If asked about the most popular music band in Ukraine, most people will probably answer «Okean Elzy». Formed in 1994, this music band gave birth to many hits that became simply iconic for Ukrainians. With 2017 tour dates of Okean Elzy announced last week the band got in the center of media attention again. «Destinations» rounds up some of the most interesting facts from band’s history and the way it influenced contemporary Ukrainian music.
The band members rotated many times, but the band’s founder and ideologists Slavko (Slava) Vakarchuk remains the front man of Okean Elzy (Elza's Ocean) for the whole 23 years of its existence. In 2005, front man Svyatoslav Vakarchuk (one of only two members who've stuck around since the band's founding in 1994) was designated a United Nations Development Program Goodwill Ambassador for Youth in Ukraine, a position he held for two years. Currently the band’s members are: Denis Glinin (drums), Denis Dudko (bass guitar), Milos Jelic (keyboards), Vladimir Opsenica (guitar).
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The band was formed in Lviv in 1994. And in 1996 Okean Elzy was the opening act for legendary Deep Purple at one of the European festivals. In September 1998 the band makes their first video of the song "Tam de nas nema». By that time the video of young musicians became something new and fresh, causing a lot of discussions. It is the first time when Ukrainian video is broadcasted on MTV-Russia and the France's MCM channel.
Their "Tam de nas nema" debut album comes out in late 1998. It brings Okean Elzy instant success, which does not leave the musicians till today.
Further band’s albums Yananebibuv (2000), Model (2001), Supersymetriya (2003) have just proved their status as the most popular band in Ukraine. Ocean Elzy concerts gathered thousands of fans. The band was often invited by Ukrainian diaspora to perform in Canada, Australia, US and other countries around the globe.
“Mira”, the sixth album “Mira” was out in April 2007. 170 thousand CDs were sold by reservation only on the day of release, which provided "Platinum" status for the second band’s album. As a part of Ukrainian concert tour in support of "Mira" album the band visited 27 cities of Ukraine, which gathered more than 140,000 audiences. Only 2 Kyiv concerts gathered more than 24,000 fans.
In early spring of 2010 Okean Elzy presented their new «Dolce Vita» album and began their world- wide Dolce Vita tour that lasted for a year covering Ukraine, Russia, Western Europe and America.
Okean Elzy has one of the highest popularity ratings not only in Ukraine but also the love of many fans from Russia and other countries, which is quite phenomenal for a Ukrainian group, considering that all the lyrics are written in Ukrainian. Their solo concerts, the cornerstone of which is always the genuine live sound, are always powerful. With its musical drive, combination of Ukrainian poetry, of Slavic melodies and powerful European sound, Okean Elzy breaks down linguistic barriers and conquers listeners irrespective of geography.
Okean Elzy appeared in a local Pepsi ad campaign in 2001, after the marketing company that Pepsi hired found the band to be the overwhelming choice of the under-21 demographic, named by nearly 90 percent of respondents. The group has a strong activist bent, advocating for peace and democracy as well as other forms of self-determination. It's also intimately tied to youth culture not just in Ukraine but throughout the region.
On December 14th, 2013 Okean Elzy performed live on the stage of Euromaidan. This concert is believed to gather over a hundred thousand of fans on Maydan Nezalezhnosti and all the surrounding streets. The performance became a strong emotional charge for all the protesters and the most spectacular and massive live music performance in the history of Ukraine.
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Okean Elzy has already announced their tour dates for 2017. In spring the band will visit New York, Miami, Chicago, Seattle, San Francisko, Los Angeles, Toronto, Riga, Tallin, Paris, Tel Aviv and many other cities. In May 2017 Okean Elzy will start its Ukrainian part of the world tour. So far 11 Ukrainian cities are announced to host the concerts: Lutsk, Kamyanets-Podil’sky, Poltava, Chernivtsi, Ivano-Frankivsk, Lviv, Rivne, Poltava, Kherson, Bila Tserkva. More cities to be announced. The detailed schedules can be found on Okean Elzy official web page or their official Facebook page.
Photo source: shutterstock.com, okeanelzy.com