Skip to main content
This is how the view out of Ira Lobanok's home looks like. But she answered our questions already from a bomb shelter. | Photo: archive IL
This is how the view out of Ira Lobanok's home looks like. But she answered our questions already from a bomb shelter. | Photo: archive IL
Ricardo Delfino -

Questionnaire: We're trying to survive, we're not thinking about music, say Ukrainian musicians

In autumn we brought you an article about how Ukraine is one of the fastest-growing music markets in Europe. Now the whole world watches the Russian invasion in horror. Europe is experiencing a massive wave of solidarity for the refugees of the war. Many people, musicians not excluded, stayed to fight or help their homes in Ukraine. Artists Sasha Boole, Ira Lobanok and Max Ptashnyk answered our questions regarding their experiences with the war and the actual situation in the local music scene.

Sasha Boole is a country-folk and Americana singer. During his tours, he's travelled through more than fifteen European states. In Ukraine, he ended up in second place on the iTunes music charts. Ira Lobanok is a founder of Sofar Sounds Lviv and a keyboardist in the bands Krapka;KOMA and Ptakha. Singer Max Ptashnyk has also made himself a prominent position in the local music market.

What city are you from?

SASHA BOOLE: I’m from Chernivtsi and I’m still in Ukraine.

IRA LOBANOK: I'm from Dnipro, but I moved to Lviv 11 years ago, now I'm here. It is my choice to stay and help my country.

MAX PTASHNYK: I'm from Lviv where I also am at this time.

What were your first feelings when you learned about the invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation?

SB: Of course, my first feeling was a shock. Ukrainians were ready for this kind of scenario because we know our barbarian neighbor. But war is the kind of thing you cannot be 100% prepared for. It’s hard to imagine that someone will bomb civilians in 2022.

IL: First it was fear and helplessness that has quickly changed into anger and aggression. On the 24th of February, we woke up at 5 AM from the call of my boyfriend's mum who said that Russia was bombing a number of cities right now. The first couple of hours were the scariest because there was no info about what was happening.

MP: Well, I was woken up by the explosions in Kyiv on the 24th. We were prepared but still shocked. 

Sasha Boole in the pre-war times in concert. | Photo: Tomasz Woźniak

Are you in contact with any Russian musicians and friends? How is the situation interpreted in Russia?

SB: I don’t have any Russian friends anymore. The thing is that most of them support this war. On the very first day, I wrote to some of my friends, mostly people from the creative industry, asking them to protest, to spread the word of truth among the Russian disinformation. Some of them simply ignored me, some of them told me that they are apolitical, some said they’re against war, but they think it’s Ukrainian fault that it’s happening. And a few of them said simply "fuck off." It’s a very important message: don’t be a part of the Russian agenda about the bad dictator and good people. It’s not like that. They’re spreading this shit to justify their crimes, to put all responsibility on a bunch of morons in the Kremlin. But most of them are part of this crime. Most of them are proud of their aggressive leader. 

IL: No, since 2014 I was systematically breaking contact with any friends from Russia who supported the war in the east of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea, saying that it was civil war instead of the Russian invasion. However, lots of my friends are reposting the reaction of their families in Russia to what's happening in Ukraine and it's just unbelievable—some people support Putin and whatever he decides to do, some think the photos and videos we share are fake and some of the people think that our country is ruled by Nazis and they are now bombing the Russian-speaking cities of Ukraine, and Russia is trying to stop them.

MP: I have some friends in RF but their lives are going to pieces as well, but differently. We don't talk much at the moment. Intelligent Russians know what's going on, but the propaganda there is still very strong.

Ira Lobanok | Photo: archive IL

What do your days look like for you in the last week?

SB: Most Ukrainians are 100% focused on war during these last days. It’s hard to work, it’s hard to sleep and hard to eat. You are literally forcing yourself to fulfil these basic needs. Everything I've done since the 24th of February is different actions to help my country at this moment. To help my people who lost their homes and to help the army.

IL: I constantly follow the news and I'm going insane bit by bit, because I cannot stop following each event that's happening. It's very exhausting but I need to be on top of it to be able to share updates with my friends in other countries and to write a daily blog. I write daily updates on what's happening in Ukraine for a small British blog, coordinate humanitarian help from other countries to Ukraine, and volunteer in a shelter for refugees who flee from hotspots. In a "previous" life I was a sound producer, artist, and a teacher of music production—now I am a coordinator, volunteer and war blogger for international media.

MP: I spent the first 10 hours of the war in Kyiv, then there was a 27-hour drive to Lviv—it was hell. After that it's just been constant monitoring of news, volunteering, and trying to make sure all my friends and family are safe. We are almost all out of work, so it's hard to estimate what is going to happen next. I tried to join the territorial defence but there were plenty of people there when I came.

Max Ptashnyk | Photo: Waldemar Heisler

Did you hear about any underground concerts in Ukraine? Or did the culture stop all across the country?

SB: No gigs. Culture is only online now. Artists write songs to keep high spirits.

IL: No, all concerts are on pause now. I cannot imagine that happening now, because we have air raids in almost all the cities all the time—I can't imagine evacuating the whole concert hall into a bomb shelter.

MP: No, we are trying to survive here man, no one is thinking about music right now. Culture has been sidelined at the moment—the history of the nation is being written. It is just different now, hard to explain.

This is how Ira Lobanok sleeps these days. She answered our questions from the bomb shelter. | Photo: archive IL

Tagy Ukrajina Ukraine war in Ukraine

If you have found an error or typo in the article, please let us know by e-mail

Ricardo Delfino
Singer in Crossroad Bros, band manager (The Wild Roots, Seventh Passion), PR manager (AMPromotio…