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Interview: Sounds Of Ukraine D&B Collective

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We’ve all heard about the awful conflict happening in Ukraine, what we may forget when watching the headlines is that these are real people fighting each day, not just for their lives, but also for their heritage & culture.

One group that is doing their bit to highlight awareness to the plight of the Ukrainan people drum & bass collective Sounds Of Ukraine. We caught up with them to find out more about the scene in their country, the effects war is having on the culture, and how their sets are raising the spirits of their friends on the front lines…

Firstly tell us a bit about yourselves. Who’s involved in the collective & how did you all come together?

Following the summer of 2023, while some members of the team were looking for ways to somehow find a way to use DnB to increase awareness regarding what’s going on in Ukraine, Tony (London Elektricity) very kindly put us in touch with the team at Hospital Records. He is not only an exceptional artist but also a great human being.

Tonika and TheLena had an initial call with the team at Hospitality and WOW!!. What a culture and what a group of amazing people. They offered us the 3rd room in an event they were planning in December at Fabric and this started everything.

It is any DJ’s dream to play at the legendary Fabric in the DnB capital of the world, and on top of that an event by Hospitality; one of the most respected brands in drum & bass!!

Tonika and TheLena immediately formed the line-up for the event and everything started to fall into place. Dub Head, J.Zef, and Vitaminka immediately joined the team. Votuma kindly agreed to join the event. Result: SOU!.. We are all family now with bigger dreams beyond just one event…

What were your first experiences with D&B? Was there a particular mix, forum, track that caught your attention?

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For all of us, Tonika is the inspiration for DnB and how the DnB culture should be. She was the first female DnB DJ and is often referred to as the godmother of DnB in Ukraine. Her view of life and her music inspire everyone in the SOU team. She strongly believes music connects people, especially in difficult times

Derrick & Tonika
Derrick & Tonika

What is the Ukrainian D&B scene like? Who were the pioneers of the scene out there? Any notable venues that supported the sound?

The Ukrainian DnB scene is considerably different to the UK; at least to the current UK scene. We are all trying to adjust a bit. Probably this is normal given UK is the birthplace of DnB and constantly branched and evolved into variations with a massive fan base.

In Ukraine, the crowd usually is more mature; it is more about the music and vibe and not the crazy “rave”. For example, you will see more people dressed up to the occasion with lights, neons, flashes, etc. Hard to explain. If you watch our recent Lviv event on our YouTube channel you will see what we mean.

One other thing is, we almost don’t use MCs at all. The pioneers in Ukraine are artists like Derrick & Tonika, Bob Rovski Gary, Shumoff and Tapolsky

Imagine A Life Constantly Feeling Insecure

Of course we have to ask, how has the conflict in your country effected every day life & culture?

Devastating effects. Imagine a life constantly feeling insecure. Bombs falling randomly. Nothing is normal. Nothing is everyday life. Our people try to survive day by day, there is no way to plan the future.

What is the future? There is a huge physiological pressure. Our friends are losing their lives at the front daily. Of course, there are big cultural effects because nothing is normal. Some events continue to raise morale or raise funds.


In these dark times things like music must play an important role in boosting moral?

Of course. D&B events and music are also a way of fighting for our community; on the psychological level. We cannot lose our culture and spirit. We must keep strong and keep fighting.

We have friends in the front listening to our broadcasts or visiting back our events to keep their spirits high. We love them all

Your fan base, I’m guessing, is predominantly back home. How are you keeping in touch with them?

We have a very mature and positive culture of DnB in Ukraine. Ukrainian DnB had historically been very integrated with the European DnB culture. Therefore, although we all have a main fan base in Ukraine, we have a lot of supporters in Europe as well. We also have to keep in mind that there are now a lot of Ukrainians all over the world because of what is going on. In any case, Tonika is still in Ukraine and works hard to organise events as the godmother of Ukrainian DnB.

We also travel back from time to time – although it is a long journey because of no flights. But one main channel is livestreams such as the recent Hospital Records Hub stream of SOU… We are very thankful for this opportunity

You’re now located in the UK and recently did a showcase at Fabric!! How was that?

Magical. For all of us, it was an incredible experience!!! We all felt every single vibe and our crowd had such a good energy… We would like to do more and more

The Common Theme Is, Bluntly, War!

What was your thought process in relocating to the UK? Have your Ukrainian fans been supportive of your move?

The reasons vary for each one of us… The common theme is, bluntly, war!.. Some of us moved for our children, and some of us moved because we feel we can do much more to save our culture and help our country. Our fans are our friends, our family. We are sure they are all supportive and we can feel their support

What are your plans for the future?

For Sounds of Ukraine; we will work hard to build SOU into a positive and accepting platform for DnB artists and events. We will help and promote as many artists as we can from Ukraine.

We have a unique way of seeing DnB culture, like a family; with strong ethics, acceptance, empathy, with diversity. People helping each other, supporting each other. We want a socially conscious crowd. We want to create events where people truly enjoy the vibe and feel free to express how they feel. We will continue to preserve Ukrainian culture and art. We not only want to create more awareness about what is going on in our country but also on other social topics. For example, most of our DJs are females. SOU is a strong supporter of the female voice. This is why we are organising a female DJ event called “Bass Sisters” on 15 March at Ton of Brix in Brixton.

The Bass Sisters concept created by Tonika in Ukraine has been very successful there for years. We are working on an intimate event to show female power and energy in celebration of International Women’s Day. We hope to see strong support for this event and grow our family in the UK.

In addition, we will be part of the line-up at the Friends and Family stage of Hospitality in the Woods Stage in August… As James from the Hospital family put it; makes perfect sense to be on that stage because the Hospitality team has been like a family to us from the beginning of SOU

That’s amazing! Finally, where can people go to find out more about the Sounds Of Ukraine collective?

Our social media has everything. Follow us, listen to us.. and become part of our family:

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sounds_ukraine/

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/@SoundsofUkraine

Soundcloud: soundcloud.com/sounds-ukraine

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