Opening Ceremony – Eurovision TV
A lot of the world’s consideration has been targeted on Ukraine since Russia launched its invasion in late February.
However the nation will take the highlight on a special sort of world stage on Saturday, when folk-rap group Kalush Orchestra competes within the grand ultimate of the Eurovision Track Contest 2022.
These parallel occasions are inextricably linked, as frontman Oleh Psiuk instructed NPR in a Zoom interview. He mentioned it is an enormous accountability to symbolize Ukraine and its tradition to the world, particularly as Russia is actively attempting to destroy it.
“We’d like assist to indicate everyone that our tradition is de facto fascinating and has a pleasant signature of its personal,” he mentioned. “It exists, and we have now to battle now at all the entrance traces.”
The band is comparatively new, however its fashion and track rapidly grew to become iconic
Kalush Orchestra has change into a recognizable fixture of this yr’s competitors, thanks largely to its members’ distinctive outfits, dance strikes and wind instrument abilities.
Its track, “Stefania,” combines rapped verses and a folks refrain. Psiuk wrote it about his mom earlier than the conflict, but it surely has since taken on a brand new, extra patriotic which means.
“Many individuals started to understand it like Ukraine is my mom,” he explains. “And this manner the track has been very near Ukrainian individuals.”
Psiuk explains that the group’s distinctive fashion is current not solely in its music, however “in our photographs, within the idea, in something we do.”
The six-person band mixes fashionable streetwear with conventional clothes, from embroidered vests to Psiuk’s signature pink bucket hat, and incorporates Ukrainian woodwind devices just like the sopilka and telenka.
Whereas the present iteration of the band has solely been round since final yr, it has its roots in a three-person rap group referred to as Kalush, which Psiuk helped present in 2019. It is named after his hometown within the western area of Ivano-Frankivsk.
Psiuk’s household remains to be there. In his few spare moments between rehearsals and interviews, they inform him in regards to the missiles flying overhead.
“It is like a lottery,” he mentioned. “You by no means know the place it strikes, so … we’re very anxious.”
The musicians battle for his or her nation on and off the stage
The band’s members are all males of preventing age, and needed to get short-term permits to be able to go away Ukraine for the competitors in Turin, Italy.
One in all them, Vlad Kurochka, or MC KylymMen (which interprets to CarpetMan) selected to remain in Ukraine, the place he is been serving to to defend Kyiv.
The opposite musicians will return house instantly after Eurovision ends, Psiuk mentioned.
He plans to return to the volunteer group he began referred to as “De Ty” (which interprets to “The place are you”). Its roughly 35 volunteers coordinate issues like transportation, drugs and lodging for individuals throughout Ukraine, who submit requests by way of a Telegram channel.
And Psiuk mentioned whereas the band is not in a position to give attention to creating new music in the meanwhile, it does have some already within the works.
What a Eurovision win would imply for Ukraine
Psiuk hopes the band will return to Ukraine as Eurovision champions, including that any type of win would assist increase the nation’s morale.
“I want to carry some excellent news to Ukraine, as a result of excellent news [hasn’t] been in our nation for a very long time,” he mentioned.
He encourages followers watching at house to solid their votes in Saturday’s finale and present the band’s music to their mates. And he hopes their assist for Ukraine will not simply finish when the songwriting contest does.
Psiuk mentioned it is necessary for individuals to attend peaceable rallies, put up on social media and maintain elevating consciousness in different methods.
“The extra individuals talk about Ukraine, the faster the conflict will likely be over and it’ll not begin in different nations,” he mentioned, including that he’s grateful for the assist his nation has obtained up to now.
It is customary for the nation that wins Eurovision to host the next yr’s competitors. Does Psiuk assume that may occur in 2023?
“Sure,” he mentioned emphatically. “I am certain that Ukraine will host Eurovision, and can gladly do this within the rebuilt, complete and completely happy Ukraine.”