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The Ukrainians

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The Ukrainians is a band formed by British musicians of Ukrainian descent. They adapt Ukrainian folk music (as well as Western pop) into a mostly acoustic high-energy style that fuses punk and folk, much as The Pogues did for Irish traditional music.

The idea for The Ukrainians grew out of a side project of British 1980s Indie band The Wedding Present. The ‘Weddoes’ had decided to make one of their BBC Radio 1 John Peel sessions a Ukrainian one. Guitarist Peter Solowka’s friend Len Liggins (dubbed ‘The Legendary Len’ by John Peel) was brought in as an extra member because he sang, had been a student of Modern Slavonic languages at Leeds University and played an authentic eastern European village sounding violin. The huge popularity of the session took the lads, the public and Peel by surprise, and two more Ukrainian sessions were recorded for the show.

After this, Peter and Len went on to form The Ukrainians. They were joined by mandolin player Roman Remeynes.

They had written their first songs in Ukrainian, including ‘Oi Divchino’, which was to be their first single. They flew out to Ukraine to make a video for it. Shot in Kyiv’s (Kiev’s) outdoor ‘Museum of National Folk Architecture and Way of Life’, it was the first pop video to be produced entirely in the east for a western band. ‘Oi Divchino’ was an NME Single of the Week and The Ukrainians attracted huge coverage in the music and mainstream press.

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