The Life of Music and the Music of Life
Sunday Stabroek, Feb 14th 2014
‘ … On Valentine’s day in the Rupununi , the red haired Iryna Muha stole the show. The petit Ukrainian artiste, who sings in the style of Eastern European folk singers, seemingly made everyone fall in love with her. Her style, personality and talent crossed language carries to introduce something new to everyone and make them like it. Ukrainian music, or Iryna’s version of it at least, is fun and of sort that you would likely skip to when no one’s looking. But it is also varied, sometime mournful and melancholy, with similarities of native American music. It was a learning experience too as Iryna gave bits of background about her country…’
Guyana Chronicle , Feb 18 2014 On a photo with Aref Durvesh.
It’s been a while since I updated this blog, so I would try to briefly cover a few events that happened in the last few months.
The big launch of our Taras animation directed by Chinese artist Tu Zeng went really well. We were very happy to secure the booking at the Nottingham Contemporary Café Bar- cudos to Ste Alan . It was the best venue for the launch as they always have a good sound, quality projection and the staff – Steve Barnett and Jim Brouwer – are extremely helpful and willing to give extra of their time for the best show for the audience! The launch was filmed by the White Collar Zoo TV – the new , but very promising Nottingham based Internet TV station, so we will have a video report of the launch sometime very soon.
Thanks to Daniel Whiston for the photo!
Another happy event was the exchange visit of my Ukrainian friends GrozovSka band to the UK. Unfortunately only 2 of the 7 band members got the visas to come here, so we made a version of UA/ UK musicians mix and did play a gig in a mysterious – small but international – town of Newark. Thanks to Abel Chaude for organising, driving, playing and just being there for all of us!
With MUHA UA we’ve been invited again to play in the creative hub in Kiev Babuin Coffee House thanks to the great girl Sasha Smetanenko. I’m looking forward to play again with the brilliant musicians and amazing people- Konstantin Bushinsky, Kirill Machinsky, Olena Grozovska and others and hope to survive the freezing conditions Ukraine has this time of the year! I think the warmth of people’s hearts and regular shots of vodka will keep me safe.
Free concert by the dynamic contemporary Eastern European folk band – Muha, to celebrate the Premiere Screening of an extraordinary new music video created by 6 talented animation artists in Chongqing, China
A multicultural artistic collaboration between popular Nottingham-based Eastern European Contemporary Folk band Muha and computer animation artists from China has resulted in a stunning music video that celebrates the infamous Cossack hero, Taras Bulba.
The song “Taras”, taken from Muha’s 2010 album of the same name, recounts how the eponymous hero of Nikolai Gogol’s historical novella bravely unites fellow countrymen against a common enemy, only to ultimately meet a gruesome end but thereby guaranteeing a place in the world’s cultural history.
In 2010, Zeng Tu- a celebrated artist filmmaker based in Chongqing, founder of the film department at the Sichuan Fine Art Academy and frequent collaborator with Muha Bassist Louise Clements, was artist in residence at QUAD, a centre for contemporary art and film in Derby. Having already released their CD album “Taras”, the band approached Tu to create a music video. The artist was immediately drawn to darkness and legend of the song Taras.
For over 18 months Zeng Tu co-ordinated a six person design, 3D-imaging and animation team consisting of the best recent graduates from the Sichuan Fine Arts Institute in Chongqing, working as a collective based in an old tobacco factory converted into artists’ studios called – 501. After nearly 18 months the 100% CGI-animated video was complete.
Art and music lovers are invited to attend the free Muha concert, during which the animated video will be exclusively screened in full.
Support comes from Graham Dale – a multi-instrumentalist, inventor and instrument maker who has been described as ‘music genius of rural England’. Graham will perform vocal looping specifically created for this event inspired by various music traditions from around the world.
In Russian art and mythology Wonder Birds (чудо птицы- Rus) are the birds with female heads. The most famous wonder bird is Sirin. According to myth, the Sirins lived “in Indian lands” near Eden or around the Euphrates River.
In 17-18th century Sirin symbolized world’s harmony. People in those times believed that only really happy people could hear Sirin, while only very few could see one- because she is fast and as difficult to catch as human happiness. She symbolizes eternal joy and heavenly happiness.
Sirin is now lived in my garden, to brighten it up in any weather
TARAS was specially comissioned by MuHa to the Artist and Director Zeng Tu from Babel 7 studio, Sichuan Fine Art Institute, Chongqing, China. Back in 2010 Zeng Tu was a resident artist in Derby Quad. Louise Clements -MuHa bass player and the director of FORMAT festival- brought Tu around to MuHa gig in Nottingham. Tu truly appreciated MuHa music and suggested he and his team could make the animation movie for one of our soundtracks.
Since we released the album Taras in 2010, I always wanted to make a video for the song that gave the name to the album. The Cossack warriors theme is Ukrainian historic epos, Tarars Bulba is a big figure embedded into cultural consciousness of Ukrainian people. The song as well, came out really strong – I think my native roots gave an extra bit of power to it. To make a video for Taras song was an impossible task for us as it involved having Cossack battle on horses on a battlefield – the production cost was just not affordable for the self label. Having Tu’s offer I could not believe our luck! During my college years I became a fan of animation and can appreciate how tedious and time consuming the animation is.
Sixteen months later the team of four animators of Babel 7, directed by Zeng Tu presented us with this awesome 3D movie that reflected everything I ever imagined for Taras and beyond. They made a good research on Ukrainian and Russian traditional designs and juxtaposed it to the distinctive Asian style visuals. The result is a breathtaking timeless journey that takes the viewer through the centuries of wars, telling the story of what it means for the families. The song has gained a new powerful dimension.
I would really love to come to China to meet these incredibly talented people and see the production drafts and developments. Would be awesome to create collaborative audio- visual programme with Zen Tu team and make more friends from around the globe.
We have already mentioned earlier in this blog our collaboratiove project TARAS with ZengTu animation director from Sichuan Fine Art Institute Chongqing, China. As we are getting closer to completion of the project we thought we tell you more about TARAS.
Taras song was inspired by Ukrainian story of Taras Bulba. The lyrics unfold as a young Cossack awaits for a battle in the early foggy morning over the Dnieper river in Ukraine. He thinks about his home and wife, and is ready to accept his fate the battle holds for him- whatever it could be. The battle starts, people become as fierce as animals, the blood is shed…
….Scattered bids, scared beasts
Mother wolf protects her cubs-
People gathered for a devil feast
Wild butcher swords scatter the blood….
As a female songwriter Iryna also looks at women’s fate when men are killed at war. A woman says goodbye to her dear husband and sons who she loved and cherished all her life, only to loose them to the violence of war. As a result she is left to bring up the children, keep up the household and take all the hardships of the lonely life on her own.
Although the Cossack theme is taking place in about 16-17 century, the story is relative to today as much as it was 300 years ago. Husbands, fathers and sons are still being killed at wars and women are left behind, having to deal with the consequences of glorified wars.
The international collaborative project TARAS is bringing three cultures together. The song TARAS has Ukrainian traditional Cossack theme , it has been written and recorded by UK music collective MuHa, and TARAS animation movie is created by Chinese animation studio, making this project a celebration of multi-cultural global creative work.
Below are the latest screenshots from TARAS animation beeing created by Sichuan Fine Art Institute team.
We hope to have the finished piece in time for WOMEX film submissions for this year and hopefully we get selected for screening at this world music fair.
The dates for the official launch of the animation are to be confirmed
We were humbled to learn that our music has inspired this fabulous painting by a Scottish artist Brian Barclay .
The female figure in this painting is based on Brian’s Ukrainian wife Svitlana and the painting itself was ‘…inspired by the musical feel of [MuHa song] Kaby Vedala’.
This is the best compliment we could have received for our music and we would like to thank Brian for sharing his beautiful vision of Kaby Vedala with us.