Today I had the pleasure of [virtually] sitting down with Kateryna Pavlenko and Taras Shevchenko from GO_A, the day after their excellent first rehearsal of “Shum”. In this interview, we discussed their staging concept, their upcoming concept release and Ukrainian bands they would like to see participate in Vidbir! I also congratulated them on winning the Day Two Press Poll.
GO_A will be performing 15th in the first semi-final of Eurovision 2021 on May 18. You can read our review of their first rehearsal here.
You can watch our full interview below:
Folklore behind their staging
The day after their first rehearsal, I sat down with Kateryna (lead singer and co-writer) and Taras (founder, composer and co-writer) to discuss the concept behind their spectacular staging. The performance is full of details and imagery that evoke both ancient and futuristic elements. Taras explained that this was intentional:
Our stage is basically an allegorical raft that we use to travel from past to the future. Our staging is like going from our Ancient Ukrainian roots to modern cyberpunk. It has a lot to do with Ukrainian mythology and Ukrainian culture.Taras Shevchenko on their stage concept
Despite the specificity, the messaging resonated with journalists in the press centre, who ranked their rehearsal the best of day two. They have received the highest number of points in the poll for their first rehearsal of the 24 acts who have rehearsed so far.
‘Shum’ (Шум) is basically a spiritual force our ancestors believed it, but also, literally, the word ‘Shum’ translates as ‘noise’. So it’s like a play on words: we are making noise to bring ‘shum’. Our ancestors danced and sang their songs loudly to evoke spring, to evoke ‘shum’. And that’s what we’re trying to do with our staging. We’re trying to awake spring, but in a global sense, to wake people up from the pandemic and bring joy and happiness.Taras Shevchenko on how the song and stage concepts tie together
While many countries have outsourced their stage directors from other countries, GO_A opted to keep their staging team Ukrainian, ensuring that they could work collaboratively to accurately represent the mythological concept and symbolic references behind the staging. Notably, they used the same team they had worked with to stage “Solovey” for Vidbir 2019.
Their forthcoming concept album/EP
Those who followed the song’s selection will recall snippets of two other contenders to be their entry that were released earlier this year, “Rano” and “Tserkovka”. I asked Taras if we will hear these songs in full, and he explained that they will form part of a forthcoming release, along with Shum:
Our plans are to release an album or maybe an EP after Eurovision, maybe in a couple of months. That release will include the two songs we presented to the jury. We have written a few more songs that we didn’t present to the jury.Taras on their upcoming release
Although they don’t know the release date yet, the concept and songs of their upcoming album/EP have taken shape, with “Shum” forming the base of the concept that ties it together.
The idea of our upcoming release is that it will be a concept release, so it will be several songs combined with one idea. “Shum” is chapter one of this idea, “Shum” is like ‘chapter one’ of this big book we are going to release.Taras on what to expect from their upcoming album/EP
Taras also emphasised that “Solovey” was a separate concept, and this release will see them explore different themes from Ukranian mythology.
The secret behind Kateryna‘s powerful vocals
The jewel in GO_A’s crown is of course Kateryna’s intense white voice vocal. I wanted to know how she prepares her voice to give such a powerful vocal, which remained remarkably consistent throughout her run throughs.
I have several warm up techniques for my voice. Basically, they are based on breathing practices. A bit of dynamic meditation, and some Eastern breathing practices. It takes time of course, not five minutes or something.How Kateryna prepares her voice
Ukrainian bands they would like to see participate in Vidbir
In my 2021 artist interviews, I’ve made a point of getting some music recommendations from their local music scenes. Having followed Vidbir for a few years now, I know that there are countless incredible artists in Ukraine. As such, I wanted to hear which bands Kateryna and Taras would like to see compete to represent Ukraine next.
After some pondering, they told me about Odyn V Kanoe, a Ukrainian indie band from Lviv, and DakhaBrakha, a Ukrainian folk quartet who combine the musical styles of several ethnic groups. The latter have received attention in internationally, preforming at Glastonbury in 2016 and even recorded an excellent Tiny Desk Concert for NPR a few years ago.
We hope to see them both on the Vidbir stage in 2022, but in the meantime, fans will be in for a treat later this month thanks to GO_A!
What do you think of GO_A’s performance so far? Are you rooting for Ukraine this year? Let us know! Be sure to stay updated by following @ESCXTRA on Twitter, @escxtra on Instagram and liking our Facebook page for the latest updates! Also, be sure to follow us on Spotify and YouTube to see our live streams in the run-up to Rotterdam!