Music for export: young Ukrainian bands abroad

Author : Olexiy Bondarenko

15:20, 25 June 2016

Music for export: young Ukrainian bands abroad

Author : Olexiy Bondarenko

A growing number of Ukrainian musicians considers Europe and America as the target market

15:20, 25 June 2016

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Of course, not all of them might break out, but the number of groups, whose tour schedules include not only Ukrainian cities, is constantly growing.

The new word in the world of music

"DakhaBrakha" has already made history by becoming the first Ukrainian group to participate in the main festival of the Old World, "Glastonbury." A number of teams, including "Haydamaky," Kozak System, and Atmasfera, are also regular participants of some European festivals.

Yuri Lobachevsky

One of the most famous Ukrainian bands touring abroad is Stoned Jesus that plays stoner and alternative rock. Their first European tour took place in 2012; since then year after year, the trio has been including more and more cool places to the tour schedule.

For example, this month the team played at Hellfest festival, along with the heavy music giants like Rammstein and Black Sabbath.

Related: Summer Sounds: music festivals of Hungary, Serbia, Poland, Latvia and Ukraine

During the first half of 2016, Stoned Jesus played 54 concerts in 16 countries of Europe and South America. They became the first Ukrainian team, playing the tour on the South American continent.

Stoned Jesus frontman Ihor Sydorenko believes that it is necessary to clearly separate the musicians "with a characteristic combination of recognizable handwriting and niche oriented" and those "with a pair of appearances at festivals of the near abroad."

According to Sydorenko, to the first category belong his former colleagues in the alternative scene - a group of Somali Yacht Club, Ethernal Riffian, and 5R6. For example, this year Ethernal Riffian given at least nine concerts in Europe.

Another record champion of the concerts abroad is Jinjer, a band from the eastern Ukraine. From late April to early June, they managed to play 27 concerts in 12 European countries.

Ukrainian folk musician from Chernivtsi Sasha Bul’ also boasts with a rich tour schedule. During this year, he played about 50 concerts outside of Ukraine, mostly in Poland.

Related: Jamala: Who said that music should always be entertaining? (Part 2)

All these artists have a common feature: their concerts abroad are more frequent than in Ukraine.


The most difficult moment in all these abroad tours is the first concert out of the country. Usually, the bands are in the extremely unfavorable conditions, moving from city to city with a minimum of comfort, eating poorly and earning nothing.

To organize the first tour, Sydorenko had to write several hundred letters to European clubs. Only a few of them responded. But it was enough to break to the European scene.

A similar story is with Sasha Bul’. During his first European tour, his manager was detained in Poland for the forged documents and deported to Ukraine.


“At first, we were paid only for gasoline and food. Everything else had to be done by ourselves. Of course, it was a promotional tour, but still," the Jinjer vocalist confessed.

Related: Jamala: Who said that music should always be entertaining? (Part 1)

A bit different situation is with the bands that have earned a certain level of popularity in Ukraine. The very first tour of O.Torvald to Poland allowed the group not only to reach a wider audience, but also to earn some money. Vivienne Mort is in the same situation. For the first time they have come to Poland and presented their album.

However, for Vivienne Mort and O.Torvald, as well as for the giants of the scene like "Okean Elzy" and "Boombox", the world market is only optional. Most of their performances are still taking place in Ukraine.

Empty stages

An unpleasant surprise for many Ukrainian groups becomes the fact that in most European clubs you need your own instruments on stage. The club serving includes only a general sound and completely empty scene.

For comparison in Ukraine, a drum set and combos for guitars are usually part of the rider.

But the ultimate goal of all these tours is to increase the number of people at concerts. It takes years. Each country has its own audience. For example, Jinjer and SINOPTIK are particularly popular in Romania, Sasha Bul’ and Zapaska - in Poland, Somali Yacht Club - in Germany. The number of visitors is ranging from 50 people to several thousands at the festivals.

Now, most of these groups have got managers in the field, or labels that represent them. Tours have started to make a profit and, with increasing demand, “the expansion” to the West is an attractive option for most of them.

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