If you look at the Ukrainian music scene in the last 10 years, Kasha Saltsova (a remix of real name Sasha Koltsova) has been front-and-centre, marking her own territory, and gaining respect along the way: first as lead-vocalist with the band Krykhitka Tsakhes, which broke up in 2007 when guitarist Mikhon Hichan died; and from 2007, with the addition of new members, the reborn Krykhitka. All this time, Saltsova has been the “centre” of everything going on in the band – her meaningful lyrics, recognisable voice and disarming frankness on stage guarantee the band a devout following and the status of being regarded as highly professional and original musicians. We meet with Saltsova on the eve of Krykhitka releasing their new electronic single – Donor.
With their electronic programme, the band has been touring and showcasing the sound in Ukraine for more than a year. Saltsova says its creation was forced by circumstances that arose after bass guitarist Stas Halan left the band. “There were limited opportunities, so I used the chance to create a sort of minimalistic sound so that there’s a note of bass guitar and drum parts, live guitar (Mykola Matkovsky) and me on the keyboard and vocals,” she says, explaining the shift in the band’s sound.
However, the single will be kind of a full stop to this phase, Saltsova says, before taking up the challenge of working on a new phase in the group’s evolution. To provide free access to the single, Saltsova has come up with her take on the concept of “crowdfunding” - the collective effort of individuals who network and pool their money, usually via the internet, to support efforts initiated by other people. Dubbing her version “crowdrefunding” instead of using funds to start a project, she is hoping to recoup the expenses of a completed project: “We’ve checked all the possibilities of crowdfunding in Ukraine and realised it does not work so well here – we are not Amanda Palmer – we will not be able to raise $2 million or even 2000 Euros this way. But crowdrefunding will let us cover the production expenses, and as soon as we get the sum we spent on it, the single will be free to download.”
The debut album of Krykhitka is also available for free on the band’s website but, out of nearly 15,000 downloads from the site, only 2–3% of people paid the voluntary sum of money, which Saltsova says could cover the cost of just one song. For a Ukrainian band that does not want to conform to money chasing but stay independent, the common solution would be earning money away from music, leaving music as currency “for the soul” – to Saltsova it is a “hellish compromise”: “I’m now having fun creating a musical map of Ukrainian bands, says Koltsova. I’ve calculated there are about 240 bands in Ukraine and, for now, Ukrainian audiences cannot afford to subsidise so many of us.”
Summer Schedule and Goodbye?
For summer, Krykhitka has plans to perform in different corners of Ukraine: first it’s the Rock’n’Sich festival in Kyiv in June, then in August at Zahid fest in the Lviv region. At Zahid, Saltsova is promising to present a return to a more acoustic sound for Krykhitka, which will go on to be recorded on what she says is going to be the last album of the band. “You see, I’ve grown out of Krykhitka, and Ukraine can’t afford this band, so I’m thinking of finishing this story and starting a new one.”
Teasing about the future post-Krykhitka, Saltsova does not rule out some abrupt changes in musical genres and sound. “I’ve thought out a new genre for myself – the cyber-stage genre,” she says, adding she has returned to vocal classes and we can expect some interesting vocal experiments in the future.
Another “strong side” of Saltsova is her lyrics – loaded with self-analysis and reflection, subtle observations and feminine sensuality, her songs can be easily cut into quotes. Her lyrics are often referred to as intellectual, something Saltsova objects to: “You probably haven’t heard the Telnyuk Sisters! I know what is real poetry and what is trash, and the fact is trash – commercialised, ugly and a very often-plagiarised product – is massively promoted by leading media and people in power as the norm. It is shameful and very sad.”
Her pessimism has good grounds, she says, as she has witnessed changes in Ukraine’s radio and TV industries. “After years of successful existence of musical channels and stations, now TV and radio managers have lowered the intellectual quality presented to audiences to rock bottom. It’s frightening, because people who are in charge of managing Ukrainian culture, when this culture comes to them, say it’s not their format.”
To finish the conversation on a very mature note, Saltsova says change will only come when youth stop being apathetic. She believes it’s the every day job of the younger generation to make this country “normal”.
Shkaf Club (Hretska 32), Odesa, 17 May at 20.00
Trukhaniv Island, 8 – 9 June
For more information visit www.facebook.com/Kryhitkaband