“I believe silence to be the biggest crime in these hard times” – In conversation with Shadu
In the last week, we’ve heard journalists and Ukrainians talk about life in Kyiv and Western parts of the country being somewhat “normal” again. Then, the Russian army has launched more than 100 missiles into Ukrainian cities. Those missiles haven’t broken the Ukrainian morale though, with their spirits seemingly even stronger now. KALTBLUT caught up with Ukrainian singer and blogger Shadu, to talk about what it’s like releasing music in thisnew “war-normal” life, as well as the importance of music.
KALTBLUT: You’ve recently released your EP “Gravity”. How long were you working on the EP, and how did the invasion change its concept?
Shadu: We started making this album before the war began. We’ve been visualizing the sound of my music for a very long time. I needed to make it a synth-pop, as I am a huge fan of this genre. I wanted to add my own flavour to it. I did not want to follow that beaten track. Dozens of hours we’ve spent in the studio led me and my sound producer Vadym Porotkov to what you hear now. The plan was to release the album in April, but the Russian government decided to deprive us of our plans and dreams. At first, we were all so shocked, the thought of releasing an album moved somewhere into the background.
Our top priority in the first place was to survive! Unfortunately, a few months after the Russian full-scale invasion, Ukrainians got used to the fact that there is a war… No matter how weird it may sound in the 21st century. I really wish I could breathe as freely as I lived before the war! I mean, I really want to live! Music has been, is, and will be a cure-all for any wound, even as dreadful as war! Therefore, this summer, I decided to return to work on the album.
Now, since life after February 24 got split into BEFORE and AFTER, the idea I wanted to put into the album has also changed.
The “Gravity” EP is our vision of a future after the war is over. The values of Ukrainians have changed dramatically. We have learned to appreciate every single minute of our lives. What we did not notice would now be top-of-mind. We have completely rethought our lives. This time, I want to live and love the way I never wanted before.
We have learned to appreciate every single minute of our lives. What we did not notice would now be top-of-mind. We have completely rethought our lives. This time, I want to live and love the way I never wanted before.
KALTBLUT: How do you motivate yourself to write and create music during such unprecedented times?
Shadu: To be honest, songwriting is very hard for me at such times. Especially in the days when Russia is attacking Ukraine with some 80 missiles a day… Very scary. I’ve got a rule, though. When I feel good – I sit down at the keyboard and write music. When I feel down – I also sit down at the keyboard and write music. At these difficult times, every Ukrainian – wherever they are – they want to know they’re not alone. They need to know they’ve got their compatriots who support, who believe in victory, and who know that Ukraine will become even better than it was!
Music? It can help people, as it has always done! Therefore, my motivation is to make music that supports and gives energy to all the people who fall in hard times.
KALTBLUT: Can you tell me about the last song on the EP “Stand with Ukraine”? What does it take to produce a song encompassing so many emotions?
Shadu: I am a person who always passes emotions through herself, though it is not easy! My feelings about the war in my country turned into this song. For me, «Stand with Ukraine» is an appeal from Ukrainians and the whole world, telling us that we will not give up fighting, and we will prevail! Nothing will ever break our love for freedom! It’s a monumental challenge! So many lives have been broken, so many people have died… I just want to scream in pain! If only the world could hear me! We really need support and help!
We would very much appreciate the people of the western world helping us with our struggle!
So many lives have been broken, so many people have died… I just want to scream in pain! If only the world could hear me! We really need support and help!
KALTBLUT: I’ve read that you grew up in Crimea and then moved to Kyiv, where you studied. The war already started then, in 2014. What does Crimea mean to you now?
Shadu: This is the sore subject of my life. I lost my home, my parent’s home, the home I grew up in, the home my parents lived in, our belongings, and our whole life. At the time Russia was annexing Crimea, I was in Kyiv, and I studied and worked there.
I realized, as long as the Russian government and Russian troops stood in Crimea, I would never be able to live there. Now, I have HOPE and 100% FAITH that we are going to return Crimea to Ukraine in the nearest future. Crimea will always be my first home.
KALTBLUT: Is there ever a moment where you can truly switch off and process what’s happened to you privately and your country?
Shadu: From the very beginning of the war, I was fully aware of what has happened to me and my country. Even residing now in another country, I do not forget what is happening, not for a minute. Mentally, I always remain in Ukraine, with Ukraine. However, it is a very tough experience. I wake up with pain and that lump-in-my-throat feeling; I fall asleep the same way. The only thing I dream of is the day the war ends, and innocent Ukrainians to stop dying.
KALTBLUT: Besides being a musician, you’re also a blogger. Can you tell me what made you want to go into writing?
Shadu: I started blogging almost the same time as I started my musical career. I am a social person, I love to share, and I love to give! I always have something to tell you! Apart from music, I have always been a style and fashion devotee. I would go shopping for hours, look at clothes, and match beautiful styles. Although I’m not a stylist, I always wanted to share some finds and fashionable hacks with girls. That’s what I did in my blog in pre-war times! After February 24, fashion became a non-issue for me and many Ukrainian fashionistas…
The feelings of injustice, pain, and misunderstanding, it was so difficult to keep in… Obviously, my blog had to deal mainly with political issues and relations between Ukraine and Russia, and the way the world perceives the war in Ukraine. I could not be silent and I won’t! I am a free woman living in a democratic country. I believe silence to be the biggest crime in these hard times.
Also, I have to destroy the myths the Soviet Union created back in the day. Still, Putin’s Russia uses it when they claim themselves to be a full-fledged successor of the USSR. Anyway, I tried to convey the truth about what is happening in Ukraine to as many people as possible. What is happening in Ukraine? Why is this happening? What is the Putin regime? How dangerous this regime is for the whole world? Every day I will shout and tell the whole world about what is happening in my country.
KALTBLUT: You write a lot about how fashion is made for taller people, which is quite a niche, as well as, how people can dress nicely on a low budget. Can you tell me a little bit about why you went in that direction?
Shadu: I’ve been an aficionado of fashion, beautiful things and style. Unfortunately, there was a time when I did not have enough money to dress stylishly. When I got a chance to, there was no one to clue me in on what I was doing wrong. Today I want to tell the girls what is worth buying and what is not.
After all, you can dress in the mass market, yet look like a million dollars. In my videos about changing clothes and different looks, I show how you can stylishly combine things. Girls could just go to the stores and collect this particular look because I always spill where I got this or that thing from. Blogging, and fashion videos are my hobby I’m obsessed with, which has morphed into a job! You know what I mean? I’ve always dreamed of dressing beautifully. Simply, to be dressed like foreign stars!
That is why shooting fashion videos with beautiful looks is such a pleasure for me. As for clothes for people with short stature. I encounter this problem every time I want to buy something for myself since my height is 153 cm. Unfortunately, brands sew on the average human height, which is 170 cm. I believe that to be a huge mistake! Not all people are ideal parameters! Not all people are thin, not everyone is tall! Most of the girls are completely non-model parameters!
Not all people are ideal parameters! Not all people are thin, not everyone is tall! Most of the girls are completely non-model parameters!
I used to get messages from subscribers on how they wanted to buy a dress, but it was too long, or, on the contrary, it is very short. In the future, I guess, brands should introduce a height grid in addition to the size grid. That will make it much easier for girls with non-model parameters to dress beautifully.
As for my height, I’ve always tried to weave between the flaws and give more accent to my figure! Moreover, I do not consider my short stature a disadvantage. I love my height, I love being a little girl even at 31! I feel comfortable being this tall. When I want to get taller, I wear my favourite Versace heels.
KALTBLUT: What is your go-to fashion advice?
Shadu: Be sure to have essentials in your wardrobe! Eco-leather biker jacket, skinny jeans, white or black golf, massive boots! From these basics, you can make lots of looks, both casual and evening wear!