In childhood, he didn’t even think about the career path that made him a star today. He always liked physics and even got a Ph.D. in this field. He has already been in politics, but despite numerous expectations, he did not run for the presidency this year. About the way to music, rock star syndrome and the Russian market, the political past and God – the way Svyatoslav Vakarchuk himself sees it in the section “Who is…” from Opinion.
About how he has become the person he is now
Today Svyatoslav Vakarchuk is a real legend of Ukrainian music and example for young performers. However, replying the question how it was possible to achieve all this, the singer has a fairly simple answer – it was just circumstances.
“I am a concentrate of a very long story. Well, there were more than enough different factors. First, the creative genes of my kind are strong. So, God gave the talent to love music so that I could not live without it. Secondly, I was born stubborn and persistent. Thirdly, upbringing and education helped me to make important decisions. And over time it became clear that they were right.”
About the way towards music
Professional music entered Vakarchuk’s life… by accident. It wasn’t the thing he deliberately dreamed of doing since his very childhood. Although, nowadays it is difficult to believe in it.
“But when I felt that I could say something in this area, I immediately set myself a guideline – what do I want to achieve? Money overcrowded stadiums? I’ve overcome these criteria and have not found any stable one. Except for one – the pride for what you’ve done. It can sound vague or pathetic right now. However, back then it was a very concrete thing.
Back then the Ukrainian music industry was in in the bud, the music sounded very primitive. When on the radio they broadcasted any record by Ukrainian musicians, even the famous ones, and after them, there was Western music – it was not even like chalk and cheese. And you could not understand: how can it happen, are we just different, why they can do it and we can’t? So my immediate task was to make our music sound as cool as the Western one”
About the Ph.D. in physics
Yes, this title was received by Vakarchuk in 2009, when he actually was already more than a famous star. However, the musician himself emphasizes: this is part of his character: he does not like to finish what he loves.”
“The truth is that having given so many years of my life to science, having written so many articles, I constantly felt that I had left it halfway, without putting a dot. It disturbed me – I say, as it is. I am an ordinary human being. I wanted to prove that I didn’t do in vain. That the articles that I wrote including for the Western scientific journals, sleepless nights and days on solving tasks, in general, my entire period of stay at the Department of Theoretical Physics were not useless.”
About fight with a rock-star syndrome
Svyatoslav doesn’t hide: a rock star syndrome touched him one time. Besides, it is the same disease as any other. And there is only one way out: to get through it and have an immunity further. When Vakarchuk had that “syndrome”, first and foremost, it was reliable people, who helped him. Friends, relatives, those who could say: “You behave strangely, stop it.”
“The second thing is time. Ocean Elzy didn’t have that sudden moment when we woke up famous one day. When you go up gradually, the level of oxygen seems to be decreasing, but you gradually get used to it. You don’t get mountain sickness in a short period of time. And the third thing – it is necessary to develop your inner world. It helps to communicate with interesting people, to read books, to travel. The more you see the world, the less you’re focused on yourself. The less you are focused on your significance, on your importance.”
About the refusal from the Russian market
It’s no secret that after the Revolution of Dignity and the Russian military aggression, Okean Elzy has lost a large part of its Russian market. However, this choice for Svyatoslav and the entire band was balanced and conscious.
“First of all, we realized that we had more time and we started to go on tours to the countries we did not visit before. So, for example, we’ve visited Australia. We began visiting America more often, went to those places that we always wanted to go to, but did not go because of logistical problems.
We began to make a full stadium format concerts in Ukraine. And they became much more frequent. I remember that in March 2014 we had a meeting in this office. During it, I said: ” We must forget the Russian market, perhaps, forever .” It was just an absolutely balanced, conscious, and responsible decision.”
For the singer, God is some kind of “essence that’s out of any format”, something completely individual. However, at the same time, Vakarchuk says that God is… his closest friend.
“I don’t need any mediators to communicate with Him. Although, sometimes I need interlocutors who thought much about God and had more time to comprehend His existence. Quite often I communicate with priests of different denominations, but I come to them not as to clergymen, but as to wise interlocutors.”
About art beyond politics
In this regard, the performer prefers not to comment on someone guided by one of the biblical principles. Instead, he responds for himself. For him, Ukraine’s interests have always been in the first place.
“Since the time when I as the 14-15-year-old student was standing in the chain of unity from Lviv to Kyiv. Since those times… You see, I grew up in a family where the concept of “Independent Ukraine” was present always. My parents did not belong to the dissident movement, they were ordinary scholars, but since childhood, I had that feeling that your country will arise sooner or later. Therefore, this question is not for me, and it has never been.”
About ratings and presidential campaign
The saga of presidential candidate Vakarchuk has lasted for quite a long time, right until the singer himself assured: so far it is more comfortable for him “to stay in jeans”. Moreover, in a conversation he confesses: the ratings themselves or forecasts for his own candidacy were never interesting for him.
“For me, the idea to go to any elections, presidential or parliamentary, is just strategy in the big goal of real change. I took a responsible decision for myself, I have clearly stated about it. In general, I think that when it comes to the post of the president, then, in reality, it is about the fate of millions of people.
To put your own political or, in principle, human ambitions above the fate of millions of people is irresponsible. I am a responsible person. This year I have been talking repeatedly to a large number of politicians, to professors, to my friends, and relatives. I am very grateful to all of them for this communication, for this invaluable experience, because it made me more experienced, stronger and wiser.”
About the political past
However, in the past, Vakarchuk has already been in politics, although not for long. Back then, according to his own words, he believed that he could change something in the country. But in the end, it turned out quite differently: he underestimated the level of the political culture in Ukraine at that time.
“I had a better opinion about it. It was the political culture of that time Ukraine which appeared to be terrible from the inside. If you ask me, has it become better than that time? Yes, it has become. Has it become much better? No, but I see changes.
When I was in parliament, I felt that there was a ridiculously small number of people with my principles, values, and my vision of how to act. Today I think that there are dozens of such people. This is a great experience that I have carried through all this time. If I hadn’t been in parliament back then maybe some of my decisions would be taken differently today.”
By Dmytro Zhuravel
The publication was collected from numerous interviews, speeches, and appeals of the material’s protagonist.