Ukraine In Focus : Gasoline Radio

Ukraine in Focus… To celebrate our collaboration with Eurovision we are delving into the musical careers and minds of some of the amazing Ukrainian Artists and Projects that will be going live on Melodic Distraction this month.

First up, we have the wonderful radio station Gasoline Radio based in Kyiv. They will be sharing 14 shows with us spanning a huge variety of genres so keep an eye out for all of them!

1) Can you give us a bit of an introduction about yourself, the wonderful Gasoline Radio and how it all started?

I’m a co-founder and curator of Gasoline Radio. For the last 8 years I’ve been involved in the cultural life of Ukraine from different sides, as editor-in-chief of first diy-magazine Pivnich and then Katacult magazine; holding different kinds of events – from small club series to massive events.

Gasoline Radio is a non-profit media platform (starting next week as a label) focused primarily on Ukrainian culture. Using various tools, we want to contribute to the development of our culture by documenting local phenomena both in the format of radio shows, as well as in the form of movies, releases, events, and art projects.

As for the history of radio, it began when I decided to leave Katacult and I was approached by the founder of the Kharkiv school of Production/DJing and the club Kultura Zvuku with the idea of creating a new media focused on the Ukrainian scene. Given my not-so-great experience with magazines in terms of feedback, I suggested creating a radio. Starting in the summer of 2021, we began preparations for the launch and on February 22, 2022 we made the first announcement of the launch.

In two days, everyone’s life had changed dramatically and there was no space at all for thoughts of radio. The first few months of the full-scale invasion were very difficult for music in general, as any attempt to listen to my favorite tunes had the phantom sound of a siren in my head.

But over time the mind adapted to the constant stress and things began to return to their usual rhythm, along with this there was an internal need for something through which to convey experiences and emotions. So I renewed my work on the radio and on May 18 we had our first broadcast from the studio.


2) What are the main goals and ethos within Gasoline Radio?

Both before and after the start of the all-out war in Ukraine, our goals remained unchanged.

— Firstly, it was important to us ourselves to form a unified image of Ukrainian culture that was based both on our heritage and on the development of contemporary cultural phenomena. Since the beginning of the invasion, we felt more strongly about how much of our cultural heritage was under pressure from our neighbors, how much was lost, and how much is still important to show Ukrainians themselves;

— We were observing a situation where most of the lineups featured the same names who had managed to establish themselves on the local scene, at the same time there was no chance for unknown producers and artists to highlight their material to a wider audience. So, one of the tasks we set at the start of the project was to create a space for any creative expression for young musicians who had long remained in the shadows;

— It was also important for us to overcome the inferiority complex of Ukrainians and to turn their eyes to what is happening culturally inside the country. Over the last years the Ukrainian scene has been developing at a frantic pace. At the same time, there was a tendency to direct the main attention to foreign artist. From this point of view of the local public it was not obvious how great our own local culture is;

— An important point for us is to put the creativity of Ukrainian artists into a global context. Despite the attention to Ukraine during the last year, many cultural phenomena remain out of sight of the world audience. That is why at the moment we are trying to cooperate as much as possible with different formations and communities all over the world to show what is really happening in the cultural field of Ukraine and to provide a comprehensive list of names that form the richness of our culture in all its manifestations.


3) Can you give us an insight into how you have found running Gasoline Radio throughout the war in Ukraine?

To be honest, the start of any project during the war is quite an adventure. There are many things associated with it, from massive rocket attacks during broadcasts to the lack of funding for the project. But as time shows, you can get used to anything and cope with anything if you really believe in what you are doing.

I can say that there is an upside to everything, as the lack of opportunities gives birth to more honest and long-lived things. That’s why it’s hard to imagine such a rapid development of Gasoline Radio and 300% involvement of the whole team in other conditions.


4) How have you seen the Kyiv (and winder Ukrainian) music scene develop since the formation of Gasoline?

The awareness of the value of one’s own culture during the war gave a strong impetus to Ukrainian culture. It seems that I haven’t seen so many releases and art projects in peacetime. It became important for people around us to interact with our own heritage, which was also evident in the shows of our residents, who began to seek out material from musicians, poets and artists repressed during the Soviet Union, to look deeper into historical cultural events to give new life to all of the work that had been done. Music has become a resistance again and an opportunity to identify and understand oneself as a Ukrainian.

At the beginning of the full-scale invasion, many artists left the borders of Ukraine and continued their creative path in the countries of Europe, which gave the opportunity for the realization and formation of many new names. For my part I also noticed a change in the material of the artists, a lot of producers became more open to new directions and manifestations of their creativity, there is definitely more experiments and forms of music. I can definitely say that there is a feeling in the air that a completely new and powerful music community is being formed now with a new outlook on things and faith in the bright future of Ukraine, so we have a lot to see.


5) I have heard that your team has just returned from an expedition to the Carpathian Mountains to talk to local musicians and recording them to collect samples, that sounds amazing! Can you tell us a bit about the idea behind this and what you learned whilst you were out there!?

At the beginning of our journey, we set ourselves the goal of studying our cultural heritage, referring to our history, because whoever does not know his past cannot make the best of his present and future. We also realized that our culture is a weapon in the fight against russian narrative and propaganda. A deep study of our heritage gives us an understanding of the differences between our countries, that we are not fraternal people at all, and how much our culture is older than the existence of a country like russia.

At the beginning of this year, we were lucky to take part in the #ZMINA_2_0 project “Subgrants for cultural projects” of the IZOLYATSIA Foundation with the financial support of the European Union. During two weeks of March, we were not only able to record the musicians’ performances, but also to notice the problems of culture and institutions in the regions; learned in which aspects of everyday life traditional music is preserved. Our experience will be reflected in a small documentary project that we will present later. This is not an in-depth study, but all this is to show how multifaceted our culture is and to become catalysts for the study and research of Ukrainian culture.

6) Have you got any exciting future plans for the station that our readers and listeners can keep an eye out for?

The first important step for us will be the launch of a label (launching next week), within which we will present both the material of our residents and friends, as well as archival recordings of traditional music and the lost diamonds of the Ukrainian scene.

Also, we brought a sample pack from our expedition created from the sounds that surround us throughout the entire journey. We want to initiate a compilation using it, and at the end of May we will present a release filled with the sound of the Carpathians.

We also planning to continue our series of expeditions, covering the whole of Ukraine. And of course, the summer will be filled with various projects with radios from all over the world. Stay tuned.


7) What can we expect from your radio shows on Melodic Distraction?

For the show at Melodic Distraction, we invited two of our residents Vidrada and Andrew Bez to talk about music during the war, chat with show hosts, talk about our expedition and dive deeper into the Ukrainian jazz scene. Very soon we will reveal all the details of the broadcasts.


8) Can you recommend 5 of your current favourite Ukrainian artists / creatives for our readers and listeners to check out!

We tried to gather all our favorites under one roof, so I will recommend our residents:


1) Newcomer, die hard music lover and digger djemergencyloop, who hosts Grooves from the Past, show-journey to the nooks and crannies of the unknown sound of the old school of dance electronics.

Gasoline Radio · GROOVES FROM THE PAST #06 27/12/2022


2) Krossfingers — bi-weekly show is a result of collaboration between Krossfingers and Biorhythm where Sasha Tessio and Artem Yarmosh inviting cool selectors from around the world and spinning experimental house, IDM and ambient.

Krossfingers · KF SHOW W/ SASHA TESSIO & ARTEM YY #15 19/03/2023


3) Besties, series hosts and talented producers focused on unusual, enveloping experimental music, Mires & Heskbo

KULTURA ZVUKU · Mires B2b Heskbo — VITALNYA #05 | Kultura Zvuku Shkola Kyiv


4) Emil Asadow, also known as Digital Himalayas and as Dj Yobaboba hosts a rather eclectic series.

Gasoline Radio · GASOLINE SERIES: DJ YOBABOBA #05 15/03/2023


5) If you look beyond the radio, then you should definitely pay attention to the ТУЧА, not every location is ready to withstand the test of strength from her energy:

ТУЧА · Месники