Onuka

ONUKA is a Ukrainian electro-pop group from Kyiv noted for their use of traditional Ukrainian folk instruments—predominantly the bandura (бандура) and the sopilka (сопілка)—in their arrangements. The band sings in both Ukrainian and English. Formed in 2013 by vocalist and songwriter Natalia, or Nata, Zhyzhchenko (Наталія Жижченко) and multi-instrumentalist and producer Yevgeny Filatov (Євген Філатов), the group has released two EPs and one full-length record, the self-titled Onuka (2014), which was rated Album of the Year by the critics at Cultprostir. Although a relatively young band, they have already generated considerable attention in their native Ukraine and have begun to expand internationally: in 2015 they were awarded the privilege to perform at the Sziget Festival in Budapest, one of the largest international music festivals in Europe.

Both Zhyzhchenko and Filatov were raised in highly musical families, constantly surrounded by music and professional musicians. Of considerable note is that Zhyzhchenko’s late grandfather was the renowned master instrument-maker Alexandr Shlonchyk (Олександр Шльончик), whom she would later pay homage to in naming her band ONUKA (“granddaughter”). Zhyzhchenko and Filatov both also performed in musical projects prior to their collaboration—Zhyzhchenko with the dance pop group Tomato Jaws and Filatov with his solo project, The Maneken, which is still active.

ONUKA released their first single, “Look,” in the fall of 2013. The success of the single prompted an EP, also titled Look, the following spring. It quickly took the top spot in digital album sales on Ukrainian iTunes. Their first concert followed that summer at Club Sentrum in Kyiv, opening for Filatov’s other group, The Manaken. Two months later, ONUKA’s debut album was released, to hype that mirrored that surrounding their EP. This meteoric rise would soon catch the attention of the US label Most Addictive Records, who later released ONUKA’s single “Zavtra” (the Latin spelling for the Russian word for “tomorrow”) in late 2014.

In early 2016, the group released a second EP, Viklik. Inspired by the approaching 30th anniversary of the nuclear accident at Chernobyl, the album contains sound recordings of emergency personnel from the day of the disaster. On the date of the actual anniversary, April 26, the band organized a concert to perform the EP and commemorate the event. Music from the record was also later selected for a documentary film produced by the Ukrainian television channel 1+1 regarding the accident and its fallout.

Find ONUKA on Amazon

 

The video for ONUKA’s newest single, “Viklik”:

 

Lyrics for “Viklik”:

Я дихати хотіти
Я припиняти розмова
Я натискати відлік

Тільки майбутнє готовий.

Я дихати хотіти
Я припиняти розмова
Я натискати відлік
Тільки майбутнє готовий.

Я дихати хотіти
Я припиняти розмова
Я натискати відлік
Тільки майбутнє готовий.

 

“City” (“Місто”):

 

Lyrics for “Місто”:

Це моє місто лине
Це моє місто, де безліч протиріч
Це моє місто, що лиш за хвилини
Народжує ранок, лине одразу в ніч
(Я тобі даю, я тобі даю)

В ритмі зі мною пульсує
Раптом гальмує і хвилує тим
Інколи місто за мною сумує
Спокій дарує, бо тут є мій дім

Та моє місто знає
Про мене все знає, про безліч протиріч
Місто ніколи не засинає
На мене чекає, впізнає з усіх облич

Я тобі даю
Свою надію
Даю надію

Я тобі даю
Даю надію
І знову дію

 

And one of their English-language songs, “Look,” with their debut video:

 

Lyrics for “Look”:

One day. Once more. One way to somewhere.

What are you thinking about?
What are you going to find?
You should look inside
This way’s a long way.
But anyway, this prayer
can help you,
when you’re not O.K.
Every day
You have to decide

Look inside yourself
More and more and more and more

When you feel lost,
When you are refused,
And when you feel confused,
When you are so used,
You should look inside
You don’t know what’s next.
It’s all gone.
You should leave your nest.
Just analyse your map.
Make a final step.
You have to decide

 

Find ONUKA on Amazon

Michael Filitis is a recent MA graduate from the University of Chicago where he concentrated on early Soviet nationalities policy, propaganda, and the rise of nationalism in Eastern Europe. A recipient of SRAS's Home and Abroad Scholarship his current focus is the improvement of his Russian language skills with the goal of pursuing a Phd in Russian history and political science. Outside of academia, he enjoys playing and composing music, eating to excess, movies about space, and contemplating a more active lifestyle.