As the war in Ukraine continues, it is more important than ever to support the country not only with humanitarian aid, but also to get to know the glorious Ukrainian history, culture, and music. Ukrainian music is frequently known for ethnic and modern elements, which are joined with folk instruments that frequently help to tell the difficult history and brave fight for freedom.
Probably many people recognize the Ukrainian band “Okean Elzy”, singer Ivan Dorn or Eurovision Song Contest 2022 winner “Kalush Orchestra”, who sang a sentimental song about motherhood. But that is only a small part of Ukrainian performers that are worth the attention of music lovers. Therefore, we invite you to get to know some of the Ukrainian music bands and update your playlists with songs that do not lack theatricality, nostalgia, fun ethnic chaos, and revolutionary spirit.
5. Musical experience full of theatricality with “Dakh Daughters”
The dramatical “Dakh Daughters” – Ukrainian music and theatre project that was created in Kyiv in 2012. The band consists of seven talented women, who play various instruments and sing in diverse Ukrainian languages and dialects. In their song lyrics, they commonly use lines from famous authors, such as William Shakespeare, Charles Bukowski, and Taras Shevchenko. It is interesting that “Dakh Daughters” band members also are involved in other renowned Ukrainian music projects, like “DakhaBrakha” and “Perkalaba”. The name “Dakh Daughters” was inspired by Dakh Theatre – the center of contemporary art, found in Kyiv.
The theatrical-musical band performs in a genre called “freak cabaret”, and mesmerizes the listeners every time with unusual performances. Every performance is like a short play since the band members are also professional actresses.
This band is very unique and can be proud of its subtlety, impressive costumes, expressive makeup, and instrumental variety. The avant-garde band uses bass, piano, cello, guitar, violin, and many other instruments. The rich voice tones that blend with instrumental music create an extraordinary spirit and leave an unforgettable effect.
The Ukrainian band became famous when published a music video on “Youtube” named “Rozy / Donbas”, based on W. Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 35” and Ukrainian folk songs. This song was listened to by more than 3 million people from all over the world. The performers also earned their fame after a live performance during the Euromaidan protests in 2013 December.
“Dakh Daughters” play not only in Ukrainian cities but also outside its borders – in Poland, the Czech Republic, France, Russia, and even Brazil. The first studio album “IF”, released in 2016, was praised by critics. The most recent release is – the 2021 album “Make up”, which has 11 tuneful songs.
“Dakh Daughters” – a joy for music and theatre lovers that surprises with its lyrics and dramatism. So if you are looking for unique musical experiences, you should look into this girl band!
“Onuka” (“Granddaughter” in Ukrainian) – an electro-folk band, formed in 2013. Group members: Mariya Sorokina (percussions), Nata Zhyzhchenko (main vocals), and Daryna Sert (keyboard and backing vocals). The variety of instruments in the band is especially original. They use electronic drums, trombones, French horns, and Ukrainian folk instruments bandura and sopilka.
It is interesting that the band name is a tribute to the main vocalist Nata’s grandfather, who used to make traditional Ukrainian instruments.
For the original and modern, but also tradition-preserving sound, the band receives a lot of attention from music lovers, and their debut album, released in 2014, became the best-sold album in Ukraine.
- „5‘nizza“– band, oozing with sincerity
For more than two decades, the band “5’nizza” pleases listeners with authentic song performances, lyrics, and skillful plays of words. “5’nizza” (“Friday” in Ukrainian slang) – an acoustic band, formed in 2000, in Kharkiv. The band consists of two friends Serhii Babkin (guitar) nad Andrii “Sun” Zaporozhets (vocals).
“5’nizza” combines various musical styles – from reggae, funk, rock to hip hop – this band experiments with everything. Everyone, who has listened to the band’s songs at least once, can notice influences from “Nirvana” Bob Marley, and Victor Coi (these performers are also mentioned in the band’s song lyrics). Ukrainian duet is distinguishable for their sincerity and in their most popular compositions “Jamayka”, “Soldat”, “Strela”, and “I Believe in You” everyone can find something familiar to their own hearts.
The artist duo became popular in 2002 when they performed in a musical festival “Kazantip”. A year later, they released their first album “Pyatnitsa”, and in 2005 – their second album was called “O’5”. 2 years later, during the recording of the third animal, the band broke up after creative disagreements. Both Sergej Babkin and A. Zaporozhets started solo careers, but after an unexpected meeting on the street of their hometown in 2015 they decided to start playing again. After 10 years of silence, they recorded their third album “KY”. Babkin is also a member of the Kharkiv theatre group “Theatre 19”, and Zaporozhets is aspiring to become a pediatrician.
- Revolutional spirit of “Balaklava Blues”
“Balaklava Blues” – a musical band, formed by Mark and Marichka Marczyk, who met and fell in love during the Maidan revolution. Their music is not only filled with spirits of the 2014 revolution but also captures the view of a person, who comes from a war-marked country and reflects painful experiences. A mature approach to lived experiences through music – “Balaklava Blues” trademark that pleases their listeners.
Ukrainian music collective also boldly experiments by combining Ukrainian folk music polyphony and various ethnical music traditions with electronic dance music, such as trap, dubstep, and others, which join with distinctive Ukrainian blues that unfolds through hundred years old songs, filled with unique voices.
It is interesting that the revolutionary spirit not only marks the band’s creative work but also the name (balaclava – a garment, covering the head and neck, except the eyes). According to the band members, the balaclava covers the face but reveals the soul. “No matter if we are on the front lines, at home, or on stage – we never take our balaclavas off. You might not see them, but it is our blues, an invisible tattoo, engraved on our faces for eternity”, – said Mark Marczyk about the meaning of the band name.
It is worth listening to “Balaclava Blues” vocals, but also to looking into artistic music videos, which combine documentary scenes from the front lines, archived footage, and even popular fragments from Soviet cartoons.
- Ethnical chaos with “DakhaBrakha”
“DakhaBrakha” (“Take/Give” in Ukrainian) – a band from Kyiv that consists of Marko Galanevych, Olena Tsybulska, Iryna Kovalenko, and Nina Garenetska. In their music “DakhaBrakha” connect various ethnical styles that don’t go unnoticed. The unexpected, intimate musical world is called “ethnical chaos”. Ethnicity and chaos become the main elements of their creations, which turn into a unique music style.
Like we mentioned at the start, “DakhaBrakha” is related to “Dakh Daughters” – both Ukrainian bands originate from the contemporary theater “Dakh” found in Kyiv. The theater is led by Vladyslav Troitskyi, who is the producer of “DakhaBrakha”. The theater’s influence left a vibrant mark on the band’s performances – they are always live and have original stage effects.
The band’s music not only encompasses Ukrainian folk music, but also indie rock, pop, punk, hip hop, avant-garde, Balkan music, and even various traditional instrumental music from Africa Asia, Arab countries, and Western countries.
“DakhaBrakha” – Eastern European folklore that leaves an impression and knows how to combine avant-garde and everyday life in a Ukrainian village. Ukrainians consider this band a cultural phenomenon, which attracts listeners with an aggressive sound, ritual tribal rhythm, and stunning vocals. The band’s music is a mesmerizing, mystical combination of spiritual Ukrainian folk music, jazz, and trance.