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Sounds of Ukraine: Top 7 Contemporary Ukrainian Performers

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Photo:  The fantastic seven brightest and most talented Ukrainian performers. Source: Collage The Gaze/by Leonid Lukashenko.
Photo: The fantastic seven brightest and most talented Ukrainian performers. Source: Collage The Gaze/by Leonid Lukashenko.

The modern Ukrainian music scene impresses with its diversity and talent. This became especially noticeable after 2014, when a significant part of it emerged from the Russian influence and began to create its own unique product. So today, we will talk about the fantastic seven brightest and most talented Ukrainian performers who not only attract attention with their music but also actively influence contemporary Ukrainian culture.

Understandably, the modern Ukrainian scene is being shaped, in part, under the influence of the full-scale Russian intrusion. The events of the war have found their reflection in the works of most Ukrainian performers. However, its development is influenced not only by this factor but also by pan-European and global trends in music development, particularly the popularity of electronic music.

DakhaBrakha


The band was founded in the early 2000s by the artistic director and founder of the independent Ukrainian theater DAH, Vlad Troitsky. The lineup included musicians Marko Halanevych, Nina Harenetska, Iryna Kovalenko, and Olena Tsybulska. DakhaBrakha's songs were recorded during folklore expeditions to various regions of Ukraine and are performed in a traditional Ukrainian singing style. The band members describe their musical style with their own term, "ethno-chaos," as the main feature of their music is the chaotic combination of various ethnic components. DakhaBrakha actively performs concerts in various parts of the world, including the USA and Canada, and at every concert, they raise the Ukrainian flag, calling for support for Ukraine in its struggle for freedom.

Dakh Daughters


Dakh Daughters is another creation of Vlad Troitsky, a female theatrical-musical group performing in the genre of freak-cabaret and dark-cabaret. The band consists of multi-instrumentalist musicians Nina Harenetska (also a member of the band DakhaBrakha), Ruslana Khazipova, Tanya Havrylyuk, Solomiia Melnyk, Hanna Nikitina, Natalia Halanevych, and Natalia Zozul. Overall, the band performs their songs on 15 different instruments, and none of the members is tied to a single instrument - throughout the concert, they constantly move around the stage, changing them. Each performance by Dakh Daughters is a powerful theatrical performance filled with deep lyrics and strong voices of very different singers.

Kalush Orchestra


The third winners from Ukraine at Eurovision, the hip-hop group Kalush Orchestra, was founded in 2021 in the city of Kalush, Ivano-Frankivsk region, hence the name of the ensemble. The band consists of 6 members: Oleg Psiuk, Timofiy Muzychuk, Oleksandr TAB Slobodyanyk, Vitaliy Duzhyk, and MC KYLYMAN (Vlad Kurochka). During the winning final of Eurovision, Oleg Psiuk, risking disqualification, called on the stage to help the defenders of the Azovstal plant in the almost entirely occupied by Russian forces city of Mariupol. After winning Eurovision, Kalush Orchestra recorded a joint track "In the Shadows of Ukraine" with the Finnish band The Rasmus. Upon returning to Ukraine, Kalush Orchestra held an auction where they sold their Crystal Microphone - the symbol of victory at Eurovision, which no winner of the song contest had done before in its entire history. The proceeds - $900,000 - were donated by the band to the needs of Ukrainian soldiers.

Jamala


Susana Jamaladinova, better known as Jamala, is the most famous Ukrainian singer of Crimean Tatar descent. Trained as an opera singer, Jamala experiments with jazz and soul rhythms in her music, and also acts in movies. In 2016, she brought Ukraine its second victory at Eurovision with the song "1944" about the deportation of the Crimean Tatar people on May 18, 1944, an event experienced by her great-grandmother among others. In 2023, Jamala released a new album, QIRIM, which became the first Crimean Tatar symphonic-ethnic album in history. It features folk songs from various parts of Crimea.

ONUKA


The electro-folk band ONUKA was founded in 2013 by composer Eugene Filatov and musician Nata Zhyzhchenko. In their sound, the band combines electronic beats with folk instruments - from the well-known to every Ukrainian bandura, to the buhay and trembita. The name of the project is a tribute to Nata's grandfather, Oleksandr Shlyonchik, a famous Ukrainian folk musician and master of musical instruments. It was he who taught little Nata to love and understand music and to play various Ukrainian folk instruments, including the sopilka. Nata Zhyzhchenko herself, as the daughter of a liquidator of the Chornobyl accident, has repeatedly participated in various projects aimed at protecting the wildlife of the Exclusion Zone.

The Hardkiss


The Hardkiss is a Ukrainian band founded in 2011 in Kyiv by Yulia Sanina and Valeriy Bebko. The band gained great popularity due to its unique style, which combines elements of rock, pop, electronic, and indie music. At the beginning, The Hardkiss had almost no songs in Ukrainian, but in 2018, their third studio album "Zalizna Lastivka" was released, consisting entirely of Ukrainian-language tracks. Currently, the band performs in various countries around the world, drawing attention to the war in Ukraine. The frontwoman of the band, Yulia Sanina, was the host of Eurovision 2023, when the contest was hosted by the country that took second place - the United Kingdom, on behalf of Ukraine.

Jerry Heil


Yana Shemayeva, performing under the pseudonym Jerry Heil, gained fame through social media and cover versions of songs by world and Ukrainian artists. The genre in which she performs is characterized by the singer as "everyday pop," as her lyrics are dedicated to social issues, personal life experiences, stories of other people, and the surrounding world. In 2024, the singer will represent Ukraine at Eurovision in a duet with rapper Alyona Alyona.

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