Kalush Orchestra, the Ukrainian act that captured the world’s consideration final yr when it gained the Eurovision Tune Contest as its nation was being torn aside by warfare, wraps up a second North American tour on March 16 with a efficiency at SXSW in Austin.
The seven-member group’s music “Stefania” gained Eurovision in Turin, Italy, with a record-setting 438 factors from the general public, reflecting the widespread pro-Ukraine sentiment not less than yr’s occasion three months after Russia launched its unprovoked invasion.
After the competitors, Kalush Orchestra did an 18-show promotional tour, with performances in Poland, Spain, Italy, Germany, France and at Glastonbury Competition within the U.Ok., earlier than embarking on a 13-city North American tour. The reveals helped elevate funds for the Ukrainian armed forces. The group additionally offered its Eurovision trophy for $900,000, with the proceeds earmarked for the acquisition of fight drones for Ukraine’s navy. (The band raised $1.6 million general.)
The present five-city U.S. jog cements the group as one of many few Eurovision winners to show a victory on the pan-European competitors into international success, following within the footsteps of ABBA, which gained with “Waterloo” in 1974, and Måneskin, which triumphed with “Zitti e Buoni” in 2021. Billboard talked to the Kalush Orchestra’s founder and chief, rapper Oleh Psiuk, by way of Zoom about returning to the U.S., the affect of Eurovision on the band’s profession and the continuing warfare with Russia, which is now in its second yr.
BB: Who got here up with the concept for this new tour?
First, we have been invited to the large showcase competition SXSW in Austin. We thought of it to be a really cool alternative, so we determined we should always present our creativity, our works and naturally we determined that then we may go to a number of cities which we’ve by no means been to within the U.S. earlier than. That’s how our new tour was born, though the earlier one was simply 5 months in the past.
What was that first tour like and what would you prefer to see this time?
We had 18 live shows through the earlier tour, they usually have been every day, so sadly, we noticed solely airports and the venues the place we had these live shows. However nonetheless, we had somewhat little bit of time to see sunny Los Angeles. L.A. is my favourite as a result of I’ve all the time been listening to the music and to the performers from that space. And this time I do hope we’ll have extra time to see and revel in your nation.
What performers from the West Coast are your favorites?
I like the performers from the so-called Golden Period. Like N.W.A, Tupac Shakur, Snoop Dogg, Ice Dice and Dr. Dre. I hearken to plenty of music from the West Coast.
Final time you met Arnold Schwarzenegger, and he appeared in your video for ‘Generous Evening’ and spoke in Ukrainian. Are there any plans this time to satisfy any celebrities or authorities figures?
We don’t have any plans now, however actually talking we didn’t have any plans then as properly. We wrote to Arnold that very day after we met and that was a fortunate coincidence. So we do hope that this time we’ll even have such a day after we write to somebody well-known and we’ll have a possibility to satisfy.
Within the U.S., Eurovision isn’t that well-known, although the Will Ferrell movie (Eurovision Tune Contest: The Story of Fireplace Saga) has helped enhance consciousness. How did American audiences discover you in your first tour?
The larger a part of our viewers was nonetheless Ukrainians who’re residing within the U.S. However there have been different individuals who have been coming to our live shows. The individuals who knew Eurovision, what it’s, or individuals who simply noticed some announcement or billboard within the metropolis they usually determined to see us. They have been simply curious to get to know who we’re, however after the live performance, every kind of individuals got here as much as us as a result of they actually liked it.
What are the principle targets you need to accomplish for each the band and Ukraine?
First, we wish to present our music, for it to be recognized each within the U.S. and in Europe. No matter metropolis we go to, we’d prefer to carry out and disseminate Ukrainian tradition, for it to be well-known wherever. And, after all, we’re elevating cash utilizing the QR codes and the auctions. Final yr, we raised 60 million hryvnia ($1.6 million) and we do hope to boost much more this time.
What does the cash you elevate assist?
We ship this cash to a number of the well-known foundations like United24 and the Sergey Prytula Basis. And we purchase armored vests and helmets and different necessary issues for our warfare servicemen and navy.
How do you’re feeling while you’re out of your nation? Does the trauma of the warfare proceed?
Truthfully talking, it doesn’t have an effect on me. It doesn’t affect me whether or not I’m in Ukraine or not, as a result of there are many family members and my dad and mom and shut mates, my good acquaintances who are actually in Ukraine and I’d say that I fear for them greater than for myself. As a result of I don’t fear about myself that a lot. Clearly, I carry this burden with me in all places and this type of nervousness for them.
Let’s discuss what American audiences can count on on this present tour. Will you play new songs?
Sure. We’ve got ready a program which incorporates a number of the new songs and a number of the ones which have simply been issued. For example, we simply issued a really new music which has the title “Changes.” It’s a really cool music with a cool video, which displays all of the modifications which we’re ready for. We’ve got a program which unites one thing genuine with some new types.
Will an album be popping out quickly?
Up to now, we plan to launch singles. If we converse concerning the album popping out, it’s deliberate nearer to the tip of the present yr or perhaps to start with of the following yr. Up to now, we’re issuing singles with cool movies in English.
It’s been not fairly a yr because you gained Eurovision. How has your life modified, and the profession trajectory of the band modified since?
We will now play a much bigger function. We will have extra affect on the larger and vaster viewers. We will disseminate our live performance overseas and we will cowl a broader viewers with that. We will inform extra about Ukrainian tradition overseas.
That will need to have been an necessary purpose for collaborating in Eurovision within the first place.
Sure, there have been many causes. Not solely this one, but it surely was so necessary for us to win at this Eurovision, as a result of victory is so necessary for Ukraine in each side. We made plenty of individuals proud of this victory and we do hope it would go on like this.
Ukraine first gained Eurovision in 2004 when Ruslana triumphed with “Wild Dances.” The place have been you that yr when she gained? What did her victory imply to you and Ukraine?
I used to be solely 10 years previous then, so I don’t keep in mind that a lot. However I do keep in mind that it was an enormous noise, an enormous occasion in Ukraine. It had an enormous resonance as an occasion. It was as a result of Eurovision for Ukraine was all the time a vital competitors.
What’s subsequent for the band after the American tour? Will there be any extra touring in different nations?
Certain. We wish to get to as many of varied festivals as potential to indicate our music and tradition to the utmost. We wish to have as productive a yr because the earlier one was, to boost as a lot cash and to disseminate details about us, about Ukraine.
The Kalush Orchestra’s 2023 U.S. tour dates:
March 9 — Cleveland, OH @ Cleveland Masonic
March 10 — Orlando, FL @ The Beacham
March 11 — Detroit, MI @ The Magic Stick
March 12 — Atlanta, GA @ District Atlanta
March 16 — Austin, TX @ SXSW