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Q & A with DakhaBrakha

DakhaBrakha, the Ukrainian quartet known for their unexpected combination of musical styles and one-of-a-kind live shows, are taking the global music scene by storm and having a great time while they’re at it. Ahead of their Chan Centre Presents series performance on October 19, we talked with the band about their inspirations, downtime, and what lies ahead.

CC: Where does the inspiration for your music come from? Is the starting place for a song always the same?

DB: We do not have a universal recipe for creating a composition. It may be an ancient song, sometimes a rhythm, sometimes just a sound. Sometimes it can be a game for us, of unusual kinds of aesthetics.


Can you tell us a bit about the role of Ukrainian folk songs and melodies in your music and creative process?

The role of Ukrainian ancient song is decisive for us. It is the main source of inspiration and the foundation of creative experimentation. We are curious to put an authentic song in an unusual situation. Then the song plays with brand new colours. Of course, we flatter ourselves when we say that we are giving new life to old songs.


You’ve had a busy few years travelling around the world. Artistically, do you pick up things from other cultures along the way?

Every nation has something unique and exceptional. We are interested in this authentic folk culture. Therefore, we are happy to get acquainted with musical cultures from all over the world. And consciously and unconsciously, we absorb that diversity.


DakhaBrakha’s audiences are often far from home in Ukraine. What do you want people who watch your performances and listen to your music to know about where you come from?

Our performances outside of Ukraine can hardly be called informative. But there are a lot of examples where, after our concerts, people become friends not only with us but also with our country and our people. We are happy even when people find out that such a country exists at all.


There is definitely a distinct visual aesthetic and theatrical design element to DakhaBrakha. Where does that originate?

We were created in 2004 at the Dakh Theater. The idea for the group came from theatrical director Vladyslav Troitskyi, who is still our teacher, mastermind, and our ideas and meanings generator. The first music we did was made just for plays at the theater. For example, in 2006 we toured with a Prologue to Macbeth performance and played London’s Barbican—Ukrainian Shakespeare was shown to the British.


What have been some of your favourite places or venues to perform?

We consider ourselves lucky because we have not met indifference at our concerts yet. All over the world, from Australia to Canada, people understand and feel our music, even without understanding the lyrics. We have many pleasant memories from different cities and festivals. Minneapolis may be worth highlighting with their cozy Dakota club—we perform there most often in North America. There are wonderful people there, and an incredible atmosphere.


While your music is varied and complex, your concerts are so seamless and tight-knit. Is that something you really strive for? What is your rehearsal process like?

Each program we adjust to a specific concert hall and audience. Although, of course, there is a list of the best songs, in our opinion. The theatrical experience helps us to structure the concert framework dramatically and atmospherically. The set list is always agreed on together before going on stage. Rehearsals are simple enough, though the place we rehearse is anything but. This is our Dakh Theater with its atmosphere and history. This is our place of strength.


When the four of you are not travelling or performing, what do you spend your time on?

When we are not touring, we try to relax away from each other. Everyone has their own families who are waiting for us at home for a long time and very patiently. So basically we are with our families.


What’s next for DakhaBrakha? Are there creative paths you would like to explore more, or artists you would like to collaborate with?

We just recorded our new album in Brazil, and are happy about this. We hope to release it by December 6th, when we will have a big concert in our hometown, Kiev. The songs from this album will be played at our concerts on this North American tour.

We have collaborated on many projects with incredible musicians, which are experiences that inspire and enrich us. It might be interesting to work with Björk. But these are very bold thoughts, we say such things whispering. And still, I dream that one day Jim Jarmusch will come to our concert and use our music in his brilliant new movie.



DakhaBrakha performs at the Chan Centre on Saturday October 19, 2019 at 8pm. More info and tickets here.


Fri Sep 27, 2019