Ukrainian Field Notes XIV

Four Drunkards Riding a Bird – by Mariia Oksentiyivna Prymachenko

Another bumper episode taking us to Kyiv, Ternopil’, Boyarka, Pereiaslav, and Kharkiv, for a whistle stop tour of clubs and parties including ∄, Zhivot, HVLV and Hytek. In the process, we meet a number of artists versed in a variety of genres and musical practices, from experimental to contemporary music and from electronic to fusion.

To open proceedings, we chat to Clasps about PTSD and inclusivity; we discuss music education in schools in Ukraine with Maxim Kolomiets; and we talk to foley artist Radiant Futur about his latest album Hypersensitive, while Anthony Junkoid counts his tattoos, Hyphen Dash explain how music preserves memories, and Yevhenii Loi nurtures a new generation of DJs back in his hometown.

If that wasn’t enough, stonefromthesky touches on the gaming industry; Igor God mixes fundraising with pleasure; Drifted recommends walking outdoors; Asket looks back with nostalgia; and Ann Mysochka confronts fear.

In addition, we listen to both Nina Eba‘s new episode of her vital podcast Air Raid Siren, and the latest mix from система | system for RinseFM courtesy of Kseniia Yanus, Vadym Oliinykov & V.Air95, together with .at/on‘s selection of shuddering electronics for Darkfloor Sound.

As customary, we also present a selection of new releases, including two fundraising compilations hailing directly from Ukraine via Hidden Vibes and Liky Pid Nohamy, as well as three brand new titles on the newly established label Syntes Records.

To close on a thought provoking note, we look at a recent United24 interview with journalist and author Peter Pomerantsev.

 

SEPTEMBER 22 2022 – KYIV

photo by Sasha Polishchuk

Clasps

Hey! My real name is Taras and for around 6 years I have released and performed electronic music as Clasps. My story is pretty much the same as that of many other musicians/producers you’ve spoken to. To begin with, I was so fascinated by the combination of sounds that complemented each other, that anything besides that lost any significance. The interest grew with time, until I decided that the desire to make music was strong enough to finally have a go at it. Without properly diving into the theory, I tried to master the guitar, but ended up as a bass player for a local no-wave band. Soon after, I started to discover and pay more attention to various genres of electronic music, I visited my first raves, and tried applying some samples and synths into the “songs” we played with the band. After we split I went solo and started to work on my own tracks, and here I am now – still convincing others that I can make music (haha).

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

It is the most basic it can be. A laptop with Ableton and a bunch of trusted plugins is the centerpiece of my production and live performances.

In terms of my sound, I would say the balance between heaviness and emotional impact reached by the implementation of melodies.

photo by Sasha Polishchuk

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

First of all, the war showed me who anyone really is, what anyone is capable of and what their boundaries are. The first few months felt like one big and neverending stressful week, leading some friends, relatives and loved ones to take questionable decisions or to act in a way that forced me to distance myself from them. It hit hard. Like many others here, I completely reevaluated society as a whole and the individual in general. There have been many disappointments, but also many surprises at the same time.

It took me a while to recover. Spring and summertime were riddled with classic PTSD symptoms, like being scared of loud noises, extreme anxiety levels, and burn-out, which affected my ability to function properly.

photo by Sasha Polishchuk

You are originally from Ternopil’ but you are now based in Kyiv. Did you remain in the capital throughout the full scale invasion or have you been internally displaced at any point? And how would you describe the current situation on the ground in Kyiv now that many have returned and are preparing for a hard winter ahead?

My first thought on the morning of February 24 was to grab a backpack and move to my hometown. A few hours later, when the panic subsided, I realised that I was not making the right choice and went to the ∄ club where I worked to meet with the crew, discuss the situation and make plans. The part of the team who decided to stay organised the shelter in the most protected part of the building and we lived there till Kyiv became a relatively safe zone. Operating the shelter and volunteering were things that kept up the motivation to do something, limiting the risk of falling into a state of total frustration, but it also completely exhausted us, both from a physical and mental point of view. Right about that time, we realised that it was safe for everyone who had been in the shelter to go home and recharge.

By the end of the summer, there were moments when Kyiv felt almost the same as before the war started: filled with traffic jams and people at the weekend, constant chatter and laughter in bars/coffee shops, daytime events where young people eagerly dance until the curfew starts. But of course, as soon as you hear the air raid siren or check messages and social media (which became one of the main news sources), it immediately transports you back to bitter reality. It really is easier to go through a rough time when the sun shines and the grass is green.

The government already warned us about the potential problems with the district heating systems, and no joke, they advised us to purchase and install some potbelly stoves to get through the winter.

Ukraine Fundraiser VA by Schimmer Records – mastered by Clasps

You have taken part on a number of fundraising albums, not just by contributing tracks, but also lending your mastering skills. How do you feel about Western compilations mostly donating to Unicef and the Red Cross as opposed to local volunteering groups in UA and the Ukrainian army?

Luckily I took part or helped with compilations that donated the profit directly to local initiatives or the army/tactical medics. I was quite surprised by the awareness level of abroad artists/labels who decided to help and picked funds like Come Back Alive (organised by volunteers right after the Donbas war started in 2014) by their own accord. Cases like this warmed my heart and saved me lots of energy, cause I didn’t have to explain why it is important to support the army who protects us RIGHT NOW and local volunteers, who support them RIGHT NOW. Organisations like the International Committee of the Red Cross showed themselves as an ineffective outdated conglomerate that parasites on the funds traditionally allocated to it by its sponsors.

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?

Radiant Futur’s Hypersensetive. I was lucky enough to hear this album before it will be released, so make sure you don’t miss it when it’s out. Ian is known for his live sets with energetic mutant electro, but his talent goes way beyond that. Beautiful, journey-like music for uneasy times.

You have played at Veselka amongst other parties. How would you describe the club scene in Kyiv and how inclusive would you say it is?

The club scene was blooming and getting bigger, brighter, and louder than ever. Kyiv had already put itself confidently on the international clubbing map with various quality venues and festivals, and 2022 was supposed to be the year to cement this reputation.

I must say, by the time the war started, the inclusiveness of the parties had spread beyond Kyiv. Actually, any venue I have played in Ukraine since 2017-18 has been LGBTQIA+ friendly, and organisers have been doing their best to create a safe atmosphere, even in smaller cities. For instance, formations like Neutral in Lviv, have been quite successful with their LGBTQIA+ oriented events.

Lewd Vagrancy (2020) by Clasps – Visual direction by Anton Synytsia

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

Yes, the motivation to write and perform is somewhere around 0.1%.

First of all, it is a big social dilemma right now, and arguing on the topic seems endless, so it is up to each person to decide how appropriate it is for them to party and where to draw the line when it comes to leisure time. I still can’t see myself deejaying the same kind of sets I used to play at parties, or performing my pre-war live material devised for the dancefloor.

The local scene wasn’t built on the protest movement, it mainly copied what was happening in Europe and trend-setting places like Berlin with electronic music being mostly stripped down to its function of “having a good time”. Personally, with everything that is happening in my country on a daily basis, and having friends who are fighting on the frontline, I cannot seem to relate to this kind of culture at present, and feel distanced from it.

That said, the current scene remains active with “good cause” events (daytime parties organised with the aim to collect money and cover various requests from fellow soldiers or volunteers who rebuild damaged houses [with initiatives like Repair Together]), and it is really nice to see this activity – it gives hope that it will grow into something bigger and reformed in terms of goals, values, and messages that the electronic community can latch on to and spread.

photo by Sasha Polishchuk

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?

russian propaganda did a good job feeding bullshit to the citizens of a number of EU countries, to such a scale that is perturbing.

I’ll give an example of a topic I have addressed that sparked a number of reactions and messages from people from abroad, proving just how effective the russian government’s misinformation has been. A few months ago when I shared an Instagram story related to the Azov Regiment for the first time, besides showing how profoundly ignorant they are of even the basics of this war, young people from Southern and Western Europe seriously asked me why I was sharing information about neo-nazis. Somehow, living in countries with the biggest percentage of active far-right political parties and a sizeable number of seats in the parliaments, they were concerned about a battalion that was formed of civilians to fight the russian invasion back in 2014, and has since been officially integrated into the regular army, reforming its chain of command to exclude anyone with any extremist views. Furthermore, Azov has representatives of national and ethnic minorities among its ranks and currently has no single ties with any political powers. The image of AZOV and the myth inflated around it about the influence of the organisation on the political arena was convenient for russia to justify its invasion with the far-fetched goal of de-nazification of Ukraine.

A quick check of the headlines and articles of the EU’s news media left me completely baffled back then: I felt like journalists didn’t even try to do any research, as texts were full of narratives verging on the absurd that you may read or hear on dumpsters like RT. Informational war is another serious battlefield in current times, so, for my Western friends I’d recommend not just skimming facts about the war but to delve deeper.

Perrla (2019) by Clasps – Cover photo by Dima Tolkachov

How do you unwind and what makes you laugh nowadays?

Playing an instrument calms me down greatly. I have a bass guitar at home that served me as a sort of anti-stress pill during the anxious weeks. Attending some local metal / hardcore shows to see friends and let some steam off, made me think that this kind of music is more suited to current events, and of course, awakened an inner urge to play something distorted-guitar-centered (ha-ha).

Also, work, and especially work that one finds purposeful, is one of the best ways to free oneself from overwhelming thoughts. And that is why, lately, I’ve been pretty busy working with the great team who started the independent radio project Gasoline where I run a monthly show dedicated to hip-hop – my longtime obsession and genre, that actually brought me to deejaying.

Looking back to the glorious past is not really my kind of thing, but these coming-back-to-where-I’ve-started-from moments seem like a result of looking for a comfort zone for the mind due to a general traumatic experience. At least it works, right?

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

I look at the people who stayed here throughout, at those who devotedly and fiercely volunteer, who participate in projects to support all aspects of a fully functioning State, including cultural ones, who work tirelessly in spite of all adversity, and support others when they themselves have practically no inner resources left, and this gives me strength to carry on.

Probably, no one in my circle can confidently make plans for the near future. We clearly understand that all our plans can fall apart in a single brief moment. Nevertheless, we have high hopes and certainties about the unique and staggering things that await Ukraine in the future, once we win this war.

photo by Sasha Polishchuk

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

I will try to find a balance between capturing Ukraine and my personal preferences:

Book: Tiger Trappers by Ivan Bahrianyi
Album: Come, Angel by Ihor Cymbrows’kyj
Film: The Tribe by Myroslav Slaboshpytskyi
Traditional dish: Deruny (with mushrooms and sour cream…oh,boy)
Blog: instagram.com/naivegates
Artwork: Maria Prymachenko
Building: Ukrainian House on Khreshchatyk Street
Meme: Any “Tired of Living Through Major Historical Events” meme

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

Ask DJ Nastia where her tear jerking patriotism was when she played in moscow’s Mutabor a month before the full-scale invasion started.

Jokes aside, I think you have to interview Raavel. This guy truly amazes me and he is a REAL impersonation of the Ukrainian electronic scene.

 

SEPTEMBER 26 2022 – GERMANY

photo by Sasha Pais

Maxim Kolomiets

I am Maxim Kolomiets, composer, oboist, and performer. I have been studying classical music since the age of six. In fact, for as long as I can remember. I have always been interested in the emotional and psychological aspects of music and its impact on our emotional development. Everything I do in music is related to it in one way or another. In fact, it is not so important for me whether I play the oboe, write a score or play the synthesizer, it is always important for me to create a special emotional, unique state. At present, I’m writing a lot for various ensembles, choirs or orchestras, I’m exploring various possibilities in the field of electronic music, and I am also performing as a solo oboist.

Where do you draw inspiration from when composing and what would you say is the defining feature of your music?

The best inspiration for me, which always works great, is a deadline. This is a joke, of course. But seriously, I’ve never had a problem with ideas. I always have a lot of them. The difficulties arise mainly in their ordering and my ability to accurately convey those emotions – often quite complex – that I aim to recreate.

As a defining feature of my music, I would say flexibility. I try not to interfere with the music. And in my work I try not to deny any of the possible options for its development. Music is a flow that I just let be itself.

photo by Sasha Pais

How would you describe the Ukrainian classical and contemporary music scene and does it benefit from enough investment from Ukrainian institutions?

I would define the Ukrainian music scene as self-contained. The good thing is that Ukrainian musicians and composers can endlessly go deep and reflect on their work, without having to worry about the global context and institutions. And often, thanks to this, they produce music that cannot be heard elsewhere. And this is a positive thing. On the other hand, the Ukrainian scene is very conservative, and slow in accepting the best examples of world musical culture. Most of us still perceive modern works of music that have entered the canon to be “contemporary”, while real contemporary music is by and large completely ignored. Still, there is a small number of composers who manage to break through placing Ukrainian music onto the world stage at a high level.

As for investments from Ukrainian institutions, I have to say that we have almost no institutions supporting composers and musicians on a permanent basis. There are individual initiatives of independent cultural organisations that create very important and interesting projects. But this is more like private initiatives than systematic work. Summing up, I would have to say that no, investments are critically insufficient. Even worse. They are almost nonexistent.

photo by Sasha Pais

Is enough being done in Ukraine in terms of musical education at school?

Interestingly, in Europe, I came across the fact that Ukrainian school education is very strong. And certainly not worse than in other European countries. Quite a few of our musicians have gone through the so-called “ten years” school, where they receive a comprehensive musical education, which includes knowledge in the field of music theory, harmony, piano, musical literature and many other musical subjects, which ultimately leads to the formation of a comprehensively developed musician. The same cannot be said about our higher education, which is usually the focus of conservatism and dislike of music. This forces many of the best musicians from Ukraine to go abroad to get an education in Europe or in the US.

photo by Sasha Pais

What impact has the war had on you both on a personal and professional level?

Like so many fellow Ukrainians, after the start of the full-scale war, I felt unable to do anything for the first month or so. I was devastated and had no understanding of what I should do or even how to get by. Being a composer and musician, I felt powerless. After all, my music couldn’t stop the tanks and the bombings. Music does not stop the killing of people, nor does it make the lives of loved ones safe.

I tried to be a volunteer. Which for various reasons was a bad experience. But in the end, I realised that, were I to stop writing music, and stop creating, then it will be possible to say that I have been personally defeated, that I’ve lost the war within myself. It took me about a month to realise this, but after that, I started to compose a lot. And since that time I have written quite a lot of pieces. Now, when my people are defending their freedom on the military front, I am trying to be useful to my country on the cultural front. I compose and give talks, representing Ukraine wherever there is such an opportunity.


Where are you now and have you been displaced at any point since the full scale invasion of February 24?

February 24 I was at home. And I spent the first three months of the war in Ukraine. I am currently in Germany and touring.

 

photo by Sasha Pais

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?

First of all, I would like to thank everyone who helps Ukraine. All caring people who have been and remain with us all these months. Your help is invaluable and without it we would have had a much harder time. In general, I see that common sense wins and Ukraine continues to receive invaluable support from the United States and Europe. I really hope that this support will continue to grow.

What I would characterise as problematic is the attempt by many European politicians to represent russia and the russian people as victims, or at least to share the blame between Ukraine and russia, who is, in fact, the real aggressor. This is a monstrous and shameful shift in emphasis. The suppression of russia’s crimes, or the attempt to justify them undermines the basic principles of the very existence of Europe: the inviolability of borders, international law, and basic human rights.

Only the victory of Ukraine in this war will help to avoid the genocide of the Ukrainian people and russia’s invasion of neighboring countries. And the call not to supply weapons to Ukraine because it prolongs the war – which we often hear from some politicians – is a betrayal against Ukraine and humanity in general. Because an unarmed Ukraine will lose this war, and the russian monster will proceed with genocide on the rest of our land – as it already did in Mariupol, Izyum, Severodonetsk – and it will not stop there. The Baltic countries will be next.

photo by Elza Zherebchuk

How do you unwind and what makes you laugh nowadays?

Frankly, I don’t remember the last time I relaxed over the past few months. Basically, my relaxation is a cup of tea in the evening, before embarking the next day on a new project. I always try to keep in mind that no matter how hard it gets for me, it will always be much harder for our soldiers on the front line. This gives me strength and keeps me on my toes. And what makes me laugh is any defeat of the russian army.

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

What the war taught me is to be able to work in any given situation and accept all circumstances. Live like it’s the last five minutes of your life, because the next moment a rocket may fall and everything that seems important to you now will be destroyed. But life always goes on. And enjoying the current moment – whatever it may be – is the best thing to do in our situation. I do not know what will happen this winter and where I will spend it. But I know that I will do my best to remain myself, not to betray myself. To keep my loved ones safe and prosperous.

photo by Sasha Pais

This is a question suggested by Volodymyr Voyt, “Is there a gap between art and life? And is it possible for art to be an escape from life, or, on the contrary, it serves as an introduction to it?”

This is a very important question that I have been trying to answer all my life. At a certain moment, I realised that the problem with the work of a huge number of authors – both in music, and in literature, as well as the visual arts – is that the authors are trying to escape from life and take the listener, or the reader with them. I realised that this is a treacherous approach. The creator inspires the listener that there is some other world besides ours. That that world is better than ours. As a result, creativity turns into an escape. But an escape to nowhere, because – I believe – there is no other world. Moreover, there is no world BETTER than ours. Because everything we need is already in our world. And this world is exactly the way we built it. And it is so, because it was WE who built it. Therefore, trying to escape from this world is a betrayal not just in relation to this world. This is a betrayal of ourselves. Because this world is WE. Therefore, in my work, I want to escape into OUR world. To show that it is beautiful and we do not need any other.

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

Sofiya Andrukhovych’s novel Amadoka.

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

Alla Zagaykevych.

 

SEPTEMBER 27 2022 – KYIV

Radiant Futur

Hello. My name is Ian Yeriomenko, I was born in the city of Cherkasy, which is located in central Ukraine, and I currently live in Kyiv. I have been writing music for over 15 years, and for the last 4 years, I have also been working as a foley artist.

What is your setup and what would you say is the defining feature of your sound? 

At the moment I use Vermona Drm1 Mk3 and Waldorf Blofeld synthesizers, for effects I use Lexicon MX200, spring reverb tank, Ableton live for arranging, recording, and mixing.

I am inspired by cyberpunk aesthetics, 80s and 90s movies, classic science fiction, and outer space, and I like to explore the social interaction of humanity through the prism of history and scientific progress. So my sound is like the soundtrack to a sci-fi movie filmed in the year 3022.

You are a foley artist as well as a musician. How much of a crossover is there between the two different practices in your case? Also, are you still able to work as a foley artist under present circumstances? 



In music production, I also use field recordings and recordings in the foley studio. Foley work helped me to look at the process of creating music in a different way. And not only in technical terms but also as a designer and director. Currently, in addition to the main project Radiant Futur, I also started two other projects that are more related to foley. One project is devoted to dance and experimental music – it will be a mixture of synthesizers, voice, guitar, and recorded sounds. Another project will be dedicated to pure foley – it will be experiments with sound textures and audio novels.

As a foley artist, I work with foreign customers. I was lucky to return to work after our Armed Forces pushed back the front line from Kyiv. But for the most part, people in the creative sphere lost their jobs and do not currently have an income, or had to change their field of activity.

What has the impact of war been on you both on a professional and personal level?



Apparently, I became more disciplined. I try to keep some sort of balance so that I have enough strength for everything. I try to do yoga and physical exercises every day. Walking also helps shift focus and look at a problem differently. I’ve also been into analog photography for quite some time and do a bit of filming on a mini-dv camera, which also helps me relax.

You have put out three albums with unreleased tracks from your archive since February 24th. In what way would you say the war has changed your relationship with music?

Until February 24, I had a serious emotional breakdown that lasted for several years. I couldn’t finish the material, and in general, everything got to the point where I didn’t understand how I made music and why I was making music. Like many other people, when the invasion began, I could not even think about composing anything. But I accumulated a lot of unreleased tracks, and I suddenly realised that I could die at any moment and no one would be able to listen to my music anymore. Since I couldn’t work on the production side of things, I decided to post some of the tracks as they were – raw and unfinished. I selected some of the unfinished demos, it turned out to be 2 albums and an EP. They are available on bandcamp, friends transfer the proceeds to their PayPal account and transfer it to me (unfortunately, business PayPal still does not work in Ukraine), and then I give the money to the army or volunteers.

The war changed my attitude not so much to music but to life. That’s why the music has changed. But it took a little time to see any concrete changes. I guess I started to understand more about why I make music, and what I want to say. There is a lot of interesting work ahead, I hope you will hear it 🙂

You have a new album coming out on Muscut, Hypersensitive. Was it produced entirely after the full scale invasion and how much of it speaks of current events?

This is quite an exciting story. I had several tracks that I wrote as a soundtrack to a short film, but they were never used as the filmmaker decided not to use any music. This was before February 24. These tracks were then included in albums and EPs that I posted on SoundCloud and Bandcamp. Later, one of these tracks, “Journey In The Deepest Of The Eyes”, was included by Dima Nikolayenko on a fundraising compilation on his Muscut label. And a little later, Dima offered to release an ambient album in a style similar to the track. It also helped me to return to work with music – it put meaning to continue my life’s work. This is my first album, it is about rethinking yourself at the most critical moment. I wanted to create a feeling of a safe and saturated space with dreamy associations and pleasant emotions, which is so lacking in real life now.

Where are you now and have you been displaced by war at any point since February 24?


I’ve been in Kyiv throughout.

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?


Periodically, I come across strange theses, in the Western information space, as if we have a civil war. Or that there is a territorial conflict here and we have to give something, and everything will end immediately. This is all false. Any manipulation on the topic that we are part of the empire and we are one people – this is a propaganda weapon, pure lies. For us, the war did not start in February 2022, and not only in 2014 (when the Russian army seized Crimea and sponsored the conflict in Donbas with money and military equipment). What is happening in Ukraine has historical roots for more than several centuries. This is a centuries-long genocide of the Ukrainian ethnic group, its language, and its culture. But we all remember one madman who wanted to solve the “issue of ethnicity” in the last century – and how did it all end?

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

It’s probably borsch.

Also the work of Vsevolod Nestaiko – Toreadors from Vasyukivka, Vasyl Barka – Yellow Prince, Valerian Pidmohylny – The City.

I have also recently been reading about the history of Ukrainian cybernetics, it is quite interesting.

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

Taras (Clasps)
Anton (Louwave)
Timur (Splinter UA)

 

SEPTEMBER 26 2022 – KYIV

photo by Akim Karpach

Hyphen Dash

We’re Hyphen Dash – an experimental trio from Kyiv. Our project started back in 2019 when I (Misha – drummer and bandleader) decided to create a musical environment where I could express my own ideas and emotions freely and be the one whose lead is followed. The initial idea was to make a duo with Daniel Zubkov (keys, synths, guitar), who also has his own indie project called Lucas Bird, but after our first show we decided to invite Zhenya (guitar, bass) to make music together and that’s the core of HD ever since.

Zhenya graduated from the R. Glier Kyiv Municipal Academy of Music. Daniel is mostly self-taught, with a music school being his only formal education.

I’ve never studied music, and only had a few drum teachers who were guiding me. Only after creating Hyphen Dash and gathering these outstanding creators within one band, I’ve started to discover music with true passion.

What is your studio setup and how do you translate this to a live context, and what would you say is the defining feature of your sound?

Our studio setup is pretty simple – we created it mostly by ourselves, with some technical help from our sound engineer, and a good friend of ours, Andrii Shakhadynets. Andrii is an expert in sound engineering and is known for his work with famous Ukrainian and international symphonic orchestras and jazz artists. With his technical help, we can practice and record demos in one place. We are lucky to have such a person in our team, because it would take us years to be able to afford and set up all the gear he lets us use.

The main feature of our sound is freedom and constant willingness to experiment. If one of us notices other members repeating themselves, we discuss it openly and try to avoid it at any cost.

photo by Akim Karpach

If the main function of music is to transmit experiences and emotions, how does one convey the magnitude of war? 

Since the full-scale invasion of russian idiots (henceforth FSIRI) we experienced a wide range of emotions from deep pain to real excitement, and in every performance we’re trying to put all of this into every note.

We have a tune called “Dead”, and for us it’s a manifestation of all the pain we feel and want to express through music. Although it was written in 2021, this song became much more relevant now, not because of its title, but because of the emotion it evokes.

Also, if it is designed to preserve memories, what are the sounds and music you will mostly associate from this particular moment in history?

To me it’s Steve Reich. Every time I listen to his music, I think about history repeating itself, and about humanity in general. Speaking of sounds that symbolise the current historical moment, it could be the sound of a volcano erupting or a storm at sea – like when you’re afraid that something is about to happen and have to be alert.

And if music is sound organized in a timeline, what happens when the traditional parameters and time and space get subverted by war?

Talking about the Ukrainian tradition in music, it is high time to leave all the shit forced by russian culture behind and to remember and preserve our own music/sound/tradition. There are still so many things we don’t know about, and I hope to become more educated about Ukrainian traditional music. I honestly recommend Ukrainians to check out the Rys project – a Ukrainian educational project led by traditional musicians, folklorists, and researchers of our traditional music. They have a great Instagram account and a series of podcasts on different topics.

Zhenya

Can one ever combine experimentation with pop music?

Sure! And that’s what we’re trying to accomplish. It’s a great challenge for contemporary artists in different genres to try making pop music and not lose their identity. The track “Twisted Mind” featuring Anton Kramer, is our first attempt to do something like that.

This question comes from Igor aka Hidden Element, “How do you unite old-school and a new generation of jazz musicians in your events?”

Very simple – gather three musicians with absolutely different experiences and musical taste.

Has the war changed your relationship to music in terms of motivation and even down to your playlist?

The relationship hasn’t changed I guess, but all our projects were definitely put on hold for a couple of months after FSIRI. It was difficult to even listen to music when the total war began, but now we are all trying to figure out how to deal with this new reality.

Misha

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? 

Sure – here is the list we came up with 🙂

  1. Oi FUSK – по кому подзвін?
  2. Andrey Barmaley – Sobornist
  3. Sasha Chemerov – Полями
  4. jockii druce – Будем Снідать

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

Physically most of the time we’re in Kyiv. Emotionally we’re somewhere between balance and deep depression. Our priorities have definitely changed.

Daniel

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 problem/mission now is to not let our Western neighbors and partners forget that the war is still going on, that civilians and soldiers are dying every day, and children get injured and killed or left without their parents. This is terrible.

As to asking… maybe just stop asking Google anything with the prefix ‘russian’, lol.

You have actively been fundraising since February 24. How would you say the international music community has responded to the war? 

It’s an exaggeration to say “actively” but we are definitely trying to do our bit. From the first day of FSIRI we were more into volunteering, but now we’re trying to support our army and medical workers after every concert in Ukraine and abroad. I saw a lot of musicians posting some supportive content, but it was only during the first two months. Now nobody cares, I guess, and that’s the problem – artists are trying to stay away from such serious issues. In my opinion, as an artist or just an influencer, you have to choose a side and stick to it at all times. Now there is only black and white.

How do you unwind and what makes you laugh nowadays? 

The team, our families, and music – our main secret is to take a deep breath and recharge ourselves. As a team, we can find a lot of stupid things to laugh at.

What is your current mindset and how are you preparing for the winter ahead? 

WE HAVE TO BUY A HEATER, lol. Now the Ukrainian government is asking all citizens to prepare themselves and their living for the cold and dangerous winter. An effective heater is the main thing we’re thinking about in the context of winter 🙂

Now we are working on a new set of songs for our next show in Kyiv in October. Also, hopefully, we’ll have an opportunity to play a few more gigs in Europe this autumn and winter. Music is the main source of income for most of us, so we are happy to have an opportunity to tour with our music, even if it’s 1-2 gigs every few months.

photo by Yana Franz

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

In general, as Ukrainians, we are proud of our ironic perception of ourselves as a nation, and it’s inspiring to see that our people don’t even think about giving up and continue supporting each other with kind words, sending memes/nudes/jokes/music.

A great discovery for me was “Ukrainian Music Heritage” (Шедеври Українскої Эстради). It’s a five-volume masterpiece comprising sixty-six of the greatest songs of Ukrainian popular music from the 1950s through the 1980s restored and published by Key Sound Records. Original recordings were provided by the National Radio Company of Ukraine, saved and digitized by the Kraina Mriy record label team, and managed by Ukrainian musician and vocalist, Oleg Skrypka from the band “Vopli Vidopliassova“.

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

Zhenya recommended talking to our friend Andrii Barmalii and asking him, “What exactly makes Ukrainian musicians different from the those from the rest of the world?”.

For me, it’s Fusion Jams community, a part of which I’m honored to be. Ask them, “How is it to build a new jazz and hip-hop community in modern Ukraine?”

 

SEPTEMBER 28 2022 – PEREIASLAV

Yevhenii Loi

Hi! My name is Yevhenii Loi. I am from Ukraine. I have always been immersed in music because my main activity is dancing. I started to write music in 2018, only sharing the first results this year.

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

During the last year my studio moved 5 times. And every time I had to adapt to the vibrations. So the defining quality of my sound is my ears.

Under current circumstances, the title of your new album, I’m here. I am alive. I Love could be seen as defiant. In the liner notes you reveal that it was a long time in the making and that you started working on it long before air raid sirens became a regular feature of the soundscape of daily life in Ukraine. Did the full scale invasion alter any elements of its sound, or was the album already done and dusted? And what can you tell us about its inspiration?

I’ve had the phrase “I’m here. I am alive. I love” tattooed on my body a long time ago. Now it has become more topical than ever. That is why I chose it as the title of my album.

Only the opening track “Elastic Bounce” was made before the war. The rest were written during the summer of 2022, after the full scale invasion. It was a difficult time. I tried to forget everything and dived into the music. I was inspired by people, their stories, by my own experiences, and the signs of life… everything you can hear in that palette of sounds. During the production of I am here. I’m alive. I love I changed my usual approach and tried something new. Compared to my previous works, it signals a step forward, in my opinion).

 

What impact has the full scale invasion had on you both on a professional and a personal level?



The war did affect me on a professional level because, when I was creating the music, I constantly had to consider every new step very carefully, and did not give myself time to relax as I used to. I probably approached the process with even more love and dedication.

You know, there were different thoughts that crossed my mind at the time, most often during the sessions when the air raid siren sounded, I thought that everything could end at any moment. I experienced feelings that were new to me and that propelled me forward. Several times during the air raids, I had to stop the process and return to reality. Or was reality in the process itself?! Don’t know.

On a personal level, war is very difficult.

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

I had a lot of free time that I could devote to my creative practice. And the more time I spent on the project, the more motivation I got. Especially when the results were visible.

And yes, the full scale invasion did affect my playlist. Definitely. I began to listen more and more to young Ukrainian artists, who have plenty to say. It’s slightly different music. Music where the text is in the foreground.

Back in March you released Everything Will Be Ukraine, two tracks dedicated to the strength and spirit of the Ukrainian Army and the Ukrainian People with proceeds going to the army. Can music be a weapon and how do you see the response of the international music community to the war? 



A week after the invasion, I tried making music for the first time. I started a project that had no name. Then it became Everything will be Ukraine and I found in its sound the power, the strength of our army and people.

I believe that culture is a powerful weapon. I’m grateful to all those who in the civilized world have been helping Ukraine through music and not only. Because Ukraine is now fighting for peace all over the world. For culture around the world. My reaction to the help of the international music community is only positive. And once again, I’d like to say 🙏🏻 thank you 🙏🏻.

How do you feel about the number of fundraising compilations out there, with the ones from the West favouring big organisations like Unicef and the Red Cross over local grassroots volunteering efforts, or indeed the Army?

In terms of fundraising compilations that give funds to large organisations, I would rather they’d establish contacts directly with Ukrainian volunteers, who devolve 100% of all proceeds to the people. I don’t trust the Red Cross and other large organisations. I trust our volunteers and see the results.

You are also part of the promo group Connected. How did this come about and what do you have in store? 



Connected is a promotional group that I set up with my colleagues [Frank Bilchik and Sasha Petrov] in order to hold parties, play more often, and share our collections. Unfortunately, at the moment we are all scattered all over the place so, for the time being, Connected is currently on pause. But that doesn’t stop us from keeping in touch.

You are a mentor at Kimnata32. How important is it for you to pass on the knowledge you have gained in your hometown of Pereiaslav and what have you learnt from teaching deejaying?

After returning to my hometown, I was fascinated by the idea of opening a DJ school. There are two reasons behind this:
1. This has never happened in my city in 1115 years.
2. I see young people here, what they do and don’t do, where they go, what they study, I watch what kind of music they listen to, I ask why and I hear not what I would like. That’s why I want to show people a few more directions in music and open up new avenues for them. To date, I have a couple of students for whom I opened the curtain.

Of course, the process itself and the desire of people to learn new things are pleasing me.

How would you describe the Ukrainian electronic scene?

We are moving so fast. There will be more soon.

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


My home is always my hometown, to which I returned on 24.02.  Before returning, I was never at home, as I was always on tour around the world (Europe, USA) with the ballet in which I worked.

How do you unwind and what makes you laugh nowadays?

Over the past half year, I don’t remember when I felt relaxed. Probably when I sleep. If not during my sleep, then in the company of friends talking about music, dancing and upcoming plans)

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

Unfortunately now it is difficult to think about the future. Or about a good future. Nobody knows what will happen tomorrow. But I think about it and recommend anyone do the same. And I’m sure we all will have a good future! I’m getting ready for winter. Bought a space heater.

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

Book: Kobzar by Taras Grigorievich Shevchenko.
Film: Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors.
The album hasn’t been written yet.
Traditional dish: Borsch, Varenyky.
Works of art: Motherland Monument.
Building: Batʹkivshchyna mother Kyiv. Ukraine – Evgeny Viktorovich Vuchetich.
Meme: “Lenin”))

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

I would like you to contact Oleksii Shatalov, a wonderful person who helped me a lot on my musical path.

 

SEPTEMBER 28 2022 – KYIV

stonefromthesky

Hi! My name is Oleksii Zinchenko. I make music and perform under the alias stonefromthesky. I’m based in Kyiv, Ukraine. Genre-wise, my music is a mix of trip-hop, breakbeat, IDM and experimental at the moment. I love to combine atmospheric textures and low bass while juxtaposing organic samples and field recordings with “cold” technogenic synthesized sounds. Also, I’m a big fan of putting acoustic sounds into unexpected contexts.

Aside from my artistic output I compose music and do sound design for video games and motion pictures.

While working with this project, I managed to release several EPs, a full-length album, a soundtrack for the Undungeon video game, a couple of collaborations with filmmakers and a bunch of remixes. My new album should be out by the end of this year provided there is no nuclear attack.

What is your setup and what would you say is the defining feature of your sound?

My setup is mostly software-based with occasional addition of hardware stuff. I believe that limitation is a great factor for finishing art, thus I try to keep my setup minimal and kind of thematic to different projects I’m working on. My DAW of choice is Ableton Live mostly because I’m lightning-fast with it. For my sound sources I use anything that is right for the job: from plain guitars, synths and pedals, to much more sophisticated stuff like Max/MSP, Reaktor, SuperCollider, etc. I’m a huge fan of effect chains because I feel they stimulate my creativity the most.

Gear talk aside, I think that the defining feature of my sound is not about what synth or guitar, or plugin I use. It’s about ideas, experience, musical taste, and thousands of hours that I’ve put into my work.

What has working for the gaming industry taught you about music production?

You have to be fast and flexible. Video game development is a fluid process. Ideas come and go, and morph constantly. Thus you have to adapt the music to this always changing process. Production-wise, there’s usually no place for delicate stuff as there will be lots of sound effects covering this ground. Also, it is expected that music has to change according to the player’s actions. So, a piece of music for a video game is not a “track” as you might expect, but rather a collage of parts that come and go according to what happens on-screen.

photo by Catherine Kaminchuk

What has the impact of war been on you both on a professional and personal level?



The war leaves a mark on you. At best, it’s only psychological. You become a different person, more rugged and perhaps more jaded, and it’s hard not to lose humanity.

 

Has your relationship to music changed since the full scale invasion, both in terms of motivation and even down to your playlist, and have you been able to produce new material in the past six months?

I haven’t been able to listen to music for at least a month since the beginning of the war. It required too much effort. Most of my friends share the same experience. Making music was also irrelevant at that point. However, as time went by, I found that this void needs to be filled. Making music is an anchor for my sanity. I feel that the war gave my ideas new weight and purpose.

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’m not following any Western media. We have too much local news at the moment.

If I were to point out anything to the Western audience though, it’s the fact that Russian politics is all about smoke and mirrors. For them it’s more important to seem dangerous than to be so. They will continue to make big bold threats just to keep everyone in fear while fucking up in every possible way. I feel that it’s obvious to Ukrainians but may still not be so clear in the West.

photo by Catherine Kaminchuk

How do you unwind and what makes you laugh nowadays?

I like good comedy as much as the next guy, but what warms my heart dearly is the success of the Ukrainian Armed Forces in the battlefield and the failures of the “2nd best army in the world”.

If you could compose a new score for any existing film, which one would you choose?

Tough question. My favorite movies usually already have a great soundtrack that is an integral part of the film. If I were to “enhance” the classics, I would compose for, say, Alien or Se7en. An obvious contender from the recent films is Denis Villeneuve’s Dune. Although I would rather compose for something new than existing. Anything by Christopher Nolan or David Fincher if we are talking about big names.

Do you still feel like an “outlaw outcast”?

That’s a decade-old running joke. I guess, nowadays I feel more like an “outcast outlaw”.

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

None of the above. I feel that the essence of Ukraine is in its soil, nature, and ancient things. You will learn more about this country if you spend time, for example, in the Carpathians or Kholodny Yar rather than in any tourist attraction of Kyiv or Lviv. This land has a tough history full of hardship.

Who should I interview next?

 

SEPTEMBER 28 2022 – TERNOPIL’

Igor God

Hello. My name is Luda (aka Igor God). I am a DJ from Ternopil, Ukraine. I started playing at local parties 2 years ago. All my sets mainly have a loaded and brutal sound, I love industrial motifs.

Could you introduce Hytek and put it into context within the electronic music scene in Ukraine, and how do you see the scene developing under current circumstances?


HYTEK is a Ternopil’ party that combines a classic setup, with its own spirit and atmosphere, nostalgic synthesis of industrial remnants with something new, unknown, current.

Our concept is a minimalist light design on the dance floor, cold industrial buildings and an emphasis on modernist art. This is our vision of the party, which consists not only in music, but also in light, high-quality sound, art, and comfort for the audience.

Due to current circumstances, it has become more difficult for the scene to develop, but that’s not to say that it is impossible. Organisers of various events want to contribute to the war effort, so all events have a fundraising ethos.

Hytek has been fundraising for the Armed Forces. How does one keep the momentum going and avoid burnout?

Before the full-scale invasion, it was a dream for us to perform in Lviv, especially since a part of our team lives there. The dream came true, but the goal changed – to raise funds for the charity fund Musicians Defend Ukraine. We send 100% of the proceeds to them and post proof of bank transfers.

We were able to collect UAH 35,000 [957.43 Euro], which galvanised us and inspired us to plan several more events to support the Ukrainian army. Burnout is not even an option.

What impact has the war had on you, both on a personal and professional level?

After the full-scale invasion, things changed considerably. Everyone was scared, the winter was very long. For a long time I couldn’t even listen to music, I didn’t feel safe anywhere. Over time, we began to get used to the new reality, to adapt to the constant sounds of air raid sirens, and the terrible news reports. As summer approached, some formations in the west of Ukraine began to hold small daytime events to collect funds for the army. At first, there were some doubts whether it was even appropriate to hold such events, but we soon understood that we could serve the cause, and after our own party, we realised how much we all needed and benefited from this, both us and the audience. A good way to combine fundraising with pleasure. It felt like a liberation.

Has the war changed your relationship to music in terms of motivation and even down to your playlist?

As I’ve already mentioned, straight after the full-scale invasion, I couldn’t even put my headphones on. This lasted for over three months, but everywhere they played patriotic songs, on the radio, television, etc. So, over time, I slowly started to return to music.

My musical tastes have not changed much, except that I have now started to go for slightly quieter tracks.

Are there any releases by Ukrainian artists since the war that you feel are especially poignant and any tracks you feel should be global hits? 



There are a lot of talented performers and musicians around, I especially like the band Ragapop with their track “Gordosti” and Cepasa’s “Better With You“. Also music by Anton Louwave, and Timur Splinter (UA), who runs the Corridor Audio label.

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

I live in Ternopil’, I have not had to flee myself, but together with my parents and relatives I have hosted internally displaced people. And their stories about what happened in their hometowns were terrifying.

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 cannot answer this question, I can only say that we are grateful to everyone who helps our country in any way in such difficult times.

How do you unwind and what makes you laugh nowadays?

Probably, the best thing to do at present is to go to work and relax with a cup of coffee afterwards. Every morning, news about the number of destroyed enemy equipment is comforting.

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


My mood is a constant emotional swing. But I try not to lose heart. To prepare for winter, I have been buying warm clothes. Probably like every other Ukrainian, I hope for the best.

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

Ukraine has a lot going for it. It is a beautiful country, with wonderful people, picturesque nature, delicious food, strong boys and beautiful girls. People live, create and develop here. One can talk for a long time about all the beautiful things that can be found here.

The best dish is, of course, borscht. Every household has its one way of preparing it. I can’t imagine life without borscht.

The book, probably, Ivan Bagryany’s Tiger Hunters. It describes the difficult life of Ukrainian heroes. Wherever they were sent, they always remembered their native land and longed to return home.

Many works of art describe Ukraine beautifully. Unfortunately, they are often sad, because the Ukrainian people often experienced grief. I would single out Maria Priymachenko’s “Our Army, Our Guardians” as a good example.

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

I want to tell you about two beautiful residents of Ternopil’.

The first one is Lesyk, who created the charity Musicians Defend Ukraine to support musicians currently fighting in the Army. It was precisely to this organisation that we donated the money collected at the last HYTEK party. Lesyk and his band LOVE’N’JOY have recently gone on a fundraising tour of Europe.

And the second one is Jaroslav Kačmarśkyj aka DJ Zavgoth, who also does not sit still, conducts charity events and tours Europe to raise money for the army.

You should have plenty to talk about with them.

 

SEPTEMBER 29 2022 – BOYARKA

Performing at На_Часі fest, in juny, Kyiv

Anthony Junkoid

My name is Anton Shmargovych, I’m 44. I was born in the small town of Zhovti Vodi, at the age of 16 I moved to Kyiv, in the suburbs of which I still live today.

I became seriously interested in music from the age of 14 or 15, and quite quickly I realised how amazing and diverse this phenomenon is, which you can study all your life.

In 2011-16, I published (in one of the social networks – Vkontakte) my reviews of music that was interesting to me. Thanks to these texts, I met many interesting people, not only musicians.

Among the readers of my texts were the guys who founded 20ft radio – in 2017 they invited me to host my own show, and I had to become a DJ  🙂

You are a known media-researcher interested in various fields, including occult practices, ufology, cryptozoology, new media, unpopular world music, etc. Are you just a bit of a weirdo or rather the guardian angel of the Kyiv underground scene?

I just do what I like, explore the world and myself and see the meaning of life in this. The fact that my efforts are interesting not only to me, but also to others, inspires me very much and fills me with faith and strength. I try to share this inspiration with people as much as possible.

With 20ft Radio crew, june, Kyiv

You also curate UNAUSSPRECHLICHEN KULTEN at 20ft radio, where you’ve been delving into the Ukrainian musical heritage with mixes ranging from blissful art-rock to melodious electro-ballads whilst also exploring the gloomy field of the experimental scene. How far “out there” would you say Ukrainian music is and where would you position it in an international context?

Modern Ukraine is a young country that became independent 30 years ago and is creating its newest history and identity right here and now, and it seems to me that Ukrainian music fully reflects this difficult process, combining a sincere desire for freedom, vitality and a special spirituality.

Of course, the modern electronic / experimental scene in Ukraine does not have a successfully developed infrastructure, there are few suitable venues for live performances, many musicians do not even know about each other, and some do not even intend to release their music at all… but the most remarkable thing is that while it lack all of this, it is equally devoid of the global commercialisation of creative practices, routine rave and decorative festivals, and emotional satiety.

With Ross Khmil, friend of mine, Boyarka, march, the clear blue sky above us was often covered in traces of missiles and other aerial bombs

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?

Here are some of these releases:

Fundraiser compilation: ВОЛЯ from Muscut, collected in the best traditions of this wonderful label.

Collection from the fresh label Liky Pid Nohamy – somnambulistic pop music played by unfamiliar jazzmen on a deserted beach.

Take, debut EP by tofudj – ambivalent ambient recursion between airy groove and crumbling beats.

Trickster-idm and illbient-cuts from the ejekt label.

Performing at На Часі fest, in June, Kyiv

How has the war influenced your playlist, if at all?

Didn’t affect me in any way. Although at the very beginning I did not want to listen to anything openly carefree or danceable.

What impact has the full scale invasion had on you both on a professional and personal level?

I lost the opportunity to earn as a DJ. My girlfriend was forced to leave the country and is not with me now. The russian invasion itself did not scare me much (as strange as it may sound) – it was bound to happen sooner or later, I felt it.

Instead of fear and panic, I felt an incredible sense of unity with all those close and distant alike, I was able to feel the real pricelessness of human life and realised that many of the usual human beliefs are artificial and imposed by the surrounding reality.

 

wooden bridge in forest near my home, april, Boyarka

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

From the beginning of the war to date, I have been in Boyarka, 25 km from Kyiv, with my parents. Our house is located near the forest, from the window I see lakes and a huge sky, which was trembling from explosions and rocket flashes back in April.

How does one preserve one’s own mental health under present circumstances? And what makes you laugh nowadays?

Do not panic, keep your head screwed on, communicate with your loved ones and walk outdoors more often. And of course, read all the memes on the topic, there are a huge number of them in Ukraine now, most of them are really funny and very vital. I am sure that this Ukrainian ability for self-irony and irony in general is the most important factor for a healthy psyche.

January in Boyarka

How many tattoos do you have and have you had new ones done since the full scale invasion?

Finally an interesting question. 🙂
I’ve never counted them, now I have to – 22, it seems.
Did not make new ones, but friends have suggested it.

Are you able to think about the future, or even about the winter ahead for that matter?

I look to the future with optimism, but I do not plan anything. At the first opportunity I want to visit my girlfriend, who is now in Belgium.

Reading my new story at our literary meeting in the Boyarka woods, September

Have you ever had a close encounter of the third kind?

No, but I have twice observed something ufo-like. The first time around 1990 in the winter and the second time in the summer of 2017 and I was so impressed by the last sighting that I wrote a short story about it.

Will the madness ever stop?

Never.

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 see that many in the West are still fascinated by russia, believe in some kind of mythical mission of russian culture and long ago got bogged down in hypocrisy and colonial prejudices. It is also easy to see that many Western media present Ukraine and Ukrainians as the notorious “third world” who for some reason wanted to defend their freedom, despite all the stereotypes imposed on the “invincible russian bear” Well, this is destined to change, a new reality is being created right now and I think that Ukraine will still teach a single lesson for the “powerful ones of this world”.

So, wake up and open your heart!

Lenticular clouds on my horizon, Boyarka, March

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

Book – Almost all stories written by Andrii Strakhov. He posts some of them on his Facebook page.
Movies: Сьомий маршрут (The Seventh Route, 1997) / Приятель небіжчика (Friend of The Deceased, 1998).
Album: Ігор Цимбровський – Прийди янголе (1996).
Traditional dish: fried pies with potatoes, kind of home & street food
Podcast: Wicker Mag (Youtube).
Blog: Krossfingers (music media, 2013-2020, now re-launched as a radio-show).
Artwork: Валерія Трубіна. Котик поранений іде, вушко песика гризе (1989).
Building: Kyiv crematorium
Meme: A lot of them, Ukraine is a country where the post-modern era has already begun, at least in social networks.
Telegram Channel: bubblegum zine.

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

Do an interview withKrossfingers’ co-founder Artem Ikra, an erudite music lover and a rave enthusiast now in Odesa, and ask him – should he launch his own Ukrainian label, what would its name be?

 

SEPTEMBER 29 2022 – KHARKIV

My name is Igor, I’m 31. I’ve been a DJ since 2009. Not long after that, together with a friend, I started to organise parties in Kharkiv and in 2012 we ended up at Zhivot club – the oldest underground club in Ukraine that was founded in 1998. For the first couple of years I was a resident DJ and sometimes worked the door. From 2014 I became an art-director at Zhivot and started to make parties and concerts for this club. Also, I was playing on some of them as a resident DJ.

From 2016 Denys Koin, Vlad Seymour Glass and I started the techno parties “LOZH” and “Prosto Techno” which gathered hundreds of young people at the club. That was massive for those times. A few months later, Sasha #BSKD also came on board.

We booked almost all of our favourite techno artists from Ukraine for those parties and they always were quite weird. I miss those good times a lot.

During the next few years we made several showcases of “LOZH” at Kyiv, Lviv and Dnipro.

As you know, the past few years have not been very good for the clubbing and party scene because of the pandemic situation. and guys from the Kharkiv based “Kultura Zvuku Shkola” called me to join their deejaying school. So I was teaching young (and not so young) people how to mix tracks and so on. But this all ended on the 24th of February with rocket attacks on Kharkiv and other cities.

I guess my first experience with electronic music was in 2004 when I heard The Prodigy’s Smack My Bitch Up. Then I started to listen to big beats and dnb music, until I discovered techno music and now this is my main style.

Talking about my music background, I must say that I gained a lot of experience at Zhivot club because it’s quite a cross-genre place. One can hear such styles as electro, hardstyle, jungle, techno, grime, dub-step, dnb, house, juke and many more. Moreover, there were post-punk, metal, dream-pop, etc. gigs. And I was at all of these events for 8 years. Of course it influenced me and my background in music.

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

Of course my main style is techno. I like repetitive atonal and industrial 4/4 with weird synth and unexpected steps. It’s kind of meditation for me to be able to close my eyes and disappear into the sound. I think it’s something from the ancient shamanic practices when you are hearing the drums and voices that alter your mind state. But I also like different broken beat sounds, such as electro, miami bass, grime, jungle, break-beat, some experimental stuff and so on. And I have a special moniker when I play music that type of music – DJ Blowder.

You’ve been a resident DJ at Zhivot, the oldest underground club in Ukraine, since 2013, becoming its art director in 2015. Could you put the club’s history into context for us or, in other words, how has it evolved from the revolution of dignity to date?

Actually I have been a resident since 2012 and art-director since 2014.

When I became art-director at Zhivot, there hadn’t been one at the club for about a year. So I put myself forward and I got the backing of the owner.

The first year was really hard. I had to put things right and attract new people and promoters to the club. The attendance was about 20-30 people on a Saturday night before I became the art-director. So I started to hold new parties with a new sound. I invited new, fresh DJs and promoters from other cities to attract more people and offered them very good conditions. I guess this process took about 2 years. Of course I believed in what I did and loved it. I didn’t think about money or fame and that’s the main point in any such business. The number of visitors increased several times in the space of two years. The audience diversified with the club attracting a new crowd from different subcultures coming to listen to the music and hang out. As for me, I met a lot of nice and interesting people during my time at Zhivot. Some of them became friends.

But then good times ended in 2019 with the pandemic. We couldn’t hold any events for almost 2 years. There were just some short periods when we could still do so. And with the beginning of war, I can’t even think about organising parties in Kharkiv because the city is being bombed almost on a daily basis.

 

Would you say there’s a specific “Kharkiv sound” and how did Zhivot and Kultura Zvuka help to shape it?

I guess so. It is quite varied and open to new trends. If we are talking specifically about Zhivot, the sound is heavy and fast, or at least that’s how it’s been before the full scale invasion. As for Kultura Zvuku it was more about house, trance and break-beat. I think the Kharkiv sound is an intersection of genres.

How would you say Zhivot compares to clubs like Cxema, Closer and Otel’ in Kyiv or Module in Dnipro and Svora in Odesa?

I guess it’s not correct to compare Zhivot with Cxema or Svora because those are not clubs. Talking about Closer it is quite different to Zhivot in terms of sound and crowd. I think that Otel’ and Module are the closest to Zhivot.

Also, first with the pandemic and now the war, how are Zhivot and other clubs keeping afloat and how do you see the club scene developing?

After the first year of the pandemic we were forced to ask our visitors to help us with the rent as we had no revenue over the course of the whole year. I’m very thankful to those who helped us through such difficult times. Subsequently, we were allowed to open till 10 or 12 pm and for the six months before the war we were finally allowed to remain open all night. During this time we did many live streams, but that didn’t really help. And at present, Zhivot is closed because Kharkiv is being bombed almost every day.

The scene has now lost some of its character. A lot of musicians and DJs have left Ukraine, some are fighting on the frontline, others are internally displaced or are no longer active for moral principles, and the new generation isn’t established yet.

But I think that better times will come soon after our victory.

What impact has the full scale invasion had on you both on a professional and personal level?

The first couple of weeks after the full scale invasion were really terrible for me. I couldn’t sleep and eat normally, I saw rockets flying above my house and heard explosions, and I saw destroyed buildings. I decided to leave Kharkiv and go to the west of Ukraine for some time and came back in May when the russian troops were thrown back from the area near the city. Now I’m feeling as well as I can in such a situation.

Of course I haven’t been playing at parties over the past few months and didn’t even go to any. But life goes on and I feel that I should go back to business. How, when and where? – I don’t know at this point.

What is the mood on the ground now that the region has been liberated, and 80% of the infrastructure has been destroyed?

It’s kind of reserved optimism. We clearly understand that it’s not over and the war could last quite a long time. And I don’t think that 80% of the infrastructure has been destroyed. I guess this number is less in Kharkiv.

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?

Actually I don’t really know how the war has been covered in the West. I guess that some people in the West are getting tired of the war because the prices are getting higher and so on. I think they don’t really understand what war is and what sacrifices our people make in the name of common freedom and peace in Europe.

Has the international music community done enough to support Ukrainian artists?

I guess so. I see that sometimes our artists are in the spotlight, which is a good thing, but they should be talking about the russian agression and not use these occasions just to promote themselves.

How do you deal with burnout and unwind? And what makes you laugh nowadays?

I’m from Ukraine, what are you talking about?)

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

I think that “Kobzar” by Taras Shevchenko captures Ukrainian tragic history and fate best of all.
Film – Zemlya by Oleksandr Dovzhenko.
Traditional dish – borscht of course.
Podcast – C.J. PLUS – Ukrainian Funk. Vol 2.

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

I guess you should interview Detcom and Raavel – musicians and DJs who are soldiers in the Ukrainian army now. And it’s up to you what to ask them about except military secrets).

 

OCTOBER 1 2022 – MARSEILLE

Ann Mysochka

My name is Ann (short from Hanna) Mysochka. It’s my real name that I use as an artistic name as well. In Ukraine, people think it’s not my real name because the word “mysochka” means “a small bowl” – it’s a very cute and unusual last name (I think my ancestors were potters 🙂 ). I was born in Kharkiv and in 2007 moved to Kyiv.

When Russia invaded Ukraine, I was forced to leave my hometown and my country looking for a safe place. Now I’m temporarily based in Marseille.

My passion for music began in 2015. I started collecting a lot of music, and feeling an irresistible desire to share it, I discovered DJing. Credit for that goes to my friends at HVLV Bar, who introduced me to this world and taught me how to play decks.

In general, I mix a lot of different genres: lately, it’s mostly tribal house, melodic techno, disco house, and sometimes breakbeat, to diversify rhythms on the dance floor. My passion is percussions, world folk vocals, and nice melodic lines.

You are a resident at HVLV Bar. Could you put that into context within the electronic music scene in Kyiv and how do you see the scene developing under current circumstances?

I played at HVLV regularly for almost three years, but the whole residency thing began just a couple months before the invasion. We had one party at HVLV introducing all the residents and several guest gigs at other venues. In times of war, it’s hard to continue this project, but this summer, we managed to do a takeover day at Radio 80000 based in Munich.

The Ukrainian music scene is going through some really hard times now. Clubs can’t function as they did before the invasion, so artists have nowhere to perform. But musicians create tons of new stuff: there’s a whole lot of new releases now, since – give or take – atrocities of such scale are a powerful push for any creative process. At the same time, the Ukrainian music scene has been finally caught in the spotlight and is becoming known internationally.

Are there any releases by Ukrainian artists since the war that you feel are especially poignant and any tracks you feel should be global hits? 



To my mind, there are many things worth being played in universally acclaimed venues: for example, Symonenko in his tracks combines political speeches on war with powerful techno sound, or there’s also Eczema, weaving Ukrainian folk motives into house tracks. It would be really cool if the track “russia is a terrorist state” by ТУЧА became a global hit.

What impact has the war had on you, both on a personal and professional level?

In short, the impact is HUGE.

On a personal level, I’ve reconsidered the whole notion of fear. After I had felt what it’s like to really fear for my life, to fear for the lives of my relatives and close people, I realised that all the things I had been scared of before were actually too petty to fear. Now, this insight helps me function and go on with my life in a new and unknown setting where I had found myself in.

On a professional level, it feels like I have a new mission: to spread Ukrainian electronic music abroad. I’ve already played gigs in Germany, Poland and France. It makes me so happy when I see people from other countries excited about the Ukrainian tracks that I play during my sets!

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 wish the West would stop saying “It’s only putin’s war” and “You’re brotherly nations.” That’s just not true.

How do you unwind and what makes you laugh nowadays?

Sometimes I go to the seaside to watch sunsets, sometimes I go to a bar. I wasn’t in the mood for dancing for a long long time, but lately this started to change, even if gradually.

Also, I’m a collage artist, so sitting in a pile of old magazines with scissors in my hands works like art therapy for me.

I think I laugh the most when I call my friends who stayed in Ukraine or ended up in other countries. We always find funny stories to share, no matter how tough life feels nowadays.

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



The number of volunteers in Ukraine. And borscht.

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

Speaking of volunteers, you should talk to my friend Eugene Gorban (aka DataMolfar), he’s a musician, a DJ and an incredible human being. When the invasion began, he was part of Kyiv Volonterskyi initiative, helping provide UAF and all the people in need with food and other stuff. Now he’s helping IDPs and elderly people, and manages to go on making music. I often wonder how he manages to combine all these activities!

 

OCTOBER 1 2022 – KYIV

Kiyv 2022

Drifted

My name is Misha, and I’m a DJ and producer, originally from Poltava, Ukraine. I mostly produce obscure club-oriented music laced with an experimental feel to it. Plus, some side projects that require sound design or audio branding without a rhythmic element sort of thing also draw my attention.

My music journey started about eight years ago when I was studying abroad in high school, where a bunch of “cool kids” showed me a couple of groovy tunes. Since then, I was striving to reconstruct something similar, making it a turning point in my life music-wise.

What is your setup and what would you say is the defining feature of your sound?

Kyiv 2022

My set-up is fairly minimalistic – a laptop and a handy recorder. I should point out, however, that sometimes I feel a strong desire to change my workflow and spoil myself with some fancy gear, yet I’m pretty sure that the laptop is a multifunctional instrument that can practically implement any complex ideas.

There is no particular defining feature of my sound since my sound is an ever-changing journey: my musical taste changes so does my sound. Although it would be true to say that most of my tracks contain lots of heavily processed field recordings. I think that field recordings have unlimited potential: every random recording is already an original piece of audio by default, and all post manipulations are just a matter of creativity.

How would you describe the Ukrainian electronic and techno scene and how do you see it developing under present circumstances?

I can’t say much about the current Ukrainian techno scene, since I’m not really into this genre or at least not into the classic functional techno sound if you will. As to the Ukrainian electronic scene in general, I think that many previously unknown electronic artists are now getting more attention from every corner of the sane World, which is undoubtedly a great thing especially for preserving and reinforcing Ukrainian culture at least in this sphere.

 

Kyiv Rozhny

Are there any releases by Ukrainian artists since the war that you feel are especially poignant and any tracks you feel should be global hits?

I would recommend checking out the latest PepGaffe releases including Take by Tofudj and Split produced by me and my mate Rugo, though I doubt any of this music was created to become global hits. Additionally, if you are into this sort of music, you should probably have a listen to some tunes released on the ejekt label, including the neat compilation VA – indefinite state, which was produced by a group of Ukrainian enthusiasts during these grim times.

What impact has the war had on you both on a personal and professional level?

On a personal level, I realised how valuable time is, especially that time when you don’t have to think of endless terror and intimidation. Hence on the professional level, I started to utilise my time more efficiently making my learning curve in the musical sphere steeper. There is some logic behind all this though since when you are unsure about what the next day might bring you are trying to squeeze the most out of what you can do in that very moment.

Poltova

Has the war changed your relationship to music in terms of motivation and even down to your playlist?

At the beginning of the war, it was impossible to listen to any sort of music; I kind of forgot about its existence for at least a month or so. That said, once I was forced to move from Kyiv back to Poltava, I gradually started to regain my listening habits, as the atmosphere was a bit more “peaceful” there. I wouldn’t doubt the fact that my motivation fluctuates from time to time and I face traces of fatigue occasionally. And, of course, my music preferences have reflected my inner state which resulted in perceiving oversimplified club motives as even more trivial than they used to sound before, while tracks with a hidden or complex rhythmic element started to draw my attention even more.

Kyiv Rozhny

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?

One of the things that I find problematic in this case, is when some people do not want to use their critical thinking and impulsively blame Ukraine for the economic decline in their countries without trying to think a little out of the box and find out the actual causation (russia) of this problem.

How do you unwind and what makes you laugh nowadays?

A nice chat with my girlfriend, some relatives and my mates or a walk outside on a sunny day always do wonders.

What is your current mindset?

To keep producing tunes.

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

Rugo; I.Krueger; b_sw; Acid Jordan

 

PODCASTS

Air Raid Siren

All happening in Ukraine is really traumatic for every citizen, each experience is unique and incomparable. Art and especially music is salvation and healing for us, cause it can express and reflect thousands of shades of anger, pain, and despair… as well as faith, hope, and even drive, which we need every day to sustain our spirit, to fight on the battlefield or in everyday life.

@musicians_defend_ukraine foundation is fundraising money for Yevhen Honcharov whose roof was destroyed by a russian missile a week ago. Please donate if you can via the page gofund.me/1d812977 or PayPal iryna.lobanok@gmail.com

Tracklist

58918012 – Dead​-​Alive
Difference Machine – боротьба за вбивство / боротьба за виживання @differencemachine
Mires – magh @miresme
Axxent13 – Bleached Mint @alexei-andrushenko
ken=en – to all affected cities @lingling-340417385
Lostlojic – Rave under occupation @lostlojic
Lugovskiy – The Mountains Freedom @lugovskiy
Silent Max – Orcs Will Die @silentmaxsound
koma – (n)Ice Beat 1 @komasounds
Bjelle & Krapka – Not A Pop Song @krapkakomamusic @bjelle

More info and episodes on airraisirem.live

Support the project if you can by donating: www.paypal.com/donate/?hosted_bu…_id=GEEFRHD6C9S54
or in any other way airraidsiren.live/support/

 

система | system

 

Darkfloor 75 – .at/on – Experimental Power



Ukrainian experimental producer .at/on (@at-on) presents a selection of dark and shuddering electronics, marking his return to the studio and in turn introduces his new album.

 

NEW RELEASES

VA. NOTATOK 1 is the debut fundraising compilation by the Ukrainian record label Liky Pid Nohamy. This compilation is a psychotopographic delineation of once familiar but still half-forgotten territories that have undergone unexpected transformations. The compilation contains compositions by musicians from Odesa and Kyiv, performed in various genres: from bedroom jazz and herbal ambient to piano diary and Cossack Duma.

With the first release, we simultaneously determine the aesthetic directions of the label’s further activities and join the fundraising effort to finance Ukraine’s struggle in the war started by the terrorist state Russian Federation – 80% of the proceeds from the sales of this compilation will be transferred to the accounts of several volunteer organizations that help the Ukrainian military and civilians affected by the war.”

 

Curated by Oleksiy Sakevych (aka Endless Melancholy) and mastered by Ian Hawgood (who also released a fundraising compilation Places for Peace on his own label Home Normal), Colors is ambient / electroacoustic music at its best. With Halftone weaving “A Hopeful Drone”, whilst Equal Stones intones an “Elegy for Brothers and Sisters” echoed by Dag Rosenqvist poignant reminder “To Not Forget”, Sakevych deftly compiles 20 tracks by the likes of Igor Yalivec, Chihei Hatakeyama, The Green Kingdom, Wil Bolton, Simon McCorry and many more. Luminous and spacious, never morose, Colors points to open horizons as dawn rises and darkness drains suddenly away from the cloudless sky.

Colors is a benefit compilation by amazing artists from all over the world. Russia’s war against Ukraine is a complete disaster. Meaningless and cruel bloodbath that doesn’t have right to exist in a modern world. We’re uniting our efforts to bring an end to this as soon as possible. Even small donations make a big difference.

All proceeds from this release will be split 50/50 and donated to two of the most reputable non-governmental organizations in Ukraine: Come Back Alive and Hospitaliers.”

 

A native of Ukraine, Anton Holota aka .at/on left for Germany 12 years ago choosing to reconnect with his homeland in these dark times through mythology and history. У​к​р​а​ї​н​с​ь​к​а opens by invoking Perun the thunder god of the ancient pagan Slavs, a purifier and overseer of right and order. Over rolling drums of war, .at/on constructs an abrasive soundscape of flame and steel, producing a muted epic as sharp as an ax blade.

In order to silence the air raid sirens sounding in the closing track, Holota eventually conjures the spirits of his ancestral land by turning to a Molfar, the oracle, or shaman, of Hutsul culture popularised by Mykhailo Kotsiubynsky’s popular novel Shadow of Forgotten Ancestors, and adapted for the screen by Sergei Parajanov. Without taking facile sonic shortcuts, У​к​р​а​ї​н​с​ь​к​а is a defiant and combative album, a tribute to the Ukrainian fighting spirit.

 

Here at Ukrainian Filed Notes, we have been struggling to keep up with the prodigious output of the indefatigable Yurii Popov. Not content with releasing an album a month ever since the full scale invasion of February 24, under his ambient moniker 58918012, Popov has now set up a new label Syntes Record releasing, over the past fortnight alone, the full length album Origin of Nothing as well as the EP Ant under his lo-fi chill hop alias noteaf, with vocal improvisation from the indie artist MURRA (Marjana Zhdaniuk), and deep double bass parts from Katie Thiroux.

In addition, out on Syntes Records is also Penetralia, the latest from Popov’s fellow NUG band member Yurii Dubrovskyi under his electronica moniker Zlele. Produced mostly with analog synthesisers and a touch of guitar, Penetralia is a highly accomplished debut album that distills rage and anger into soaring miniature epics incorporating elements of downtempo and ambient imbued with melancholic undertones.

 

VIEWING ROOM

(Gianmarco Del Re)

 

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