A Chat With DakhaBrakha – Ukraine’s Biggest Folk Band

My wife and I saw DakhaBrakha perform two years ago in Boston and we had planned to see them again last Fall (the show covid-canceled of course.) I’d describe them as a mix between The Chieftains and the The B52s – only Ukrainian. Totally love them and can’t wait for this damn Covid to end so we can see them again. Below, there’s a wonderful interview with the band’s Marko Halanevych, produced by Oskar Smith for Mouthing Off. Enjoy the read! – The Hobbledehoy

By Oskar Smith

If you haven’t yet delved into the sound of DakhaBrakha, you should. Comprised of Marko Galanevych, Olena Tsybulska, Iryna Kovalenko and Nina Garenetska, they’re a band of trained singers and ad-hoc instrumentalists who started out in 2004 as the musical accompaniment to a small theatre in Kiev and have, over the last sixteen years, toured both domestically and internationally, released five studio albums (six including their collaboration with Port Mone) and adopted styles and instruments from all over the globe, combining them with the traditional sounds and songs of Ukraine in ever more elaborate and ambiguous ways.

Not long after I joined Mouthing Off, we released an article exploring their roots and sound, with an analysis of a few choice bits from their six-album discography – if you want to get to know them a little better it’s not a terrible place to start (especially if you’re on Spotify).

Shortly after, we were contacted by DakhaBrakha’s management, who complimented us on the scope of the article and pointed out a small inaccuracy (hey in fairness, 3299 of the words were accurate). After a brief conversation, they agreed that we could send them a list of questions to be answered by Marko Halanevych. So after a flurry of excited thinking, writing and emailing, this article came about.

The translation has been edited in places for fluency, but mostly left untouched to avoid any kind of misunderstanding or muddied meaning.

What’ve you been up to since your last album?

Marko: We were engaged in quarantine. Some have already become ill with the Coronavirus, some are holding on. We managed to play a few concerts in Ukraine, but the main activity is the time we’ve spent with our families.

When the group got together in 2004, did you have any idea that they would turn into far more than a theatre accompaniment?

Marko: DakhaBrakha was founded in 2004 at the Dakh Theatre in Kyiv.
The founder can be considered the director of the theatre, Vlad Troitsky. Yes, at first we made music for theatre performances. These were musical-visual actions, where everything that sounded from the stage was our music. Later, realising that we had a lot of musical material, we started making our concerts. And this has its buzz. We liked it.

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