Ancient Traditions and Todayʼs Electronica. Electrofolk made with traditional instruments.
Two of Ukraineʼs most fashionable and culturally relevant performers founded Onuka in 2013: Eugene Filatov and Nata Zhizhchenko. On stage their group expands to seven musicians and many varied tools: antique wooden flutes (sopilki), a Ukrainian lute (bandura), trombones, drums, and keyboards. Everything is then filtered through cutting-edge technology
The term Onuka means “granddaughter” in Ukrainian and pays directs immediate homage to Nataʼs grandfather, Oleksandr Shlionchyk. A recognized master craftsman, his skills are now evident in the stagecraft of a future generation. Nataʼs grandfather, in fact, was held in such regard that he restored a mandolin (or kobza) belong to Ukraineʼs national poet, Taras Shevchenko (1814-1861). It was important to keep memory audibly alive – and the same obligation remains today .
Onukaʼs debut EP – “Look” – was released in May, 2014. It entered the nationwide iTunes chart at Number One. A subsequent, eponymous album was then published in October. It also reached the same chart position – on two separate occasions.
In 2015 ONUKA received Ukrainian National Musical Award YUNA (Discovery of the year), Kiss FM – Discovery of the year (the most popular Ukrainian dance radio), ELLE style award (Musician of the year). ONUKA performed more than than 70 concerts last year, including festivals in Ukraine, Belarus, Poland and Hungary,Sziget in Budapest.
As of summer 2016, the bandʼs videos on YouTube have been viewed over three million times. Consider “Look,” “Time,” or “Misto” (aka “City”) as just three examples. Another studio EP has recently emerged: “Vidlik” More than any other Onuka endeavor, it dovetails the past and present. The recording addresses various facets of the tragic nuclear accident in Chernobyl, Ukraine, which devastated an entire nation in April 1986.
Playing festivals across Central and Eastern Europe, the members of Onuka are building not only upon local history, but also on their private achievements. Both Filatov and Zhizhchenko have long been admired and celebrated on Ukraine’s dance floors –not to mention magazine covers. Both of them came to Onuka with an impressive back catalog from modish projects such as The Maneken, Tomato Jaws, and KOOQLA. Prior to modern, fractious politics or industrial devastation, there lies an opportunity to link the past and future harmoniously. That connection came once from the hands of a craftsman – and now finds voice in the digital creativity of a granddaughter.
Text: David MacFadyen, Far From Moscow.
Listen to the last album VIDLIK: