As an outsider looking in, writing about Ukraine is not something I’m entirely comfortable with. How can anyone not from or based in the country really make sense of what’s happening there right now? But thinking back to why I first got involved in electronic music, it wasn’t just about the music, but was also about the friendships, the camaraderie, the community, the support. Of course it sounds cliche, but without these ingredients, the dance music ‘scene’ just wouldn’t be what it is today.
With this in mind, we’ve decided to launch a podcast series, with the sole aim of spotlighting some of Ukraine’s most talented DJs and producers. Obviously it’s a small gesture of solidarity, but as website owners and writers we feel duty bound to at least help push these artists’ agendas so they continue to be heard – and indeed, appreciated – outside of their native country.
Kicking off the series is Kirill Kirik, a name recognised by virtually every individual involved in Ukraine’s electronic music scene. A native of Kherson, he’s been busy pushing his country’s underground scene for close to two decades, and we’re really privileged to have him on. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be hosting more mixes from Ukrainian artists as part of our Ukraine Series playlist on Soundcloud. And aside from just listening, do please donate to a most worthy cause here. And listen to Kirill’s mix here and have a read of our chat below…
Hi Kirill, thanks so much for taking the time to deliver a mix. Before the invasion, can you tell us a bit about your involvement in the Ukrainian scene?
It all started for me back in 2006-2007 in my home city of Kherson; I became interested in clubs and electronic music and at that time had actually finished some tracks myself. My friends encouraged me to show my music around and try to make it happen, basically.
At that time I knew only Sancho and Kulikov, two local DJs who made cool parties and played different music: breaks, techno, house etc. I showed them what I could do, and after this the guys invited me to a party, so I tried to play different music, including my own productions.
At the beginning of 2010, myself and my friend Ivanov started hosting our own parties on the beach, and the first Djs that we invited were iO and Goshva. Probably the most popular producers at that time.
That’s how I met Sasha iO (Drive Dealers) and later with everyone, his friends and producers, I’m talking about Ian Westboy, Tish, Sender, Nikita Sushko (NickSu), etc. In 2012 or 2013 We made our first collaboration, iO & Kirik – called “Red Sun”. Later, I got to know Nastia, who actually went by DJ Beauty back then. Also, with everyone from “Port Community”, including Silat Beksi – at that time he was Jozhy K. We met with Anatoly in Odessa in 2012 on the beach party… I think it was birthday party by Nastia and she own event.
And later on I met Joss from Artreform, Anton Slepoy from Kharkiv, and somewhere in In 2018-2019, I got to know Alexander Pervukhin, and the other boys from Lviv. If I was to mention everyone in my story, it would take too long! But these are the people who I’m most connected with through electronic music in my country.
How has the Ukrainian electronic music scene helped one another at the moment? Have you seen the best of the community shine through?
I won’t lie; in the electronic music scene, we don’t have the same unity as say, the Romanians. Here everyone is in their “own room”. Yes, we try to cooperate – but it’s not the way it should be. I think when we were younger we were more open and more communicated, but not now.
I can say one thing since the war started – we all united for the sake of the victory for our country and we did everything to make it happen as quickly as possible. On this point we are all super united.
Are you hopeful for a time when this returns? Or is it more a case of taking things day-by-day?
When at one moment you lose it all, that’s all you have! And you have to make peace with the fact that you individually cannot influence the situation. A lot has changed in my head; I no longer make plans like “buying a house” or something else, because I don’t know where I’ll be tomorrow – I’ve become a refugee. I’m just trying to enjoy my life day-by-day right now.
Has music been therapeutic for you?
Music was – is and will be my therapy! Family, music and football… it’s my life.
Similarly, have you returned to clubs yet? Can you tell us a bit about that experience?
I did return to clubs, but not in Ukraine. in 2022 I made my debut at ADE in Amsterdam at a Franky Rizardo party called “Listen To Flow” – big thanks to him for the invitation. Also, I managed to make my debut in Sofia, in Georgia in Tbilisi and Riga, Latvia.
In Zagreb, Croatia where I am now based, I’ve played at the legendary Masters Club and Aquarius Club, it was amazing party. And the student festival in Rijeka. Also, the beach party in Lobin. We’ve got two parties planned in Romania with Alia Palant and I missed two big festivals in the summer because I didn’t have an international passport. In Italy I was in the Loco Club with Just2. So yes, I’ve definitely still been playing around Europe which is great.
How involved have you been? Have you joined the army, for example?
We have enough military professionals in our country; they don’t recruit all of them in a row, and even if you go to war of your own free will (like a volunteer), you have to undergo training and everything else in order to gain some basic knowledge.
Tell us a bit about the mix you’ve delivered for us, and the vibe you were going for.
I wanted to make an energy-driving mix with elements of electro and house music which will charge you with energy and make you dance.
We also recently premiered your awesome new track, Mantra, alongside Teya Flow. Can you tell us a bit about the production process behind this one?
Oh yes, “Manta” was probably the first work with which we started our collaborations – it was written at the end of 2021 – I managed to play it a lot of times and people fell in love with this track – but we were not completely satisfied with the mix and how the vocals sit in the mix.
We were looking for a solution to this issue – and Anton Turchyn (TRCHN_Prod), helped us – this is an old friend of Teya Flow – he made a super mix and put the vocals as well on a track.
By the way, we re-recorded the vocals three times. So, we are really satisfied with the result and are waiting for the premiere.
Listen to the mix on Soundcloud
Keep up with Kirill Kirik on Volumo here Buy/listen to Kirill Kirik’s Mantra here
Please consider donating to Ukraine at: https://savelife.in.ua/en/donate-en/#donate-army-card-monthly