Eugene Hütz

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Eugene Hütz
Eugene Hütz at Lollapalooza 2015
Eugene Hütz at Lollapalooza 2015
Background information
Birth nameYevheniy Oleksandrovych Nikolayev
Born (1972-09-06) 6 September 1972 (age 50)
Boyarka, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union
GenresGypsy punk
Instrument(s)Guitar, vocals, fire bucket[1]
Years active1999–present

Eugene Hütz (German: [hʏts]; Ukrainian: Євген Гудзь, romanizedYevhen Hudz, IPA: [jeu̯ˈɦɛn ˈɦudzʲ]; born Yevgen Oleksandrovych Nikolayev-Symonov, Ukrainian: Євген Олександрович Ніколаєв-Симонов, on 6 September 1972) is a Ukrainian-born singer, composer, disc jockey and actor, most notable as the frontman of the Gypsy punk band Gogol Bordello.

Early life[edit]

Hütz was born in Boyarka, to a Ukrainian-Lithuanian father, a butcher by profession, and a Ukrainian mother who was of half Servitka Roma ancestry.[2][3] [4] His father also played guitar in one of Ukraine's first rock bands, Meridian. When Eugene was 14, he and his father made his first guitar of plywood, his first distortion pedals out of radio parts, and his first drum set from large metal fish cans, skinned with layers of Scotch tape.[5] Hütz learned English through his musical "mentors" because, as he put it, "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 songwriters 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."[6]

Hütz's transition into an American singer was a long journey through Poland, Hungary, Austria and Italy. Descendants of the Romani 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. They spent seven years trekking through Eastern European refugee camps before settling in the US. While living in Kyiv Hütz's parents hid their Roma ancestry, and it was during this journey that Hütz was introduced to his roots. They visited the village his family came from and his relatives introduced him to the essential foods and music of their culture.[7]

Hütz's Roma/Ukrainian background provides his central inspiration, influencing his lifestyle and the music of his band Gogol Bordello. Hütz's connection with his cultural roots is not without controversy, however, and he is seen as a polarizing figure among international Romani rights activists due to stereotypical displays of Romani culture.[8]

Hütz arrived in Vermont in 1992 as a political refugee through a resettlement program with his mother, father and cousin Yosef.[9]

Gogol Bordello[edit]

Hütz started his musical career in Ukraine with the band Uksusnik (Vinegar Tap). While in Vermont, Hütz formed the punk band The Fags.[9] He later moved to New York and took on his mother's German maiden name of Hütz. In New York, he met the future members of Gogol Bordello including violinist Sergey Ryabtsev, accordionist Yuri Lemeshev, guitarist Oren Kaplan, drummer Eliot Ferguson and dancers Pam Racine and Elizabeth Sun. He first called the band "Hutz and the Bela Bartoks", but changed it after realizing that "nobody knows who the hell Béla Bartók is in the United States."

Hütz performing with Gogol Bordello in 2005

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."[10] Their next album, Trans-Continental Hustle, was released on 27 April 2010 and the LP on 11 May 2010.[11] The band's sixth studio album, Pura Vida Conspiracy, was released in 2013, followed by their seventh, Seekers and Finders, in 2017.

Gogol Bordello's live shows and Hütz's stage presence have 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 Riot Fest, Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, 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]

Eugene Hütz DJing at Tropicalia in Washington, DC on December 28, 2013

In New York Hütz 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 his film role, Hütz wrote and performed (as part of Gogol Bordello) some of the music for the film's soundtrack. Several Gogol Bordello members made cameo appearances in various roles in the movie.

Hütz is 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.[12]

Hütz played the lead character in Filth and Wisdom, a 2008 film that marked 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 2008.[13]

Hütz has worked with Les Claypool on various projects, including his performance on Claypool's album "Of Fungi and Foe" (on the track "Bite Out of Life").

Hütz appeared on the cover of the May 2013 issue of the Ukraine edition of Vogue, with Estonian model Kätlin Aas.[14]


In the 2006 movie Wristcutters: A Love Story, the character of Eugene (played by Shea Whigham) is based on Hütz. Several of Hütz's songs are featured in the film. Hütz was also the inspiration for the character Evgeni (played by Oscar Isaac) in Madonna's film W.E.[15]

In the January 2008 Gucci menswear show in Milan, Hütz was cited as the key inspiration for the collection.[16]

Personal life[edit]

In October 2008, Hütz told the LA Weekly that he had moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.[17] In November 2009, he told Página/12 that he had moved to São Paulo.[18]



  1. ^ "Eugene Hütz | Gogol Bordello". Archived from the original on 2013-04-07. Retrieved 2013-04-07. Gogol Bordello Band Profiles
  2. ^ "Interview: Eugene Hütz, the moustachioed-gypsy-rocker". The Independent. London. 13 July 2007. Archived from the original on November 4, 2012. Retrieved 2 May 2010.
  3. ^ "Euro clash". The Sydney Morning Herald. 10 December 2005.
  4. ^ "A Man, a Band, a War: Eugene Hütz Speaks His Mind". 25 May 2022.
  5. ^ "Eugene Hütz of Gogol Bordello: An interview and a spiritual experience". 28 October 2014. Retrieved 25 August 2015.
  6. ^ Kravtsova, Yekaterina (16 November 2011). "Gogol Bordello unplugged: The kings of gypsy punk return to the city for an acoustic gig at Glavclub next week". The St. Petersburg Times. Archived from the original on 22 November 2011. Retrieved 27 November 2011.
  7. ^ Christgau, Reviewer Robert. "Eugene Hutz, Gogol Bordello's Gypsy Punk Hero". Retrieved 2021-07-30.
  8. ^ Silverman, Carol (2012). Romani Routes: Cultural Politics and Balkan Music in Diaspora. Oxford University Press. p. 287. ISBN 9780199358847.
  9. ^ a b "Interview:Hutz-pah". Seven Days. Burlington VT. 27 July 2005. Retrieved 28 February 2011.
  10. ^ [1] Archived 2008-05-09 at the Wayback Machine Inside Music: Consumer Guide
  11. ^ "Gogol Bordello | Shop the Gogol Bordello Official Store". Retrieved 17 September 2020.
  12. ^ Perry, Kevin (30 January 2007). "Eugene Hütz interview about The Pied Piper of Hützovina". London: The Beaver.
  13. ^ Gogolʹ, Nikolaĭ Vasilʹevich (17 September 2008). Taras Bulba. Subculture Books Classics. OCLC 298858570. Retrieved 17 September 2020 – via Open WorldCat.
  14. ^ "Ukraina Vogue'i esikaanel poseerib Eesti kaunitar" (in Estonian). Elu24/Postimees. 23 April 2013. Retrieved 15 January 2019.
  15. ^ Van Sant, Gus (May 2010). "Madonna: An Interview". Interview. Retrieved February 20, 2018.
  16. ^ Freeman, Hadley (17 January 2008). "How a Gypsy punk inspired a whole new catwalk look". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 19 January 2008.
  17. ^ "Los Angeles - Gogol Bordello's Eugene Hutz Talks Festivals, Filth and Wisdom - Play - LA Weekly". Archived from the original on 2008-10-04. Retrieved 2008-10-03. Gogol Bordello's Eugene Hütz Talks Festivals, Filth and Wisdom, Erin Broadley, LA Weekly (3 October 2008)
  18. ^ "Página/12 :: no". Retrieved 17 September 2020.

External links[edit]