous Abyss”; NFNR – “Dice2”; Motorpig – “Oscillators of Time”; hspd – “Yesnoyes”; hspd – “Crepuscula”; NFNR – “Dog Rose”; I, Iteration – “Homeland”; hspd – “Sorry Dub”.

 

SEPTEMBER 12 2022 – KYIV

April 2022, Rivne

Tofudj

I’m a 29 years old Poltava native now residing in Kyiv. I’m a DJ and sound producer. From the age of 16, I started visiting small parties and live gigs in Poltava. At the time, these were mostly parties with bass music. I met a guy who showed me what DJing is and how it works. I was helping him make parties, and little by little started playing at them. These were parties with mainly happy hardcore and gabber music held in various warehouses.

Gradually, I started playing in Poltava and making bass parties with my friends. I met Nikita (aka Acid Jordan), and also Bohdan Konakov who at that time had already played at Cхemа. We spent a summer in Poltava and decided to move to Kyiv and rent an apartment together. Since I came to Kyiv, I’ve started making music and playing/DJing more intensively than I did in Poltava.

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

Until 2021, I only had a laptop with Ableton, a pair of Yamaha HS7 monitors and a recorder. And some friends from whom I borrowed various synths. Then the situation changed. Now my setup consists of: Nord Rack 2, Octatrack MK1, Adam A5x monitors and, of course, a laptop.

As for the most important feature of my sound, that is a challenging question. I’m just doing my best.

pep gaffe, Kyiv

Could you introduce Pep Gaffe, and how would you say the collective has been “focusing, sharpening and intensifying” since February the 24th?

Pep Gaffe is a group of friends who love music. We are focused on releasing stuff from people we know and whose music we adore. Since the russian invasion, we have given all the money we make from Pep Gaffe to charity, supporting people, and hoping for a swift victory. No other variants.

We also decided to intensify the amount of music we release, so stay tuned for some new sounds soon.

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

The Ukrainian music community is doing everything possible to help the military and volunteers. But it is not only Kyiv. There are events in numerous cities and towns across the country, fundraising for various wartime needs.

I envision development in the fact that more Ukrainian music, artists, labels, etc. will appear. It is not that easy to do events now, and sometimes it is not appropriate. There are many limitations and risks. After the end of the war, there will be a substantial boost, for sure. Now, in my opinion, you can’t even think about any serious development.

near to the Vorskla river, Poltava

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

I’m back in Kyiv now. For the first two weeks while I was in Kyiv we didn’t really go outside (it was dangerous, there were fights/skirmishes outside). When I left Kyiv and moved to Rivne, it became calmer. I was lucky enough to have an opportunity to start doing something, sleeping normally, going outside, volunteering, and making music.

Your album Take was produced over the past few months. Has your motivation to make music changed since February 24? 

The war pushed me to make more music, to share it and raise money for people who need it. It motivated me. But in the conditions of war, everything changes very quickly – one day, you are productive, the next day, you are unable to work.

trees, Poltava

How do you unwind in present circumstances?


I spend a lot of time in Poltava, outside the city, near nature. It helps me to stay sane. We meet with friends, make music, do sports, hike, and discuss the latest news.

Has your playlist changed since the war?

I couldn’t listen to music at the start of the war, but now it is much better. I tend to listen to some albums which are “classic” for me. Except for that, my playlist is always changing.

What makes you laugh?

These days, humor is invaluable, and I try to keep myself positive whenever I can.

a few days before the war, Kyiv

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


I am still anxious and don’t have a stable mood or mindset. It is hard to think about the future, but I’m trying my best.

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

The Lost Letter (1972) by Boris Ivchenko is one of the best illustrations of the Ukrainian psychological archetype in cinema. An invincible life-affirming spirit, present in all forms and symbols, a sense of the powerful unity of the people, full of natural strength and will to live, a sense of the continuous flow of time and eternal renewal of the world, in which the last word has not yet been said.

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

I recommend Acid Jordan, b sw, Xtclvr, Monodont.

 

SEPTEMBER 12 2022 – KYIV

Incorrect Waves

My name is Ihor Khmur, I am 29 years old, I live in Kyiv. I have been producing techno music since high school, for me at that time it was a hobby, just for fun. As I grew older, I noticed that the music I was making became more and more serious. I thought, “Why don’t I try to send it to the labels.” I came up with my first moniker and started looking for a suitable label. And, yes, in 2013 I had my first release on Audioexit Records.

Over time, there were more releases in different countries and, at different times, residencies. Then something happened and I stopped playing music for four years. After a break, the moniker Incorrect Waves appeared with a new sound and a rethink of some things.

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

I don’t have a real recording studio. All I have is a laptop, a small modular synthesizer, studio headphones and a large speakers system 🙂

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

I don’t know, but many people have told me I have my own style, maybe it is so. I can’t single out a specific feature myself, maybe I have a specific groove or something else.

You have released on Mystictrax and NECHTO. How would you describe the electronic music scene in Kyiv and Ukraine both in terms of labels and venues? 
And how do you see the music scene in Kyiv developing under present circumstances?



Before the full-scale invasion of the russian federation, there were a large number of artists and DJs in Kyiv, and a significant number of these people have been forced to leave the country for obvious reasons. I have absolutely nothing against this, people are just worried about their lives and it is right and it is normal. Some left with their children, some with their parents, others on their own. It is their choice. It bothers me to think that they may never come back. But I try not to think about it.

Having said that, there is still a rather large number of artists who’ve remained in Kyiv and we are now all volunteers. We play at charity events and collect donations for the army and other needs, such as water for the city of Mykolaiv or medical aid for the wounded. Therefore, we can safely say that the scene is alive and even not only in Kyiv, but also in other cities, Odesa, Lviv, Ternopil, Ivano-Frankivsk, etc. Many cool places where people donate for a swift victory.

There are also people who openly criticize such events, but we try not to pay attention to that. It is necessary to understand that, for some, clubbing has the same recreational value as reading a book or watching a movie, or even taking a walk in the fresh air or having a good rest, has for others. Also, it helps the economy, clubs pay taxes, bars pay taxes, and taxes include the military levy, these are communal services, all of this goes to the budget of Ukraine. I believe that electronic music should continue to develop.

I will say the same about the labels, they are functioning. A clear example are the releases on Mystictrax, where since the beginning of the invasion of our country by the russian invaders, all proceeds go to raise funds for the Azov battalion and the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Based on what is currently happening with our electronic music scene, I see only one option for the development of events: the victory of Ukraine, total reconstruction and one of the most serious stages in Europe.

For your album Bodies That Have Not Found Their Place you have used a tomography for the artwork. How did that come about and what was the original inspiration for the album? 



Yes, I used a CT scan of my lungs for the album cover. It happened quite spontaneously. We couldn’t decide what exactly we wanted to use for the cover. Then there was a high incidence of the coronavirus and, of course, I got ill. The doctor sent me for a CT scan and after the procedure I was given a disc with these images. When I recovered we still couldn’t come up with a cover and I suggested to the boss of the Mystictrax label to see what was on that disc. For this, he found a special program for viewing files on the disk. He sent me these strange pictures and we both liked them. This is how the cover for the album came about.


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

The war had an extremely negative effect on me, same as for 99.9% of Ukrainians. Psychologically it was very difficult, but considering what the army on the frontline were going through, that was nothing. For almost a month, we spent nights in the subway, going there as soon as it started to get dark, and coming out at seven in the morning. Sometimes patience was not enough. In order not to go crazy, we started volunteering. To buy food and medicine for pensioners who weren’t physically able to do so or couldn’t afford it, and for those who came to spend the night with us.

We helped the policemen who were with us in the subway and patrolled every night, and the military at the checkpoints. Thanks to this, it was possible to stay sane.

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

At the beginning of the invasion, I did not think about music at all, I could not even listen to it for a certain time. But people adapt to everything and war is no exception. I have more motivation to play now than before, but the desire to write music has disappeared a little. I think this is a temporary phenomenon.

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



I am in Kyiv now.  Only for a while I went to my parents, 150 km from Kyiv.

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?

Yes, the war in our country did not start in 2022, but in 2014 with the Russian occupation of the Crimean peninsula and parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Ukraine shouted about it to the whole world, but no one took it seriously. All Western leadership hoped that this was a small conflict that would end soon, but since 2014 our people have been dying and European and Western leaders did not care. If Ukraine had received such support at the time, as it does now, none of this would have happened.

How do you unwind?

Lately, I try to relax actively, go for a ride somewhere, visit a museum, take a walk in nature, and relax with friends. I have only seen one episode of Star Wars so I decided to watch them all. There is only one I’m yet to see.

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

Prepare for the worst, hope for the best. We have no other choice but to survive this winter, whatever it may be.

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

Best of all, Ukraine is represented by real Ukrainian borscht, with green onions, bacon (or salo), brown bread and sour cream.

Who should I interview next?



You can interview the head of the Mystictrax Label [@lostlojicUkrainian Field Notes IV], techno live artists Splinter (UA) & Louwave. Also the party organisers HYTEK.

 

SEPTEMBER 12 2022 – KYIV

Kadiristy


My name is Sergey and I’ve been into music as far as I can remember. I collected cassettes, CDs, then vinyls, wrote some articles and music reviews, helped my close friends with the promo of their music projects and then managed to organise a few concerts in Kyiv as I moved here in 2014 from the Luhansk region.

I never learnt to play any music instruments, though – always felt too busy diving deeper into history of music, its genres, and learning how it’s all connected. Then late in 2018 a friend asked me to DJ at her birthday party and another friend showed me some dj-basics, so that I could technically do it. The mixing was shitty (I still have a recording of that), but I had the ultimate fun and realised that was what I wanted to do for a living – my love of music was finally shaped into deejaying.

Could you describe Regular Disco, which you are a part of, and put it in context within the dance music scene in Kyiv? Also, how inclusive would you say the electronic music scene is in Ukraine?



I started discovering electronic music after I relocated to Kyiv. I went out mostly to techno parties back then – CXEMA (the biggest rave in EU) was my first love and actually something that pushed me even further into researching artists, labels, subgenres. However, I got tired of techno rather quickly and realised that the ‘house’ component is what always gives me the most joy during any party. So I switched to LOW parties – that is a house formation that recently celebrated its 12th year of throwing parties (or so). Their sound was the biggest inspiration for me as a DJ. I realised I didn’t want to listen to dark electronic music anymore. In an ideal world, music for me is about bringing joy, it’s a vital force and exists to make one feel better.

I was lucky enough to connect with guys from Regular Disco since we share pretty much the same vision of what deejaying should be about. The name of the formation doesn’t mean that we play only disco, in fact, that’s sorta a translation from Ukrainian “the party that is good”. We play a variety of genres at our parties – the base is of course disco and house, but we mix so many subgenres – the main criteria is that it can’t get boring or too dark (don’t confuse it with ‘hard’, haha). I would say despite the demand for such music rising everywhere, and in Ukraine too, this is still a niche. Although techno is still the most popular trend, anyone can find something to their taste here in Kyiv no matter how specific their taste is.

Has your motivation to play music changed since the full scale invasion and has your playlist changed as well if at all as a direct result?

Of course for the first few weeks of the full-scale invasion it was impossible for me to listen to music – both mentally and physically (as one was supposed to be alert and aware of the surroundings and listen out for the explosions), but after I left Kyiv for a safer city in the Western part of the country (I stayed there for a month and then went back to Kyiv), I slowly got back into listening to music. Actually, digging for some new tunes was a great distraction and helped me quite a lot.

My playlist didn’t change drastically – I’m happy with the genres I love to play, but I did delete all the russian 90s hits and remixes which used to be a big part of my sets – that was something I was listening to while growing up, so that kind of a “recycling” was natural for me when I started deejaying. But no more russian pop songs from me – I switched to finding Ukrainian 90s pearls instead.

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?

The music community reacted in the best way possible. We started to organise events just to collect money for the army or other volunteer organisations, you can hardly find an event now that doesn’t donate all or a huge part of the collected money to help our defenders. It started with streams, but then slowly in summer people started to gather offline – still it’s always donation-based and events or promoters usually post reports and other evidence of how much money was collected and to which exact foundation it went.

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

There’s nothing out there in my life that isn’t affected by the war. It has changed everything – from your daily routine (for example because of martial law, there’s a curfew between 11pm – 5am) to how you rethink yourself as a Ukrainian (for someone it happened earlier, for me just now). One good and also bad thing that happened with everyone here – is that you completely re-evaluate your priorities and finally put the most important things first. We are literally taught to live like it’s our last day, like my friends doing things they have always wanted, but something always kept them from doing it. Or buying something, or learning something new, or creating, having pets, etc. It may be scary to live with the thought that it may be your last day, but still we lost the fear of dying in a way (at least after seeing all the horrific things russians are capable of).

Do you agree with the late queer artist and filmmaker Derek Jarman who used to say that dancing is a political act?  

I would more than agree with that – in fact, the whole world started to rethink the act of dancing when the pandemic started in 2020 and now as the world is back to partying like pre-covid times. In Ukraine we have to think hard and plan carefully before having any kind of dancing event: how safe is the location of the event, where to donate the money, or is it at all appropriate at present to dance (spoiler – it is).

There is a track called “What is Dance” by Bawrut that has a beautiful spoken word about how dance connects people, I love to play it to remind people the importance of dancing.

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 think it’s really hard to give a balanced image of what life in Ukraine is nowadays. Let’s take Instagram – if you follow someone from Kyiv, you will see stories from cafes, some sort of parties, restaurants and careless walks, meanwhile if you follow someone from Kharkiv or Mykolaiv, you will see constant explosions and atrocities by russia. It may look weird or even wrong, but that is just our reality – it is safer in some cities and more dangerous in others. But it doesn’t mean you must just sit at home and wait for the war to be over, cause you won’t bring that time of your life back. I know for a fact that people in those safer cities do a lot for the war effort, so it is totally okay for them to go dancing on the weekend.

How do you unwind?



I’m getting tattooed. I got around 8 tattoos since the war started (btw, a bunch of tattoo artists started an initiative where they do a tattoo for a donation, so they basically work for free 1 day a week for around 3 months and collect a huge amount of money).

If you were to throw a party for your next birthday and could invite anyone to play, who would you get?


Funny you should ask that, ’cause I was about to throw a big party to celebrate my 30th birthday, but the celebration never happened cause my birthday is on February the 26th and the full-scale invasion started on February the 24th. I had invited my great friend fka.m4a – the Berlin-based DJ with whom we share such similar taste in music, and I also asked my Regular Disco colleagues Prots, N3 and Katia Stieber to support the party. We will surely celebrate it this way soon, right after our victory.

And what tracks would you play were you asked to play a DJ set for an aunt’s birthday party?


I have a cool aunt, so I think I wouldn’t need to adjust my playlist in some very specific way. Just be focused more on disco and house, to keep the party bright and happy.

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


Lately it’s been tough because you are getting really tired from the war, and especially when autumn hits with dark skies, rainy days and bad weather, it feels even worse. But lately we’re getting some good news from a frontline, so deep in my heart I hope my hometown where my parents still live will be de-occupied by our army and I will be able to finally see them. That would make the upcoming winter much better.

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

That would be a documentary movie from 2016 The Living Fire. It captures the beauty of Ukraine, especially my most favourite part of it – the Carpathian Mountains so well.

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

I’d suggest connecting with my friend and an amazing Ukrainian musician Paloven – he just put out an album a few days before war started. So as you can imagine the promotion of the album was not really possible. I’m sure he will be happy to share about the process of creating music.

 

SEPTEMBER 14 2022 – KYIV

photo by Yuri Gurich – Kyiv 2021

Hidden Element

I’m Igor Kirilenko – music producer from Kyiv, Ukraine. I’ve been writing electronic music as Hidden Element since 2011 or so. My music was released on Hospital Records/MedSchool (UK), Pinecone Moonshine (USA), Absys (Ireland), Alphacut (Germany), Silent Season (Canada) & many others. I have upcoming releases on my label and on YUKU (CZ).

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

I’m not a hardware geek, most of the time I make tracks using Ableton only. But sometimes I love having fun with my small collection of hardware stuff. I have a few Korg synths: Minilogue, Microkorg & XD. Plus I have Octatrack and a few guitar pedals like Eventide H9 with great reverbs and TRex Replica Delay. Sometimes this stuff helps me finish the tunes. I also have a pair of Mackie HR824 first generation – I just love the way they sound.

And yeah, that’s pretty much it.

first day of invasion. my son & me in the bomb shelter with toy drummachine. Kyiv. Feb 2022

Your EP Everything Happens For A Reason was released in April but produced before the full scale invasion of February the 24th. What was the inspiration behind it and is there anything you altered about it, in terms of its sound, track titles or artwork because of the events?

This release is like a logical progression of what I did in the last few years. I developed how 125 – 140 breakbeats could interact with cinematic, noir synths & sci-fi samples. I’m trying to recall the feelings that I had when I was writing this EP and I realise those were completely carefree emotions that drove me through production and creating tunes. Then I invited my favorite producers as remix artists, named songs the same as places that I like. For example, “Marevo” (eng. Miracle) is my favourite restaurant in Lviv.

My reality now is completely different. There’s a huge war in Ukraine right now started by russia. And now my music, social or public activity is resistance to russian aggression. 100% of the money from the sales of this EP is donated for the needs of Ukrainian Army and volunteers. The tracks were ready before February 24th, but after the full-scale invasion I decided not to postpone the release as I wasn’t even sure I’d still be alive. I just added an ambient tune titled “5:00 AM” (the time the invasion started) and changed the press-release.

fourth day of invasion. me on the sand quarry. Kyiv. Feb 2022

Has the motivation to make music changed for you since the full scale invasion?

Not certainly in that way. I started creating music with different motivation & energy. War has turned my worldview and attitude towards people upside down, as well as many other things.

When the war started I was in Kyiv with my family. And during the first couple of months it was impossible to wear headphones or even just to listen to music, so to produce anything was out of the question. I was afraid to put my headphones on, because I thought the air siren cound sound at any minute and I wouldn’t be there to protect my family. It was a hell of a situation to be in, to be honest.

Since February the 24th all my musical activity – writing, production, social media etc. became a part of fighting against russian aggression. I’m donating money from releases to volunteers, creating informative art projects about reality in Ukraine, providing free music courses for temporary refugees from South & East of Ukraine. In other words, I’m doing everything I can to bring the victory closer.

aftermath of russian missile strike. 700 meters from my apartment in Kyiv. March 2022

Where are you now and have you been displaced by war at any point or did you stay in Kyiv throughout as you stated when you released your EP?

Right now I’m in Kyiv. I was in Kyiv from February 24 till mid of May. As you know there was a massive attack by the russian army on Kyiv district in February-March 2022. russian troops tried to invade the heart of my country. They heavily shelled whole residential districts, airports, and civilian infrastructure. Actually they were on the outskirts of Kyiv. Every hour I heard something explode, saw something fly over my head. It was an unknown feeling of fear for my life. Not as much for my own life, as for the life of my family. And the future. Every person, who stayed in Kyiv at that time stood still against this unjustified brutality – someone signed up for the military, someone for volunteering, someone helped to meet refugees from Kharkiv, Dnipro, Kherson (big cities of Ukraine that were heavily bombed with missiles) etc.

fixing the gates after russian bombardment. Kyiv. March 2022

On the second day of invasion I came with my neighbours to the sand quarry to make the sandbags for the checkpoints. From 10 AM to 5 PM approx. together with 30 other people we dug the wet sand on the quarry. Businessmen, drivers, choreographers, butchers – there was no difference between us. We were just guys with shovels. We worked for 5 days or so. Our sandbags were useful at many suburban roadblocks.

By that moment, I already had the whole release mastered. I just changed the press release adding the hastag #standwithukraine and asked my promo agent to resend the album to the media platforms. I also took down my music from the territory of russia. So that’s the story of what happened with me when the EP was released. I’ve attached the photo of me fixing the fence 300 m from my house. It was bombed by a heavy 3-meter long missile. The blast was strong.

In the beginning of April, UA forces kicked out the russian army from the Kyiv region. In May I left the city with my family for a while. Now I’m home again.

windows at my house are ducktaped. its protecting a bit from blast wave. Kyiv. March 2022

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?

It’s a very good and important question!

First. I frequently see surprising comments on social media by people from abroad about “nazis” in modern Ukraine. That’s complete bullshit. As a guy who’s been living in the center of Kyiv for 9 years I can definitely say that there are no “right-wing” marches, “nazi” fans, or other nonsense going on here in my city.

Ukraine is a European country and the overwhelming majority of people respect the values of Europe, the values of democracy. It doesn’t matter here what’s your religion, sexual orientation, the language you speak or the food you eat. What matters here is what you do and how you act. If someone says, “There are angry nazis in Ukraine!” – you should know that that person is spreading one of the narratives of russian propaganda.

screenshot from my security camera. the moment of strike. Kyiv. March 2022

Second. You shouldn’t say, “Don’t give the weapons to Ukraine”. The people of Ukraine, myself included, are very grateful for all the support and weapons that have been supplied by our allies. It’s the only way we can protect ourselves from this genocide that the russians are committing here. They want to kill us, they want to cancel democracy in my country, they want to bring in a totalitarian regime. THEY ARE EXTERMINATING CIVILIANS and they don’t care about human rights. Look at Mariupol, Bucha, Chernihiv, Kharkiv – all these cities are in ruins after the russian invasion. So, modern weapons are the only way we can resist this.

Third, Ukrainians are very grateful to all those countries and all the people who provided support such as humanitarian aid, weapons, food, and helped with the evacuation of refugees etc. It’s true.

The prices of food, gas & utilities are rising nowadays. But it’s not because of Ukraine, it’s because of russia. Because they started the war against Ukraine & blocked the export of grain and destroyed warehouses. I know that it’s upsetting to pay high prices for groceries, but Ukrainian people are paying right now with their lives.

Hidden Element vinyl release on Aplhacut. Kyiv. 2020

How would you say the international music community has responded to the war in Ukraine?
And how do you view the number of fundraising compilations from the West with proceeds destined in the majority of cases to Unicef or the Red Cross rather than local grassroots organisations or the Ukrainian Army?

I was surprised by the huge support from the electronic music community. It’s incredible. Thousands of fundraising campaigns, media campaigns, medicine fees and many others.

I’m glad my favourite producers & labels showed their support of Ukraine. I wanted to say huge thanks to Coco Bryce, Seba, HAAi, Chris Jarman, Pete Owl, the YUKU team and plenty of others for showing their position on this situation, and for not ignoring this war. All these musicians spread the information about what is happening in Ukraine and this gave us more chances to have EU government financial support. Big thanks to every person who wrote, “How are you? Hold on, everything’s gonna be alright!” I never thought that such simple words would mean so much to us.

And please forget about Unicef & Red Cross. These organisations do nothing for UA civilians, they just support the narrative of russian propaganda. Don’t donate money to them under any cinrcumstances.

hidden element performance. Kyiv. Aug 2021

You’ve remixed a number of Ukrainian artists from Koloah to Jamala. Who would you like to tackle next and who would you like to be remixed by? Also are there any particular releases by Ukrainian artists since the war that you’ve found especially poignant or that have surprised you in a good way?

Recently I dove deeper into the local scene and music. I’m a big fan of Kyiv-based band Hyphen Dash. Highly recommend them. They are combining jazz, hip-hop & electronic music. Sounds incredible.

Likewise, Ukrainian artist Katarina Gryvul, she was a brilliant discovery for me. Her latest album Tysha is stunning.

My friend Alexander Pavlenko aka Sunchase is a giant at the sound. My latest releases are mastered by him. So these are my favorites for now and I would love to collaborate with these musicians for sure.

Jan 2022. Kyiv, Ukraine

How do you unwind?

To be honest this is my problem. I’m getting quite stressed-out lately. There are lots of projects I’m currently working on. Three or Four at the same time. I’m working as a sound producer not only for Hidden Element. I’m producing music for Ukrainian pop artists a lot. That’s how I met Jamala by the way and many others. Plus I’m worrying about the situation in my country, besides nobody cancelled chores, so I gotta do some work at home too. Sometimes I feel like twisted, but it’s common for those in Ukraine right now. So I wish soon i could visit a seaside of Odessa or Kherson or travel to Kharkiv to see it’s soc-modern architecture (i hope not every building is ruined by russian strikes) and to visit my favorite Zhivot club. These are my plans for unwinding for the future.

me at my studio. Kyiv Oct 2021

What is your current mindset and how do you feel about the future?

I’m pretty sure now that the future of Ukraine and Ukrainian culture will be huge. There will be a bloom of music, art, clublife and business after the end of the war. After the victory. I’ll keep doing as much as I can now to bring this moment closer.

Personally speaking, I have an upcoming vinyl release on YUKU label which will happen very soon, and I’m so excited about that because of the musical component & art for the release.

Last week I was granted by Music Export Ukraine to collaborate with EU artists, so right now I’m extremely busy with this project, as I want to release it before the YUKU. So I’m tired but super thrilled.

graphic by Bohdan Burenko at my studio. Kyiv. June 2021

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

I admire brutalist/soc-modern architecture – so for me it’s the hotel “Salute” in terms of building. As for Modern UA art – Mitya Fenechkin, Bohdan Burenko for sure. Bohdan’s graphic art is decorating my studio.
Music – Sasha Chemerov latest single “Polyamy“.
I would like to say borsch for dishes and Dovzhenko’s Zemlya for film, but I want to emphasise that modern Ukrainian culture is so rich and unique.

All artists I mentioned before are a new generation of Ukrainian culture for me as well as hundreds of others.

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

Hyphen Dash band – please ask them about how they unite old-school and a new generation of jazz musicians on their excellent events.
Katarina Gryvul – ask about her methods in music production. [Ukrainian Field Notes X]

 

SEPTEMBER 16 2022 – CHERNIHIV

Fedor Tkachev

I’m an electronic music artist, producing music and playing live under my own name, Fedor Tkachev. Aside from a couple of years of private piano lessons, I’m completely self-taught, both in terms of musicianship and technical skills like sound design, mixing etc. Most of my music comes from improvisation.

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

It’s a humble bedroom studio with a computer, speakers, various synthesizers, including eurorack, expressive controllers and electric cello.

It’s hard to single out the defining feature of my sound, but I think it is the sense of space in my music. It transforms the music into a place you could enter and stay in, or dissolve into.

I love how you describe yourself as an ambient superstar on your Bandcamp page. Who are your music heroes?

“Ambient superstar” is a concept that I’m trying to grow into, with some success. I just wanted to give myself some kind of a title, a high standard to strive for, and I got tired of being humble and unknown. It represents my movement towards more melodic, almost pop ambient music.

Some of my music heroes include Steven Wilson, Hecq, David Darling, Trent Reznor, Eivind Aarset, Raphael Weinroth-Browne, but I enjoy and love many more music genres and artists than it would sensible to list here.

You’ve released your first album Transparency (textures from a past life) on the 10th anniversary of your father’s passing, August the 29th. In the liner notes you also state that a considerable part of the motivation to make the album came from the war. Many of the people I have been speaking to have told me they found it difficult to even listen to music during the first couple of months of the full scale invasion. What were the main challenges you faced while making Transparency?


Yes, dad was the reason I’ve started improvising on piano and cello during my teenage years. Back then I was into gothic music, Apocalyptica, black clothes and girls, and dad was doing spontaneous free jazz music, which wasn’t “cool” by my teenage standards, but the concept of improvisation and approaching music on your own terms was planted into my moody teen head.

Over the years of practicing music and presenting it as separate tracks, more than one person said that I should do an album. But to me it felt impossible and too hard to bother, due to the fact that most of my tracks were very different from each other, and the puzzle of an album just wasn’t coming together in my head.

Then our insane russian neighbors started the war, and I’ve learned that life is short, and every day, hour and minute may be my last. At some point I just felt the urge to leave something behind, just in case, like a significant body of work to be remembered by.

Your album manages to have an optimistic feel to it, withstanding the many different emotions it conveys. How does one retain “Constructive Thoughts” under present circumstances? Also, what is your current mindset and how do you feel about the future in general?

I try to stay functional by keeping my head cool and having a gratitude attitude. It helps to “zoom out” of your current mood and to evaluate your current situation every now and then, starting from the basics, like having a roof over your head. Then it turns out everything is somewhat okay and manageable.

As for the future, I’ve decided to commit to a career as an artist and I’m building a new life with that in mind.

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


I had to leave Chernihiv on 11th of March, as the situation then was really dark and scary. I’ve spent two months in Western Ukraine, mainly in Lviv. Even had a chance to play live there.

Luckily the city stood strong, so I came back home in May.

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

I won’t deny the psychological damage from the attack on Chernihiv and from my experience as an internally displaced person. During the siege there were a few moments when I thought to myself, “this is it”. When leaving. I didn’t know if I’d ever have a chance to come back home, if I would have a home at all, if I’d ever see my family, who were still resisting to leave at that time.

And yet I lived long enough to write these words. I still have two hands, two legs and everything else that comes in two. Everyone from my closest circle is alive and fine for now, so I don’t think I have the right to complain much.

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?

The most appalling thing for me is when Westerners call the war “politics”. Or say things like, “I’m not here to debate political matters. You have my deepest apologies but I’m about creating music and peaceful vibes”. The same goes for talks about “good russians”, “Putin’s war”, and when they don’t get why russian culture and economy have to be cancelled, why it’s bad to purchase anything from a russian business, even if it’s just an app or a vst plugin. Often they just can’t connect the dots, that if you buy from a russian company, even if they avoid taxes, there’s still real people behind the brand, who spend those earnings inside of the country and thus fuel the war machine that is targeting Ukrainians.

How do you unwind?


Firstly, I try not to “wind” too hard. I’m taking it as easy and slowly as possible. Secondly, the basics like having enough sleep and food and water helps. On top of that, I have a quite strong support network. My partner Victoria is amazing and she supports me in everything I do. I used to hate the saying “behind every great man there’s a great woman”, and while I don’t consider myself great, I do get the point now. My best friend Eugene, who I met last year over a synth purchase, has helped me grow out of many of my limiting beliefs, and our long walks and conversations, and just chilling in nature are a great way to unwind as well. My cousin Danny was always there for me to support my music back when I wasn’t really sharing it, and to expand my music taste. My blood brother Roman, aka Troy Targets, is an inspiration, too, in the way he approaches being an artist.

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


The “russian warship, go fuck yourself” is the most epic meme of them all.

 

SEPTEMBER 18 2022 – KYIV


Vlad Fisun

I have been a DJ for 26 years now. Also, I did a few shows on TV and radio exploring and promoting the electronic and indie scene, I worked as a music journalist and editor-in-chief in printed media, I organised parties and festivals, and continue to promote vinyl culture.

What would you say is the defining quality of your sound?

This is a hard question to answer, it’s like asking the old winery, ‘How would you define your elixir?’ I would say my sound has three ingredients, it is warm, natural, and filled with hope.

You’ve played at Burning Man and the Venice Biennale, as well as countless festivals around the globe, but would Chernobyl be the most unusual place you’ve played?

Chernobyl was definitely the most dangerous and hazardous. We only had 2 hours to film in order to get out without suffering from radiation effects. That meant, 30 minutes for setting up, 30 minutes for taking down, and only one take to play. All this whilst having to contend with some very hard feelings and energies still present since the catastrophe all those years ago.

What are the highlights of your career spanning 25 years and the biggest challenges you faced?

The biggest challenge is now: I don’t know if I would like to continue. Normally artists feel a lack of inspiration from time to time, but there can be a moment when they feel, “This is it, this is the last time,” and then it’s all over. I feel now is the time to stop. I wish this wasn’t so.

Maybe I’ll be able to change this myself, or some external circumstances might intervene. Or it might be that I just wish to find an experienced manager/colleague to share ideas with, to create and implement things, and to prove to myself once more that DJs are not about throwing candy floss jumping-pumping 3 hours sets, constant-insta-stories and beatportish-copy-the-top-10 kind of thing. You see, I’m still not sure.

When talking about highlights, one generally thinks of those that enhance one’s own CV or RA profile (which I don’t have), rather than personal achievements. But, actually, the greatest highlight for me are the kids born because their parents met each other at one of my gigs. I know at least five of them.

Are you the snazziest DJ in town?

Retune makes one a king. Take it or leave it. Currently my instagram doesn’t gain much traction, sometimes I can play for 5 people, and still I’m supposed to be a famous guy. I know how to mix Bach and Haydn with early 70’s hip-hop, I do experiments with three turntables, perform at abandoned buildings patterned with mapping, while seeking some dusty old grooves to combine with unreleased tracks. Am I ever in the glory rush? No, I’ve already stepped aside.

After impersonating Daft Punk as Taft Plunk, are you ready to take someone else on?

Yes, but I need a partner in crime. To be honest, I haven’t seen any fresh pop icons for the last 10 years I’d like to impersonate. And to make fun of Devo or Sparks or David Bowie is absolutely meaningless, they are too great.

How many vinyls do you own and what are your most treasured possessions?

I tried to count them a few times, so over 5K will be an answer. Signed copies of my favourite albums like RHCP, graffitied copies of Felix da Housecat, rare promos of the Chemical Brothers and Crystal Method, and Japanese funky jazz… 

Once I had a special delivery from a former collector consisting of at least 100+ records of Soviet and Polish jazz with a hand-written catalog, from the currently occupied city of Enerhodar. The love was gone. It was very peaceful and touching.

Are there any releases by Ukrainian artists since February the 24th that you feel are especially poignant or that have surprised you in a good way, and are there any tracks that deserve to be global hits?

Yes, I’m honoured to have them on vinyl and have included some of them in my Tryzub performance. I play only Ukrainian artists and labels in three turntables technique. If we talk about some very fresh stuff, I would say Monoconda’s latest album, Horizon, Tysk remixes EP, and Povilno Records’ compilation.

Has your motivation to make music changed since the full-scale invasion and has it influenced your playlist?

Yes. And it has changed in a bad way. I don’t feel inspired. I come home and don’t want to press ‘play’.

How would you describe the Ukrainian club scene and what would you say is its standing on the international stage?

Young and exhausted. Beautiful and shady. Naive and poisoned. Drugs, the aftermath of selfishness, bad temper, hysteria, and crime. Very easy to find, very hard to lose. Euphoria drains fun and music from it all and turns into a spasmodic marathon.

In the middle of this turmoil, there’s an island, where people try to explore, develop and create in a sober way. I do know people like this and would like to express my big respect to them, it’s hard to stay above these cliques that meet each other for just another trip.

Three months into the full scale invasion, I attended an event where I saw some well-known party people with clear eyes and minds for maybe the first time in years. I was surprised at how good they can be. Alas, I’m afraid some of them reverted back to their old ways.

If I were to talk about production, I would say some of the releases now have completely sidestepped ‘the newbies’ cliches and are very mature. Some releases I’m proud to put on my shelves. It’s an international effort, and it would be great to spread it. 

What the Ukrainian stage needs is high-class promoters backed by good businesses. Should the clubbing scene shed its semi-criminal skin and operate in a legal way, this would dramatically change the whole status of our electronic scene.

 

How do you unwind and what makes you laugh nowadays?

Family and friends. Really helps me all the time. And also when you help people in the Armed Forces, they grant you the energy you can’t get any other way.

To laugh is really hard. Our part of the planet is the Inferno news channel, it’s a constant nightmare now. And we will be uncovering atrocities for a long time to come.

Are you able to think about the future and have you been preparing for the winter ahead?

Yes, I do it constantly. I’m trying to earn enough to provide for my family. Hope we’ll not be forced to move to the caves and fire camps.

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?

The main topic which is meaningless is about possible negotiations. After all the evidence of pure evil coming to light, please don’t ask for it. There’s only one way to end this nightmare for us – to chase the russians back to their swamp and protect ourselves, and the rest of the world, from them with a strong defence. There’s no other way. No peace treaty.

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

There’s a lot of heritage that is almost unexplored. Art, architecture, theatre, craft… I will add castles. We have a lot of them in the midWest part of the country, beautiful and completely abandoned. Anyone who likes to time travel, will be definitely overwhelmed. I should add that we have plenty of good wine, and great hospitality, but one needs a good guide).

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

I suggest asking:

my long-term colleague Vladimir Sivash about his ideal career in the music scene in Ukraine and what his dream is; Evgen Goncharov about the uniqueness of Dnipro nightlife and how he created a very strong community and movement together with friends; and Eugene Skrypnik about the SHUM project and the Boiler Room event in the middle of Donbass a year ago he put on, as well as many other amazing projects.

 

SEPTEMBER 18 2022 – KYIV

Katia Stieber

Hey, it’s Katia Stieber, Kyiv-based DJ, digger, vinyl culture and party lover. I’m a resident at Worn-pop and Regular disco for now. Many years ago I was a drummer in a couple of orchestras and I guess it was my starting point in this journey. From an early age, I got to know many genres of music and dug deeper and deeper. I love the process of finding music. But it was all at the level of entertainment.

Four years ago, I bought a controller to try out what DJing is, and now I can’t imagine my life without it. During my modest career, I managed to play at several festivals, at Ukrainian and German parties.

photo by Anastasia Ruban

You are a resident both at Regular Disco and Worn-Pop. Could you put those in context within the dance music scene in Kyiv and how diverse and inclusive would you say it is?

Oh, these are two opposite residencies, both in terms of music and atmosphere, but I am happy to be a resident in both because I can realize my light and dark side. Worn-Pop firmly occupies a place on the Kyiv scene combining a label, parties and concerts for the last almost 10 years. Thanks to them, an extremely large number of cool artists were brought to Kyiv, such as Lebanon Hunover, Curses, Identified Patient, Boy Harsher and much more. They also promote Ukrainian artists such as Hungry Boys, Aircraft, Geuxx, Ship Her Son, Morwan. It seems to me that Worn-Pop has made a huge amount of effort to form its audience and introduce Ukrainian listeners to quality underground sound.

The complete opposite of Worn-Pop is Regular Disco. First of all, this is a series of parties that carries the idea of a holiday and fun. We always tried to create this festive atmosphere, for example, at one of the parties we had make-up artists so that the entire dance floor had sparkles on their faces. Everyone was very happy about that. Regular disco is also about meeting world DJs such as Wolfram, fka.m4a, Benjamin Frolich, Massimliano Pagliari, etc. Now due to the war and the curfew, the parties have stopped, but there is a show on Gasoline radio, where we have a whole day to chat, mix and invite DJs and musicians to our show.

photo by Katia Stieber

Has your motivation to play music changed since the full scale invasion and has your playlist changed as well, if at all, as a direct consequence of it? 

For the first few months, I couldn’t listen to music at all, even if it was in commercials or movies, so I didn’t watch them either. Then I had a gig in April and I just needed to prepare and I started auditioning again little by little.

Yes, it seems to me that the taste has changed a little. There was more of a groovy sound, a little harder house, less disco, even I think that the selection became more qualitative.

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?

A lot of people repurposed themselves into volunteer organizations or went directly to the front. As soon as it became possible, clubs began to hold musical events where money is collected for volunteers, refugees or for other needs. Now there is a well-known project called Repair Together, which is founded by people from the music community (or close to the music community).

photo by Katia Stieber

Any tragedy, in my opinion, contributes to the flowering of something. Our tragedy is now very painful and on a huge scale. Therefore, now I personally observe the musical flowering of Ukrainian performers of very different branches, finally our society is ready to search and consume Ukrainian music, and the creators create what the user wants to listen to on repeat:)

Regarding the development of the community, now there will be a very subjective opinion, everyone has become more united and at the same time new faces are more welcome in music circles now. It seems to me that such a thing exists not only in Ukraine, it is quite difficult to get into musical circles…but now this barrier has begun to fade little by little and everyone is quite friendly to new names, even better than to old ones)))

photo by Katia Stieber

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

My sense of fear disappeared. I began to treat the events of my life much more simply. If I feel that I will not die from being told “no, you are doing badly, that’s why we refuse you”, well, okay. Before, I took all this very painfully. So now I’m just doing my thing, no hard feelings

Do you agree with the late queer artist and filmmaker Derek Jarman who used to say that dancing can be viewed as a political act?  

Yes, I agree. I believe that any creative expression can carry political views or some kind of political statement. Currently, there is an opinion in musical circles that music is apolitical. In my opinion, music could simply afford to be like that for a certain period of time. Now that time is over

photo by Katia Stieber

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

Now I’m in Kyiv, but I’ve been going somewhere quite often lately. In March, I left Ukraine and simply went to my friends to wait out active hostilities. I was in Poland, Cyprus, Germany, but I returned in May. I like Kyiv, I was born here. I have my whole life here.

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?

It seems to me that people in the West do not fully understand that this war cannot be resolved peacefully. Unfortunately. For many years, I myself was the person who said that I do not want to be involved in this and that these are all political games that do not suit me. It did not lead to anything good…Since we were culturally and socially connected with the Russians for many years, Ukrainians understand the nature of these people and their mentality a little better. And the option of inserting a flower into the barrel of a machine gun will only lead to another murder. Unfortunately, this is very difficult to accept.

photo by Yasin

How do you unwind?  

I recently went to an event dedicated to music. There you could play on all kinds of drum machines, midi keyboards, lunchpads, etc. I go to bars or to some events. In fact, everything related to music and this culture is my way of recreation)

If you were to throw a party for your next birthday and could invite anyone to play, who would you get? And what tracks would you play, were you asked to play a DJ set for an aunt’s birthday party?

The Andrews sisters or Amy Winehouse or Aleksi Peräla or someone from Regular Disco, I don’t know its a hard decision!!!

Some of old fashioned psychedelic rock, I have this kind of family)

photo by by Yasia Chukhmanenko

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

Fortunately, my parents have a country house, and we bought firewood. But the mood is positive, I understand that now a lot is being said to anticipate future situations. Plus. The beginning of this year showed that it is difficult in winter, but it is possible to survive. Therefore, I think that everything will be fine, even if it will be difficult. You cannot survive only death, everything else is possible)) maybe I will dance a lot to keep warm))

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

Ugh, it’s also tough one. I guess it would be a word “resistance”. This is our greatest happiness and our greatest weakness.

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

Peshka is a producer from Mariupol. He lived and worked there before the war. You can ask about his career. How the war affected him.

There is also Mike Trofimov, he is a DJ from Lviv who has been in this scene for quite some time. I think he can also tell a lot of interesting things about his experience.

 

SEPTEMBER 19 2022 – DNIPRO

Monotonne

My name is Yuri. Like most guys, my musical childhood began with a guitar, and consequently, I played guitar in my first band. It was totally amateurish stuff, but it made me realise that there was only so much I could do with a guitar. So, I gradually became interested in electronic instruments. Back then, I was heavily into trip-hop. It seemed to me that for that type of music, a good synthesyser could do much more than other melodic instruments. I managed to play in live bands and create solo electronic projects using different samplers and synths. And after a while, working as a producer and sound engineer became my main job.

Right now my main and only project is Monotonne, which has no other main members at present. I’m currently more interested in the open project format with collaborations of musicians close in spirit.

On your Bandcamp page you state that you work with monophonic analog synthesisers, vocals, drums and drum machines. How many different permutations has your setup been through over the years? And what would you say is the most important feature of your sound? 

I haven’t counted, but I can say that I’ve tried quite a lot of different instruments. As for the most important feature of my sound, I would say a careful handling of timbres. The ability to immerse a listener in the atmosphere of a track is also one of the most important complex tasks. Someone I know once said that every sound should have its own story. I like this concept.

Your album Transition was released in April 2022. Production started during the military build up on the border and the album was completed after the full scale invasion. How much of it was shaped by the events unfolding? Also, is that why you have included a song in Ukrainian, “Слухай ніжно” (listen gently) by Grisly Faye (aka Margaryta Kulichova), which I believe might be a first for you, since you seem to prefer lyrics in English? And now that Margaryta has moved to Portugal, will you still be collaborating with her?

Anxiety was clearly in the air and intensified after the publication of foreign intelligence with the supposed timing of the invasion. All of this was felt by us and, of course, it comes across in the music. Especially after the full-scale invasion. On the previous album FOMO we did a track in Ukrainian titled “Cутеніє” (translated as Twilight) with the vocalist from Tik Tu. Even since that moment I recognised that I wanted to do more music in Ukrainian. When the instrumental part for “Слухай ніжно” was written, I clearly heard singing in Ukrainian and that was the only thing I asked Margot [Margaryta Kulichova] to do. She is a wonderful musician and really did a fantastic job with the vocals.

You have been active fundraising for the army and have participated in the fund-raising compilation ZSU out on Mystictrax. How would you say the international music community has responded to the war?

I have conflicting thoughts about the reaction of the world community. On the one hand, we saw the support of our friends all over the world and a huge interest in Ukrainian culture and music. And actually, in spite of the difficult situation with covid previously and now the war, we have quite a lot going on. But it’s very painful to realise the cause-and-effect connection: had there not been a war, there would not currently be so much hype around Ukraine.

Has your motivation to make music changed since the full scale invasion?

Yes, it has intensified. It has become clearer what we are fighting for. The russians have been trying to erase our own culture for centuries. Our friends and loved ones are now sacrificing their lives on the frontline and we, as musicians and cultural activists, must support them and fight on the cultural front as best as we can. To contribute to the development of modern Ukrainian culture is also an important task.

What are your expectations for your forthcoming mini tour in Austria and Germany?

I am excited about it. In addition to doing a gig, we have an important cultural mission and we are raising funds for tourniquets, which are always needed both for the army and civilians alike.

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 would select three releases:

Bunht – Inner Ghosts. This is the ambient project of Yaroslav Tatarchenko, who also has an indie-electronic project called Tonka. Beautiful and subtle electronica, with no military aggression, but rather melancholy and weariness.

Антон Слєпаков/Андрій Соколов – warнякання. This album is a collection of stories based on real-life motifs. It is important first and foremost for the lyrics, which convey poignant reflections on the war in a very precise and resonant way.

Ship Her Son – Alles wird gut. The album is also strong both in content and style and is composed with voice synthesizer in German. It talks about not being sad (toxic advice to depressed people that it’s all nonsense, that one shouldn’t exaggerate and love oneself), about a certain scum country (you can guess which one), about the nostalgia for post Soviet 80s and 90s food that we had as children. All that content was ingrained in us from childhood and adolescence, and we are now trying to finally free ourselves from this romanticised nostalgia.

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?

During the first months after the full-scale invasion, there were many problems. In the eighth month, there are fewer of them. There was clarity in definitions and understanding of what the russians are. Everything about cooperation with them is problematic. At all levels. Another example is that some publications still try to reconcile us, considering us one people. This is the imperial narrative of the russians, imposed by their propaganda.

Are you still in Dnipro and what is the current situation on the ground?

Yeah, I’m in Dnipro and we are still an area bordering military action. We are used to air raids that happen absolutely every day. From time to time there are missile strikes in the suburbs, they can clearly be heard. And recently there was a rocket attack in the centre of Dnipro, the night after the City Day celebrations. It was 150 meters from my house. That’s scary, and I don’t think we can get used to it. But we try not to focus on it for long and to live a more or less normal life while there is such an opportunity.

How do you unwind and what makes you laugh nowadays?

We have a great community of former Module club staff and these guys give us hope that as long as there are people like them, we can do a lot of great things. We volunteer with them, help each other, have a drink together, and hang out. Basically, this is what a little recreation is all about.

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

My attitude is not to relax, not to feel euphoric for the current success of our army in the East and South, because the war has not been won yet and we are still being fired on by missiles. And to be ready for anything, if possible. I hope very much that we will have heating and electricity over the winter, but then again, we must be prepared for different scenarios.

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

It is difficult, as our country is multifaceted, but I will try.

  • Book – Voroshilovgrad, by Serhiy Zhadan. It is a story about invaders who are trying to take over a gas station from the main character. But the residents of the town unite and fight back.
  • Film – Тіні забутих предків (Shadows of our Forgotten Ancestors), definitely. A classic masterpiece of cinematography, based on the story by Mikhaylo Kotsyubinsky
  • Album –  ВВ – Музіка (1997) It is both melodic and courageous in terms of sound, mixing elements of rock, folk and indie. And the lyrics are incredible.
  • The Heavenly Hundred Heroes Memorial

    Traditional dish: The No. 1 national dish in Ukraine is commonly known as borscht, and it really is, but I will choose “deruny.” They are like potato pancakes, with either a mushroom, cheese, or meat filling.

  • Podcast: Шит ай ноу Лайв – is quite a popular Ukrainian podcast on a variety of topics.
  • Blog: Ukrainer, no doubt about it. These are our friends and they do a wonderful job. The travel blog has now transformed into a publication about the war.
  • Building: The National Memorial to the Heroes of the Heavenly Hundred and Revolution of Dignity in Lviv.

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

I would recommend both Anton Shiferson (Ship Her Son) and Vitaly Symonenko, a great techno artist, deeply patriotic and with many interesting stories to tell.

 

SEPTEMBER 20 2022 – BERLIN

люсі / luci

Luci is a DIY project, where I can explore multimedia such as sound, video and art-direction. I started this project in 2017 with the experimental music video Dosyt (not usual for Ukraine audiences) made with a totally DIY ethos with all my friends and my everyday aesthetic. It was supposed to be nice content for YouTube. I have since produced an album and a few more videos.

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

Generally speaking, I use my laptop with a mic and vocoder to make demos. This simple setup works great when you need to record off the cuff. And these “readymade” takes are perfect for publishing on social media or Soundcloud as snippets. The next step is always deciding to choose one piece to work on for a full length track. That is why I always collaborate with a sound producer or production studio. We focus on the project together and do a lot of work: recording live instruments (if needed) or changing my primitive drums for a drum machine, for example, or even adding some mystical synth. Then we organise vocal recordings over one or more sessions. That is a really important step for me, because my music is mostly based on vocals.

On that basis, I would say that the best way to make music for me is to have a quick and ready to use setup at home. After that, collaborating with a music producer or studio is crucial.

Is girl power going to conquer the Ukrainian music scene?

Girl Power is the informal name of our girls chat. We do need more girls on the music scene right now. Especially because Ukraine as a country has a totally feminine character.

I think there are enough girls in the entertainment industry, but not enough within the electronic and hip hop music scene or even DJs. There are many talented female musicians and artists that I know personally. But people really underestimate them.

How would you describe the music scene in Kyiv and how inclusive would you say it is?

The Kyiv Music scene is very tight community, we all know each other and meet in in a specific bar (Kosatka) in the historical centre of Kyiv, have a beer together and organise parties or gigs for each other.

In your mix for DTF Magazine you highlight the Ukrainian musical heritage. How important has this been in shaping your musical practice?

First of all, I was very excited to collect all my childhood music in one mix. It might not comprise the best examples of Ukrainian music, but these are my personal memories about the music scene in Ukraine in 2000. Had the brief been to collect all the best Ukrainian musical heritage, I would have made a totally different set.

But going back to your question: yes, music shapes my identity and life perception 100%. I was very impressionable as a child and I literally enjoyed all kinds of culture, from magazines and movies, to music and TV shows. And that is why I am more into Ukrainian music and content than foreign content media.

How do you feel about the language debate?

Language is the most important thing in this war. Because if you view the map of Ukraine you can clearly see the border between russian-speaking Ukraine and Ukrainian-speaking Ukraine. In russia they talk about defending “their” people in Ukraine, and that’s how they justify the war, but with “their people” they actually mean the russian population in Ukraine.

So if we could start our independence story from scratch, firstly we should solve the language problem and unite people on this map marked by deep cultural and traditional values.

I have a lot of friends from Donetsk and Kharkiv that are russian speaking and even my husband from Odessa speaks russian in everyday life because this is his mother tongue, the language that he thinks in and loves (and that is even after having had a Ukrainian language education). Should I erase them from my life for this reason?

I just hope that this war can change our future, the future of our kids, and that they won’t have to experience problems such as language and national identity.

Has the motivation to make music changed for you since the full scale invasion and how would you say the war affected you both on a personal and practical level?

Due to personal reasons I am not able to create music as frequently and in the best possible way as I’d like to. I’ve moved to another country and restarted my life. It takes time to restart working and getting to know people. So I prefer to settle down first and then try to make music. As I said in one interview about my Enigma album release: “In my opinion, in order to create an album you should understand suffering and experience it”. Real life experience directly affects the music, lyrics and vision.

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?

Stop looking for the guilty and accuse our president, America, the EU of supplying weapons. The one obvious thing: russia invaded Ukraine. This is not a normal thing, we didn’t and don’t have a “conflict”. Even the territory of Donetsk and Luhansk and Crimea that were invaded early in 2014 were legally Ukrainian. So what right does another country have to cross our borders in 2022, when everything is already defined and fixed by conventions? The simple truth is that Russia is a terrorist state. There are no valid laws, and agreements for russia, a country that has no moral values.

Today it violates the borders with Ukraine, tomorrow it will be Finland, Lithuania or Armenia. And after that, Germany and France. And of course there’s the russian population, 183 million innocent people. Do not say that this is not enough to change something. If you call yourself russian today, you bring shame to our country and doom yourself to wipe the blood and dirt from your hands for decades.

How do you unwind?

I am expecting a baby and this is the perfect time for me to rest.

What is your current mindset and how do you feel about the future?

I am thinking positively. I am totally sure that I will return to Ukraine and, together with my friends and family and my people, we will build a new Ukraine with a huge cultural heritage, modern architecture and progressive educational system and medicine. This huge trauma we are going through caused by the war is the best way to kickstart a renaissance. For a hundred years we could’ve been together with our russian neighbours and peacefully sleep in the arms of russian language and culture. But now we have confirmation; we are different, we are separate and we are powerful.

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

On the one more poetic point : Ukraine is the beautiful girl from the painting by Taras Shevchenko, “Kateryna“. She is young and falling in love with the wrong kind of people (a soldier from Moscow, by the way).

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

Maryana Klochko: the same questions.

 

SEPTEMBER 21 2022 – KYIV

Repair Together

My name is Kate Andriichuk. I’m responsible for partnerships. Even before the war we have always loved music in all its expressions and often attended the parties. When russia invaded Ukraine – this part of our life was gone.

How is Repair Together organised and run?



Our initiative came about at the beginning of May after the liberation of Chernihiv region from occupation. We came with humanitarian aid, like many other volunteer organisations, but decided not to limit ourselves to one visit and consolidated our forces to create an initiative capable of solving more complex tasks. That’s how we created Repair Together.

You have already organised a “clean-up rave” in Yahidne, and had a camp planned in Lukashivka, did that go ahead and what is next on the agenda?

Toloka is an ancient Ukrainian tradition, when people gathered in villages in order to perform some urgent work in a group that required a large number of people. Together with a team of volunteers, we travel through de-occupied Ukrainian settlements and restore destroyed houses of local residents. We have already managed to work in villages: Yahidne, Lukashivka, Budy, Krasne, Ivanivka, Zolotinka, Skorinets, Sloboda and conduct 2 rave-cleanups – Yahidne and Ivanivka.

Rave with electronic music is generally a «point», which has greatly increased the interest of the international community in us. We want to draw the attention of the international community to the importance of restoring the cultural center and the need to rebuild communities affected by the occupation. To return life to the place where they tried to destroy it 💔

Before the war, the house of culture was the center of social life of the community. The center had a library, a children’s theater and a local choir. However, in March, all this was set on fire and destroyed by Russian troops. We want to restore the houses of culture, bring cool initiatives here, maybe do artistic residencies next year and start cultural centers here.

photo by Tania Tetiana

And how do you select locations and liaise with the local population?



We receive requests from the head of the village council, communicate with people and decide which houses need our help the most.

Does Repair Together function mostly on a local level or do you manage to get funds and volunteers from abroad as well?

Repair Together function mostly on a local level, but also we manage to get funds, and volunteers from abroad. A lot of foreigners come to visit us, help us clean up and tell our story at home afterwards. Thus, we already have many friends abroad.

photo by Ярослав

Seven months into the full scale invasion, how does one keep momentum going and how do you deal with burnout?



We recently had a project abroad.”The Stones” is the first project. The open-air exhibition will take place in eighth cities: Amsterdam, Prague, Paris, Warsaw, Vilnius, Kaunas, Klaipeda and Berlin. We will place thousands of posters in each city. To make it happen, about 300 people from these countries (both Ukrainians and locals) joined the organization. And this is a manifestation of solidarity and humanity. We will place per 1000 pieces of bricks from destroyed Ukrainian houses in 6 European capitals with the poster “Imagine that’s all that left from someone’s home”. It will also include information about the size of the destruction after the full-scale invasion of russia into Ukraine.

Maybe we have burnout, but head gets tired and hands continue to do. It’s no time to stop. That is why we try to combine help and recreation like raves. After the victory, we still have a lot of work to do, and life goes on now.

photo by GoLetsGo

How are you preparing for the winter ahead?

In winter, our construction camp will function, we will do internal work in the houses. Maybe we’ll come up with something else.

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 would like people abroad to understand that this is our common war against evil. It is impossible to get tired of war until it is over. We are very grateful to everyone who highlights the struggle of Ukrainians. And helps us with publicity and financially. Сulture is exactly what should be talked about and popularized.

Can rave save culture?

Rave can save the culture. Thus, we want to draw the attention of the international community to the importance of restoring the cultural center and the need to rebuild communities affected by the occupation.

 

FUNDRAISING COMPILATIONS

Unity pt. 3 Afterlife // electronic, techno

Unity Pt. 3 features thirty-nine tracks by a wide range of artists signed to Afterlife.

Proceeds from the release will go to two causes close to the label’s heart. UNICEF Ukraine, which is working to reach vulnerable children and families with essential services – including health, education, protection, water and sanitation – as well as life-saving supplies in Ukraine. Donations are also going to Planned Parenthood, the nonprofit organization Planned Parenthood, who continue to do everything they can to protect the fundamental right for people to decide over their own bodies.

This is the third release of a ‘Unity’ compilation, first started during the pandemic to promote unity and togetherness in a time of widespread isolation.

 

Bootleg Compilation ’21 by Various Artists – Electric Meadow Festival // doom metal, noise rock, post metal

Electric Meadow Festival is under threat. Many of our musicians, friends, relatives are now defending our country UKRAINE, we in turn support them financially. Everyone who buys music on our bandcamp invests their share in protection of Freedom! 100% of raised funds goes to support Ukrainian Armed Forces.

 

Stand With Ukraine by Cookiesounds Gigs // post metal, scream, Odesa

“This is a charity compilation of tracks from bands from different parts of Ukraine and Europe, who played at the gigs of our small DIY booking label in Odesa. All funds raised will go to the largest local humanitarian funds: Humanitarian Volunteer Center in Odesa (HVC) and Корпорация монстров (M Corporation).”

 

Ukrainian Resistance – VA // death metal, trash metal

“The compilation consists of 23 powerful compositions by various Ukrainian artists in the genres of Death Metal and Thrash Metal and a bonus live track. All funds raised from donations will be sent to the Come Back Alive Foundation to help equip Ukrainian Armed Forces and bring our victory closer!”

 

(Gianmarco Del Re)

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