Hrdza is a Slovak folk rock band, formed in 1999 in Prešov, Slovakia. They state that they try to blend “the old and traditional with the new and modern to create a distinctive sound deeply rooted in East European folk music,” according to their official site. They also try to reach the widest possible audience, with wholesome songs and videos, and releasing most of their YouTube videos with English subtitles.
The band currently consists of six main members although nine other people have participated in the band since their inception. The six current members of Hrdza are Slavomír Gibarti, Susanna Jara, Dominik Maniak, Matej Palidrab, Pavol Boleš, and Marek Szarvaš.
Each member brings a unique sound and skill to the table. Nearly all sing as well as play an instrument. The one exception to this Marek Szarvaš, who only plays drums. Other main instruments used are guitar, violin, and accordion.
Above: Hrdza’s medieval-sounding breakout hit “Na horách býva”
In 2002, Hrdza released their debut album, Muzička (Music), which saw moderate success. The following year, Hrdza’s founding member, Jaroslava Sisáková, left the band and was replaced by Veronika Rabadová. During the next few years, there was substantial success for the group. In 2006, their single, “Na horách býva” (He Lives in the Mountains”) was on the top 50 music chart in Slovakia for 17 weeks.
In 2010, Hrdza participated in the Eurovision Song Contest, but was later disqualified for presenting a song released before October 1, 2009, which was in violation of the contest rules. The song they performed, “Taká sa mi páči” (“I Like That Too”), was arguably their breakout hit – reaching nearly 12 million views on YouTube.
The next decade saw many changes in band members – Veronika Rabadová left and was replaced by Susanna Jara as lead singer. The band released a few more albums, including their most popular album to date, Neskrotený (Untamed), which was released in 2018. In April of 2019, the album reached the number four position on the World Music Charts Europe – the highest position a Slovak band has ever reached on this chart.
As of today, Hrdza’s most popular song is their 2018 release of “Stephen”, which has almost 30 million views on YouTube.
Although the band’s name translates to “Rust,” they are remaining active to this day with new music, videos, and concerts.
Above: Hrdza’s biggest hit to date, an arrangement of a Rusyn folk song called “Stephen.”