TURIN, ITALY – Kalush Orchestra formed as an offshoot of the rap group Kalush, focused on blending modern hip-hop sounds with the motifs found in the traditional music and art of Ukraine. Together, Oleh Psiuk, Ihor Didenchuk, MC KylymMen, Tymofii Muzychuk, Vitalii Duzhyk, and Sasha Tab create a sound and vibe that all of Europe responded to tonight.
THE PRESS CONFERENCE
The first journalist allowed to ask a question was of Ukrainian descent. She emphasizes the connection with the band members and asks if she can give them a hug. An intense hug followed. She also states that after this victory, Europe shows once again that it is connected with each other. Later in the press conference, it is mentioned that after the performance of the Kalush Orchestra, a politically tinged message (help people in Ukraine, Mariupol and Azovstal) was spoken by the lead singer, Oleg Psyuk. The purpose of this was clear to him. People need to know what kind of trouble Ukraine is facing in order to understand why this phrase was uttered. If the price for this ruling had been a disqualification, he would have gladly paid it.
The second question also had to do with the war: do the band members have a message for all Ukrainians who have had to flee in recent months? The lead singer wishes to thank everyone, every Ukrainian (abroad) and every other person who voted for Ukraine. The win is very important for Ukraine, especially this year. The main aim of the band was to prove that Ukrainian culture is enduring and has its own unique elements.
Members have not yet received a call from the President of Ukraine (Volodymyr Zelensky). After all, he has other (more important) things to do. Stefania, Oleg’s mother and the inspiration for this song, has not yet been called. The two have already sent messages to each other. Stefania said she was very proud and happy. The members of Kalush Orchestra are still allowed to stay outside Ukraine for two more days. What they will actually do when they get home is still uncertain, but like every Ukrainian they are ready to fight back and give everything until the end. Despite the fact that Oleg has been allowed to leave the country several times in recent weeks, concerns about the war continue to run in his head as all his friends and family are in Ukraine.
Oleg Psyuk, the lead singer of Kalush Orchestra, has a birthday on May 16. That day also happens to be the day he returns to Ukraine. So there will, in any case, be a lot of travel. On May 17 there will be family time with the mother, family and girlfriend.
The period in Turin, the televoting and the role of the viewers
A very direct question is immediately asked: do you think people voted for you because of the current situation or because of the song Stefania itself? The link is clear: it is correct that Stefania was first among the bookmakers, but before the war it was also top five according to the bookmakers. Thanks again to everyone who voted (and listened). The support is important for Ukraine. They appreciate that the viewer has helped by voting. According to Oleg Psyuk, the viewer has an important role to play in supporting Ukrainian culture. Watching movies, listening to music, and also visiting the country (in the future) can help them. Kalush Orchestra itself tries to create a mix of Ukrainian folklore culture with modern sounds. Besides this group, there are plenty of other creative minds in the country.
Oleg also had his own favourites: Italy, the United Kingdom, Moldova and Poland. The entire Eurovision event (and especially the run-up to the festival) was mainly a period of stress. For a long time, it was not possible to get together and practice, only online. Only in Turin could people really start rehearsing. They attached an important responsibility to representing Ukraine, so they wanted to do it right.
439 points from the televote is a record in the Eurovision Song Contest. Hip-hop usually doesn’t do so well at the Eurovision Song Contest, especially hip-hop in its own language. Oleg does not believe he is a pioneer in this kind of music. Hip-hop as a music style is already appreciated as a music style on a worldwide level.
Finally, Martin Österdahl has nice words for the group. He calls the members brave and extraordinary, despite the difficult moments. They have amazed everyone, including the people who work within the EBU. He thanks the group for their hard work and patience.
Eurovision Song Contest 2023
At this press conference, we are already looking at next year. The question can be asked to what extent Ukraine is able to organize the 67th Eurovision Song Contest. The lead singer of Kalush Orchestra leaves no doubt about it: we would like to welcome you next year to the ‘new’ Ukraine (the interpreter herself speaks of a new and integrated Ukraine).
Martin Österdahl certainly had the so-called Eurovision Welcome Pack with him. In concrete terms, this involves a lot of information for the organizing country, including which people should be contacted. The EBU team will in any case provide assistance with the organization.
A journalist asked the question of whether, despite the fact that everyone hopes it will be in Ukraine next year, there is a preference as to which another country should be allowed to take it over if it didn’t work out. The response within the Ukrainian broadcaster says it is too early to talk about these “details”. Every effort will be made to make the Song Contest possible in a peaceful Ukraine.