Have you ever heard of physalis? That weird plant, that can be either a berry, or a vegetable, grow in Russia or Mexico, and basically, there is nothing certain about it. Well, Physàlisovi band decided to choose this exact plant as their main symbol.
Luckily for Physalisovi, it’s more about diversity than confusion. And that’s true: every member’s background is quite different from the others. For example, Bogdan Kalynets (bass) has an ongoing post-metal-progressive side project. The lead singer Ivanka Shkvarok conducts free voice training. And Dmytro Dolgikh-Chernysh (keyboard) is a musicologist and a co-organizer of the “Musical Hugs” project. How did all these people come together? Well, all hail social media.
The Band With No Borders
With all this in mind, it’s no surprise that the band’s genre is hardly definable. Still, they like to say that they are carrying on the psychedelic tradition, shifting focus on funk and kraut every now and then, sometimes with Thom Yorke-ish kind of electronic beats.
But the key feature of the band is that they can play literally everything. In their tracks you can hear the keyboard, bass guitar, saxophone, melodica, metallophone, sampled sound of a traffic light or broken plates, or even a cardboard box. Sometimes it ends up creating a truly cacophonic sound, but a charming one.
“We use everything that comes in hand.” — Dmytro told after one of their gigs. “Today I played the whiskey packaging. I do it for almost 4 years. It’s like a percussion.”
When it comes to lyrics the language doesn’t matter. It can be Ukrainian, English, both of them together in one track, or some imaginary speech. “If you want me to sing in Spanish — I will!” — says Ivanka.
On the other hand, their lyrics are sometimes criticized for being too simplistic, but for Physalisovi it’s not an issue. The band perceives vocals as yet another musical instrument that first and foremost delivers to the melody, structure, and emotion of the song, leaving the semantic charge as the least important. And Ivanka’s voice does sound like a perfect tool ranging from the modern interpretation of Ukrainian folk singing through jazz to sometimes otherworldly sounds.
But that’s not to say that their songs are lack of meaning. For example, the gloomy and haunting track “Mozhe To Ne Ya” (“Maybe It’s Not Me”) tells about a split personality, teenage mistakes and inability to forgive yourself. “It’s about looking back and not being able to understand, why have you done this.” — says Ivanka, the main author of the lyrics. And the lighthearted and uplifting “Syla Momentu Teper” (“The Power Of Now”) as expected was inspired by Eckhart Tolle’s book.
This band has a clear standpoint when it comes to creating music. They don’t compromise and never take external factor as a prod irrespective of what the audience has to say. They need passion to appear between the members of the band, that would lead to songwriting. Their main priority is the subjectivity of an independent band.
Speaking of that passion: all the songs are created based on the improvisation sessions. That’s why sometimes a track can be written in 10 minutes and then fine-tuned for a year. And though most of the band’s work is too long to be played on the radio, the members just shrug: “We don’t define the length. We don’t choose the long songs, they choose us.”
Sharing Is Caring
But being subjective in creating process doesn’t mean that Physalisovi are insensitive towards people. Let’s take above mentioned “Musical Hugs” project for example. “We held masterclasses, music lectures, concerts with guest soloists and local young musicians,” — tells Nataliya Nalivko, the other co-organiser of the event, “led excursions to a recording studio, a DJ school, offered studies on integrated musical development methodology (IMD), held jam-sessions, a playback-theatre performance, and a mixed-genre concert with musicians, poets, and actors. We also opened a music room and visited a rehabilitation center for children from disadvantaged families where we held classes on percussion and IMD.” All in all, for three months there were 22 free musical events for 640 visitors.
We’ll tell you more: before their own gig for this project the members of the band came outside to literally hug people on the streets. Not only to promote themselves but to give some good vibes on a gloomy day.
Keeping Up With Physalisovi
Besides a three songs’ EP “Mizh Namy” (“Between Us”) the band has already released a full-scale live. Before the recording of a full-length album — they say — every band should try this experience. And while an LP is somewhere along the way, why not check this live out, to see what we were talking about on your own: