DakhaBrakha is a world music quartet from Kyiv, Ukraine. Over the past decade, this Ukrainian-folk-meets-punk group has brought their music to audiences around the world. For years, DakhaBrakha has called themselves "ambassadors of free Ukraine." Their shows have been punctuated with cries of "Stop Putin!" and "No war!" Now, they hear those demands reflected and amplified around the world.
This quartet's name means "give/take" in old Ukrainian – and that's exactly what they do. Cabaret, jazz, rock and hip-hop are all part of the band's DNA. But they also explore all kinds of old Ukrainian folk styles, fed through the prism of the 21st century. Marko Halanevych, the group's only male musician, usually does the public talking; the other three musicians, Iryna Kovalenko, Olena Tsybulska, and Nina Garenetska, let the music speak for them.
At the forefront of the band's minds is the fact that this tour is happening amid so much violence and heartache at home. "Well, of course, it's a big pain and it's a big tragedy for our country, and we feel it every moment," Halanevych says. "A lot of people in Ukraine and around the world, they tell us it's our best possibility to be useful and helpful, is to be on stage and to show people our culture, music and to tell our story and to tell the story of our country."
The band has a highly honed sense of showmanship – DakhaBrakha was born at an experimental theater in Kyiv, as was their sister group, Dakh Daughters. When DakhaBrakha first hit the international scene about a decade ago, they wore unforgettable tall, angular hats and rich costumes that evoked an array of Ukrainian ethnic styles. Their music was fierce, exuberant and understitched with humor. They were playful.
But for this current tour, the group had to take on a far more serious and urgent tone. Halanevych says the band hopes their audiences understand the need for that shift. As it turns out, the band had no reason to worry about the American audience's response. At the end of a recent show, the audience stood – and some sang along – as the band sang the Ukrainian national anthem.