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Formation of the Ukrainian rock n roll scene
2022 has become too difficult for one of the largest countries in Europe. It is about Ukraine and its heroic people. The passing year has brought devastation and tears, pain and suffering to the country. In its fight against the invaders, Ukraine is choosing its freedom and the right to a democratic future. Today we wanted to remember the glorious past of this musical nation and especially, we are interested in the development of the rock scene in Ukraine, in a country with its ancient roots and culture. How it was and how it was born.

In the late 1980s, Ukrainian rock began its incredible rise after difficult years of stagnation during the country's stay as part of the USSR. The festival palette was shined with the forbidden yellow-blue flags, and one by one large festival sites began to appear, where a special place was given to rock music. The main one is called 'Chervona Ruta'. The first festival 'Chervona Ruta' thundered in 1989, giving the world such names as Braty Hadiukiny, Vika, Vopli Vidopliassova and Komu Vnyz. In the following years, Zhaba v Dyryzhabli, Tabula Rasa and Viy were lit up at this festival. The Canadian music label Kobza released branded cassettes with the winners of the 'Chervona Ruta', popularizing new Ukrainian music on both sides of the ocean.


Before that, there was only one cassette label in Ukraine called Phonograph (photo above), which released albums of Ukrainian rockers in limited editions of 100-200 pieces. The basis of the label Phonograph were two Kyiv rock clubs, the metal 'Kuznya' with its Edem and Perron and the experimental 'Rock Artil' with its Rabbota Ho and Kollezhskiy Asessor, as well as artists from the Lviv rock club. At that time, in the late USSR, Ukraine still had a highly developed system of reel to reel tape album music format, which were transcribed by hand, and a system of self-publishing through which self-made magazines and newspapers oriented towards the rock direction were designed and printed in small editions. The label Phonograph also had a similar magazine through which anyone could order cassettes. Oleksandr Yevtushenko, a well-known Ukrainian journalist and music critic, began his career there, promoting the importance of Ukrainian rock n roll to the masses.


Meanwhile, the heavy scene flourished in the south of Ukraine, where one of the most famous were the Odesa bands Bastion and Koshkin Dom. The powerful festival Rok-n-roll Tavricheskiy started in the late 80s and since then has became a stronghold and a source of inspiration for rock musicians and lovers of live rock n roll in Ukraine.


The Western cultural capital of Lviv received its uniqueness in the images of the Plach Yeremiyi, Dead Rooster and Tea Fans Club. In 1990, Studio Leva opened its doors, which began to record and release interesting local music as a label. In the same year, the first cult festival 'Vyvykh' was held in the city of Lviv, where a new alternative rock sounded throughout Ukraine.


The next, no less important factor for the development of the Ukrainian rock movement in the new times of independent Ukraine was the activity of the Polish music label Koka Records and the Polish festival of Ukrainian culture Sopot, where the best examples of the new Ukrainian scene were released and presented. A part of the unknown Ukrainian underground came out via Koka Records, and among the performers we should mention Foa Hoka and Kazma Kazma.


These bands were directly related to Contemporary Art Center New Stage, the informal scene of the eastern cultural capital of Ukraine, the city of Kharkiv. A huge role in the popularization of rock music in Ukraine was played by Kharkiv music critic and guru Serhii Korotkov, who actively hosted programs on radio and television and wrote books on music topics.


The formation of the original rock n roll scene in Ukraine took place at the end of the dominance of Soviet pop. With the advent of this refreshing period, a real boom and surge of Ukrainian rock music began, after which it continued its growth and development, discovering new names of Ukrainian rock heroes. Listen to our signature playlist Rock Nation Ukraine on Spotify below and share it with your friends to spread the Ukrainian contribution to the development of the world rock scene.