DakhaBrakha, a Band From Kyiv, Saw a War Coming
For years, the Ukrainian band DakhaBrakha has ended its shows chanting, “Stop Putin! No war!” What they had protested has now come to pass.
DakhaBrakha, based in Kyiv, has long served as ambassadors for Ukrainian music and culture, at once preserving and transforming them. The group gives the polyphonic harmonies of Ukrainian traditional songs a contemporary, internationalist makeover, using African, Australian, Arabic, Indian and Russian instrumentation alongside punk, scatting, hip-hop, trance and dance influences. Their appearance has always been equally striking, especially for the three women in the quartet: towering fur hats, long matching dresses and wildly colorful Iris Apfel-style jewelry.
“DhakhaBrakha often sings about love, heartbreak or the seasons, but as stand-in for bigger things — sometimes political things — and how they do it expands upon Ukrainian traditional music that uses metaphor in this way,” said Maria Sonevytsky, an associate professor of anthropology and music at Bard College, in New York, who devoted a chapter in a recent book to DakhaBrakha and gave a public lecture Wednesday on “Understanding the War on Ukraine Through Its Musical Culture.”