DakhaBrakha, a band like no other, will share its eclectic sounds with State College when it performs at Penn State’s Schwab Auditorium on April 4. Hailing from Kiev, Ukraine, this quartet fuses an array of genres that culminates in an unparalleled sonic experience.
“We are excited to be performing in State College and will be giving the crowd a chance to see and hear something very interesting that is probably new for them, something that they’ve never really experienced before,” said vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Marko Halanevych. “Crowds on this tour have been very accepting and open to our band’s music.”
Deeply proud of its Ukrainian roots, DakhaBrakha, which translates to “give/take” in old Ukrainian, celebrates its heritage every time it performs. Of course, there isn’t really a burgeoning Ukrainian music scene in the United States, but DakhaBrakha is more than happy to serve as the gateway act to their homeland’s rich and inviting sound.
“In many of the places that we perform our concerts, we are often the first Ukrainians to have ever played there. It is very important and a big honor for us to share our culture with others,” Halanevych said. “We really try our best to introduce our culture and show the Ukrainian music to new groups of people.”
Originally created as a live theater musical group at the Center for Contemporary Art in Kiev, DakhaBrakha still possesses the visual charm that significantly enhances their concerts. While writing and performing music is the most important aspect for the band, it have also invested in having various images and videos projected in the background at concerts.
“DakhaBrakha was created in the theater and for the theater, so in the beginning, our music was only really used for theater productions,” Halanevych said. “These dramatic characteristics from those days and the atmosphere of the theater carried over and can still be found in our music. On this tour, we have an almost 100-year-old film that will be shown while we are playing.”
Although the band’s roots remain in Ukrainian folk and traditional music, members are also eager to experiment and have been branching out with different sounds in recent years. Their constant touring has turned them into a snowball that rolls along and absorbs musical influences that add to their genre-bending catalogue.
“All of our travels really help us to take a lot of small details from different countries, whether it’s their instruments or even the way they write their music,” Halanevych said. “Sometimes we do this consciously and sometimes we don’t, but after touring the American south, we didn’t sit around and say, ‘Let’s try to write a blues song.’ We just happen to travel a lot and pick up influences along the way.
“We try to take traditional Ukrainian music and then place it in an unusual circumstance,” Halanevych added. “We like to surround it with different rhythms and instruments that aren’t often found in the Ukraine. This approach really gives new life to Ukrainian music.”
All of this culminates in a creative cornucopia that demands to not only be heard, but seen.
“We have rather remarkable images on the stage and audiences seem to further absorb the music through them,” Halanevych said. “Despite having us sit on stage, we really do offer a full theatrical performance. There is always an exchange of energy from the band to the audience and back again that makes our concerts so special.”
IF YOU GO
- What: DakhaBrakha
- When: 7:30 p.m. April 4
- Where: Schwab Auditorium, University Park
- Info: www.cpa.psu.edu