Born in Bojarka, near Kiev in 1972, to a Russian-Ukrainian-Romany family (Nikolaev- Hütz -Gontcharov) Hütz’s road to the United States was a long journey through Poland, Hungary, Austria and Italy. Descendants of Gypsies called the Servo Roma (a tribe known for its blacksmiths, horsetraders and musicians), Hütz and his family fled their hometown after hearing of the Chernobyl meltdown. Enduring an epic seven-year trek through Eastern Europe refugee camps provided Hütz with an immigrant experience that is reflected in his songwriting. However, it is Hütz’s Romany background that is his central inspiration, influencing his lifestyle and the music of Gogol Bordello.
Hütz arrived in Vermont in 1993 as a political refugee through a resettlement program with his mother and father, a butcher by trade who also played guitar in one of the Ukraine’s first rock bands Meridian.
Hütz started his musical career back in Ukraine with the band Uksusnik. While in Vermont, Hütz formed The Fags, and Flying Fuck, both early prototypes for what would become Gogol Bordello. In 1997, Hütz moved to New York and took on his mother’s Ukrainian maiden name of Hütz (pronounced Hoodz). It was in New York where he met members of Gogol Bordello including: violinist Sergey Rjabtzev, accordionist Yuri Lemeshev, guitarist Oren Kaplan, drummer Eliot Ferguson and dancers Pam Racine and Elizabeth Sun. Today’s lineup features seven of the original members, bassist Thomas Gobena and percussionist and vocalist Pedro Erazo.
Soon after the band’s formation, an international fan base quickly grew through word of mouth. The music is a combination of reckless fervor, foot-stomping rhythms, clever and political lyrics and surreal stimuli that leaves progressive minded music fans spinning in the their wake. Drawing upon Gypsy, Slavic and punk-rock traditions, Gogol Bordello is the genesis of a new aesthetic that bridges the gap between Eastern European and Gypsy influence with Western culture. This new direction in music is described by Hütz as “Transglobal Gypsy Punk Rock.”
In 2002, Gogol Bordello released their debut full-length Voi-La Intruder, produced by Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds drummer Jim Sclavunos. During the fall of that same year, the band released Multi Kontra Culti vs. Irony, an album that sounds, according to CMJ, “like a raging Eastern European-American wedding celebration teetering on the brink of chaos.” In 2005, the band released the E.P. East Infection followed later that year by the SideOneDummy debut Gypsy Punks: Underdog World Strike, produced by the indie legend Steve Albini. Gogol Bordello’s latest offering SUPER TARANTA! (produced by Victor Van Vugt) is shaping up to be one their most critically-acclaimed releases with music critic Robert Christgau calling it “the best rock album of the decade. Period.”
Gogol Bordello’s live shows and Hütz’s captivating and unpredictable stage presence has earned them invitations to some of the world’s most progressive venues including The Whitney Museum in New York, The Tate Modern in London and the Venice Biennale in Italy. Gogol Bordello has also grown from a grassroots phenomena into a worldwide sensation on the festival circuit having played events including Coachella, Bonnaroo, Glastonbury, Reading, Leeds, Bumbershoot and many others.
Since moving to New York, Hütz has also made a name for himself as a prolific and groundbreaking DJ with a style best represented on his experimental side project J.U.F. (Jewish-Ukrainish Freundschaft) and a newer incarnation on MITITIKA. His residency at the Bulgarian bar Mehanata has made the place a legend, and described by the Village Voice as “The CBGB of Gypsy Punk.” Experimenting with styles of gypsy music radically juxtaposed with dub, electronica and punk, Hütz has created a sound that has inspired a whole movement of DJs and bands.
Hütz is driven by an inexorable creative desire and a “self-constructive life philosophy.” His scene stealing debut as Alex in 2005’s Everything Is Illuminated made him one of the most talked about artists of the year. Hütz secured the role after a chance meeting with director Liev Schreiber, to discuss the film’s music. This ended what had been an extensive search by Schreiber and the casting director for the right person to play Alex. As well as starring in Everything Is Illuminated, Hütz wrote and performed music for the film’s soundtrack together with several band members who also appear in the opening scene of the movie.
Hütz is also the subject of the 2006 documentary, The Pied Piper of Hützovina. Directed by Pavla Fleischer, The Pied Piper of Hützovina chronicles Hütz’s annual trip across Ukraine and Eastern Europe exploring his musical and cultural roots.
In 2008, Hütz will play the lead character in Filth and Wisdom, the film that marks Madonna’s directorial debut.
Hütz is an avid supporter of Romani Rights, using his music to introduce the gypsy culture to a wider audience. He is also one of the curators of the annual New York Gypsy festival. When he’s not touring with Gogol Bordello, Hütz can be found Dj-ing at the legendary Bulgarian Bar in New York or touring with the Russian gypsy group Kolpakov Trio, led by his mentor Sasha Kolpakov.
Edited by agusmusic on 11 Feb 2009, 01:39
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