Championing Ukraine and defying the tragedy of war, Kalush Orchestra appeared at the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest in Turin and swept to sweet victory wearing the outfits are on public display at the British Music Experience at the Cunard Building, Liverpool.
Everyone will recall the joyful and vibrant pink bucket hat worn by the band’s frontman.
Oleh Psiuk is 28 years old and a Ukrainian rapper, founder, and frontman of Kalush Orchestra. His music career started out of pure passion, inspired by Eminem. Kalush Orchestra was created in 2021 with the name Kalush stemming from Oleh’s hometown in the Western part of Ukraine. The group is part of a vibrant Ukrainian-language hip-hop scene that has been trending in the past few years with dozens of top stars appearing in modern urban culture.
Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra won the Eurovision Song Contest 2022, with their entry song Stefania.
“Glory to Ukraine! Thank you to all the Ukrainians who voted for us, to the entire diaspora. We put in a lot of effort every day and can’t convey how happy we are that we have succeeded now! Glory to Ukraine!” – commented on the victory of the leader of the group Oleg Psiuk.
Previously a group of six, Kalush Orchestra is now a band of seven, with multi-instrumentalists Tymofii Muzychuk, Vitalii Duzhyk, Andriy Gandziuk, known as MC Dzhonni Dyvnyy, mysterious KilimMan (lead dancer under the nickname that translates as ‘Carpet-Man’), Sasha Kondratiuk, and Sasha Tab (vocalist of the band, also known as a member of the band “Salto Nazad”).
After the band’s epic win, they raised $900,000 by auctioning off the glass microphone and a further $370,000 by raffling off the pink bucket hat frontman Oleh Psiuk wore during the performance. Oleh went on to have a second pink bucket hat custom made and have since reunited the hat with stage worn outfits to go on display.
Beyond the musical influences of their home country, Kalush Orchestra also showcase their Ukrainian origin through their outfits, wearing traditional ‘Hutsul keptar’ vests, a pink bucket hat tailored in a typical Ukrainian style, or dressed up as Hutsul molfars (molfar = magicians, shamans, and healers among the Hutsul people of Western Ukraine). Each band member’s outfit includes black and red coloured elements.
As they explain in their own words: “Red, on the one hand, is a symbol of love, and on the other hand – it’s a symbol of suffering. Black is a symbol of darkness and fertility of the earth.”
Oleh commented on the style and inspiration of the sound and look of Kalush Orchestra, “The essence is that we take the old Ukrainian folklore that has been forgotten. We dig it out from many generations and add modern, contemporary elements, rap, and instruments. In the end we have a combination of what our ancestors had and what the young people like today. And those are our songs.”
Head of UNESCO City of Music for Liverpool, Kevin McManus, commented “Kalush Orchestra brought something unique and different to last year’s Eurovision Song Contest and as part of Liverpool’s Eurovision 2023 celebrations I am thrilled the British Music Experience is displaying these outfits. Liverpool as a city is honouring Ukraine who is unable to hold the event themselves as the winners of last year’s contest. These outfits celebrate the music and Ukraine. The band have gone on from this win to achieve so much recognition around the world.”
Within the past year Kalush Orchestra have toured the US, playing 18 shows in just 3 weeks. They also released ‘In The Shadows’ with Finnish band The Rasmus, as well as their own song ‘Shchedrivka’, filming the music video in America and featuring acting legend Arnold Schwarzenegger. Further tracks include ‘Nasze Domy’ with Polish rapper Szpaku, ‘Нумо Козаки’ with fellow Ukrainian artist Kozak Siromaha.
Kalush Orchestra also featured on ‘Cry For You’ by Ochman.
Kalush Orchestra became the star guests of the MTV Europe Music Awards 2022 and performed for the first time in the UK at one of the biggest festivals in Europe, Glastonbury. In March 2023, returned to the USA for a new concert tour and will perform at one of the largest and most respected American festivals, SXSW in Austin, Texas.
Kalush Orchestra will perform multiple shows abroad this year, where they will continue to collect funds to help Ukraine – both for the Armed Forces and for the reconstruction of destroyed cultural buildings. In 2022, the band raised an incredible 60 million hryvnias (£1.3 million).
Most recently it was announced Kalush Orchestra along with UK runner up Sam Ryder and Liverpool’s own Sonia will perform at the 2023 Eurovision Song Contest Final on 13 May 2023.
Kalush Orchestra outfits are on display at the British Music Experience and they will be in fine company as the Museum charts the history of rock and pop music from 1945 to present day through instruments and stage outfits worn by some of the UK’s most popular artists. Eurovision successes such as Lulu, Sandie Shaw and Bucks Fizz are represented already in the archive and the collection as well as all the heritage greats such as David Bowie, Queen and Elton John.#
The British Music Experience has a planned season of activity scheduled to celebrate Eurovision in Liverpool and beyond. The content will feature Eurovision related stage outfits such as Sam Ryder’s epic jumpsuit from last year’s final and the iconic Phoenix Collection of outfits worn on the ground-breaking stage show ABBA Voyage. There will be a supporting public event programme including a VIP screening of the Eurovision grand finale, a Eurovision Quiz and panel discussions with past contestants.
BME is also launching its new education workshop entitled Euro-Pop Culture which examines social and political changes over the past 6 decades concluding with the war in Ukraine.
The British Music Experience is in The Cunard Building, the middle of the Three Graces on the Mersey in the heart of the planned Eurovision Village.
Kalush Orchestra Outfits will be on display through 31 August 2023.
All general entry tickets purchased are valid for 12 months and each eligible visitor has the opportunity to support the Museum by Gift Aiding the cost of admission.