Lyon, Warsaw, Helsinki, Odesa, Kyiv… It seems that the list of cities is endless, but it is only a part of a recent tour of incredible Dakh Daughters. However, despite constant travelling across the world, seven girls are recording a new album. Opinion talked to the band about Vlad Troitsky, a new sounding of “Daughters” and Ukrainian culture.
They say that only Vlad Troitsky and stage can gather seven girls from Dakh Daughters together. At other moments, each of them makes music, plays in the theatre, has rehearsals, writes books and is in films. While Ruslana Khasipova and Tetiana Havryliuk are tuning up, five beautiful girls are sharing uncensored (in this case – ungreasepainted) what they are concerned about.
You are told to have just finished recording your new album. How did a new material appear?
Natalka Halanevych: We wish it were as you say, but we have recorded only a part of the album. Even that was hard because of constant concerts and tours. We have four songs for now.
Natalka Zozul: It is because there are seven of us: each has her own ideas and opinion that’s why we have to record each piece several times. Even if we have done perfectly – we will record it one more time. Dakh Daughters have such a tendency.
Perhaps, it could be more effective to work on the material in a studio several months in a row?
Natalka Halanevych: It would be very expensive, however after we have recorded these four tracks, I thought it would be better to create music in a studio. Because what you create in acoustics and then play in a concert and then try to repeat it in a studio are all different stories, wattages and auras. And our songs appear in different ways: for example, four sketches for a new album appeared in Paris during a concert with our another project Terabak de Kyiv [circus-cabaret show – ED.]. The material for the show was ready so we just performed 13 plays at nights in Paris, and in the afternoon, we were just rehearsing a new material with Vlad Troitsky [a director of the Dakh Theatre, a founder of Dakh Daughters – ED.]. As for the song Vizmy (Take it) with lyrics by Serhii Zhadan, we created it as we were working on the “Deep Dreams” project with Virliana Tkach [an American director of Ukrainian origin. Her projects included interviews with residents of the Donbas, monologues of Zhadan and songs of Dakh Daughters in 2014 – ED.]. The show doesn’t exist anymore, but the song is still with us.
Natalka Zozul: There are some songs which take place from him. Vlad is sitting and thinking, and then says, “Do it this way.” Sometimes, some members of the band create a sketch and others make their parts.
Some bands almost fight because of different views on their musical development.
Natalka Zozul: We didn’t fight, but sometimes we hurt each other.
Natalka Halanevych: There are five songs ahead so we don’t know what can happen (laugh).
Hanna Nikitina: Well, we are OK. Each has her own outlook, concerns not only music. Arguments about sounding are normal.
It is hard to believe it because the first album is very harmonious.
Hanna Nikitina: It is due to Vlad Troitsky, who puts a full stop in a song. He aligns many songs with his own view. Sometimes, it needs to be louder, sometimes – quieter. But the final editing is up to him.
Natalka Zozul: But you shouldn’t think he is a tyrant. He doesn’t change our art, he just highlights some details.
Natalka Halanevych: Vlad is just a great professional, and he feels music so subtly that even changing one detail can influence the perception of the whole song.
Solomiia Melnyk: But he is not over us, he is with us – inside the process. It is not about totalitarianism (laugh). He doesn’t come and “clean” everything we have done. Vlad is sitting with us, and we create together.
Ruslana Khazipova, a member of Dakh Daughters, said in 2017, “Our main messages are peace and love.” What ideology does Dakh Daughters embrace in 2018?
Together: Peace and love. Dakh Daughters still embraces this ideology.
Solomiia Melnyk: However, I think that the new album is much different from the first one. Now, we care more about musical aspect, about a sound mastering. We’ll have our own lyrics in the new album – mostly written by Natali Zo. They will deliver new messages. They are also about peace and love, but there our philosophy also appears, slightly, but you will feel it.
“We are destined for good and fast evolution”, Dakh Daughters said in a book “Revolution of Immortality”. Unfortunately, the more time it is after the Maidan, the more talks there are about some treasons. What is your idea?
Natalka Halanevych: I said about evolution, and speaking about culture, evolution is the fastest here. And thanks god, only impatient person speaks about treasons. It is hard work to change yourself and your country. And we are ready for that.
Natalka Zozul: The point is that there are not many such people, but every year, there are more and more. And you can see it in people’s behaviour. As for treasons, we just shouldn’t pay attention to them, we just should do our parts.
While on tour in Europe, do you feel that local people notice that?
Solomiia Melnyk: We have just returned from the Helsinki festival. A big article about Dakh Daughters was published there. And we can feel that a person who has written it is keen on music and historical events, particularly in Ukraine. Europeans understand our messages very clearly, even when they are veiled in such a theatrical form. We even want to send this article to the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of the Armed Forces, because nobody is interested here that somebody is fond of us overseas.
Natalka Halanevych: And it is despite the fact that Finland has a powerful Russian propaganda.
Solomiia Melnyk: Finnish people also used to suffer from the USSR. And they still remember their wounds. That’s why we are immensely interesting to them. The headline of the article said that Dakh Daughters was the best present for the visitors of the festival. Fins didn’t expect to see something like we showed.
Hanna Nikitina: Although there isn’t such a brand as “Ukraine” in the world today. Even this word is becoming significant overseas only now: that it is a separate country, another culture. And we show a piece of Ukrainian beauty. And it is much better and more impactful than to treat us like war victims.
Natalka Zozul: And after that, Europeans start to tell us from Russia and realise that it is thin ice.
I know that especially French people are concerned about Ukrainian culture. The mayor of Paris is advocating for Sentsov’s release, there is a banner with the image on the city council building. Do they really care?
Solomiia Melnyk: Europe is very misinformed now because the Russian propaganda is still working. In fact, there is a poor information about us in the world. When there was the annexation of Crimea or some grave conflicts in Donbas – there was much news, and now we have to tell by ourselves what is happening in our country.
Natalka Zozul: Young people have more or less good moods now. However, it is disappointing that so many of them want to escape abroad. Those who stay here are very conscious and they are building a new country. The problem is we have many people who are “injured” by the USSR. They can’t accept the idea that it is essential to move forward, to be a normal citizen of a normal country.
Natalka Halanevych: Sentsov is a very strong and tragic story that’s why the whole world knows about it. But there are people in Ukraine who don’t understand what is going on. They live their lives. I come to my grandmother’s who lives in the Zakarpattia region, and young people say about the war, “why should we care, we live near Hungary.” And many people don’t want to understand that men die for them at the war. And people overseas don’t care more about us – we should understand that.
Speaking about indifference, we can’t but remember the challenges the Hoholfest brought – not with an initiative, as always, with funding. Is it really that difficult to get some support for culture projects in Ukraine?
Solomiia Melnyk: The problem is the government poorly supports cultural processes in Ukraine. Even though it is an important thing for specialists – to back up promising projects and help people raise Ukrainian culture and be helpful for the country. Talented people should be supported at least with scholarships and grants so they could create something instead of thinking how to earn for living. We don’t have such a practise.
Natalka Halanevych: Mariupol doesn’t prove that the government fails to support culture. A local support is very powerful there. It is not a private sponsor or a volunteer. It is an administrative, a state support. However, it is the culture where everything is developing fast. It is worse in other fields. All the MPs should read a book Evolution or Death by Semesiuk.
What then should an average Ukrainian do?
Natalka Zozul: They should create an alternative system – an initiative has to be undertaken by citizens themselves.
Nina Haranetska: They should work, finally. Because some people don’t like working but always find time to cry “Treason!”. It is hard to start with yourself.
Natalka Halanevych: They should come to us when we come to you. And together we will create something incredible.
Interview by Kostyantyn Rul
Photo by Pavlo Lebedev