Words collected by Laurent Bigarella.
Omon Breaker (producer, DJ)
After I left Kyiv with my girlfriend’s family and they were safe, I returned to Kyiv. Ukraine don’t take me to the army and territorial defense because of health problems. And since my family needs financial support, but do not know foreign languages, I moved them to a safer place and plan to go to Europe to work. It is very difficult for me to admit it, but work is work, and now the most useful thing I can do is not sit at home, but earn money.
For the first two weeks, the explosions and sirens were bullets, I didn’t want to listen to music at all. After a while, it began to give a special spirit. In fact, most of the musicians who left Ukraine are promoting the Ukrainian scene and donating. However, I really do not like that now everything has begun to look like “we are all for Ukraine.”
Of course, this is very important for us and we are grateful for the support of the electronic community around the world, but sometimes it looks like a hype. If you want to support us, just donate to us. There is no need to say “We are for Ukraine!” everywhere. It is especially funny to watch those events in support of Ukraine in which there are no Ukrainian artists.
I would like to say that every Ukrainian is now scared and every Ukrainian turned out to be helpless. Just yesterday you could dig trenches and make Molotovs, and two days later you are sitting at home and just reading the news. I also have to thank our brave Warriors for protecting our home and European partners who have shown us their support in many ways. We are scared, but we believe in our victory. The time of our people to become free.
Nastya Vogan (producer, DJ and co-director of Module Exchange school)
War took away my beloved home for an uncertain period of time (the place where I could feel safe), my work in Ukraine (two main directions were my artistic life in a club and developing our electronic music school), my peaceful happy life in Kyiv, city which become a home for me within last 10 years. War caught me in Madrid, where I was for a weekend trip. For now, I decided to stay in Berlin for some time because of different reasons, but mostly community and friends, an opportunity to work and grow.
And also, for me being in Berlin now somehow helps, as there are so many different people who could live here peacefully, so I feel less lonely and less different. I’m really thankful to the city itself, as a beautiful organism and for everyone who helps me to stay sane.
I see a lot of will and real actions to help from different parts of community. Each drop of support is extremely important for us now and will stay extremely important till the end of this war and even longer because now each day Ukraine defending not only itself but also the European democracy values.
Maybe I don’t really know each case and they are all different, it is so sensitive topic sometimes: how to communicate correctly, how to understand what’s really happening correctly, but spreading awareness about the situation, donating, protesting – it is a huge step to defend all these simple little things from which peaceful life consists and makes us all happy.
Paul Georg (Curator, Standard Deviation)
As a Ukrainian label, we have been gravely affected by the war. Our hopes, dreams and ambitions are scattered now. We had high plans for this year, with several bigger projects lined up that would involve transnational collaborations, multi-format projects touching the Ukrainian identity as well as a couple of major event projects in Kyiv and other cities. Seeing all this in retrospective now makes me incredibly sad. Seeing all the countless months of work being erased in just one night is a feeling impossible to comprehend. Besides everything else that is more important right now, this fact leaves behind a huge void of emptiness and disappointment.
Losing a job is but a mere small factor in this; The embedding context of what this means in regards to the ambitions of the Ukrainian music and art scene, being so brutally affected, will take a long time to heal wounds, even after the war will be over.
Right at the start, we successfully launched a fundraiser release together with the help of Mystictrax and our trusted partner Modern Matters, collecting money to donate to several humanitarian organizations working in Ukraine. Until the date, we raised over 15.000€.
We successfully helped our artists with emergency money to cover for their evacuation, food, sheltering and other needs. When we restructured our organization in exile here in Berlin, we joined together with our mother project ∄, launching a funding campaign (k41community.fund) to help the broader community. We sincerely hope to continue our work in the future but are currently not in the position to plan further ahead, as our whole organization and its members are at risk.
Solidarity shows itself in many facets. An overwhelming majority of players in the music scene has expressed it, while offering opportunities to shelter, donations, integration of Ukrainians in the EU states. Some of my friends have launched a small grass-root organizations helping BiPOC and LGBTQIA+ people over the borders and offering different instances of assistance (Bridges Over Borders)
While all this is great and contributes to a greater cause, in which we hopefully will act more aware of future and present conflicts as a whole united community, in our anger and the feeling of being powerless we see that we are not able to build up sufficient political pressure to reach fundamental changes. Electronic music has always been frontier when it came about influencing certain socio-political issues. We created pioneer structures in cities around the globe, contributing to its attractiveness among young people and benefitting the international tourism (e.g. Kyiv).
But creative industries have exploited trends from the counter cultures of the electronic music and implemented them in their capitalist agenda. These big fashion, music and creative players of our world today owe our communities so much and there has been a huge lack of support from their side (e.g. Fashion industries). It’s not enough to use Ukraine as a buzz word for their agenda on being relevant in these times, no, further action is required to educate their audiences, raise awareness and to talk respectfully about the suffering of the Ukrainian nation.
Until today, ignorance remains the biggest enemy of change. An ignorance that’s set in the capitalist structures of our modern world, refraining us from taking sincere actions, whilst feeling too cozy in our small little bubbles.
I want to express the deepest respect for the Ukrainian music scene and all its protagonists. The creativity in times of war means something that is impossible to describe. It reaches from the support of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the protection of civilians with food, creating structures that help the communities, raising awareness, basically using every available skill to serve and protect the borders and integrity of the Ukrainian nation.
This is something that deserves much more credit and i want to take the time after this battle has been won, to dedicate my biggest admiration for everyone who’s serving Ukraine, in all its different forms, in these times. Slava Ukraini!
Bessarion (DJ and fashion designer)
On February 24, early in the morning, a call came from my friends, after which my whole life and the lives of a million people were destroyed! The war has begun! get out of the house and go towards the bomb shelter! I will never forget these words; I will never forget! To be honest, the shock was so strong that I did not fully understand what was happening and what I was doing, where I was going and why. on the way to the bomb shelter, my friends Dasha Kolosova and Etapp Kyle called me and said that I needed to urgently go to them and that we were leaving for Chernivtsi.
I left my whole life in Kyiv. I left in the clothes in which I was at home, took my passport and mobile phone! that’s all I have left. We managed to get to Berlin. At the moment I am in Berlin, I am trying to start life from scratch and yet I am sure that very soon we will all return to our beloved Ukraine and we will all build a new country, Ukraine!
Most of my friends were able to leave in different European countries. there are those who remained in Ukraine and help people and soldiers. we constantly use contacts every day, think over different options how to help people, soldiers and the country! I am proud that the Ukrainian people are so strong and I am proud to be a part of this people.
Separately, I want to say thank you to the Georgian people for their incredible support for Ukraine! people, media, club community, they all do their best to support Ukraine. Among the dead soldiers who are fighting for the freedom of Ukraine, there are also Georgian soldiers who fought. Eternal memory to all these heroes. Every death is an incredible pain for me.
Lostlojic (DJ and producer, head of the Ukrainian record label Mystictrax)
I was born and lived in Kyiv. The first weeks of the war I was at home. My house is located in the northwest of the city, just from this side the Russian troops began their efforts to enter the city. Every day my wife and I ran dozens of times to a large shelter in the basement of a local school and spent the night there. But later they realized that the basement is no less safe than in the safe areas of the house (in common corridors, away from windows, etc.), so they began to sleep in the hallway of his house.
They rarely went outside, in a week they got used to constant explosions (fighting there and now takes place within a radius of 20 km from home). Now there are already 2 destroyed houses on my native street, and several small towns near the city are completely destroyed.
Tired of fear of the airstrikes, we decided to go to a safer place, inland, in the countryside. Now I have the internet, so I can actively raise funds through the music releases of the Mystictrax label in support of the army, which we are all now praying for and hoping for. I transfer all the funds to acquaintances and musicians who joined the army and the territorial defense of the city.
While I was at home in Kyiv, I, with friends, managed to gather a large music collection Together for Ukraine. I collected music together with Sasha Zakrevska (Poly Chain) and Maxim (Omon Breaker) and musicians from my label Mystictrax, then merged with the label Standard Deviation. We managed to collect 65 tracks, including Laurent Garnier, Henning Baer, Nene H, Ben Sims, artwork by Wolfgang Tillmans…
Thanks to Paul Georg and Agnese Ghinassi, we have already raised more than 15,000 Euros for the needs of volunteer organizations such as The ‘Come Back Alive’ Fund, National Bank of Ukraine Fundraising Account for Humanitarian Assistance, ‘Ukraine Pride’ Fund for LGBTQIA+ soldiers and LGBTQIA+ people affected by the war, ‘Голос Дітей’ Fund, helping children affected by the war.
So we tried to force Russian musicians to stop silently supporting the war, to cover the crimes of the Russian government and to protest. But now everyone understands that it will not happen. I took part in spreading the truth about the war in russia as a graphic designer too, until I realized that it was a nonsensical idea: Russians know the truth, but they don’t care, and most of them even support Putin‘s actions.
Western people need to understand too that Russians are not just hostages of the situation – most of them consciously chose a dictatorship, agreeing to live in a country without democracy and liberal media, for centuries grew up on literature and art, glorifying Russians among other nations, humiliating neighboring nations, from school age they raise their children superior attitude and hatred of the Western world.
Ukrainians have been living with them for more than 300 years and know everything from their own experience. In the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine, special Russian police units confiscate books of Ukrainian history and any literature that contradict Russian ideology, that does not recognize the existence of Ukrainians as a separate nation.
First of all, books by Vasyl Stus and other authors who were tortured and killed by Russians during the Soviet era are confiscated. The occupiers are also forcing teachers to go to work and teach children in Russian. I try to convey to the world that Russians know the truth, but believe that they are doing good. The denazification of the Russians will take decades, as it did with the Germans after World War II.
So all we can do now is stop them with the army, missiles and aircrafts. I advocate the canceling of Russian culture, for everything they did with the civilians of Ukraine during the month of this war, with the cities of Mariupol, Kharkiv, Chernihiv, and many others. I will not forget, I will never forgive.
I would also like to inform you that together with my friends from the Netherlands Deeptrax label, I sell my album “Mamay” on blue & yellow vinyl, and direct all the money I earn to help my friends.
I know that Europeans, especially Germans, are very pathetic and do not understand how we can raise money for the military. I want to tell them that this is normal during the war, the military are the only people the civilian population hopes for.
These are our relatives, friends and acquaintances who bravely protect us from the enemy, so we help them all over the country, buy helmets and bulletproof vests, night vision devices and everything they need to survive and defend. I also call on Europeans to support the Ukrainian military, to protest and to seek military assistance for Ukraine!
Adrian Maurice Schier (The K Hole record shop)
When the war started it became clear very fast that it won’t end in a fast way. So my old home Berlin, was the only place to go to for me. Many of my friends left Kyiv and went to Lviv or other cities and villages in the western part of Ukraine. The first days I was just shocked, sad, almost paralyzed since nobody expected an all-out war from Russia like this. I was constantly on my phone, organizing and motivating people to go to the protest.
Coming back to Berlin I then started working at some Techno events again and tried to be as active as possible, to be able to support the people in Ukraine also going to protests as often as we can. Also, since many people arrived in Berlin, I was constantly looking for places that people can stay but it was nice to see that many families and friends were very supportive to take Ukrainians to their homes.
The K Hole record store is closed for business until the war is over and the situation is safe enough to return. But I am sure it will be open again! The person managing and organizing the Vyrobnyky Mriy Place told me that they opened the whole place, because it’s located in a basement so the residents of the building can take shelter. On one side of course I am sad about the circumstances of the war but it gives me a bit more happiness to know that the K Hole has become a shelter for people. So, the residents can maybe relax for one second, while sitting on the comfortable seats and being surrounded by music.
Talking about support I think it has to be seen in 2 separate ways: one is the support of the people towards the Ukrainians and I saw, talked and met a lot of German people or international people that live in Germany that took Ukrainians into their homes. For almost everyone it’s obvious that Ukraine needs help, Russia is the aggressor and even though the political reasons might be more complex, in the end this all-out war and the attack on civilians cannot be called different but a genocide of the Ukrainian people.
The music scene gave massive support towards Ukraine and spread awareness and information across social media and also on a close level to friends and family. The music scene stands very strongly behind Ukraine and everyone I know demands Russia to stop whilst supporting Ukraine either with Money, a place for people to stay, help transporting goods like medicine to the border and more.
Once can say the support of people of the country and the music scene is huge but on the same time our governments are not representing this way of thinking. The government of Germany specially talks a lot, gives support with money but lacks to support Ukraine in a bigger way. Germany as a state (it is important to see state and people separately) has hesitated too long to give Russia serious sanctions. The German chancellor has failed to take a strong stand against Russia and it seems like the German government has a strong conflict of interest that is related to business and resources like gas and oil in Russia.
The state should support the voice of the people/their citizens and support Ukraine, put more stronger sanctions against Russia and seeing the facts of the genocide instead of looking away. Last thing: people should not stop protesting; people should continue to support Ukraine and take responsibility for this war in Europe. If we don’t take action now, who says that it will stop with Ukraine. Everyone should stand up, protest and support Ukraine. It’s definitely in our all interest that Europe is a peaceful place!
Diana Azzuz (producer and DJ)
On the 24th of February I was in Kyiv in my apartment. My friend who happened to be my roommate woke me up to explosions. I couldn’t believe it and, to be honest, I still can’t. All that time prior to the invasion, I was sure it was just a political posturing in terms of the narrative russia has been developing prior to the invasion. “Russia is just trying to show off its power, so it’d be easier for them to take away the eastern part of Ukraine”, I thought to myself. I think nobody could believe Russian would do anything like that. At that point, I didn’t even consider leaving Kyiv, although all my friends who were outside Ukraine were convincing me to do it.
I stayed most of the “first” night in the basement with my friends. We had to think fast and decide what to do so we found ourselves waiting for a train to Lviv. It took us around six days to get to Berlin.
Right now, I do what I can, be it going to demonstrations, donating money to volunteers or organizations etc. I can’t see myself starting a new life in a different city. Not when the foundation of my life – my country – is at a constant threat of being destroyed. I’m waiting incessantly when Ukraine will win this war so I can go back.
I’m very appreciative of all the support Ukrainians get from the music community. After coming to Berlin, I get an opportunity to participate in fundraising events which means a lot considering that I can put my work to use. Of course, I don’t want to understate this support, but like any community, a club scene is like a bubble we live in. The more time passes, the less people care about the situation because it’s in human’s nature to get used/numb to something very quickly.
As many of my friends have already said, we’re concerned that the war in Ukraine will become something that is just happening around the corner.
Oleg Patselya (DJ, sound producer)
Greetings. You know I’m alive. Kyiv was relatively unaffected, I have everything. How has the war affected me? I used to fall asleep to the sound of downed bombs and wake up to the sound of a siren, I know that a bomb can fall 500 meters from my house, yes, it will be shot down by our air defenses, but the crushes are terrible, I think you yourself saw everything on the Internet. The life of every Ukrainian is divided into before and after, including mine.
I forgot that I am a musician, I forgot that my album was supposed to be released in early March. I cannot perform, write music, thereby earning money, but this is naturally not comparable to what other people have experienced. I rethought a lot, all my dreams and plans changed for only one thing, the speedy victory in this war, in all this horror that Russia did to my country, cities, people and animals.
When my godfather was killed on March 23 (he fought since 2014), I was in prostration for a couple of days, because when the war directly affects your loved ones and family, you look at everything through a different prism, the prism of horror multiplied by 100x. It all started when my friend Markiyan started raising funds on Instagram for our fighters on February 26, then, every day there were more and more requests for help, and we expanded our headquarters and our range of activities. At the moment, I have been volunteering for more than a month, with my friends we helping every day, we bring food, medicines, essentials, we also send humanitarian cargo to other cities.
We helping our oldies, people with limited mobility, our army and our citizens who defended Kyiv in the territorial defense and all who need help because of the war. Huge thanks to everyone who participates and sends donations. I am insanely proud of our people; victory is not far off! Slava Ukraini
Maya Baklanova (Music journalist)
Before February 24th, there was already some tension. We did not believe anything could happen though. I continued my work and my regular normal life. The day before the war, on Wednesday 23rd February, I had a date. Then I came back home, felt asleep at midnight. I woke up at 5 am to drink water. Due to these ongoing tensions, I am used to often check Telegram and news to get information. This is how I learnt that putin announced an invasion of Ukraine. Few minutes after, I heard the first explosion.
After that, I was reading news, again and again, and also contacted my friends. Then I made my backpack and went to a safe place with them, to start thinking what we were going to do. It was a long day of discussion. We did not understand clearly what was going on. There was already huge traffic jam to go out from Kyiv, and it was almost impossible to find bus or train tickets to leave. A friend finally found some train tickets.
We first went to Lviv where we spent few days, to check what options we had to escape. It was already difficult to leave at this moment as the humanitarian crise started. We found tickets to leave by bus and we went to Lublin in Poland. This is where our friends from Berlin came to pick us to go to the German capital. If you compare with other stories especially from cities like Mariupol, it was nothing.
It has been almost two months now; my emotions are constantly changing. During the first week, it was adrenaline. We started to work, help people on how to escape, collect information and job offers from institutions in Berlin and beyond, also collect requests from people in Ukraine. Emotionally, it is always ups and down. At one point, we felt support from foreign friends, and now there is also less media attention for the war. That is why it is my mission to speak about it, to write texts and answer interviews. Words are my weapons.
In the first days of the war, I was approached by my friends from Cxema. They proposed to share together an open an Open Letter fom the Ukrainian Electronic Music Scene. Promotors and actors from the club community joined a Telegram group to communicate quickly about it. I still got messages from different actors from Ukraine who want to be part of it. I never had this feeling that our community is so united and well organized. There has been some critics in Western Europe saying that it was not fair to ban russian artists, but I think there are less of them now.
The solidarity we have seen among the scene is something really impressive and I am really thankful for that. People are ready to protect common values, they know this war is about all of us. But now I feel that it’s not enough. People slowly getting used to it, comparing with other nations who are struggling, which is fair, but it’s not a competition. Voices of people who want to stop this war should be lauder.
It is still very important to keep on spreading more information, to make pressure on your government to support Ukraine, to stop sponsoring this war by paying money to russia, to raise awareness, as well as educating yourself about history in general, about Russian empire and colonial power, in Georgia, Belarus, in Ukraine and in other countries. How russia destroyed our culture for centuries. Education helps to understand the current situation, and this is how people will understand this war is not just about putin. Demonstrations are also important in order to ask your government to take decisions and make concrete actions.
To everyone who is silent, who got of with call for peace or put pigeon on their social media I would like to ask for a favor – never ever come to Kyiv to dance after our victory.
Koloah aka Voin Oruwu (producer, DJ)
My life completely changed.. Now I live at other house, wearing other clothes, communicate with other people. Everything changed. Now I am on west of a country it was safe space but now rocket bombing is in 50 km from the house I live. I live with a different family. they graciously accepted me as their own. This keeps me going. My parents are in the center of the country. they don’t want to leave their land. Rockets fall 10 kilometers from their home…
Here I volunteer time to time in an organization that helps our army(Actually you can check and donate if you want), write music for motivational videos of our army, making patriotic songs. I try what I can and how I can.
Couple of my friends is gone to war. They are ok for now. I am very proud of them. They protect our country. Basically they protect Kyiv. No one goes to hot spots without experience, but a few friends who have experience still went to the front line. I am very worried about them.
The heads of many European countries, including Germany and France, turned out to be cowards. The masks have been torn off. Europeans have grown accustomed to comfort and are ready to turn a blind eye to everything, as long as they are not touched. Now our people are showing real strength and the will to freedom. I see how the people of many countries support us, but not their governments. I recommend paying attention to this and drawing conclusions. Our president, in whom no one believed even a year ago, showed himself to be a real hero, and Europe – to which we all jerked off – showed itself from a completely different side.
Russia is a threat to all mankind. Ideology based on great-power chauvinism, complete lack of spirituality and immorality. It differs from the well-known forms of fascism, racism, nationalism, in particular cruelty, both to man and to nature… The principle of action is the destruction of everything and everyone, the scorched earth tactics.
Now we all have a chance to strangle this beast. Isolate. But this can only be done by uniting. People living there are mired in a totalitarian cesspool. They are brainwashed. Possessing a slave psychology, they parasitize on false history, on occupied territories and oppressed peoples. Russianism is characterized by constant political juridical-legal and ideological terrorism.
For more stories from We are Europe, sign up to our newsletter down below. This piece was originally published in French, on Trax Magazine.