November 15, 2022
A whole week in Berlin, a real luxury! My Messenger, Whatsapp and Telegram are bursting – new messages every five minutes, many of my friends are in town right now and of course we absolutely have to meet up. But I’m not doing so well, my body is signaling that it needs a break – and giving me a perfect reason to welcome my guests home.
Nikolay Karabinovych, with whom we often worked, for months worried about his father, who in no case wanted to leave Odessa. Finally Nikolay managed to convince him. Now the two are in Berlin for two days and stop by for a coffee. Four years ago I wrote a song about his great grandfather for Nikolay’s art project and feel a special connection to this family.
Nikolay’s father did not want to leave Odessa in any case
Nikolay’s father is a real Odessa fan, he gave me six books about his hometown (as well as two sets of postcards) and he really wants to show videos on his cell phone. Shop windows boarded up with plywood on the deserted Deribasywska, the popular promenade in the center, an impressive view over the whole city, filmed from the balcony of his apartment on the twelfth floor, with the sound of shrill sirens in the background…
I drink my second coffee with Vitali Bardetski, who presented his film “Mustache Funk” about the emergence of the folk funk scene in Soviet Ukraine in the 1970s at the festival in Torun, Poland, last Sunday. Before returning to Kyiv, he visits the German capital for two days, where he has many friends and acquaintances. His first trips to Germany in the early 1990s were recorded for eternity in Andrij “Kusma” Kusmenko’s book “I, Pobeda und Berlin”.
Kuzma was the leader of the legendary Ukrainian pop group Scriabin, who also tried his hand at writing in 2006. In “Me, Pobeda and Berlin” he described his adventurous trip to Berlin in an ancient, half-broken Soviet car of the brand Pobeda. His buddy and later Scriabin’s press agent, Bardetsky, was there at the time, witnessed everything and became one of the main characters of the book, which became a bestseller in Ukraine. The premiere of the film adaptation of Kuzmenko’s book should have taken place in March of this year, but unfortunately it didn’t happen for obvious reasons.
We talk about the war and also about the music – Bardetski’s family made the decision to stay in Ukraine. They spent the first months after the escalation began in the west of the country, where they had moved after a Russian missile landed not far from their home in Kyiv. When things quieted down, the Bardetskis returned. Her Gram Bar, one of my favorite spots in the Ukrainian capital where I got the chance to DJ at the preview of Mustache Funk in March 2020, reopened.
“In the months after February I couldn’t hear any music, I just didn’t feel anything anymore,” says Vitali, who I know as a record collector, music enthusiast and DJ. I know exactly how painful it must have felt for him because I felt very similarly. “Do you hate the Russians?” he was asked in Poland after the film screening. “I wouldn’t call it hatred, no,” Bardetski replied. “I don’t feel hate, just disgust.”
Vitali has to go on, we say goodbye and hope to see you again soon. I’ve been invited to Kharkiv at the beginning of December, and on the way to my hometown I would of course like to visit Kyiv. If it works, then a Gram visit is a must for me.
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