In recent months the members of Kalush Orchestra have been involved in Ukraine’s war efforts — from assisting people with relocation efforts to actively participating in the country’s territorial defence. Now Ukraine’s Eurovision 2022 artists are helping the country in another way: By traveling Europe to raise awareness about Russia’s war and the humanitarian crisis Ukraine faces.
On Saturday the band performed at Eurovision in Concert in Amsterdam, singing in front of a large QR code. Prior to their performance they encouraged fans to use it to donate and to show that they stand with Ukraine.
Ahead of their evening performance, the “Stefania” singers spoke with me at the press event. They made it clear their appearance here is largely about supporting those back at home. Speaking through a translator the groups’ lead singer Oleh Psiuk said: “The feeling is that by doing what we are doing we can be of most use for our country — by doing our job.”
Kalush Orchestra interview: Ukraine’s Eurovision 2022 act
The world has seen the horrific images coming out Ukraine — including photos of tortured civilians with their arms bound and gun shot wounds to the head. I started by asking the Oleh what the world isn’t seeing but should be made aware of.
“I think that the war that is happening right now in Ukraine should not be seen by anyone, anywhere, anyhow,” he said. “So we urge everybody please help Ukraine with whatever you can do, so that nobody ever witnesses anything like this.”
Vladimir Putin wants to erase Ukraine from the map. But the band are showing that the country exists and indeed has a future. Oleh says that showcasing Ukrainian culture is an effective way of reminding the world of Ukrainians — and, to take it a step further, their humanity.
“We believe that it is very important for every Ukrainian to be able to speak up for Ukraine right now. For us it is particularly important to to represent the authentic, beautiful Ukrainian music, so that it gets an opportunity to be represented in the world market. That’s why the opportunity to represent Ukraine here at the Eurovision Song Contest is of particular importance.”
Their song “Stefania” was written before Russia’s invasion. But can it relate to the conflict in any way?
“Initially this song was written and dedicated to my mother because her name is Stefania. But later when the war started, this song has gotten additional, new meanings, and people started connecting to it in a different way because some people see it as a song about Ukraine as a mother.”
“Others are thinking about their mothers because they are missing their mothers at the moment. This song has got so much connection with people in Ukraine and I really hope that it will also be enjoyed by other people in Europe.”
For the record, their stage costumes have nothing to do with the conflict. instead they “represent different aspects of Ukrainian from different periods of its history.”
But celebrating that history — and their nation’s culture at large — remains central to their cause.
“We want everybody to remember that Ukraine is free and Ukraine is doing its free, unique music. it has something that is different — a different signature that we can bring in.”
Were you as excited as we were to see the group in Ukraine? Do you think that they will lift the trophy in Torino this May? Let us know in the comments box below.
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For me the game changer on whether I would view their possible victory as a fair one or not-entirely would be not their win per se (they are in my top 3 solely for the song – I swear! I just love folklore! – so I definitely will be more than fine with them winning), but the number of points they’ll get. Imagine if about 80% of the TV audience will cast at least one solidarity vote for Ukraine – even if we assume everyone of them will give their other 2 to 19 votes for someone else that’ll still… Read more »
* “I just hope they…”
Funny how the majority of these pro-Russia internet users from Indonesia are actually staunch supporters and sympathizers of a certain “P” country in the Middle East.
The irony. Q
I like the song. Yes, some people will give it support votes. If it’s unfair, well… what about Gagarina’s 2nd place?
I think Ukraine will win this year’s Esc and, of course, it will be because of the ongoing situation. Dont get me wrong I think their song is very nice and it wont be totally unfair that this song wins the Contest (it is not as if the song was total crap) but the reason for their victory is evident.
As a Ukrainian I don’t want Ukraine to win with pity votes. I want Ukraine to win because it’s a quality song. And I believe it is.
To call them ‘pity’ votes is a bit unfair. I’ d rather call them solidarity or support votes.
Ok , we got it. You want them to win. And they will , don’t you worry. The sympathy votes and the daily propaganda will pay off
It’s a better song than all the other favourites
I disagree. I believe it’s top 10-worthy, but there are many other songs that I’d prefer to see win, including some who either haven’t won before or in a long time.
I actually really like the song so happy for it to do well and feel it deserves to be in the top ten regardless. I do feel however, that if you do not genuinely like the song and are wanting to vote just to support the country that rather than voting for the song in eurovision that anyone who feels sympathy for Ukraine would be better to use the QR code and donate to the cause, the last thing Ukraine need is to host.
Hosting ESC, Ukraine won’t need to do. In case they win, the 2023 hosting will be done by the #2. So you can both vote for their song and give a donation to a reliable crisis relief fund.
The Kalush Orchestra are bringing the reality of victims of war and suffering to the ESC. Whether they choose to show that as part of their performance or not is up to them. Either way, it’s very powerful. Here’s a point of view: If Ukraine doesn’t win ESC this year, it is further proof that Europe is unmoved by reality and would rather just be entertained. As Liam Lindsay has already pointed out, such apathy has happened before many times at ESC. However, the betting indicates that Europe will vote with their awareness and their hearts. Add to that, “Stefania”… Read more »
I mean…it’s definitely going to do well. I could certainly see it winning the televote. But winning overall? I don’t know. For all that I support Ukraine and think it wouldn’t be an undeserving winner on its own merits, I also think that that shouldn’t be the only reason you vote for a song. I think it would devalue the win slightly if everyone only perceives its win as being out of sympathy vs. actually deserving to win. It would be too hard to tell if its win was due to one or the other, and quite frankly, that’s a… Read more »
I understand what you mean but… The whole purpose of Eurovision is to entertain though, and there’s the biggest flaw in your comment.
Ukraine definitely does have potential to rake in a lot of points and they will undoubtedly do well. But in the end, the winner could still be anyone else whoever manages to capture the juries’ and televote’s interest the most. I get the impression that Ukraine will win neither mostly due to the singer’s vocals.
I’m curious for the staging though, as Ukraine has always thrown everything at it.
Music and art does not exist just to entertain.
Eurovision was not created only to entertain people, but also to unity them
I would be happy to see Ukraine win, but if they don’t, it’s not because people don’t care about the invasion and its victims. They just don’t like the song. I’m sure if people actually thought a Eurovision win would stop the killing, nobody would hesitate to vote. I will be voting for Ukraine, but I have no problem with people respecting a fair contest between all songs. The same way I wouldn’t expect other teams at FIFA World Cup 2022 just to sit on the pitch and let Ukraine score a hundred goals, or Novak to play with a… Read more »
The odds say they will win. So they will win. When was the last time the odds were wrong? The odds are never wrong.
This time last year Malta was #1 in the odds.
The odds are right only during the night before the contest
hi!.. as a Ukrainian, I understand the importance of the Kalush Orchestra participation in the ESC’22; but Ukraine does NOT need the win through the pity votes… let it be the fair play…
You’re right. But it would be a GREAT BIG F*** YOU to Russia! Plus, I think every compassionate person wants to increase tourism in Ukraine after you destroy Russia.
Help Ukraine , cancel the show and spare the millions spendings and give them for Ukraine reconstruction.
I feel many people who usually don’t follow Eurovision thought that if Ukraine is at war and invasion the whole Europe and Australia will vote for their song just because of sympathy and that they will win, so they bet for Ukraine winning. I feel sad how all of them will lose money for such naive thinking.
If they’re just trying to make money off a massacre, then no, I can not feel sorry for them.
I think you are way off point (on this Blog at least). If you think people here bet money, I think you are being misled.
What do you think they bet?
I understand the reasons why Kalush Orchestra needs to be in Turin, don’t get me wrong I fully understand why. But, when it comes to the song I do find it unfair that they have so much leverage over the 39 other competing countries because of pity votes yes, I said it. There is no way that Ukraine will win, it is just not feasible, yes they will get a large amount of support from the televote but, this will get slayed by the jurors and will do about the same as Go_A did last year. Which is still Top… Read more »
I hope people don’t vote for Ukraine as some sort of political statement, because that is the most blatant example of virtue signalling to ever exist. What exactly does a victory for Ukraine for no reason other than they’re at war do for anybody? If you want to support Ukraine, donate the money you’d use to vote for them to their aid instead of voting for them to win a contest they wouldn’t even be able to properly celebrate or host
That is exactly what I am talking about, I understand the reasoning why Ukraine should win in some people’s minds but, it does nothing for the country aside from a smidge of a moral boost that last for about a week. If you want to help the country donate to a charity or start a food bank or if you can take in a family fleeing the country but do not openly give a proxy victory at Eurovision purely because of some thinly veiled pity guised as solidarity
No one among the international juries back in 1994 gave Bosnia nor Croatia any votes to make them win out of pity when they made their individual debuts as independent countries at the height of the Balkan war that year. It’s unlikely that would be the case for Ukraine other than people genuinely enjoy the song presented to them. Ukraine also has a strong record in Eurovision with the quality of their entries so whatever placement they’ll get will be based on merit above all.
You keep saying this, but don’t forget – it hasn’t actually happened yet. It might not ever happen.
Ukraine may not win ESC but the UK sure as hell won’t. British entry is a step in the right direction, but certainly not a winning material.
Ukraines song is 10000x better than the UK’s, politics aside
I’m like ESC Stan: I don’t like rap usually but the first time I heard Stefania, I fell in love with its mix of modern rap & ethnic/traditional, as I’m a sucker for the latter. I’m going to vote for it in the final as I can’t vote in the semi. I’ve heard some people talk of pity points. I think, quite simply, they don’t understand how other people can have a different opinion, so automatically assume everyone thinks like them. I don’t like Brividi or Hold Me Closer, but I don’t complain that they’re topping polls. I just acknowledge… Read more »
THIS! Thank you very much for voicing this aloud! (Louder for the people in the back) People vote for whatever reasons they want to and it’s NORMAL. It can be to support a song, support an artist, support a country, etc. Even if it’s not your cup of tea, there’ll always be someone loving something you personally don’t like. Maturity is about not making a tantrum about it and understanding. There will always be people complaining unfortunately since it can only have 1 winner and people take the competition too much to heart. But I hope they can realize how… Read more »
To put it in some perspective, Stefania didn’t actually win the Ukrainian preslection in the first place.
You are right, especially in your second paragraph. A vote and a good result (not necessarily a win) at Eurovision is also a sympolic sign of support and a way to say “we are hearing you, we care and we are not leaving you alone in this”. The same way, a poor result can lower the general moral of a nation and leave them with a feeling that Europe is not hearing them and doesn’t care about their pain. You are also completely right about putin’s plans. Moldova is most likely to be the next target on his list, unfourtunately.… Read more »
Well spoken, Kalush Orchestra!
And for everyone commenting that RUSSIANS, themselves, are not to blame, please watch this video of multiple Russians insulting Ukrainians, their language, and their culture. Please note, one of the comments is from a Russian who states that the majority of Russia now believes in the eradication of Ukraine as a culture.
Russians are trash and always have been trash. They been always treated like trash by their leaders and they don’t know how to be anything else. They also don’t even try.
Agree. It’s so disheartening to know that people in Europe think like they do and see nothing wrong with it. And it’s a full country, not just a pocket of people.
I really hope that people will vote for Ukraine because the song is very good, and not out of pity.
Stay strong Ukraine! Sending love from Poland ??????
Millions of Ukrainian men are not representing the country in a high profile international event. Those pointless, brainless comments only show the brain activity level of the author and nothing else. I’m embarrassed for you.
Guys, the one who complaining that Ukraine shouldn’t win,- just don’t vote for it. Don’t vote if u don’t like the song, and vote if yes.
And, as Ukrainian, I can assure you, that this is the least of what we are thinking about right now.
And for the one who said “you should withdraw”, you know…we shouldn’t!
To be there, to sing in our language, to wave our flag, to show that nothing can break us, exactly now is just the right time for that!
I will vote for Ukraine, I want you guys to win! Love you!
I will vote for Ukraine because this song is on my playlist since it was first leaked even before Vidbir. Then I will add as many votes as I can to troll the Eurofans that are scared of a Ukrainian win. F**k those fans, they really should get some proportions in life.
Thanks, u got my point
And, as an Australian, I was going to vote for Ukraine actually before the war. The war hasn’t made me want vote for Ukraine.
And I don’t even like rap, but just so damn catchy.
I will vote for Australia, and not because of your comment, I like the song. Kiss
We’ve had a bit of a love affair of recent years with voting, Australia and Ukraine.