Having had tremendous success and win in The Voice of Ukraine show, Oksana Mukha poured herself into the concert tour across Ukraine. Mukha had had concerts in Ukraine and abroad for many years, however, the real success came to her only after the TV show. With precious Kvitka Cisyk songs, Oksana Mukha took part in The Voice and won. It became significant not only for the singer but for the whole of Ukraine. “The soul of Ukraine” – this is how a coach Dan Balan called her. On May 19, Oksana Mukha was awarded The Merited Artist of Ukraine for a prominent talent, the soul the singer puts in her songs, sincerity and cultural heritage. A few days before, Opinion had talked to the singer.
Don’t you regret that you haven’t done it earlier?
I do not regret, everything should happen in its own time, perhaps, because I am a mature person already, my goal is clear enough, and I managed to cope with my path, with my beliefs from the beginning to the end, not to fail to change, to change my ideas as the project was going on, not to fail to leave my path which had been laid at the beginning – this is a Ukrainian song, popularisation of Kvitka Cisyk on behalf of her songs. Perhaps, if I were younger, it would be harder for me.
What are the conditions of the contest? Is there any material contribution to participate in The Voice of Ukraine?
I know nothing about material contribution. The conditions are simple: a person has to have good singing skills, special sound, vocal, intonation, charisma, dream, idea why they came. If a person has charisma, they can take over the world. You also have to attend all the castings which last longer and include blind auditions. In fact, preparation is much longer and more thorough, and the casting of people who will take part in blind auditions is also quite a time-consuming process. Each city of Ukraine has a preliminary audition. Personally, I came to Kyiv to attend the audition in August 2018.
Why are you worrying so much before each performance – your professionalism and musical variability are believed to have guaranteed you the win?
People can think that you are guaranteed to win but when you participate, your world looks quite different. And the number of contestants, and the time of waiting, and responsibility, and realisation that you can stay behind the curtain and fail to sing because there are many contestants in the room and naturally, everybody wants to be chosen by a coach, and if all places are taken, you can even not be invited on the stage. It was the first thing which made you worry: you wouldn’t come on the stage. The second thing is that you are tired and you have only 90 seconds – the time while your song lasts. It is an extremely short time during which you can show your best while singing – it is a great responsibility. A person is alive while they worry and feel responsibility. If I hadn’t worried it would have meant that I got above myself, felt like I was the best, and I didn’t care what was happening and I just sing for my own pleasure. But in fact, I really worry very much every time I come on the stage. This time, these were special worries as I had a special responsibility and a very short time to tell what I wanted to.
Before taking part in the contest, you had a tour in the US. How did people welcome you and did American Ukrainians know you as a singer and your songs?
A part of people knows already. I work with Iryna Vashchuk – the head of the foundation Revived Soldiers Ukraine. We raise money for the rehabilitation of Ukrainian soldiers. Iryna Vashchuk founded this organization, she arranges meetings, concerts with Ukrainian musicians in different American cities: she invites me, Oleksandr Bozhyk, Pavlo Tobakov, and other Ukrainian musicians to take part and help raise money for soldiers. Naturally, the diaspora has already heard something in the US and at the concerts, and just at meetings with people that’s why we are very warmly welcomed.
Your win in The Voice is a mission. I make such a conclusion from your previous interviews and performances. How does a collaboration with radio and TV platforms look like now when you’re one of the top Ukrainian singers? Have you already received any offers about broadcasting, have you become the format?
Previous songs I recorded were folk songs which are really not the format. I guess it was because sound producing didn’t coincide with that chosen by a radio station. Because each one has its own editor, they choose songs they want according to their taste. Thus, my songs didn’t fit the format. At The Voice, there was a period when I reconsidered some things, I changed, I got huge experience. Now we are working on some songs which are elaborated by sound producers. It is a very thorough job, you have to take into account everything. A little time has passed to offer new songs. We have to prepare them well. I guess closer to autumn, people will get new songs from me, and only then, I will learn whether they fit the format or not.
When will we see your music videos, are you going to perform your own songs?
Every performer has to have their own songs which are connected only with them. That’s why music videos also have to be produced. I have such a desire, I am working on it.
Before performing Kvitka Cisyk’s songs, you have received the support of her family. These were her songs which opened you the way to the musical Olympus. Did you feel her support? She must have appeared in your dreams because it is such a delicate combination in your voices…
I saw her in my dreams, and I realise it well that she supported it because those people who leave us, their souls need to be remembered. When we remember her, she’s somewhere near us. When I was communicating with her family, first of all, I wanted them to trust me. I didn’t want to hurt them. Every time, our conversations were very calm, very considerable. I have never demanded anything unusual from the family. It was just a quiet conversation full of love to Kvitka. And we did everything to make people remember her, to let her song live further. In this support, Kvitka’s son Eddie commented for Ukrainian media for the first time. Due to The Voice, we became closer to each other.
You are on a big start in your career now. Is such progress possible without a big team which is working on the image of a vocalist?
One cannot conquer alone. One person can’t sing, write music, make offers, arrange meetings. It is a very sophisticated process, you have to have a big team. Thank God, I was lucky to meet Halia Huzio, she is my promo-manager, she supports me in every idea. I have wonderful musicians: the Big Show Agency Company. I also never make stage costumes by myself because there are professionals for that. We are collaborating with Lesia Semi, Olesia Boldareva who are working on my style.
Might your image change, perhaps in the collaboration with Dan Balan (The Voice of Ukraine coach)?
Absolutely! It is a new experience, absolutely different mindset, this person thinks in another way. I am very fond of him being my teacher. I am very keen on that Dan Balan opens new possibilities in me, even vocal ones. I am very keen on that. He opens some things for me which are natural for him, be for me these are discoveries. Anyway, everything is organic and natural. However, I will sing and perhaps look differently, we’ll play it by ear…
You told in your interviews that you grew up in the family where music was a part of life. What did a little Oksana dream of, what song was the best for you and why did you choose a violin as your instrument?
It was a commission in the musical school which chose a violin for me. Specialists saw that physical possibility of my hands fit the violin. I dreamt of singing from childhood. Accordingly, sooner or later, these dreams come true. If it’s your path, you will get on it one day. As for a favourite song, I didn’t have one. I remember singing some folk songs. In fact, I liked singing everything – adult songs, popular songs, I didn’t see myself in a different world.
What do we have to do in Ukraine, in your opinion, to raise the level of culture: to make people listen to national music, to respect our native product?
At first, officials who run our country have to be involved in culture as well. If these people are concerned only about earning and living, they are very far from culture. If a country is run by people who are well-educated, keen on culture, they will build all the opportunities for citizens so they will be interested in watching operas, ballets, plays, and concerts – of classical music as well – this is where real music starts from – not from disco parties. People are making small slow steps by themselves. But they need support.
Has the audience changed lately?
Now [after the show – ED], about 5 my fan-clubs were created by 14-15-year-old girls. It means that the songs I sing have touched a younger generation. I am very happy about that. I remember that more mature people used to come to my concerts. Now, whole families come. That’s why yes – the audience is changing.
What song from your repertoire unites the whole Ukraine? Which song calls the same emotions?
We have several songs which have a strong message, which keeps different generations together: Ridna Maty Moya, Dva Koliory. I am very surprised that the song Cheremshyna is more popular than Ya Pidu V Daleki Hory. It is more relatable for people. I don’t speak about the Anthem because it is very snobbish because the Anthem has to involve people. There is now a special period when people sing Plyve Kacha po Tysyni and unite in their grief and realise what a great responsibility each of us has…
Text by Natalia Mizyukina