Singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Konstantin Pochtar performs, writes, and records across a vast array of cities and countries. He names travel as both his passion and his inspiration, driving him to write music that features everywhere from the city streets of his native Kyiv, Ukraine, to Antarctica.
Music is not a new pursuit for Pochtar, who has been playing the guitar since the age of 12. He was born and raised in Kyiv, where he later began his professional music career as co-founder of the rock group 5 Vymir (which, in Ukrainian, means “Fifth Dimension”). Their first album Містолінія (English: City Line) was released in Ukraine in 2014 and quickly garnered national acclaim and mentions on lists like The 10 Best Ukrainian Albums of 2014 and The Top 100 Albums of Independent Ukraine. The group would go on to perform at numerous music festivals, including Comma Stage Festival, Zaxidfest, Koktebel Jazz Festival, RespublicaFEST, GogolFEST, and Woodstock Ukraine.
Just a year after the release of Містолінія, Pochtar launched his career as a solo artist with his release of the EP Бали і Кораблі (English: Balls and Ships). It featured five songs he had written, all sung in Ukrainian and performed on acoustic guitar. He adopted the title “Postman” for this new solo-music project — a name that originated out of the direct translation of his surname (which has Turkic roots) into English.
This EP made Postman a well-regarded musician in his own right. His music, which he himself calls “modern city folk at its finest” in his Spotify artist profile, is warm and inviting — a unique blend of place and time whose influences span from 1960s Britain and America to modern-day Ukraine. Postman names The Beatles, Bob Dylan, and David Crosby as among his inspirations, stating that he is particularly drawn to using exclusively acoustic guitar and harmonica in order to let the lyrics shine.
One song off of this album that grew particularly popular is “Київські вулиці” (English: “Kyiv Streets”) — Postman’s love-letter to Kyiv. True to his intention, the lyrics do take the spotlight and poetically describe the centuries of history, both “love and crying,” that these streets have seen against a backdrop of simple guitar chords. It remains to this day his most popular track. “I always wanted to write a song about Kyiv,” he wrote in an interview, “but it was difficult for me to write specifically about this city, to include ‘Kyiv Streets’ in the title. I really like the band The National, and New York is often mentioned in their lyrics. And I thought: ‘Why be ashamed? Why can you sing about your hometown in English, but not in Ukrainian?’”
Not long after the release of his EP, Postman released his first full album, City Freak, featuring eight songs with similar location inspirations. Some songs were inspired by his travels to the Carpathian Mountains and others named in reference to world-famous wonders like the Northern Lights. The album consisted of a mix of Ukrainian-language music and songs written in English, with the most popular track being “The Strangest Place on Earth.” That track seems to be about going home, interestingly enough.
Postman released his next album during the pandemic, titled A Lot Has Changed. Nothing Has Changed. It signified a new thematic direction for his music, which until this point had primarily centred on his love for travel. This time, his focus was more personal. “In the process of writing the album, I tried to work out a rather difficult relationship with my father,” Postman described. “He was the person who introduced me to music, but then he disappeared from my life. But this also made me the person I am.” He also wrote amidst numerous concert cancellations due to Covid-19, which presented challenges for the music industry. Postman felt as though music was no longer a feasible profession, but wanted to make one more album before finding another job. He no longer feels this way. “My musical career received a new round of development,” he stated. “I don’t think now that this album will be the last.”
As he continues to produce music, Postman’s style will no doubt continue to be significantly influenced by his travels. Currently living between Kyiv and Wroclaw, Poland after spending a year in Berlin, he aims to never settle in one place. “Consciously or unconsciously, I refuse a certain pattern that people who live in one place have,” he declares. “I don’t have a sense of home as such.”