As our Ukrainian friends and family have endured a year of full-scale war, here are some of their voices. For them and to all those resisting violence and occupation, here’s some space for them to be musicians and artists, even in the face of terror.

By the way – before we get to that, a reminder for any curators listening, whether you’re running a humble radio show or a whole festival! EASTBLOC is a terrific and trusted resource for the whole region, including Ukraine. (And oh yeah, if you were left off this list, also a chance to be heard!)

“Music or Weapon” is a podcast series produced by our friend Dmytro Fedorenko for the Timzones podcast by Norient and the Goethe-Institut.

The program features four monologues from Ukraine, both their words and music – all four continuing to work (and fight) inside the country. That is Burning Woman from Kyiv, Symonenko born in Luhansk and based in Kyiv, Ujif_notfound aka Georgy Potopalsky out of Kyiv, and Igor Yalivec from Dnipro.

They were recorded during the summer of 2022, a few months after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The statements are candid monologues about music, dignity, and life during the darkest of times. The four artists speak about their visions of freedom and fear, their feelings about the future, and the influence of this war on their lives and their music; the situations they are facing and the choices they are making. What happened to their art and how do they perceive the role of the artist in this war?

To those four, I produced a “bonus” episode featuring the host Dmytro and media artist Sophia Bulgakova. You can listen to these on your podcast provider of choice by subscribing to Timezones – or support and download on Bandcamp:

TIMEZONES podcast series @ Goethe-Institut

Apart from those quotes highlighted in the video, just a few segments that are poingnant – and you should absolutely listen to the whole program:

Burning Woman:

“I have some difficulties composing new music since the war started. And I hear that a lot from my fellow musicians, from my friends. And I’m really trying to get back to this [part] of my musical practice…

You know, I see what weapons that foreign countries give us… I see how they benefit us, how they are changing the situation, and I think music can’t do that, actually. Music can’t win the war, unfortunately.”

“I’ve noticed that I’ve lost this ability to picture my future, picture myself in a future, to dream about the future. And it’s really frustrating sometimes. It’s really frustrating because sometimes life just loses meaning, sense.”


“And it helps… When you start to play music and you… for this time, when you are playing, when you’re trying to build something in the sound… you forget about everything that goes on around. And actually I think it’s good idea to make some music… this time.”

“Music can be weapon. I know some examples when the music is the weapon and actually the music is just part of… of the media. So the whole media could be a very strong weapon… as for me. And of course it’s the weapon.”


“Like fifty percent of energy should be spent on creating music… fifty percent should be spent on telling the world of Ukraine.”

Igor Yalivec:

If you say about psychological factor, it’s very hard to… create something, some art now. Because all my thoughts were about our lives, about my friends, about people who are bombed in the cities in Ukraine. But then I understood that I can make something from… by myself to help my friends, how to help people in Ukraine to fight in this war. Because I think that art now can help us.

Full transcript

Here’s podcast guest Sophia from a few minutes ago, expressing herself in signage – and points taken!

For more:

Today’s statement by K41:

And previously:

Слава Україні!