Eugene Hütz

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Eugene Hütz
Gogol Bordello Lollapalooza.JPG
Eugene Hütz at Lollapalooza 2015
Background information
Birth name Yevgeniy Aleksandrovych Nikolayev
Born (1972-09-06) 6 September 1972 (age 43)
Boyarka, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union
Origin Boyarka, Ukraine
Genres Gypsy punk
Instruments Guitar, vocals, fire bucket[1]
Years active 1999–present
Associated acts Gogol Bordello
Les Claypool

Eugene Hütz (pronounced [ˈjʊəɡeːnə hyts] Ukrainian: Євген Гудзь Ukrainian pronunciation: [jɛvɦɛn ɦydsʲ], Yevhen Hudz′; born Yevheniy Aleksandrovich Nikolayev-Simonov, Russian: Евгений Александрович Николаев-Симонов, 6 September 1972) is a Ukrainian-born singer, composer, DJ, and actor, most notable as the frontman of the Gypsy punk band Gogol Bordello.

Early life[edit]

Hütz was born in Boyarka, to a Russian father and a Ukrainian mother who was of half Servitka ancestry.[2][3] His father was a butcher who also played guitar in one of Ukraine's first rock bands, Meridian. When he was 14, he and his father made his first guitar out of plywood, his first distortion pedals out of radio parts and his first drum set out of big metal fish cans, skinned with massive layers of scotched tape.[4] Hütz learned English through his musical "mentors" because

"Russian rock always had lyrics that were superb and more advanced than the original Western rock ‘n’ roll, I think. Of course, Western rock is much stronger when it comes to performance and production, but Russian song writers were the champions of writing lyrics. So naturally I picked mentors who taught me how to tell a story, like Johnny Cash or Nick Cave or Leonard Cohen or Shane MacGowan from The Pogues. I learned English through my mentors. I feel like they are kind of my uncles in this sense."[5]

Hütz's ride to the United States was a long journey through Poland, Hungary, Austria and Italy. Descendants of gypsies called the Servo Roma (a tribe known for its blacksmiths, horsetraders and musicians), Hütz and his family fled their hometown after hearing of the Chernobyl meltdown. However, it is Hütz's Roma and Ukrainian background that is his central inspiration, influencing his lifestyle and the music of his band Gogol Bordello.

Hütz arrived in Vermont in 1992 as a political refugee through a resettlement program with his mother, father and cousin Yosef.[6]

Gogol Bordello[edit]

Hütz started his musical career in Ukraine with the band Uksusnik (Vinegar Dispenser). While in Vermont, Hütz formed the punk band The Fags.[6] Later, Hütz moved to New York and took on his mother's German maiden name of Hütz. It was in New York where he met members of Gogol Bordello including violinist Sergey Ryabtsev, accordionist Yuri Lemeshev, guitarist Oren Kaplan, drummer Eliot Ferguson and dancers Pam Racine and Elizabeth Sun. The first name of the band was "Hutz and the Bela Bartoks," but "nobody knows who the hell Bela Bartok is in the United States."

Hütz performing with Gogol Bordello

In 1999, Gogol Bordello released their debut full-length Voi-La Intruder, produced by Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds drummer Jim Sclavunos. In September 2002 the band released their second album Multi Kontra Culti vs. Irony. In 2005, the band released the E.P. East Infection followed later that year by the SideOneDummy debut Gypsy Punks: Underdog World Strike, recorded by Steve Albini. Gogol Bordello’s next offering, Super Taranta! (produced by Victor Van Vugt) became one of their most critically acclaimed releases with music critic Robert Christgau calling Gogol Bordello “the world's most visionary band.”[7] Their next album, Trans-Continental Hustle, was released on 27 April 2010 and the LP on 11 May 2010.[8]

Gogol Bordello's live shows and Hütz's stage presence has earned them invitations to places such as The Whitney Museum in New York, The Tate Modern in London and the Venice Biennale in Italy. Gogol Bordello has played events such as Coachella, Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, Glastonbury, Roskilde Festival, Reading, Virgin Mobile Fest, Leeds, Bumbershoot, Austin City Limits Music Festival, Byron Bay Bluesfest and A Campingflight to Lowlands Paradise.

Other projects[edit]

Since moving to New York, Hütz has also made a name for himself as a DJ with a style best represented on his experimental side project J.U.F. (Jüdisch-Ukrainische Freundschaft) and a newer incarnation, MITITIKA. He has also performed and recorded with the Kolpakov Trio.

Hütz made his film debut in the 2005 film Everything Is Illuminated, playing the character Alex. In addition to starring in Everything Is Illuminated, Hütz wrote and performed (as part of Gogol Bordello) some of the music for the film's soundtrack. Much of Gogol Bordello makes a cameo appearance in an early scene in the movie.

Hütz is also the subject of the 2006 documentary, The Pied Piper of Hützovina. Directed by Pavla Fleischer, the film chronicles Hütz’s annual trip across Ukraine and Eastern Europe exploring his musical and cultural roots.[9]

In 2008, Hütz starred as the lead character in Filth and Wisdom, the film that marks Madonna’s directorial debut. The film premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival on 13 February 2008.

Hütz wrote the introduction for the Subculture Books edition of Taras Bulba, released in December of 2008.[10]

Hütz has also worked with Les Claypool on various materials; he performed on Claypool's album "Of Fungi and Foe", on the track "Bite Out of Life".

Eugene Hütz appeared on the cover of Vogue Ukraine May 2013 with model Kätlin Aas.


In the 2006 movie Wristcutters: A Love Story, the character of Eugene (played by Shea Whigham) is based on Hütz and several of Hütz's songs are featured in the film.

In the January 2008, Gucci menswear show in Milan, Hütz was cited as the key inspiration for the collection.[11]

Personal life[edit]

Hütz is an avid supporter of Romani rights, using his music to introduce the gypsy culture to a wider audience. When he’s not touring with Gogol Bordello, Hütz can be found DJ-ing at the Bulgarian Bar also known as "Mehanata" in New York or touring with the Russian gypsy group Kolpakov Trio, led by his mentor Sasha Kolpakov. Eugene has no siblings, although he refers to his maternal cousin as his brother; his cousin made an appearance in the movie Everything is Illuminated playing the trumpet. Both Eugene and his cousin are 1/4 Romani. His maternal grandmother is his tie to his Romani roots, although this knowledge was kept away from him until he was fourteen.[citation needed] In October 2008, Hütz told the L.A. Weekly that he had moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.[12] In November 2009, he told Pagina/12 that he had moved to São Paulo.[13]



External links[edit]