Rock music in Ukraine
While it is rock it is important for those who follow Ukrainian contemporary music to understand the VIA music scene of the 1970s and 1980s. This controlled form of music, was a response to the Rock and roll infiltrating from the outside of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, to understand the development of Ukrainian rock one has to understand its background.
The most popular bands include BoomBox, Braty Hadiukiny, Druha Rika, Haydamaky, Komu Vnyz, Lama, Mad Heads XL, Mandry, Mertvyi Piven, Okean Elzy, Plach Yeremiyi, S.K.A.Y., Taras Petrynenko, Tartak, TNMK, Viy, Vopli Vidoplyasova and others. Opalnyi Prynz was, perhaps, the most influential rock band in the late 1980s and early 1990s, followed by its predecessor Loony Pelen. Okean Elzy, featuring Svyatoslav Vakarchuk has long been among the most popular bands of Ukrainian pop-rock, and has had some success abroad. The band Mandry is known for fusing traditional Ukrainian music with rock, blues, reggae and chansons. The pop-singer Ruslana also uses some elements of rock in her work.
"Пісенний Вернісаж" - New Ukrainian Wave 92 - Festival of the best Ukrainian folk/pop/rock bands (Producer- Rostyslav-show, 1992)
Metal Heads Mission is the biggest metal festival in Ukraine and ex-USSR countries.
Ukrainian rock songs are commonly sung in either Ukrainian or Russian. Some performers pronounce Russian with a Ukrainian accent, as can be heard in some Vopli Vidopliassova songs. Elements include pronouncing all instances of the o as /o/ (despite being unstressed) and ye as /e/. The ge is also pronounced as /h/ or /x/.
During 1960's students from the Kyivan special music school formed this group. The group was named after Mykola Lysenko. They initially played unique interpretations of Ukrainian folk songs. Later, after members were exposed to the late works of The Beatles, they started to rearrange works of Bach and Khachaturian. In 1971 the band split as Petrynenko and Blinov left it to form the new group Dzvony. The band started to experiment in new genres: blues and soul. In 1972 the band and their music were banned in the Soviet Union and labeled "bourgeois-national". As a result, all existing records/recordings were destroyed. After that the band went underground until 1974. The members then merged with Dzvony into the new vocal-instrumental ensemble Decorative Trails. After the group was accepted to the Ukr-kontsert it changed its name to Hrono. In 1977 the ensemble became Eney once again. After a period of time, the group broke up and members either joined different bands or went solo. Petrynenko later created his own group Hrono.
Braty Hadiukiny (Ukrainian: Брати Гадюкіни) is a rock band from Lviv, one of the most successful Ukrainian bands of Soviet times. The band music style combines different genres such as rock'n'roll, blues, punk, reggae, funk and folk. Ironical song lyrics contain a lot of local vernacularisms, slang and surzhyk. The name translates as "Hadyukin Brothers", where the fictional surname Hadyukin is derived from the word hadiuka, or "viper". The abbreviation literally means "snakes" (In Ukrainian the two words are cognates.)
The band was active mainly between 1988 and 1996. In January 2006 they held a big solo concert in Kyiv which was a big event in Ukrainian media space and was visited by lot of famous people (including that time prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko). After band's leader Serhiy Kuzminskyi died in 2009 the big tribute concert was held in 2011, joined by prominent Ukrainian rock musicians such as Komu Vnyz, Vopli Vidoplyasova, Okean Elzy and others. In 2014 rest of band members released new album (the first one since 1996).
Mertvyi Piven (Ukrainian: Мертвий Півень) is a rock band that formed in 1989. The first concert was given in 1990 at the first Vyvykh festival. Their debut album Eto recorded in 1991, at the end of the Chervona Ruta festival (Chervona Ruta), where the group took first prize in the category of performers art songs. Dead Rooster began as an acoustic band. During the second half of the 1990s, they evolved into a grunge/art-rock band, though their music can't be described by one particular style. Dead Rooster has changed personnel several times.
Many songs of the band were written in lyrics of Ukrainian poets like Yuri Andrukhovych, Maksym Rylsky, Oleksandr Irvanets, Viktor Neborak, Yurko Pozayak, Serhiy Zhadan, Natalka Bilotserkivets, Ihor Kalynets and Taras Shevchenko. The album Pisni Mertvoho Pivnya is based on the Andrukhovych's poetry collection of the same name.
Komu Vnyz (Ukrainian: Кому Вниз) was founded in 1988 in Kyiv. They wound up at their first festival Chervona Ruta completely by chance. It was too late to submit the sample recording to the panel of judges for the tryout, but Taras Petrynenko, after listening to their work, insisted that they participated in the event.
As of 2011, Komu Vnyz is translating their lyrics into English in order to re-release their albums in Europe.
Haydamaky (Ukrainian: Гайдамаки) is a folk rock band formed in Kyiv in 1991. The music of Haydamaky is inspired by various ethnic music from around the world, especially from various regions of Ukraine, such as Polesia, Bukovina, and Transcarpathia. Other influences include the Romanian folklore, punk music sound of Shane McGowan and by the reggae of such bands like Burning Spear and Black Uhuru.
Haydamaky have recently performed at many club venues across Europe, including as a special guest at a concert of Asian Dub Foundation in Bratislava, Slovakia. Other club appearances this year were held in Germany, Estonia, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Moscow.
Okean Elzy (Ukrainian: Океан Ельзи, translation: Elza's Ocean) is one of the most successful and popular Ukrainian bands. It was formed in 1994 in Lviv, Ukraine. The band's vocalist and frontman is Svyatoslav Vakarchuk. Okean Elzy is one of the best-loved Ukrainian rock band not only in Ukraine but also in most CIS countries. In April 2007 Okean Elzy received FUZZ Magazine music awards for “Best rock act”.
Plach Yeremiyi (Ukrainian: Плач Єремії) is a rock band from Lviv, Ukraine. The band was actually formed in February 1990, but the two most constant musicians - Taras Chubay and Vsevolod Dyachyshyn have played together since 1984 in the band Tsyklon (Циклон).
Plach Yeremiyi songs are usually serious, philosophical poems many composed by lead man Taras Chubay's father Hryhoriy Chubay and given a contemporary rock sound. The group's name comes from Taras Chubay's father's Magnum opus Plach Yeremiyi posthumously published in 1999. The music in the songs sounds hard, then changes to an easy ballad and again explodes, overfilled by emotions. All this has a specific "Lviv" colouring.
Dymna Sumish (Ukrainian: Димна Суміш) was founded on 3 December 1998 in Chernihiv. The group plays a mix of hardcore, punk and psychedelic rock. Winners of the festivals «Chervona Ruta» (Ukraine), «Pearls of the Season» (Ukraine), «Boards» (Moscow), «Woodstock» (Poland). Its name means Smoking Mix.
All members of the group are vegetarians. They openly express their opinion against violence, drugs and alcohol, trying to convey to the listeners with their music and lyrics the value of life.
In April 2012 the participants of the group said that the group temporarily stop their activity because of inability to cope with the situation in Ukraine - when a culture isn't valued, but instead all the power has policy, social experiments and "totalitarianism".
Druha Rika (Ukrainian: Друга Ріка) is a rock band from Zhytomyr. The band's style determined as Brit Pop. Druha Rika released five studio albums and two compilations. The name of the band means Second river.
Tartak (Ukrainian: Тартак) is a popular hip-hop/rapcore/alternative crossover band from Ukraine. They mix styles of guitar rock, hip-hop and dance music to produce an energetic compositions and lyrics.
"Tartak" means woodsaw in Ukrainian. Sashko thought that tartak symbolized something energetic, loud, active, and hence appropriate for a band name.
Sashko Polozhynskyi founded the group in the Fall of 1996 in Lutsk, Ukraine. The group has released five albums with a total of 74 songs and 9 videos. Tartak's songs "Ni Ya Ne Tu Kokhav" and "Stilnykove Kohannia" stayed on the Top 40 charts for 144 days and 75 days respectively. Tartak was one of the bands that performed during the events of the Orange Revolution as seen in the adjacent picture.
The true founder of Tartak was Vasyl Zinkevytch jr., a friend of Sashko. Bohdan Zinkevych came up with the name. Vasyl came up with the idea and put together the group; he also arranged the rehearsals since his father is a famous singer he has access to studios, so they could make records. At the beginning they were struggling because their lyrics weren't a success and the soloist (Vasyl Zinkevych) had no voice for lyrics they wrote. Sashko soon made changes because for a long time he was trying to make a place for himself in the show business. In the late 90's Sashko was making his way as a showman on the concerts, parades, and other musical events! when his fame actually came to him he claimed that the idea of Tartak was his idea.
Tin Sontsia (Ukrainian: Тінь Сонця, sometimes literal translation Sun Shadow is used) is a folk metal band from Kyiv. Primarily the band's style was close to alternative rock, but in 2003 they have come to so called Cossack rock. Almost all of the lyrics are in Ukrainian except couple of Belarusian songs.
BoomBox (also: БумБокс, Bumboks) is a Ukrainian funky groove band, which was founded in 2004 by singer Andriy Khlyvniuk and Andriy “Mukha” Samoilo on guitar. In April 2005 the band released its first album, which only took 19 hours to record.
After the band had been formed in 2001 it started to tour the country and performed at several festivals like Perlyny sezonu, Tavriyski ihry and Chervona ruta. They became more known for a broader audience after their appearance on the programme "Fresh Blood" on the Ukrainian TV channel M1. The general director Eduard Klim from Lavina Music saw them and signed them to his label.
In 2006 their first album "Te, shcho treba" was released. They released their second album "Planeta S.K.A.Y." already in 2007.
The frontman Oleh Sobchuk in 2008 was awarded the medal of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) "1020 Years of Baptism of Rus" for his participation in the rock-tour with the same name.
In October–November 2013 the group took part in agitational concerts "We are united", which were organized by pro-Russian politician Viktor Medvedchuk in Ukrainian cities.
List of best Ukrainian rock songs 1988-2013
The following list represents the results of the poll, held by rock portal "rock-ua":
1. Воплі Відоплясова — «Весна».
2. Плач Єремії — «Вона».
3. Океан Ельзи — «Квітка».
4. Друга Ріка — «Впусти».
5. Green Grey — «Эмигрант».
6. Скрябін — «Нікому то не треба».
7. Океан Ельзи — «Майже весна».
8. Воплі Відоплясова — «День народження».
9. Океан Ельзи — «Відпусти».
10. Братья Карамазовы — «Маленькая стая».
11. Мандри — «Русалки».
12. Брати Гадюкіни — «Файне місто Тернопіль».
13. Танок на майдані Конґо — «Вода».
14. Lama — «Мені так треба».
15. Друга Ріка — «Там де ти».
16. Океан Ельзи — «Друг ч.2».
17. Скрябін — «Спи собі сама».
18. Океан Ельзи — «Коко Шанель».
19. Табула Раса — «Шейк „Шей, шей“».
20. Скрябін — «Старі фотографії».
21. Океан Ельзи — «Не питай».
22. Воплі Відоплясова — «Країна мрій».
23. С.К.А.Й. — «Тебе це може вбити».
24. Марія Бурмака — «Скло».
25. Брати Гадюкіни — «Дівчина з Коломиї».
26. Green Grey — «Под дождем».
27. Yurcash — «Менуети. Тюльпани в целафані».
28. Океан Ельзи — «Все буде добре».
29. Табула Раса — «Сказка про май».
30. Воплі Відоплясова — «Танці».
31. Океан Ельзи — «Без бою».
32. ТОЛ — «Хто я?».
33. Брати Гадюкіни — «Ми хлопці з Бандерштадту».
34. Табула Раса — «Любимая машина».
35. Бумбокс — «Наодинці».
36. Скрябін — «Фото (брудна як ангел)».
37. Океан Ельзи — «Там, де нас нема».
38. Танок на майдані Конґо — «Зачекай».
39. Океан Ельзи — «Кавачай».
40. 5’Nizza — «Солдат».
41. Кому вниз — «Розрита могила».
42. Океан Ельзи — «Коли тебе нема».
43. Lama — «Знаєш як болить?».
44. ТіК — «Апрєль».
45. Тартак — «Я не знаю».
46. Крихітка Цахес — «Вменеємен».
47. Esthetic Education — «Machine».
48. Мандри — «Ніжна королева».
49. Mad Heads — «Надія є».
50. Гайдамаки — «Божественна тромпита».
- Bandershtat (Volyn Oblast, 2007–present)
- Chervona Ruta (different cities of Ukraine, 1989–present)
- Taras Bulba (Dubno, Rivne Oblast, 1991–present)
- Tavria Games (Kakhovka, Kherson Oblast, 1992–present)
- Rock-Existence (Kyiv, 1996–2005)
- Rock-Sich (Kyiv, 2006–2013)
- Stare Misto (Lviv, 2007–2013)
- Trypilske kolo (Rzhyshchiv, Kyiv Oblast, 2008–present)
- Zakhid (Lviv Oblast, 2009–present)
- Respublica (Kamianets-Podilskyi, Khmelnytskyi Oblast, 2011–present)
List of notable Ukrainian rock bands
- Druha Rika
- Krykhitka (ex-Krykhitka Tsakhes)
- Mertvyi Piven
- Okean Elzy
- Opalnyi Prynz
- Plach Yeremiyi
- Braty Hadiukiny
- Dymna Sumish
- Mad Heads XL (ex-Mad Heads)
- Qarpa (ex-Faktychno Sami)
- Robots Don't Cry
- Sobaky v Kosmosi
- Teoriia Gvaltu
- The Ukes (Leeds, England)
- The Ukrainians (Leeds, England)
- Klooch (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)
- Enej (Olsztyn, Poland)
- Berkut (Olsztyn, Poland)
- Svoboda (Saint Petersburg, Russia)
- Sontse-Khmary (Saint Petersburg, Russia)
- Multimedia Database "Modern Ukrainian independent music"
- Metal Heads Mission Festival
- Євтушенко, Олександр. "Легенди химерного краю". Українська рок-антологія. Київ-2004, "Автограф" - Online version - http://rock-oko.com/knizhki/oblichchya-muziki/tvorch-portreti/opalnij-princz.html
- Many entries at the Pisni.org Website show that the words were written by Taras Chubay's father - http://www.pisni.org.ua/persons/76.html
- List of Tartak albums
- "His Beatitude Metropolitan Volodymyr Handed Out Church Awards to Priests and Musicians Who Took Part in All-Ukraine Rock Tour Dedicated to 1020th Years of the Baptism of Rus", Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate), 2008.