five things to know about the Kalush Orchestra, superstars of this 66th edition

Win or not, they are already the stars of the competition. Here’s everything you need to know about Kalsuh Orchestra, the group that will defend the colors of Ukraine in tonight’s Eurovision Song Contest.

Even if they don’t win Eurovision Song Contest tonight, the Ukrainian candidates are already the stars of this 66th edition of the competition, more political than ever† Between the pre-parties – these concerts that precede the final and allow to meet the audience – the interviews and the semi-finals, the Ukrainians were able to measure their popularity and the outpouring of sympathy all over Europe, as far as their situation is concerned.

“When you see Ukraine take the stage during the first semi-final, in front of 10,000 people who are screaming, tears in their eyes …”, shouts on BFMTV Mikhail the singerwho will organize the evening in Turin.

If we have talked a lot about their preparation – complicated – and their involvement in the war against Russia, we know less about the origin of this group and its course. Here’s what you need to know about Kalush Orchestra, led by Oleh Psiuk, who wears a pink bob forever.

1/ Originally a rap group

Launched in 2019, the formation is led by rapper Oleh Psiuk, who has been rapping since he was 15 and is a fan of Eminem. The group then consisted of three members – Oleh Psiuk, the multi-instrumentalist Igor Didenchuk and MC Kilimmen (who appeared on stage with his face and hands covered in a mask) – and was simply called KALUSH, after the name of Oleh’s birthplace. psiuk. This small town at the foot of the Carpathians is located southeast of Lviv. The group has already released two albums, hotin in February and yo-yoin July 2021. They only rap.

At the end of 2021, the Kalush trio launched their new project, Kalush Orchestra. This elaborate formation (Tymofii Muzychuk, Vitalii Duzhyk and Dzhonni Dyvnyy have joined them) mix raps with the folk sounds of traditional Ukrainian music.

“We have three folklore experts in the group who have studied hundreds of these songs at university. Kalush Orchestra is a mixture of ancient folklore forgotten for generations and contemporary rap,” said Point Oleh Psiuk.

2/ They put their careers on hold to get involved in the conflict

Just a few weeks ago, Eurovision was far from the concerns of the members of Kalush Orchestra. Appointed a few days before the start of the Russian invasion, they had to put their instruments aside as the offensive began.

In mid-March, Oleh had entrusted Psiuk Reuters after joining a group of twenty volunteers who came to the aid of the victims of the conflict, distributed them medicine and helped them flee.

“I can’t rejoice (for Eurovision) because I’m worried about my loved ones,” he said at the time. “The war separated me from my girlfriend. She is 300 kilometers from me. We cannot find each other, because it is very dangerous. She is in a bunker and I am there, and the sirens warning of air strikes go off constantly. “

Always according to Reuters, another member of the group had served with a territorial defense unit. Then the members rehearsed separately before meeting again.

3/ They were given special permission to leave Ukraine

The reunion eventually took place in April. but they were partial: one of the dancers of the group, who was engaged in territorial defense, was unable to join them to participate in Eurovision and was replaced. Wiwibloggs reports that Dzhonni Dyvnyy also had to give up: another artist, Sasha Tab, replaced him at short notice to do the backing vocals.

Leaving Ukraine to go to Turin was not easy, as Oleh Psiuk explained to BFMTV this week: We couldn’t leave the country for a while. We have received special permission and after the game we have to return to our country.”

4/ Song with two meanings

Stefania was not meant to resonate with the Ukrainian people. Oleh Psiuk originally wrote it for his mother. But the lyrics have taken on new meaning in light of the conflict rocking the country:

“After the war, it took on a very special dimension, because it is also dedicated to my mother Ukraine. And many people identify with this song,” he said. “I’d rather it be not the anthem of war, but the anthem of our victory.”

Oleh’s mother only discovered the song when they entered Vidbir, the contest that picked them.

5/ They almost didn’t participate in Eurovision

When they were on the brink of victory, the Kalush Orchestra was almost out of the game. On February 12, Ukrainian singer Alina Pash won the Vidbir 2022, a telehook whose winner represents the country in the Eurovision Song Contest.

But the 28-year-old singer soon found herself at the heart of a controversy over a 2015 trip to Crimea, territory annexed by Russia in 2014. As the BBC explains, trips to Crimea in Ukraine are seen from the evil eye. The rules for travel to the peninsula are very strict: Ukrainians can only enter through official checkpoints and the law prohibits them from traveling to Crimea via Russia. So good that she had to withdraw and make way for the Kalush Orchestra, which came second in the Vidbir.

The gamblers have established their Top 5. Behind Ukraine’s victory, which they predict overwhelmingly (they give it a 60% chance of winning), they foresee a podium made up of the United Kingdom, Sweden, Italy and Spain. See you Saturday from 9pm to see if they were right.

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