In the eighth week of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Russian forces have left the outskirts of Kyiv and are focusing their attacks in the east. Russian forces have completed the regrouping of troops to launch an offensive in the east, where the battle of Donbas has started. Today, we share a new installment of our special series in honor of the bravery and resilience of Ukrainians. Today, we are joined by classic 60s sound and psychedelia tinged rockers from Love’n’Joy, to get their insider perspective about the conflict and the current situation in Ukraine.
Interview with Anton Pushkar frontman of Love’n’Joy music band from Ukraine
Where are you at the moment and where were you at the very beginning of the invasion? How it looked and felt like from your perspective?
Hello, right now all members of our band are in different parts of the world. Berlin, Sri Lanka and Ternopil (Western Ukraine)
Me and Anya, my girlfriend, we live in Kyiv. For us 24th of February started from the very early call from my parents from occupied Crimea. They were shouting through the phone” Run down to the Subway station” . It was just a few seconds after I opened my eyes from a deep sleep and I couldn’t understand what they were talking about. They said that we were under attack and pretty soon we heard an air alarm.
In this state of alarm, we started packing our stuff, reading news and instruction simultaneously. It turned out that there was no bomb shelter in our area – we could only hide in the subway. After a few minutes, we went out to a pharmacy store and found an endless line to every shop. The city were in the state of panic. Some people were trying to get stock up on food and medicine, the others were stuck in traffic jams trying to get out of the city.
We went to the subway several times during an air alarm. We were deciding whether we were staying in Kiev or trying to get out, heading to the west.
Then I went to my studio to get my laptop and all the information from a newly recorded Love’n’Joy album. I finished our second LP on 21of February, three days before the war started. We had a big plan to press vinyl and get on a European tour in April.
My studio is located nearby a military base that can be potentially attacked at any given moment. So I got my bicycle and went there, doing everything as quickly as possible. After closing the studio door, leaving all instruments and equipment there, I made a picture of it to memorize this moment of leaving music and peaceful life in the past. Now anything could happen, you can’t predict how everything will end. We have to be prepared for it.
To get out of Kyiv was almost impossible, we didn’t have a car and most of our friends who had already left, or didn’t have space for us. There were zero train tickets to the west, but we decided to go to the railway station and try our luck to get into the train somehow with no tickets. We succeeded and in seven hours we got into Ternopil, where my relatives live.
It’s far from the frontline, but there is no safe place in Ukraine, because of the danger from the sky. After a few weeks of doing different sort of volunteer work we decided to launch a fundraising MUSICIANS DEFEND UKRAINE.
We want to reach out to cultural figures around the world. Our goal is to involve the global music industry in supporting Ukrainian artists who defend their cities and work as volunteers.
What’s your take on this tough subject and how would you assess the current difficult political situation between Russia and Ukraine? What’s your general stance on this subject? Also, I believe that the complex relationship between your countries is something widely misunderstood, especially in the Western countries. Is there a way to explain the background of this conflict to someone not educated in this matter?
We take it very seriously. This is a long history of Ukrainians striving for freedom and independence, fighting against russian imperialism and the USSR regime. For many centuries we have this barbarian neighbor trying to slave Ukrainian people, steal our history, vanish our identity. Different forms of genocide that russia applied, like Holocaust and Holodomor, took away lives of millions of people. Now they are trying to repeat it again, but we believe in our military forces and support it anyway we can. Also, we are having allies, the whole sane world is with Ukraine now, and it gives us confidence and hope for our victory.
Over the years, we’ve heard a lot opinions that at least part of Ukrainian residents were pro-Russian. How would you estimate this ratio of the division between your people? Also, regarding your closest neighborhood, have you felt any palpable appreciation and support towards Russian politics and their agenda?
I was born and raised in Crimea, the part of Ukraine that is occupied now. But originally my family is from the west of Ukraine, the part known as the cradle of Ukrainian culture and confrontation to russia.
So I had an opportunity to observe these cultural differences between west and east Ukraine during my whole life. I must admit that it is true that part of Ukrainian residents in eastern regions were pro-russian. But it didn’t happen on a cultural level or even because of some language differences. It happened as the result of long and systematic work of russian propaganda and a web of FSB agents that had a big influence on this territory on different department levels in Ukraine.
We had two revolutions in which Ukrainians proved their will to move towards the European system of values and integrate with a free world. But the totalitarian regime of russia is based on war, and it doesn’t want to let it go.
Sure, we still have traitors in Ukraine and even in Europe who collaborate with russia. But after this invasion and endless war crimes committed by russia, the whole world can finally see what russian values really are.
And if you are being pro russian it means you are an enemy of Ukraine, enemy of democracy and humanity, doesn’t matter where you are from. The vast majority of citizens of our country are proud to be Ukrainians, we feel a great unity, and are ready to give our lives for freedom.
How do you think where it’s heading? What future do you see for your country? And lastly, how can we help?
Ukraine will definitely win! But how big the price of this victory will be, we don’t know. Some of our cities are already in ruins, millions of refugees, and thousands killed. People of Ukraine heroically fight and will never capitulate. With the help of our allies and volunteers around the world, our military forces are getting stronger.
We decided to take part in this process by launching our fundraising MUSICIANS DEFEND UKRAINE.
Together with our friends from Shpytalrecords and Kontrabass.promo we are collecting money for musicians who volunteer on the front line of this war.
We’re already receiving donations from all over the world, and we are very grateful for it. We encourage everyone to join us and help to finish this war and bring peace back to Ukraine.
Please spread information about our fundraising and donate, this is the easiest way to help!