Working as a dancer for Ruslana, the singer who won Eurovision in 2004 with her track Wild Dances, Kozlovskiy made his first appearance on a truly international stage. Despite having Ruslana’s success as a springboard, Kozlovskiy still had to return to the grind, singing not to packed stadiums but on the streets of Lviv where he was born and raised.
When Vocals Replace the Moves
When Kyiv-based TV show Karaoke na Maidane, produced by Ihor Kondratyuk, gained traction and started travelling around Ukraine, Kozlovskiy didn’t miss his chance to make an appearance. That was in 2002, and his confidence and charisma made him a leader on that season of the show. So much so, he was invited to the second part of the show called Chance, eventually winning the main prize with song Shakespeare written especially for him. With the same song he went on to compete at one of the biggest song contests in the CIS Nova Volna 2004 (New Wave 2004) posting good results.
In 2010, he tried to get to the finals of Eurovision, returning to the competition he had been part of six years earlier, just to leave the ballot at the National Selection stage. Despite that disappointment, his popularity has continued to grow and Kozlovskiy has no regrets about swapping dancing for the sake of singing. “There was no doubt the head of Zhytya (Life) ballet wasn’t happy with my departure. Nor was Ruslana, but I always saw dancing as a transition towards my singing career,” Kozlovskiy says. Rather, the dancing was about forming an all-round entertainment package: “I wanted to be able to be versatile on stage – singing, talking to the audience and building up a concept of performance.”
A Whiff of Scandal
While it seemed Kozlovskiy had gained a show business grounding, that came under threat last year following a spat with former producer Ihor Kondratyuk. Trying to understand who’s wrong and who’s right in Ukrainian showbiz is a bit like hitting your head against a brick wall – it can be painful and tedious with no promised positive result. So to cut a long and laborious story short, here are the facts according to Kozlovskiy: in autumn 2012, Kozlovskiy decided to cease cooperation with both managing producer Yana Pryadko and producer Ihor Kondratyuk. In response, the latter blocked the release of 49 songs he held the rights to. In his defence, Kozlovskiy states: “To start with, I didn’t start this scandal. The other side provoked it. Honestly, there was never a real producer in my life. I have always had a team of managers and administrators who were doing massive amounts of work for me, which is why I think I had no “producer”. Obviously, if my relationship (with Kondratyuk) had been a good one I wouldn’t have left. His complaints against me have no grounds. Everything I owed him I worked out long ago. And slavery ended in our country ages ago. I didn’t expect him to react like this. But even if I’d known this beforehand I wouldn’t have changed my decision to leave.” Kozlovskiy says that despite the conflict he feels more confident about his future in music. He has plans and is sure he can do more than before. And to his ex-producers he wishes the following: “I wish their life to be as good as mine.”
A Taste of Freedom
With five best-selling albums, Vitaily has made the easy transition to Internet artist, focusing now on releasing singles rather than compiling them into albums. “Considering my new status (without a producer), I became more particular when choosing my songs. In my new repertoire, I’m looking for something that I hadn’t done before. I want my new songs to depict my new life.”
Kozlovskiy is finding strength in adversity and with it comes determination. He is inspired and ready to add to his collection of awards. Whether or not he takes the Best Singer title, he has already proved his talent with more than 50 musical awards which include a couple of Song of the Year titles, Zolota Sharmanka, Shlyager Goda and finally the coveted Merited Artist of Ukraine in 2009. Kozlovskiy’s bid for his first YUNA will be tough, his main opponent is Svyatoslav Vakarchuk whose band Okean Elzy became YUNA’s laureates last year. However, showbiz is a tough business and this competition could go to the wire!
Second YUNA Awards
Palace Ukraine (V Vasylkivska 103)
15 March at 19.00
Tickets are 150 – 900hrv