Becoming a sensation almost as soon as their first debut hit – Babylon – was released this September, they quickly found themselves playing huge events like Ukraine’s MTV Video Awards, warming up for Hurts and of course playing our birthday party, all within the span of just a couple of months. As newbies to the massive market of music, The Hardkiss has planted one juicy big one all over Kyiv. We for one are eager for more.
The Common Thread
Knocking on our office door, only half of The Hardkiss core members, Yulia and Val, arrive one balmy December afternoon. I am disappointed the masked madman, Kreechy, has not accompanied. I was kind of hoping to get behind the rational of the disguise. But c'est la vie. The one character I wasn’t expecting was their manager, Volodymr, who takes a seat as far from me as possible. He acts as though he’s not going to get involved in our little chat, which is funny because I ask one question and he’s already cutting in. Yulia displays the tough little chickie she is immediately, however, and tells him to put a sock in it.
The question that has sparked such a reaction revolves around the band’s beginnings. Yulia answers honestly. “This does require clarification. There was a project called Val and Sanina, which has nothing to do with our current band. People still confuse the two, even though what we were doing back then was very different. We tried, unsuccessfully, to combine Russian lyrics with dance music, and even shot a video. The problem was that we had both been brought up on Western music and that was where our hearts were. We decided to drop it and start anew.”
Even before this first project went south, however, theirs was a relationship made of Hollywood movies. Val had just returned from the UK working as a producer on a music channel. Yulia was a young journalist wanting an interview for her school paper. They had “a special connection”, of which music was the common thread.
The Implications of Diversity
Even still, it was an interesting correlation. Yulia had been raised on jazz and performed hundreds of times throughout her childhood. Val had been producing and was fascinated by rock (as evidenced by his two earrings and rugged appearance). “My first favourite band was Depeche Mode," says the hard-core musician. "My parents even have a video of me dancing to the music. Later on, I started listening to Ozzy Osbourne, Marilyn Manson and Slip Knot."
In comparison, Yulia’s musical icons – George Benson, Betty Ostin and Diana Krall – were a little less rough around the edges. But this is perhaps where the group’s strength lies. Adding yet another layer, Max is the group’s DJ. With a massive affinity for Dub Step and Break Beat, he ensures all of thier tunes include a proper progressive rhythm.
Interestingly enough, Kreechy has been left out of all conversation up to this point. I ask why. “Kreechy doesn’t want any publicity because of some personal issues. We respect his request. And yet, his image suits the overall image of the band perfectly!”
In spite of or perhpas due to the huge diversity in musical tastes, the band has created a sound many critics are calling very European. With an open-door policy when it comes to ideas, Yulia says, “The very name of the band, The Hardkiss, implicates this diversity. It is a mix of something soft, tender, sweet and melodic together with a hard beat and great drive.”
Step by Step
As a combination of all of their interests – jazz, rock, house, etc – their music is impressive. But that’s not the only thing audiences seem to be impressed with. Whether it’s the masked madman Kreechy, the funky hairstyles Yulia seems so keen on, Val’s striking look, or the DJ dude behind the turntable, their image is every bit as important as their music. It’s something the band’s stylist and hair guru, Slava Chaika and Vitaliy Datsyuk respectively, really appreciate, and Yulia says it’s one of the reasons they sound and look so different.
Continuing on down their own path toward a future that screams popularity, the group says their new album is on its way shortly. Ditching the idea of digital, they’d love to go vinyl. But that’s not such an easy decision. “If we want a Grammy then we’ll need a CD. But I personally prefer the sound of analog. And then of course, this is the era of the internet, which is a powerful musical tool as well,” says Val. While Babylon was the first track released via the World Wide Web, Yulia says their first debut Dance With Me will be out very soon. “With a couple of acoustic variations, as well as a video, we are doing everything step by step.” It’s something that seems to have worked for them so far.