Ukrainian Field Notes XVI

artwork by Mariia Primaschenko

Episode XVI sees us traveling to Kremenchuk, Odesa, Kiyv and Uzhhorod via Paris, and Hamburg. Along the way, we chat to Revshark about musical projects thwarted, we talk to Ereh Saw, the man with a “thousand specialties and not a single profession”, and look at NFTs with Demian Feriy aka Meltdownlove.

Meanwhile, recent Kultura Zvuka graduate Turnanuma shares her perspective from Germany, Oleksii Makarenko introduces Gasoline Radio, and non-binary love impresses us with their prodigeous output (nine albums this year alone)!

We also hear from music therapist Elizaveta Hilko and sound artist Yana Shliabanska and to reward ourselves, we sit down to watch the sunrise on the Dnipro with Smezkh.

Furthermore, we feature a number of new releases from the likes of Koloah, Monoconda, Vlad Suppish, r.roo, and troxellemott as well as the notable reissue of Come, Angel by Ihor Tsymbrovsky (and yes we kept meaning to highlight this, but only just got round to doing so).

Plus, we have three impressive fundraising albums by Heinali, Edward Sol & Anla Courtis and Ujif_notfound and the usual roundup of podcasts including the latest Air Raid Siren episode from Nina Eba.

But we open proceedings with “Sensitive Content”, a project by Hidden Element and French artist Ténèbre developed with the support of Music Export Ukraine in the framework of MusicAIR project and funded by the European Union.

 

OCTOBER 25 2022 – KREMENCHUK

RevsharkSlava Dyadyun

I am a producer / composer / artist currently living in the city of Kremenchuk in the central part of Ukraine. My journey in music started at an early age about 20 years ago. Although I always loved music, I didn’t think about doing it myself until the moment when I came across the “Music 2000” program on the Playstation which allowed you to build tracks from pre-made loops that came with the software. It was my first exposure to DAW at the time. The process was so fun and easy that it completely changed my idea of musical creativity. Before that it seemed to me that all musicians are some kind of superheroes with superpowers and that I couldn’t do it.

In Music 2000 I made several albums that no one will ever hear again since they were recorded on a memory card which has long been lost. After that I decided that a real musician should be able to play a real musical instrument 🙂 and I began learning to play the guitar which led to a 10-year marathon of rehearsals, jams, concerts, tours with various local bands, each of which eventually broke up and I had to think about what to do next. I did not want to depend on other people with whom I made music anymore because it was very painful and uncomfortable, so in 2011 my solo alias Revshark appeared.

The first released Revshark tracks garnered attention from the Brooklyn community and label Dingus and I even got an offer to come to New York to play at their parties, but at the same time a dark period began in my life, I lost several close people and friends at once, became deeply depressed and gave up releasing any music for five years. Back then, I worked at various shitty jobs, didn’t really record anything, but in my spare time I began to get involved deeply in various musical literature and learned a lot about theory, harmony, history and musical notation, all the classical basics 🙂

Years of unrealised creative potential and accumulated knowledge led to the fact that by the middle of 2016 I just couldn’t physically exist anymore without making music and returned with three projects at once – Revshark, Slava Dyadyun (under this name I record more guitar-oriented music and also work as a composer, record producer and sound designer on various side projects), and the alt-pop duo Sweet Mountains (which is on hiatus from 2019) with my friend and collaborator Yuliia Tupikina. For the last 5 years I have been regularly releasing new tracks by Revshark and Slava Dyadyun and now this is my main focus. It’s a super short version of my background, but enough, I think, otherwise we would need a few more interviews to discuss the formative years 🙂

You’ve released three albums this year, Idk and Imitation as Revshark and Rough Sentience as Slava Dyadyun together with Meltdownlove. Has your motivation behind making music changed since the full-scale invasion and how would you say this has affected your sound, if at all?

The music for these albums was written in 2020-21 and I planned to make some well thought out concept releases throughout the year, but the war started and we all went into one day at a time mode, no one knew what might happen in the next hour or so, and many artists began to rush to upload all unreleased music in the form in which everyone had it at that time. So did I, at the end of February, uploading the tracks to stores, and setting an auto release date with a gap of about a month between albums.

As for motivation and how the war affected my sound, I can say that now I only finish projects that I am 100% sure of, before I tried to finish mostly every demo or loop from the archives. Now I have a clearer vision and understanding of what I want in my music.

Born Out Of Noise (2021)

In the liner notes to Born Out Of Noise (2021) you indicate that, “The search for something new in sound can begin anywhere”. For that particular album you used the noises found at the plant “Elektrovymiryuvach” (Zhytomyr, Ukraine) to create euphonic structures, complex rhythms and soundscapes using modern audio editing techniques.

There seem to be opposite impulses at play in your work, from the disorderly and noisy to the orderly and rhythmic, together with a mix of analog and digital. How do you combine these two different worlds and are you ever surprised by the end result?

Yes, it was a great experience, I took part in the sound art residence in Zhytomyr, along with other wonderful Ukrainian artists, and the task of my work was to show how from the surrounding noise (in this case, the noise of the plant and the environment around the place where the residence took place acted as a source), something new, structured or more complex could be born. I can’t say that I was able to perfectly implement this idea, since there was very little time, but perhaps this small “seed” can somehow help future experimenters who will come to “Elektrovymiryuvach” in search of new sounds.

Legendary forest beauty of Kholodnyi Yar

You’ve described your album Mess from 2019 as “Ambient and sound collage works built around the theme of the apocalypse”. Would you say this was prescient of the dark times ahead?

Yeah, in some way, I had a strong feeling that our society had reached a dead end and was rapidly flying into the abyss of vice, stupidity and immorality. After some time, C19 appeared, and then russia reached a new low with its sinister plans, but until the very end I didn’t want to believe that this was possible and now this is our reality.

You are a Gasoline resident with your podcast Sonic Travels, a show that “aims to send the listener’s consciousness on an hour-long journey through boundless audio spaces in order to relieve the soul from the heaviness of the surrounding realities.” What role would you say music holds under present circumstances and were at any point unable to listen to music in the immediate aftermath of the full-scale invasion like many of your peers?

Music has always been something necessary for me like air, but for the first three months of the full-scale invasion watching my country being destroyed and innocent people dying every day, I just couldn’t listen to music or write new material. This situation changed for me towards summer, the abundance of sunshine and our military gains on the frontline gave me hope, and since then I try to work on something new at least a little bit every day.

The latest episode of Sonic Travels includes only tracks by Ukrainian artists. This might be a provocative question, but has the full-scale invasion made you more attentive to the music produced by your fellow countrymen and are there any recent releases that you think should be global hits?

Absolutely. There is so much amazing Ukrainian music this year that I didn’t even have time to listen to half of what interests me, and I’d be afraid to forget many names were I to list them all. Many great releases came out on the labels Mystictrax, Muscut, Система. I also really liked the album Ssuperiority by User Kyx. And Demian Feriy released 3 great albums in March.

How would you describe the electronic music scene in Ukraine and how do you see it developing considering the dramatic situation it is facing? Also, are Gasoline and 20ft radio helping to hold the community together?

The scene is developing very rapidly, and I think we are only at the very beginning of something bigger, in a few years there will be many world-class names coming from Ukraine. Both Gasoline and 20ft play an invaluable role in this process by capturing this historical era through their shows and introducing Ukrainian music and culture to a wide audience.

Inside a typical classic Ukrainian hata (house)

What impact has the war had on you both personally and professionally?

The war completely changed my plans and views on many things. At the beginning of the year I had some great job offers in the music industry and was about to move to Kyiv. There were also several international residencies planned and much more, but all this was not destined to happen due to the Russian invasion.

But all these goals and plans are nothing compared to human life. When bombs are flying around, you only think about survival, everything else fades into the background.

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

From the beginning of the Russian invasion to date, I have been in Kremenchuk, although part of my family had to leave the country and go to Western Europe. There are no safe places in Ukraine now, but I am grateful to God, the Armed Forces of Ukraine, every Ukrainian, all volunteers and our friends around the world for every given day and the opportunity to continue to live and create while in the midst of all this madness.

Embankment of Kremenchuk, the Dnipro River in the background

What is the mood currently on the ground in Kremenchuk after the most recent strikes, and has the town been able to process the Amstor shopping center attack?

Amstor is still a shock for the city. The charred skeleton of the building still stands in the center, and reminds us every day of the tragedy. I was there that day and left the area half an hour before the explosions, and even being 2-3 km from the epicenter, the sound was very loud. People who were relaxing in the nearby park jumped into the lake to escape from rocket fragments.

As for the current situation, since October 10, the russians have destroyed a large part of the energy infrastructure in the region, and throughout Ukraine. Also, back in April, the Kremenchuk thermoelectric power station was destroyed by mass missile strikes, so we now have rolling blackouts of electricity and water, at different times of the day in different parts of the city. People are worried about the winter ahead, whether there will be heating, water, electricity, but at the same time everyone is determined, helping each other, making supplies of everything necessary to adequately get through this difficult period of time.

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 is very painful to see when someone who has not fully understood this whole situation, has not studied history, calls it a conflict or a civil war. russia is a terrorist state. There are no grey areas, everything is clear cut. All the atrocities committed by this monster are well documented, and are ongoing.

According to my calculations, there are about 10% of sane people with russian passports who empathise and are helping Ukraine in every way they can, this category of people are simply hostages of the situation; another 10% are just opportunists who will say whatever is beneficial to time at any given moment simply to save their skin; and the remaining 80% are real inglorious bastards who rejoice in any inhuman action by Kremlin, they want to kill our children, women, destroy cities, the infrastructure, our culture and enjoy human grief. Even hatred is a soft word applied to them, since they simply lack a soul and any kind of empathy, they are not human beings. The philosophy of modern russia is based on the fact that if someone lives a little better than you, then it is easier to destroy, slander, ruin them than to become better yourself and make your home a great place to live.

Pyvykha peak – one of my most favorite places in the Kremenchuk area

How do you unwind and what makes you laugh nowadays?

Seeing happy and smiling Ukrainian faces helps me unwind the most.

Will birds always sing?

There’s no chance it could be any other way.

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

Book: Ivan KotliarevskyEneida
Film: Olexander Dovzhenko – Earth
Album: Valentin SilvestrovMaidan
Song: Taras Petrynenko – Ukraine
Traditional Dish: Borscht
Podcast: Gasoline Radio Podcasts
Blog: АШОШ
Artwork: Ivan Marchuk – Probudzhennya, 1992
Building: Motherland Monument
Meme: Доброго вечора, ми з України!

Who should I interview next and should I ask them?

Smezkh and Demian Feriy. Both are great producers and artists, each with their own unique sound palette. I’d name a couple dozen more, but it seems like you’ve already interviewed almost all of my friends and favorites 🙂

 

OCTOBER 26 2022 – ODESA

Ereh Saw

Hello, my stage name is Ereh Saw .. I’m .. .. Yes! I’m an anthropologist! In my free time, I do something that I think should be a bit .. new and interesting .. experimental ..

I understand you have no formal training?

And you are absolutely right ~ I don’t have any “formal” training .. I believe that all the knowledge I have was obtained as a result of self-education .. like this text, for example .. I have never studied English and yet writing this text gives me some skills ..

I can’t say exactly when it became clear to me that everything that is not Nature is art, but I can accurately recall my introduction to experimental sound!

It all goes back to 1995, when I was fifteen years old, and they held the first festival of new academic music “2D2N” (Two days and two nights of new music) in Odesa. There, I got to see people like Sergei Kuriokhin and his huge mixed collaboration with “Pop-Mechanics” .. In terms of experimental sound, I have learnt what I know from academic avant-garde music .. And when I say “new” academic avant-garde music, I mean mostly in the experimental music genre like “Suite for two violins, cello, and three overturned chairs” ..

Your work is said to be situated in the space of media art between video and sound. Has the work of artists like Nam June Paik been influential in any way or do you consider yourself closer in spirit to the Japanese noise school or none of the above?

As one sailor said, «It is a good thing to find one’s way to lands already discovered.» ..

I think it should work like this: either you find an interesting topic on your own and develop it, or it’s better not to start at all ..

It does not mean that the other artists should be ignored, it says that art is the skill of quotation and collage using the methods that are available to you now or in the future ..

If we talk about the experiment, then there is a completely different motivation ~ here at the forefront is the task of checking the correctness of the hypothesis, and achieving the result through your own research by the methods that are available to you now or in the future ..

When talking about influence, then I need to start with my own environment .. The people around me influence me much more than any international figures from the “arts” ..

In 1997 I moved to St. Petersburg, and I think my interest in experimental things led me to the more or less international noise-scene community that is based in “Piter” ..

There I met Gleb Maltsev (PICHISMO) .. We were introduced by the co-founder and soul of the Monopolka label Grisha Avrorin (GrA) .. Grisha and Phil (27-0) published a dozen different zines (the most popular being Паддингтон) .. alongside the noise-label that was made by them ..

We drank port wine and talked about things that, at first, seemed completely irrelevant .. Some of those things, like editing video directly by capturing what was being transmitted on a TV screen, are still part of my own practice, while other things have changed ..

Even my first live shows with Phil and Grisha .. we never planned anything, they just happened when we saw that we could find and make more prepared noise~toys for the next gig .. And so we did some shit together next time ..

I believe that the only influence of my friends on me has always been what is actually happening in the present .. My circle of friends informs what I ultimately turn my eye to ..

For instance, from talking to the modern Ukrainian composers Yana Shlyabanska and Eltsyn Olexander, it became much clearer to me what is happening in the culture of sound than anything I might learn from books about John Cage ..

That said, books have not ceased to play a formative role .. recently I read the wonderful and entertaining “Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid” by Douglas Hofstadter .. I highly recommend it ~ this book was way ahead of its time!

How would you describe the noise scene in Ukraine and how well is it catered for in terms of venues and labels (other than Full Logic Control)?

As far as I know, Full Logic Control is a continuation of the label Freak Friendly D.I.Y., which is one of the first and most famous Ukrainian noise labels ..

I believe that, in this respect, we are not that much different from the rest of the world .. Ukraine is rich in self-publishing ‘Samizdat’ .. There have been, and still are, several more or less commercial and non-commercial musical samizdats in different cities .. In addition, artists often release their own albums themselves without resorting to labels ..

As for institutions, one cannot fail to mention ЭFIR, which existed from 2012 to 2018 in Kyiv and since its inception was been aimed at the local avant-garde scene ..  Now, one of the co-founders of ЭFIR together with the co-founder of Womens Sound have organised Institute Of Sound — a larger community organization that promotes an independent experimental scene ..

Again, one cannot fail to mention the Kyiv local community Koschey Local DIY (2017-2020), in which the DIY culture was put at the forefront and is very close to that described in the book “The Philosophy of Punk: More than Noise” by Craig O’Hara ..

You describe yourself as an anthropologist, could you elaborate on what you mean by that?

As I mentioned before, all that is not nature is “art” and by this I mean that whatever you do (other than eating and breeding) you are essentially in the process of creating some part of this global ‘art’, and that global ‘art’ in progress is the history of Human Civilisation ..

The way of anthropology made a clear vision of many things that happen inside that structure .. and, in perspective .. Each experiment is primarily an observation .. the result of an experiment depends on attention .. Too many seemingly insignificant details, which together characterise what happened before, why it happened now, and how it must be happening in the future ..

I might as well call myself a futurologist .. or a futurist? I would even say that I am engaged in applied anthropology?! Just like you and everyone else.

You have performed at festivals and conducted workshops in a number of countries including China, Italy, Poland and russia. Are the performative and educational aspects of your practice an integral part of your work?

There is no planned intention in this – it just happens by its own accord ..

I think that we are experiencing a global crisis in education .. What is called “formal” education appeared as a result of the industrial revolution – it was necessary to teach the workers to come on time, perform simple operations, read and count ..

This is not enough for a modern person, as more free time is available people spend it on self-development, sometimes this brings results, and sometimes it simply expands the horizon of their knowledge ..

It is for this reason that sharing the methods of such knowledge gives a special kind of pleasure, especially if they come as a result of your own work, and your own experiments, or observations ..

Has your motivation behind making art changed since the full-scale invasion?

The first two months were very difficult mentally ~ we had a lot to do, and many people needed help and support .. Many people moved to different countries ..  It is a long story, but I’m really happy that Yana Shlyabanska, for instance, is now safe in France ..

After the first wave of attacks, it became more or less clear that we had survived, that they had not managed to break us. And when the world saw what was happening and started helping us, things became much easier ..

In May, I made additional changes to Cicadas (a project that I have been working on for the last five years) and we presented it online at the Maker Music Festival and CIRCUIT BEND A SONG ..

Where are you now and what impact has the war had on you both personally and professionally?

I’m still in Odesa. I am a very rational person and for most of my life I have relied solely on myself, so the war had little effect on my inner and outer world and it turned out that in this respect I am more prepared for many things .. Having said that, it is impossible not to notice that every day it becomes more and more difficult to maintain this internal and external order ..

I can say that before February 24, I completely managed on my own, I never looked for nor took any grants, and generally adhered to the principle of independence .. But after that bloody date, they began to offer help to me .. The ‘Kyiv Biennial‘ has provided me several times with very tangible support and I am very grateful for this !

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 that every sane person can now ascertain what we have repeatedly pointed out since 2014, when outright lies were fabricated and concepts falsified – this is a very characteristic feature of the ‘ruzzian world’ that now wants to destroy us ..

Newspeak, demagogy, and terror are all instruments of cowardice and weakness, and they really contribute to the genocide of the Ukrainian people ..

Any sane person does not need to explain this ..

Moreover, like many of us, it is absolutely clear to me that by unleashing this war, ruzzia lost it even before starting it .. But .. How many people have to die before this war ends?

How do you unwind and what makes you laugh nowadays?

«The Evacuation still proceeds, but it’s all theatre. There are no lights inside the cars. No light anywhere. Above him lift girders old as an iron queen, and glass somewhere far above that would let the light of day through. But it’s night. He’s afraid of the way the glass will fall—soon—it will be a spectacle: the fall of a crystal palace. But coming down in total blackout, without one glint of light, only great invisible crashing.», and «There is no way out. Lie and wait, lie still and be quiet. Screaming holds across the sky. When it comes, will it come in darkness, or will it bring its own light? Will the light come before or after?» and «He takes some time lighting a cigarette. He won’t hear the thing come in. It travels faster than the speed of sound. The first news you get of it is the blast. Then, if you’re still around, you hear the sound of it coming in.» — this is how Thomas Pynchon’s postmodern anti-war novel ‘Gravity’s Rainbow’ begins ..

Or something else .. When in my youth I read Erich Maria Remarque .. I didn’t understand how people could live at a time of war – how they could calmly walk, love, and drink Calvados ?

That makes me laugh now ~ now I understand it !

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

Probably the most difficult question .. Maybe .. the life of Olga of Kyiv can show a way to «inner Ukraine» ?

Who should I interview next and should I ask them?

I highly recommend getting in touch with Roman Banan, who has organised the Koschey Local DIY community — he is an experimental sound engineer also, and one of the most interesting people on the noise scene ..

https://archive.org/details/MiauMiau
https://archive.org/details/WakeUpAndGoToSchool

OCTOBER 31 2022 – KYIV

Demian Feriy

Up until the age of 12, I was not interested in music at all. It even seemed annoying to me. Maybe there were micro moments when I seemed to feel something. But I never bought any tapes or CDs. We had a large high-fi at home and a friend wondered why I didn’t listen to music. He introduced me to the Prodigy and the penny dropped. For the first time I felt, more or less consciously, that music could be something cool. He then told me that there was music with shouting and roaring, but this seemed strange and scary. And yet, when he showed me the Core Metal Shop, this became a regular haunt of mine and a reliable source of music for the next few years.

After watching just five minutes of a video clip by Pantera, I became enthralled by the electric guitar, while Sepultura’s acoustic tracks Kiowas and Jasco impressed me with the magic of the acoustic guitar. And that’s how, at 14, I started studying classical guitar at a music school. By the age of 17, I had enrolled in sound engineering and gradually began to study music production, composing a lot of my own music and experimenting with sound recording.

At the ripe old age of 33 =) I have now accumulated a large volume of musical influences and experiences, including Jesper Kyd: Hitman Codename 47, Paul Romero: Heroes 3, Unreal Tournament soundtracks, Prodigy, Limp Bizkit, Pantera, Santana, Frank Zappa, Steve Vai, Allan Holdsworth, Aphex Twin, Animal Collective, Tera Melos, Health, and the guitar works of composer Leo Brouwer.

Exit To The Light

What is your setup and how would you define your sound both as Meltdownlove and Demian Feriy?

Until 2021, I wrote music at home under my own name on a computer, using everything I could find, or once bought. Various guitar accessories, processors, etc. I just recorded, and put my music on the Internet.

Meltdownlove is the name of my art project and with the purchase of the Midi Pick-Up I had the idea of packaging it into a complete audio visual concept and performance format, to combine my guitar behavior with electronic sound design and making the setup very minimalistic and compact.

But now it seems to me that maybe it’s better to just continue working just as Demian Feriy, to include all the previous paths and releases and stages of transformation and musical discoveries.

Anyway, in terms of my setup, I have a Fender Stratocaster electric guitar with Midi Pick-Up and a Laptop with MainStage in which I create my presets. I like very concise solutions, and especially resource-constrained settings, that’s perfect for me.

Creep, Dope and Crazy – (The album brought together different types of my inner monstrosity) – released March 22, 2022

You have released a number of tracks and albums since the full-scale invasion. What motivates you at present and how have you been able to keep up the momentum and be so prolific?

For me, generating music is a very organic process.

All this music was composed long before the invasion and only needed finishing. One month into the full-scale russian invasion, I realised that there were no guarantees I would survive, I didn’t know what to expect, etc. But I’m now already used to some aspects of this new reality, the pace of events, and the situation specifically in my area.

For a long time now, I have perceived my creativity as my mission, regardless of any social recognition or financial return. My works are my heritage. Therefore, for me, the realization of the possibility of losing everything and dying from an air strike, as well as the likelihood of having to actively participate in the resistance, were strong motivators for me to complete all my unfinished projects. I rejected perfectionism and even promotion, etc. I expanded my equipment and finished and arranged everything. The same thing happened with my art and NFTs. I just wanted to archive my work online.

How would you describe the electronic music scene in Ukraine, how well would you say it is catered for in terms of labels and how do you see it developing under present circumstances?

To be honest, it’s hard for me to rate it. I have always been a bit of an outsider and for a very long time I existed as an artist on the fringes of the music scene. I lived in my own world. With the beginning of the war, I started to notice more Ukrainian labels, thanks to the fundraising releases appearing on social media and through Instagram I got to know more people.

Death Delivery

You’ve done a series of NFTs addressing your response to the war. Do you consider music and art as complementary practices and how have they served you in processing current events?

The fact that visual art and music are connected and mutually complement each other is clear to me. Practicing one thing teaches me something new about the other.

I hadn’t done any works related to war, because I just don’t have the same mindset and creative orientation compared to artists who regularly address current contexts or problems. It is more natural for me to be alienated, to turn to inner senses, perception, fantasy, mysticism. Especially because of the kind of artistic techniques I use. My practice is intuitive and improvisational, or experimental, and it is difficult for me to predict exactly what will happen.

But with this collection, everything came together. The strong impact of the information overload etched in my memory images that I began to see as blurred and jumbled pixels. All that remained to do were a few finishing touches. This is how this series was formed.

The Pain She Has to Bear

What impact has the war had on you both personally and professionally?



In my opinion, the war did not change anything in me in essence as a person, I mean in terms of my core nature and psychic archetype, who I am “spiritually”, “principally”, and what my mission is.

I used to work a lot on television sets, and through that experience I’ve become more resilient when it comes to daily challenges and technical difficulties and discomforts. I also experimented with diets and fasting. Long periods without money, and restrictions in the past have made it easier for me to overcome some of the hardships of war.

But the war changed a lot in terms of specific events, phenomena, and individuals. It changed the perception of how strong individual personalities, national ideas, and national self-awareness are. Everything that I was inclined to think of as abstract ideas and social, mental constructs has become tangible and intuitive.

I too have been a victim of some aspects of propaganda and ideology, in terms of language, history, “not so clear-cut” and so on. I was preoccupied with my creative development in terms of technique and aesthetics, alongside having to earn money, and solve personal problems. I was interested in history and philosophy for self-development and in the format of infotainment, but I did not pay enough attention to local problems and issues. I had a total distrust of everything related to social management and so on. I don’t think I stopped being skeptical, but something has changed. Fortunately, I am able to absorb new knowledge quickly and I avoided making mistakes due to ignorance.

Want To Feel Again – released August 25, 2022 – cover art by Marina Malik and Meltdownlove

You’ve written lyrics to the instrumental track “Want To Feel Again”, which are especially poignant. How does one preserve their own mental health in times of war? 

In fact, I wrote this text long before the war as a result of severe burnout, hard work, lack of sleep, and personal difficulties. The last time I was on vacation at the seaside it was back in 2013. I have had a lot of breakdowns, existential crises, etc. since then. Creative dead ends and entanglements. My personality has died and been born again many times. And the release of this track with this poem is part of the same process of releasing my work now should anything happen to me under present circumstances.

Generally speaking, when I write something, ideally for me, it should be sufficiently abstract, universal, to be relevant rather than to refer to the specific experience of a person or to specific events.

In terms of mental health, it is difficult for me to give specific advice. Personally, there are a number of things I have found beneficial. Firstly, I am lucky in many ways. In spite of the situation, nothing bad has happened to me, so far, because of the war. Also, having to work 20-hour shifts for weeks on end while working for television has hardened me. In addition, I’ve had physical ailments which required self-discipline to treat and this led me to develop methods of self-healing. I learned to put up with a lot. Thinking about how much I managed to create and that I already have my heritage helps me a lot. It makes it easier for me to come to terms with the idea of death.

Fantasy and dissociation also work well for me. Psychedelic trips, and chaotic difficult-to-perceive visions have prepared me psychologically for mental overloads. Even something like magical thinking I find helpful. Faith that everything will be fine. Believing that I have a purpose and a mission gives me the strength to relax and rely on “higher forces”.

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



I’ve never left and mostly stay in my own district, in Kyiv. When it all started, it seemed to me that I was more likely to die fleeing than right where I was.

The Harrier – released March 29, 2022

What is the current mood on the ground after the most recent attacks and how are you preparing for winter?


In the first period after the full-scale invasion, I had breakdowns and felt powerless, etc. Now I understand that this mindset was simply a result of the emotional surcharge and information overload, which caused a long period of stress hormones in my body. At present I’m just focused on specific things and actions and, as a result, my mood has been very stable and calm as of lately.

I’ve personally prepared for winter by insulating my apartment over the summer. Buying things to keep me warm. A sleeping bag, blankets, physical activity, alternative methods of heating, planning my movements… I have been in similar situations many times before in my life and I know the drill.

For a very long time in the history of mankind, people had to endure much tougher living conditions. A few months of winter before spring don’t seem to me that insurmountable. Moreover, I believe in the victory of Ukraine and that everything will be fine.

I have heard as a direct consequence of the strikes against the city infrastructure, there are currently areas in Kyiv with no electricity or running water.

Yes, electricity blackouts are a regular occurrence. And at the moment I don’t have any running water at home.

Beware of Guerilla Attack – released August 12, 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?

Unfortunately, there are still problems with this in the West. I have seen many posters with Ukrainians and russians being depicted as brotherly nations and calling on us to simply “reconcile”. Basically just to give up. They whitewash the russians and make them out to be victims themselves, sometimes even more so than Ukrainians, which is, of course, delusional. This is terrible and cynical. And it makes it very difficult to finally break the empire and its “traditions”, which consist in capturing nations either by brute force or through cultural assimilation.

Moreover, many in the West mistakenly perceive Eastern Europe as something unified, like the Soviet Union, etc. While in fact, almost every smaller country was simply occupied for a long period of time. If we are not even talking about the coverage of the war in the media, but simply about the views of some Europeans, then here, again, very often things look very bad. Many friends of mine who fled the war are often gaslighted by people who believe the propaganda and are too lazy to do some research. One woman in Belgium I know of even believes that the Azov Regiment existed in 1944 and exterminated Jews. There’s a lot of that around.

I believe that the West should side with Ukraine and work for the absolute elimination of the russian federation as a terrorist country, and shove the so-called russian culture, with its imperial ideology, into a museum and deprive it of its voice. And this has not just been a problem for the past 8 years. Appeasing the aggressor, calling on Ukraine to make concessions would only lead to even bigger problems, as it has already happened in history. And for some reason many people forget about this. And it’s not just Putin, but the majority of russians, even those who fled to other countries to escape mobilisation. It pisses me off and annoys me, especially because we in Ukraine have been aligned with the West for a very long time.

Dead – released September 28, 2020

How do you unwind and what makes you laugh nowadays?

In fact, humor and laughter are universal remedies for all psychological problems and difficulties. Since I was a teenager, I discovered humor as a tool for overcoming social difficulties, frustrations, and unrealistic plans. Humor is the magic that dissolves content and synthesizes unexpected new ideas. For me, it really seems to thin out mental constructs, as a neuroplasticity tool. Especially the humor that I like, which is very psychedelic, postmodern, and deconstructive. Through it, I manage to overcome very difficult problems and situations, as it helps me to minimize drama and avoid catastrophizing.

Many things make me laugh. The war has not changed anything in this regard, I have been able to generate and experience this magical element for a long time. I can laugh at everything and turn any situation into a psychedelic cartoon. That’s how my mind already works.

What is the most entertaining conspiracy theory you’ve come across?

Unfortunately, I can no longer remember anything specific. I just saw so many of them. For me it was even some kind of a micro hobby, infotainment. I really like psychedelic and well-thought theories. They inspire me and I use them in my creative practice. In a way, it’s like alternate worlds. I’m inclined to think that I can’t check everything and know everything, so in this sense I live by the principle of “believing without believing”, and just don’t bother myself too much with that. At the moment, I’m on the side of the “normal” mainstream agenda, because it’s all tangible and it affects my life.

In my opinion, mistakes and stupidity are the more likely explanations for many processes than conspiracy theories. For instance, russia launches a lot of fakes, which can also be classified as a way to make a conspiracy theory, but it all quickly falls apart. Of course, one needs to be skeptical about many things, but often skepticism becomes a tool for propaganda and spreading fake conspiracy theories. For example, the narrative that “not everything is so clear-cut”, in relation to Ukraine, is just about that.

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



I think it would be great if everyone watched Timothy Snyder’s lectures on Ukraine because of the way he charts the whole history of Ukraine and explains why everything is the way it is now. This gives a comprehensive vision of the current situation and the problem in general.

 

NOVEMBER 1 2022 – HAMBURG

turmanuma

My real name is Ksenia. My journey and interest in music itself began 5 years ago, I had a music software, where you can create your own tracks, experiment with sound and study it, but it wasn’t something serious for me. Then I started going to my first raves, I observed DJs and their behaviour, their ability to create a special atmosphere at events and how they interacted with the audience. After a while I decided to try something that interests me, that is, deejaying. I have been looking for good courses for quite some time, as it was important for me to find and learn from professionals. That’s when I found the Kultura Zvuka course, where my journey as a DJ began.

You are a Kuktura Zvuka graduate. How formative would you say that experience has been in creating your own sound?



When I took the course I chose the direction of techno because at that time it was the only style of music that I liked and listened to. After the course was over I became more and more open to other genres. Now, basically, I play electro and breakbeat, sometimes techno, and experimenting with ghetto but I don’t think I have my own sound yet, I’m still actively searching it. 🙂

How would you describe the electronic music scene in Ukraine and have there been recent tracks / albums that you thing should be global hits?


Since music is directly related to politics, electronic music in Ukraine becomes more politically inclined as a statement to draw attention of the world community to what is happening in our country. The war is not over and Ukraine still needs support.

me and my dog at 2021 home, Odesa

What impact has the war had on you both personally and professionally?


My first performance was supposed to be on February 26. I can’t tell you how much I was preparing and waiting for it. In less than a week, I began to doubt that it would take place, because more and more people around were talking about the fact that russia was preparing to invade Ukraine. It was not clear whether to believe in it or not, it seemed that common sense should be present in the 21st century, but as we see our neighbours (russia) have none.

On February 24, a full-scale war began and I thought that this was the end, that now not only my first performance had failed, but it was not clear what would happen to my life in general. All Ukrainians, including myself, had only one question in mind, will I wake up tomorrow or will I live to see the end of the day. However, I managed to leave Ukraine and it was not an easy decision. I had no clear plan where to go and what to do. At first, I didn’t think about deejaying at all but music gradually came back to my life and I decided to try again.

My family’s summer house near Odesa

I understand you are currently based in Hamburg. Where you forced to move there because of the war of did your move precede the full-scale invasion and how difficult has it been to adjust to the new circumstance?

Yes, I’ve been living in Hamburg for seven months now. I had no plans to leave Ukraine at all, but the war made its adjustments. It was quite difficult to adapt, especially first few months. I didn’t feel like doing anything, I was constantly monitoring the news, and nothing could distract me. Every day I had to fight that feeling of emptiness inside me and find the strength to do something. It can still be hard for me now and I think it will always be hard for me until I go back home.

Is there a Ukrainian community in Germany you are connected to?


No, I am not connected to the Ukrainian community. For the time being I am on my own.

me as a child in the yard of the house where I spent most of my life

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 don’t follow the coverage of the war by the foreign media, but what I have seen a couple of times is that they sometimes exaggerate russia’s successes and underestimate the Ukrainian army. The only thing I would like is for the people of Germany and Western Europe to stop believing and convincing in the existence of good russians.

How did it feel for you having to experience the recent attacks on Ukraine remotely?



In fact, this is not something to be talked about in past tense, as people in Ukraine are facing russian attacks every hour of every day. My family and friends are now in Ukraine and I am madly worried about them. I am amazed at how calm they are and when I talk to them on the phone, I think I need to learn from them.

How do you unwind and what makes you laugh nowadays?

I try to devote most of my time to deejaying and finally got around to studying the process of creating my own tracks more deeply and consciously. I’m happy that I don’t lose interest in life and don’t miss opportunities to develop myself. As for humour, there has always been a lot of it in my life, and in general, people always associate my homeland (Odesa) with special kind of humour. I still try to find reasons to laugh even at little things so as not to go crazy.

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



Book – I am (Romance) – Mykola Khvylovy
TV series – To Catch the Kaidash – Oleksandr Timenko
Dish – dumplings with potatoes and onions
Song – “Po chut-chut” – Verka Serduchka

Who should I interview next and should I ask them?

I think Poly Chain makes cool music and is one of the main representatives of Ukrainian electronic music.

 

NOVEMBER 2 2022 – KYIV

Oleksii Makarenko

I’m the co-founder of Gasoline radio, co-host of Normal People radio show, music enthusiast and collector of sonic oddities.

My interest in music dates back to my childhood, when I got my grandmother’s old radiola and three hundred records of very different kinds of music. I became addicted to the diversity of sound and its forms then. When I was 16 in my hometown of Chernihiv, I formed a garage punk band. It was my first and last contact with producing music, at the same time I fell in love with a very dirty and noisy sound.

After moving to Kyiv, I was constantly involved in music events, working in different clubs and venues. My journalistic path began with my work in the DIY magazine Pivnich, under the label of which we also held a series of parties at Closer. Then there was Katacult and a number of side projects which gave me a deeper understanding of the local scene. A couple of years ago with my Berlin friend Jonny Nyn, I launched the Normal People show on 20ft Radio, which started my story as a DJ. In one way or another, it all led to the idea of launching a radio, which I am currently mentoring.

You are currently editor in chief at Gasoline. How does one set up and run a non commercial radio station in times of war?

The decision of launching the radio came last summer, when I finished working with Katacult and Valentin Bobylev from Kultura Zvuka approached me with a proposal to launch a new media project. By mid-February, we were ready to launch, and on the 22nd we made the first announcement on social media (not a good date for a launch). After a couple of days, the world around us changed and all plans, along with radio, took a back seat.

After a few months of being involved in volunteering initiatives, I slowly adapted to reality. The idea of relaunching the radio was in the air as all the values and plans put into the project took on new meanings and became even more weighty. In fact, everything was already ready to go: we had studio space and equipment from our friendly school Kultura Zvuka, which is located next door. Thanks to the support of Valentin and the community members, we launched the first broadcast on 18 May, opening a new chapter for the project.

Gasoline has become in a short space of time an invaluable focal point for the Ukrainian electronic and experimental music scene with many series catering to all shades of the musical spectrum. With clubs now running mostly fundraising events and many artists having left Ukraine, what role would you say Gasoline has in developing the electronic scene in Ukraine under present circumstances?

As originally conceived, the radio became a platform for young blood artists who, even before the full-scale war started, could not find a place to express themselves and show their music to the wide audience. Now we have the opportunity to turn listeners’ attention inside Ukrainian culture.

Over the past few years the Ukrainian scene has been developing at a frantic pace. At the same time, there was a tendency to direct the main attention to foreign artists. From the point of view of the local public it was not obvious how great our own local culture is. The Gasoline team’s efforts are focused on creating a unique identity of local culture in all its diversity, as well as placing Ukrainian musicians and artists in a global context.

On a general note, how diverse and inclusive would you say the electronic music scene is Kyiv and Ukraine?

The Ukrainian scene is incredible in all its manifestations, and each of its elements is unique in its own way – from established artists scattered across the globe who excite global audiences and major venues, to underrated young talents who tirelessly experiment in their home studios, creating new forms and directions of Ukrainian music.

There is a clear sense that the scene and its global perception is changing. Thanks to events like НА ЧАСІ (here), there’s more space for diverse music, but there’s still a lack of space for a lot of musicians. I think it’s too early to judge the future prospects, as the scene is just coming to life and rebuilding, but it’s definitely time for new names to emerge.

And how inclusive would you say the clubbing scene is towards the LGBTQIA+ community?

Speaking in the present time, this issue has receded into the background, since now everyone is a Ukrainian defending his or her country. Most of my LGBTQIA+ friends are either at the front or involved in volunteer initiatives.

Before the full-scale invasion, Ukraine began a rapid development of venues and event series aimed at creating a safe space for the LGBTQIA+ community. Veselka set the course against homophobia and sexism, and a new round of development took place with the emergence of the club, which was picked up by promoters and venues all over Ukraine. The basis has been laid and there are good examples of the firmness of the position, just look at the Pride march in Kharkiv, which took place in the subway because of the incessant shelling of the city.

Are there any recent releases by Ukrainian artists that you deserve to be global hits?

I tirelessly follow all releases from the Pep Gaffe label, each drop definitely deserves the attention of a wider audience.

https://tofudj.bandcamp.com/album/take

Definitely in my top spot is the Muscut label and one of the latest cinematic releases of Ian Yeriomenko’s live-project, better known for his dancefloor-oriented sets.

https://muscut.bandcamp.com/album/hypersensitive

And the latest discovery is another live project that is mesmerising in its diversity.

https://soundcloud.com/gasolineradio/kbt-live-03092022

I think this list could go on and on, as there is a lot of material from local artists and each of the releases deserves detailed study and attention. These are just the records that resonate with me personally.

What impact has the war had on you both personally and professionally?

Living under permanent stress makes you callous, but on the other hand more flexible. Organising any projects during the war is quite an adventure, so every time I learn how to make something out of a complete lack of opportunity. All the experiences going on around, oddly enough, work as fuel and motivate me to put all my efforts into the project.

As for me personally, this time has made me reevaluate my surroundings and appreciate even more each person around me and the moments we spend together. In general, war changes everything all around, but it takes time and a respite from an overloaded consciousness to realise something concrete. For now, we are only in the process of change, which we will be able to experience after victory.

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

I stayed in Kyiv from 24 February onwards. In 12 years of living here, the city has become my home and I have no plans to leave it under any circumstances.

What is the current mood on the ground in Kyiv after the recent missile attacks and damage to the electricity infrastructure and has Gasoline Radio had to put in place contingency plans?

I think my surroundings have got used to what’s going on, so the worries are over and life goes on, we’re all just as busy with the day-to-day stuff.

As for the radio, we are still operating as long as we have the capability to do so, certainly we have stocked up on generators in case of a blackout.

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 Western countries would finally realise that there are no good russians, that a terrorist state has committed genocide in Ukraine and that there can be no negotiations.

How do you unwind and what makes you laugh nowadays?

I’m lucky in my job; music, fortunately, is the main relaxation. And, of course, nature, short trips to the mountains give me a break.

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

Mykola Khvylovy‘s books, whose texts are colored by an acute conflict with his time and its one-dimensional routine. Must-read. Our culture and heritage is so rich and diverse that everything breathes Ukrainian, especially it feels that way now.

Who should I interview next and should I ask them?

Emil Asadow
unwavemenot
Diser Tape

What do you think needs to change in Ukraine to form a “healthy” and independent cultural landscape?

And finally, a couple of questions from Artem Ikra, “What motivates you at the moment?” and “What color are your lucky socks?”

White socks are always in my wardrobe, hopefully they’re the reason I’m so lucky, especially with people who motivate me.

 

NOVEMBER 3 2022 – UZHHOROD

non-binary love

My name is Valeriy. I was born in Uzhhorod and still live here. I started making music at the age of 13 as a vaporwave artist under the moniker “business class”. 4-5 albums were made in which the first rudiments of “non-binary love” were present. Originally, “non-binary love” was a three-act project called “戀愛(love), 欺負(bullying), 冲模(death)”. In April 2021, I removed the “business class” discography completely from the internet for personal reasons. I also deleted both Twitter and the Bandcamp page.

Around the end of August of last year, I came back to it when I saw that someone bought one of my “non-binary love” albums. After that I started working on different projects like DVD夢の未来, jiko hakai, magie the マジシャン and also worked with wonderful people.

I am still in school and I still live with my parents and have two brothers, the eldest having now moved to Lviv. Fortunately, no one in our family is in the army.

What is your setup and how would you define your sound?

Well, my setup consists of only one laptop with FL Studio. When I was working on the Acer Aspire One album, I used a netbook, which unfortunately died after I did the penultimate track. It is difficult for me to define my general sound as such, but I think it can be called disturbingly soothing. It mostly depends on the album.

loneliness death

How has the world of anime influenced your musical practice and have you learnt Japanese? 



I don’t think anime has influenced my music as much as my taste in films and animation. I guess I just started using different anime pictures for covers more often. Or I use anime music as samples. About the Japanese language, I’m still learning it. With most of the albums, I used DeepL Translator and Google (not translator) for the titles.

Does your moniker non-binary love reflect the way you identify yourself and if so, what would you say is the attitude towards non-binary people in Ukraine?

At the time of the first three albums, I identified myself as non-binary. Now I’m gender fluid. It is difficult for me to say anything in general about non-binary people in Ukraine, as I don’t really know many non-binary people in my city, but I’d say that they are not really treated with understanding or respect. That said, I guess the younger generation is not as prejudiced.

You’ve introduced the sound of an air raid siren on the track “死にゆく欲望のサイレン” (Siren of dying desire) from your latest album, おやすみ. Has the full-scale invasion changed your approach to music, starting from your motivation and down to your playlist?

I don’t think the war really changed my approach to music. Surprisingly (to me), even after the war started, I still had the motivation to make music. In terms of my playlist, I think I started listening to more ambient drone music, harsh noise and footwork/juke.

To my latest count, you’ve released nine albums this year alone. How do you manage to be so prolific at a time when most musicians in Ukraine I have spoken to have found it difficult to even listen to music, let alone to produce new albums?

What keeps me going I think is by the understanding that life does not end, whatever it is. Also, the support of my friends and relatives. And, in principle, the desire to experiment in terms of music.

暗網煙霧

What impact has the full-scale invasion had on you both personally and professionally?

Professionally, I wouldn’t say it had any impact. Personally, I began to walk more outside, volunteer, and also reconsidering many values, the importance of some things, and also began to understand what I had been wrong about before.

What is the current situation on the ground in Uzhhorod and is there still an influx of Internally Displaced People?


Luckily we haven’t been attacked yet. As for internally displaced people: the influx has most likely decreased, but I don’t have accurate information about it.

How do you unwind and what makes you laugh nowadays?

Probably listening to music, videos on YouTube, Twitter, TikTok and just chatting with friends. Of course I watch the news, but not that often.

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



It is difficult to describe the whole of Ukraine with just one thing. Therefore, I think it is worth getting acquainted with Ukrainian artists. Especially Transcarpathian. They are not very popular, but very interesting.

Who should I interview next and what should I be asking them?

I think it’s worth interviewing ạǥŵåϻņכֿ. I like their approach to breakcore.

 

NOVEMBER 3 2022 – KYIV

Elizaveta Hilko

Hey there, my name is Liza, I’m from Kyiv. I’m a Ukrainian DJ, live act, and producer. Piano teacher and music therapist. Magister psychology and master qigong.

I started deejaying over 3 years ago.

You are a resident at Gasoline Radio where it is said that “Classical music education and practice of sound therapy have reflected on your ability to skillfully operate minimalist techno, complex rhythmic combinations and a deep vibrating drum.” What role can music play under current circumstances and has it had a healing effect on you?

Music heals for me, and it is my tool for applying my knowledge to people. Now this topic is acute, people need to relax and switch – music helps to do this. If we talk about the war – remember any war film, there will always be music.

Music accompanies us all our lives.

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

Quality. Endless progress. Despite everything.

Are there any recent releases by Ukrainian artists you feel should be global hits?

Elizaveta Hilko – Black tiger, album IVIIIII (432). Live. Kyiv, 2021.

What impact has the full scale invasion had on you both personally and professionally?

Life has changed, but it will get better. You just adapt if you want to create. But I am not close to the topic – to create from the war.

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

Currently I’m in Kyiv, and have stayed here most of the time, except for business trips.

What is the current mood on the ground after the recent attacks and how are you preparing for winter?

Mood with humor and prayers. The mind changes very quickly. Feelings that you live two polar lives at the same time, a wartime one and a joyful one.

Winter preparation stage – open for new opportunities in deejaying.

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?

Just stop asking.

How do you unwind and what makes you laugh nowadays?

I have not stopped walking in the forest and mountain ranges, doing qigong, taking pictures and drawing pictures, and I love to drive a car.

I often laugh at the music I write, it makes me smile.

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

Our Ukrainian State Emblem. You know, the word is encrypted in it – VOLYA (meaning Freedom).

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

Recid. Ask him, how is he?

 

NOVEMBER 3 2022 – KREMENCHUK

Smezkh

My name is Vitalii. I am from Kremenchuk, an industrial city in central Ukraine. I picked Smezkh as my alias more than 10 years ago.

My relationship with music started when a friend from school gave me a cassette with The Prodigy album on it, it was back in the 90s and it split my life into before and after. I was amazed by the nature of electronic sounds. Acid patterns and powerful synthetic beats never left my mind. I started recording copies of any electronic music albums that I could find on cassettes back then. I was listening to radio broadcasts and recording all the electronic tracks they occasionally played. But I was eager to find out more. So when my grandfather bought me a computer in the mid 2000s, I already knew what I was going to use it for. The cultural influence of globalism kicked in. Thousands of genres from different eras and countries. My worldview was revolving around these things.

Then, a friend from university introduced me to my first music software and that’s how it all began. I have been creating music  ever since, with varying degrees of achievement, intensity and understanding. My workflow concept and vision changed several times, but for the last three or so years it remained roughly the same, I think I finally found my own voice. The process is in place, so now I just have to apply effort to materialise my ideas.

What is your setup and how would you define your sound?

I have a simple setup. PC, Ableton Live, headphones, Akai APC40, and the first series Korg Nanokontrol. I like to “draw” music with a computer mouse. My sound is an endless process of morphing and evolution. Every day I learn something new, be it by experimenting or studying tutorials to achieve certain results. Due to this never-ending, dynamic process my sound can change significantly by the end of each day. I’m not really sure how to define my sound because of its constant development.

How would you describe the electronic music scene in Ukraine, how well would you say it is catered for in terms of labels and how do you see it developing under present circumstances?

I love the Ukrainian scene. There are a lot of cool original artists. Just look at the charity compilations that were released during the full-scale invasion. This is a great showcase, a palette of the Ukrainian musical present. But it is difficult to talk about the development of anything at present, in times of war perhaps only civil society develops. Musicians create new music, labels release it, everyone tries to get on with their job. It helps one to stay sane. The music scene seems to be functioning well, at least as well as it can be expected. But I won’t make any predictions. There are too many variables at play in this equation.

You also host the Submerged Rocks series on Gasoline channel about “bass music, dubstep, breakstep, two-step, bassline, grime and other genres from around the world.”

Has your playlist changed since the full scale invasion and what effect has it had on your motivation behind making music?

Submerged Rocks is sort of a nostalgic thing. Bass music has a special place in my life, I fell in love with it during the special times of my youth. My mixes are short stories from the past, decorated with some modern tracks. It brings back memories from the times before the war started in 2014, a window into the past, so to speak.

The full-scale russian invasion of February 24 took its toll, I fell out of sync for several days. Two or three days before the invasion, we planned to release a track for a charity compilation with Vova Lostlojic. Fulfilling these commitments helped me get back on track. This mindset and having obligations still helps me.

I don’t listen to music as often as I used to anymore, it turned into a sort of special event. Occasionally, I listen to my favorite records or explore the Ukrainian segment of Bandcamp.

You are also a digital artist and have done album covers for Mystictrax amongst others. Do you consider music and art as complementary practices?

I am relatively new to digital sculpting. I was always interested in concept art for video games and 3D models. They were inspirational. But my setup wasn’t cut for these types of things. I upgraded my hardware recently and my interest for digital sculpting sparked again.

I feel this connection between sound and visuals to be a fundamental force of nature – they are in constant interaction. When I look at images I hear music, when I listen to music with my eyes closed – I see images. A full circle. Processes are not that different too, I just have to materialise my ideas in the form of a digital file on my PC. I admire live artists who combine dynamic image and sound in their projects, borderline genres of audiovisual art are fascinating.

What impact has the war had on you both personally and professionally?

The looming threat imposes a certain burden, it is difficult to keep one’s thoughts in order. So I try not to think about myself too much, at least until calmer times, this seems to be the only thing I have planned for the future. It is an interesting experience. I don’t plan anything else for more than two days ahead, the future feels too vague. Like the philosophy of a butterfly that only lives for one day.

There are people who rely on me and I want to support my family so I can’t let my thoughts affect me. I try to perform my duties automatically. Making music helps with this, it is the best remedy for depression and a great way to keep thoughts and ideas under control. So I dedicate a lot of time to producing music. The last 3-4 months were very fruitful.

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

I’m in Kremenchuk, my hometown. I’ve never left.

What is the current mood on the ground after the most recent attacks, and how are you preparing for winter?

Only after the capitulation of russia will it be possible to say that any attack was the last one. There was a short pause after the russians destroyed a local shopping mall here in Kremenchuk back in June. Now explosions are heard almost every day, both in the city and on the outskirts. We have two or three air raids a day. Kamikaze drones and cruise missiles fly overhead. It is hard to get used to it. When a 500 kg warhead explodes, the whole city hears it, the walls shake from vibration, and the body is seized by a primitive fear. During such moments, I start thinking about any unfinished work I might have.

I am grateful to the Armed Forces of Ukraine for working at the peak of their capabilities to intercept some of these missiles. This allows us to enjoy relative safety. Many people from the east of Ukraine moved to our city. It is hard to say about people’s mood, as everyone reacts very differently. Anger, fear, apathy. What I have not seen personally is despair. The city is functioning, shops are open, businesses that were not destroyed by missiles are also working.

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. Sometimes in the Western press I come across headlines with strange wording like “Ukraine’s war” or “we have economic problems because of Ukraine”. This is a deliberate distortion of the events, and I would like to see them covered as “russia’s war against Ukraine” and “we have economic problems because of russian blackmail”.

On an individual basis, it seems that people are not fully aware of what is happening in our country, despite the fact that there are millions of Ukrainians both in central and western Europe. Sometimes I communicate with friends and acquaintances from the West, to try to explain the events from the inside and they are surprised by my stories. It’s all far away for them. Only one artist, a Syrian refugee who now lives in the UK, has a perfect understanding of the situation. I don’t need to explain anything to him, he experienced it all first hand.

How do you unwind and what makes you laugh nowadays?

Communication with friends, time with family. Going for a walk. There are many beautiful parks in our city. I myself live near the forest. Kremenchuk stands on the beautiful Dnipro river, so I often have the opportunity to contemplate the amazing sunrises over the river.

Sometimes I play a game called Stellaris, an amazing game with great mechanics and great music. I rarely laugh or smile, some people around me even think that I never do it at all. But still, we need positive emotions. The best way for me to improve my mood quickly is to watch funny animal videos.

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

Ukraine is a complex jigsaw puzzle. Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, Kotlyarevsky’s Aeneid or halushky – all these are parts of a whole, a socio-cultural phenomenon as Ukraine. We have a big country, many nations live in it, everyday habits, and even the Ukrainian language itself, differ from city to city. It is difficult to take one thing out of this system.

There is one special thing for me – a thick book with “Ukrainian Folk Tales”. I got it from my babushka who lived nearby. One can tell these tales were created by an agrarian society, and while Ukraine has changed a lot since then, it still reflects the character, life and social aspect of Ukraine and Ukrainians. It’s an inexhaustible source of folk wisdom and a key to understanding Ukrainians.

Who should I interview next and what should I be asking them?

Talk to @lostlojic. This guy is wild, he does a lot for modern Ukrainian culture. He supports people just starting out, stimulates and encourages artists, his contribution is invaluable.

The Kyx is a guy who creates furious asynchronous swings in his tracks.

I would also advise you to talk to Wim Dantinne. He is a music producer and digger from Belgium, but he settled in our city a few years ago and didn’t leave even after the full-scale invasion. For the three or four years that he has been living here, he has done a lot to promote good musical taste in Kremenchuk. I admire his approach to writing music. He searches for old ethnic records in all flea markets of Ukraine, cuts samples and recomposes them into a fierce abstract hip-hop using a software tracker.

All three of them are exceptional people with extraordinary energy.

 

NOVEMBER 4 2022 – PARIS

Photo by Sabrina Richmann, Ruhrtriennale 2021

Yana Shliabanska

I’m a Ukrainian composer and sound artist. I love music and experiments. I love to discover sound expressions and sometimes this leads to a track. I love music for its level of abstraction. I would never be able to work for example with texts and would never be brave enough to work with visuals. My background is quite academic – I studied first as a classic pianist and then as a composer at the Music Academy in Kyiv.


You have composed music for contemporary dance shows and collaborated with contemporary artists such as Darya Koltsova and “noisemakers” like Ereh Saw. To what extent would you say your music is influenced by different artistic practices?



Once, when I was a child, I decided to create a doll – as beautiful as porcelain collectibles. I took a plastic bottle as a basis, spent a long time sculpting a face from plasticine, and sewed an outfit. I wanted to present this “creation” to my mother, but she was not impressed. Despite my best efforts, the doll was rather ugly. My mother put it on a glass shelf in the closet, and at night the doll fell and broke. I always gravitated to different arts. Did they influence me? Possibly. But I think what comes first is the need to create, and only then whatever one might be influenced by.

In general, it was difficult for me to pursue any specific musical direction, so it is always interesting for me to do something different – which is why I venture outside the musical sphere, although I don’t really see anything unique in this – modern art is increasingly multidisciplinary.

Documentary «Self-identification during the isolation» (Kyiv, Ukraine, 2021). Photo by Marfa Quariltod

How would you describe the sound art and contemporary music scene in Ukraine, and is there enough support from cultural institutions throughout the country?



I would describe it as young and mostly very honest and inspired since it has almost no stable institutional support and relies mainly on the enthusiasm of exceptional individuals. But this has its advantages – it did not have time to get firmly on the rails of stable financing, which might have screwed it up. Although, on the other hand, this significantly slows down the field, as it causes the outflow of talented artists to other fields, which is very sad…

I know that the organisation of Kyiv Contemporary Music Days has been helping musicians who find themselves in a difficult situation since the beginning of the russian full-scale invasion. Unfortunately, I have not heard about other cases purely in our field…

Photo by Valeriya Landar

You have inserted the sound of an air raid siren in your most recent track “Atropa Belladonna” on your Soundcloud page. Has your motivation to make music changed since February 24?



Let’s just say, my perception of art has changed. Much has lost its importance in general, it is not only the statement that is important but also who is speaking. Topics that are relevant in peaceful countries often do not resonate with me now. My sensitivity threshold has increased significantly. I think that my music has become more emotional, although for a long time I deliberately avoided this, emphasising the structure and other aspects of «beauty».

What impact has the war had on you both personally and professionally?



It is difficult to say since the war is still going on. I think that it is still too early to analyse it, and I don’t feel the need to do so now. The impact hits me very often and it is very painful. Sometimes unbearable. But these words do not convey the depth of it all.

Photo by Anna Lukinova

I understand you have now moved to France because of the war, how does it feel to be experiencing current events “remotely” especially considering there have been calls for those who’ve fled not to return to Ukraine until the spring due to the damage to the infrastructure?

The last time the center of Kyiv was attacked, I cried in the lobby of a hotel in Berlin. My friends in Ukraine did not cry, and I felt ashamed for being overemotional. Perhaps I would also be more collected if I were in Kyiv.

Photo by Roman Chygrynets

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, in fact, there are many problem areas, but the most troubling is when it comes to the interests of the West and the suggestion that Ukraine should perhaps cede certain territories.



How do you unwind and what makes you laugh nowadays?

I laugh when I talk to my friends. The lightness and serenity that surrounds me from the outside are absent from the inside now.

The House with Chimaeras – photo by Nick Grapsy – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

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

If we talk about books, then I can recommend what is in the English translation, so let it be the The UnSimple by Taras Prokhasko.

Film – Babylon XX (1979) by Ivan Mykolaychuk.

Song – very difficult to choose one, but let it be the well-known symbol of Kyiv from the 60s – «Kyieve miy».

There’s a Ukrainian dish, simple, and at the same time very strange and delicious. The name is quite romantic – a petal. It is prepared from cabbage in marinade, the shape really resembles flower petals, tinted with beetroot juice.

I don’t know about English-language Ukrainian podcasts, but it would be really cool if there were (maybe there are).

I will say the first thing that comes to mind for the building and the work of art, otherwise it could take me months to make a reasoned choice! Sculpture: Woman combing her hair by Oleksandr Arkhipenko. Building: House with Chimaeras in Kyiv.

 

NEW RELEASES

ANKHT – troxellemott

Ever since we first spoke to Vogel Ray, aka troxellemott, we’d been eagerly awaiting the release of this album. While working on it, she fled to Germany but still managed to complete ANKHT. If only just. The closing track was left unfinished because of the war. This is a defiant and disquieting album, concise and expansive at the same time.

 

notch – r.roo

After February 24 2022, many Ukrainian artists reappreased their motivation behind making music. Most found it difficult to produce new material, others were quick in completing unfinished projects and dropping unrelased material. For some, this was the apposite moment to revist their back catalogue. With a sizeable number of albums under his belt, r.roo has now released what could be seen as a “greatest hits” album comprised of remastered versions of choice cuts from his discography plus one new track.

“I’m happy to present this compilation that called «notch», with my tracks created during a not very long my musical journey (about 12 years). In this time somewhere in a parallel reality from my music I grew up, gained mind and experience, learned to feel and explore. Probably many intricacies of my being are reflected in music: music has always been my refuge. The process of making music is an ecstatic process. You get involved in a world where there are no borders and you open up to it. There is every opportunity to experience everything that happens to you to the fullest. And try to find the answer. That’s why music has always been so important for me. It’s like intimate things told to your best friend. Like prayers, the answers to which you see in the reflection of the water. Like a one-on-one conversation with Nature. Now I analyze my whole music way and feel it like a weird world where there is hope. And thank you for this hope.”

 

Zomovliannia – DZ’OB ft. Mattia Prete

A choice cut from the electroacoustic ensemble hailing from Dnipro joined by Mattia Prete on electronics.

“This new track’s title is taken from the name of a form of Ukrainian verbal folk magic. Users of zagоvory can enchant objects or people and it stems from pagan prayers and incantations that were initially based on a belief in the power of the human word. This meant that the exact pronunciation of words (whether whispered or sung) was of great importance, as was the exact observing of all associated rites. For anyone performing these rites, a great deal of stamina was required.

In the case of ‘Zomovliannia’, the words are aimed at making the enemy that has come into Ukrainian land ‘sleep forever.’ It is a strong message during such devastating times for Ukrainians, while the artwork also conveys the apocalyptic atmosphere of war and hints at a news item that suggested the Russian army was provided with 45000 plastic bags just before the illegal invasion.”

 

Horizon – Monoconda

Following on from his previous release Identity, Monoconda drops what is by all intents and purposes a lighter and breezier album. Uplifting in tone, Horizon speaks of “Island Dreams” and “Rainforest Runs”, and yet there’s a tinge of melancholia running through with the closing track “Weakness”, containing a monologue from Tarkovsky’s Stalker.

“Let everything that’s been planned come true. Let them believe. And let them have a laugh at their passions. Because what they call passion actually is not some emotional energy, but just the friction between their souls and the outside world. And most importantly, let them believe in themselves. Let them be helpless like children, because weakness is a great thing, and strength is nothing. When a man is just born, he is weak and flexible. When he dies, he is hard and insensitive. When a tree is growing, it’s tender and pliant. But when it’s dry and hard, it dies. Hardness and strength are death’s companions. Pliancy and weakness are expressions of the freshness of being. Because what has hardened will never win.”

This quote seems to be speaking about the war, but in fact, the album was completed two years ago with its vinyl release date being postponed due to Covid.

This is a nuanced album that encourages multiple readings while acting as the perfect tonic against the long winter nights.

 

Honor Thy Sand – Vlad Suppish

“Sometimes it only takes two to complete a puzzle: text and sound, field recordings and drone, external ambient and inner world sounds, a compelling story and accompanying music.

This release is the second part that complements the impression of the original story ‘The Sand’ by Svitlana Kostrykina which is available now on YouTube
www.youtube.com/watch?v=iZPgcxQCJaU

And it also consists of two parts (tracks) that complement each other.”

 

Time Traveller – Koloah // Fuga/Fortuna – Koloah & Sebastian Studnitzky

After the ambient album Serenity, his own “self-therapy against daily hell”, Koloah returns with two new eps, the infectious blend of dubstep electronica Time Traveller, released by the Bristol based label Banoffee Pies Records (with 20% of proceeds going to humanitarian causes), and the more introspective Fuga/Fortuna, a collaboration with trumpeter Sebastian Studnitzky.

The cover image for the latter is generated by artificial intelligence. An empty imaginary city, an image of how Koloah feels in every new place he visits.

“Working on music helps me overcome pain, anxiety, and worries. I hope that after listening, you will also be able to immerse yourself and maybe get a little closer to the answer ‘Who am I'”.

 

 

Come, Angel – Ihor Tsymbrovsky

The 25-th anniversary reissue of the one of most unique albums on avantgarde/neoclassic music, Ihor Tsymbrovsky’s Come, Angel came out on January 26. Ever since the full-scale invasion, I have lost count of the number of podcasts featuring one of the tracks from this exceptional album.

Aside from two songs penned by Tsymbrovsky himself, the lyrics draw from a number of sources, from Guillaume Apollinaire and Mikhaijl Semenko, to Mykola Vorobyov and Jozsef Attila.

“For me, music is a certain way of cultural survival. Here I do not set myself theoretical problems or experiments.

The connotations of life are important: rhythms, melodies, their connection with language, poetry, real life, virtual or imaginary space. It is very important to me how the recitation of work sounds, how consonant and vowel sounds dissolve in singing, how they combine musically. I understand sound space as a field of my interpretations, preferences, priorities, and I do not use direct imitation. If I hear a melody or a musical phrase, and it is fixed in my memory, later I extract it in my own interpretation, as already formed by this field. In art, the goal is in the work itself, not outside it. For me, the expression “To be is to create a new reality” is another winged reality.” – Ihor Tsymbrovsky

 

FUNDRAISING ALBUMS

Live From A Bomb Shelter in Ukraine – Heinali

“Beginning on May 10th 2022, Ukrainian musician Heinali (Oleh Shpudeiko), together with the live from Ukraine team, inaugurated a series of livestreamed performances directly from a basement and makeshift bombshelter in Lviv. Though billed as a fundraising mission, the concert series also serves a poignant and powerful window into the lives of the beleaguered Ukrainian citizens and creatives, battling the unthinkable realities of producing music in a country at war.”

 

Askanian Virgin – Edward Sol & Anla Courtis

“Many years ago Alan Courtis and I started swapping audio recordings we made in deserted places known as “steppe”. I recorded many in South Ukraine, on the last spot of the European virginal steppe known as “Askania Nova”. Alan found his sounds in Patagonia, Argentina, it’s another steppe territory, another part of the globe. Both are unusual places to get some interesting field recordings.

What you can hear on these audio files? It is something close to “nothing”. No clear particular sound objects, no dramatic movements, or even no specific audio atmosphere. Maybe a little of distant wind’s breath. Maybe some touch of dry summer grass. Maybe some echo of Bird-Queen singing her eternal song. Maybe the memory of ancient Godness walked these fields long before us. Maybe it’s just the vibration of Earth. Maybe it’s just our imagination. Too many “maybe” you can hear there…

Alan and I composed our pieces based on these original recordings and layers of processed/altered/filtered etc. variations of sounds.

Learn to listen to nothing and you will get to hear everything.”

– Edward Sol

 

Hypogonadism – Ujif_notfound

“stay safe at home.
maybe it doesn’t concern you
it might not hit you.
maybe they won’t come for you.
maybe you won’t even notice
or they won’t notice you
no one will know who you are with
no one will ask who you are
live a long happy life
with HYPOGONADISM national leader”

– Ujif_notfound

 

PODCASTS

AIR RAID SIREN – ODESA

“Odesa, which was usually overcrowded with tourists on warm days, turned into a fortress in constant anticipation of rocket attacks and the arrival of invaders. And after each attack, the streets of the city burst with the sounds of ambulances, covering the usual sounds of the sea and seagulls. And together with the change in the city, the music of the local underground was also transformed, responding to the challenges of the times, and reflecting these dark times.”

[You can support Nina Eba’s invaluable work at the Air Raid Siren website]

 

GASOLINE GUEST MIX: РАДІО ХВИЛЬ 02/10/2022

Kyiv-born producer Hanna Khvyl’ broadcasted Ukrainian music created outside of Ukraine, in diaspora circles of various countries in the 50s-90s, under the influence of local genres and global trends.

 

5 artists — 5 cities — 5 sound experiences @ 20ft Radio – 18/09/2022

5 sound-artists simultaneously share sounds that mark their personal wartime experiences in five different cities: Dnipro, Kyiv, Odesa, Lviv and Uzhhorod.

On the workshop participants assembled their own streamboxes and developed projects that explore the changes in the sound environment that had occurred since the beginning of a full-scale invasion. It may be a sudden silence of an empty tourist town or the painful experience of being displaced, the sounds of the night city as we all return home before the curfew, and thousands of other observations, some of which you will be able to hear at the event.

Participants of the workshop: Ivan Skoryna (@i_s), Ksenia Shcherbakova (@xraketa-568352160), Viktor Konstantinov (@poljemusic), Ksenia Yanus and Maksym Ivanov. Mort Drew is mixing recordings and streams together with the project participants.

This release is the result of a workshop mentored by representatives of the Soundcamp and Acoustic Commons, UK. The sound work was created as part of the project “Land to Return, Land to Care”: acousticommons.net/listen/land-to-return/

 

Philippe Sands on international law, and its future | Thinking in Dark Times # 3 – Ukraine World

Philippe Sands is a British and French writer and lawyer. He is a Professor of Law and Director of the Centre on International Courts and Tribunals at University College London. He also wrote the bestsellers East West Street: On the Origins of Genocide and Crimes against Humanity (2016) and The Ratline: Love, Lies and Justice on the Trail of a Nazi Fugitive. His latest book is The Last Colony: A Tale of Exile, Justice and Britain’s Colonial Legacy. Volodymyr Yermolenko, Ukrainian philosopher and chief editor of UkraineWorld, spoke to Philippe Sands in Lviv, during the Lviv Book Forum, about the origins of concepts of genocide and crimes against humanity, the key role of Lviv in their origins, and about the future of international law. The conversation took place two days before Russia’s massive round of missile strikes on Ukrainian cities in October.

UkraineWorld is brought to you by Internews Ukraine, one of the oldest Ukrainian media NGOs. Support us at patreon.com/ukraineworld.

(Gianmarco Del Re)

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