Here is the fouth of my series of interviews with people involved in the Gothic and Alternative music scene and to get an understanding in their own words how russia’s war of war crimes against humanity is impacting people just like you and me in Ukraine. For the fourth interview I am very happy to have an interview with Zwyntar a dark-country band from Kyiv, their music style has been referred to as murderfolk, perhaps a hint of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and the Swans but a lot darker.
I have to thank a friend Magda who sent me a link to their video last year.

1. Could you tell me a bit about yourself and your involvement in the Goth/alternative
music scene, so for how long, what you do?, Your 5 top favourite bands?, films, books?

Members of the band have been active in the Gothic/alternative scene of Kyiv since early/mid
2000s. The band’s founder Eric Voloshyn (banjo) was a member of Crazy Juliet (gothic rock/’fairy
wave’), FRAM (folk rock), and The Kubrick Cats (dark cabaret). Divuar had his darkwave/industrial
rock band Taciturnum, also currently plays in Old Cat’s Drama (death rock/goth) and makes
electronic music under the name Salmiac. Sasha Kladbische (vocals, drum), who joined the band in
2015, is a poet and singer-songwriter, whose current projects include Skladno (rock), Folkulaka
(horror folk), and Turf (shanty/acoustic folk), and Pror (bass) is/was a member of the bands Fun Fair
(art/prog), ShamRocks (Celtic punk/folk rock), naddél (Nordic folk), and Turf (acoustic folk).
Nataliia Ferens (percussion): Though I’ve been a goth for more than 15 years now, ZWYNTAR is my
first and only music project, and in my ‘daytime life’ I am a professional translator. Nightwish and
Moonspell have been my two most beloved bands since like 1999, but otherwise my tastes change
pretty often. My latest favourites are Ghost, King Woman and Lingua Ignota, and also Ukrainian
funk/pop folk scene of the 1960-70s, like Тріо Мареничів (Trio Marenych). The latest favourite
movies include Mandy by Panos Cosmatos and the Netflix series Midnight Mass. Conan (1984) and
Ukrainian movie The Lost Letter (1972) are among my all-time favorites. I’m also a devoted larper,
but LARPs in Ukraine are nonexistent in the time of war.
Eric Voloshyn (banjo): My name is Oleksandr, but I go by the nickname Eric. My favourite bands are
Angizia, Moonspell (early albums), The Cure, Fairport Convention and Creedence Clearwater Revival
(an unlikely collection, but I love these). As for the movies, I adore True Grit and almost everything
else by the Coen brothers, and my favourite books are Frank Herbert’s Dune, Bram Stoker’s
Dracula, Dan Simmons’s Terror, Yuri Anrdukhovych’s Twelve Circles, and T. E. Lawrence’s Seven
Pillars of Wisdom.
Yehor Divuar (vocals and guitars): I’ve been in goth subculture for more than 15 years now, and I
can definitely say it became part of my personality. During this time I’ve participated in many
related activities, including performance art and DJing, but in the end making my own music has
become my main way of expression. It’s not easy to choose just 5 bands, but I would definitely like
to mention Fields of the Nephilim, Swans, Ghost and Chelsea Wolfe if we talk about alternative-
related stuff. I’m also fond of older rock music, such as Pink Floyd, Deep Purple and Blue Oyster
Cult. My most favourite movies of all times are Bergman’s ‘The Seventh Seal’ and ‘Neon Demon’ by
Nicolas Winding Refn.

2. What do you miss most of all since russia started a full scale war?

NF: I miss the sense of safety. Travelling. The ability to relax and rest.
Sasha (vocals and drum): I miss being me. At the moment, I am not a person, but simply a function
that must exist and somehow earn for a living and for supporting the armed forces of Ukraine.
YD: I agree. It’s hard to stay motivated or plan anything when each second a Russian missile may
fall at your head, or hurt your loved ones. In some way this feeling of insecurity stuns me and
prevents me from thinking rationally.



3. Could you tell me in your own words how the full scale war being carried out by
russia in Ukraine has affected your life?

NF: My homecity, Kyiv, was besieged by Russians for one month between late February and early
April 2022, and back then, as I listened to the constant sound of artillery battles out there, it
seemed like my whole life was over. Now I try to carry on with the lifestyle I had before the 24th of
February 2022, but it’s hard to achieve when you literally can make no plans for the future. Most of
the time I feel like I’m staying in a Limbo where time stands still; I mechanically repeat actions that
have lost their meaning. But when emotions do surge, bad or good, they are truly overwhelming.
Sasha: My husband joined the armed forces, and now every moment of my life I worry if he is OK.
Every day wherever I go I have to carry a big bag with my documents and medical aid kit, because
every second a rocket strike can destroy my apartment, or I may have to provide first aid to
someone (or myself). I have to attend shooting and medical classes, because in case of the second
wave of invasion I’ll need these skills. I also have a special medicine for fast suicide for an
emergency case. I know what Russians do to civilians, and I’d rather die than let them get me alive.
YD: When Russians tried to capture Kyiv my partner, our cats and I got into the car and roamed
towards the safer regions of the country (or we thought they were safer). I then helped my partner
and my cats to leave the country. They’ve been abroad for more than six months but then got
back. We are trying to collect the moments which bring us back to normality, at least to some
degree. Currently I do my best to support our defenders, both with Zwyntar, and individually. It’s
hard to behave in any other way. First nights of the war were shocking, but the intensity of the
atrocities Ukrainians faced have left us with very little emotion a year after.

4. How do you feel towards russians after they have invaded Ukraine?

NF: I absolutely despise them. When the first, ‘small-scale’ invasion began in 2014, I still had this
illusion that only the tyrant Putin and his cronies are to blame, and there must be many Russians
who are against the war. By 2023 I’m done with this misconception. The whole Russian Federation
with all its people is sick. If there are any ‘good Russians’ left, they choose to do nothing, and in the
end it equals to tolerating and thus supporting the genocide of us.
S: They have ruined my life and my belief in humanism. I treat them like a virus. They are not
worthy of my hate.
EV: Russians have done and keep doing so much evil to my people and me that I, personally, have
trouble with feeling basic empathy for them in general. As a child, I used to attend a Russian
school; now I wish I never learned the Russian language.
YD: I’ve cut all my connections with Russians since the full-scale invasion started, including people I
used to call relatives or friends. It’s hard to explain why, but I have not seen a single person from
Russia who realizes what they are doing to us. I think it’s important to talk more about how this war
is not just Putin’s. The war is widely supported by Russians, who are imperialists in every possible
way. Even their so-called opposition is imperialistic to the core and don’t consider us Ukrainians as
a separate nation.

5. What worries you have most about russia’s war in Ukraine?

NF: The damage done to us already seems irreparable, and there’s obviously more to come. Even if
Russians withdraw from our land and start paying reparations right now, it will take decades for
Ukraine’s economy and environment to recover; however, there’s no way to restore the lost lives,
and I don’t think survivors of the war will ever recover fully. We will carry this grief within us for the
rest of our lives.
S: Basically Ukrainians have a very friendly and gentle nature. But the Russian aggression has
made our hearts cruel and cold, and I’m afraid there won’t be enough life to fix it.
EV: I used to think that a war like this isn’t possible in the 21st century: a war in which Russians not
only want to ‘conquer’ new lands, but are also willing to depopulate these lands for themselves by
butchering Ukrainians. My Russian aunt called my mom at the beginning of the invasion to ask how
we were. Mom said we were being bombed, and the aunt simply laughed and said it was for our
own good. I can’t get my head around the barbarity of this.
YD: I’m absolutely shocked how the majority of the world ignores this war, moreover many western
people are calling for peace, telling Ukraine it has to surrender. The thing is that we can’t
surrender, because it’s a genocidal war Russia wages against us. If we stop defending, they will kill
every person who calls themselves Ukrainian. I’m very worried about how the west tries to
measure Russia from a civilized perspective. Unfortunately, recent history shows that this
measurement doesn’t work when dealing with Russia.



6. What are your hopes for the future?

NF: The only hope I cherish now is that we win soon, and the war is over. I’m not sure about how I
will feel inside when it happens, but at least some outside features of the peaceful life will be back,
and it’ll make a world of difference. As a band, we keep making plans that we can fulfill in the
wartime context, like working on the new album and scheduling gigs to cheer up our audience and
raise money for the Ukrainian military.
S: I hope Russia ends its existence as a terroristic state, which is dangerous to itself and to others.
There has to be some solution to divide it into independent states, without tyranny and autocracy.
I also hope my friends and relatives will survive.
EV: I hope Ukraine wins soon and truly returns to Europe to join the EU, as historically and mentally
we are a European country.
YD: I’d add that I hope the world will soon realize that while any war is ugly, peace at all costs is
not always an option.

7. What more help would you like to see countries give to Ukraine?

NF: Ukraine needs heavy weapons like fighter jets, air defence systems and long-range missiles.
Giving them to us won’t bring an ‘escalation’. If anything, it will help to restrain Russia’s aggression
and fasten the de-occupation of Ukraine, preventing more ruin and suffering and saving countless
S: We are thankful for everything already given. But Russia is a big fascist and militarized country
with millions of war supporters, so we really need more weapons to protect ourselves and the free
world from these maniacs.

8. Is there any more action that you would like countries to take in regards to russia?

NF: The help and support from the world is extraordinary, and we are so grateful for everything that
is being done for us! But there’s one more thing. Countries should stop looking for ‘good Russians’
and start to really question anyone who says they are Russian and not ashamed of it. Nowadays,
claiming to be a proud Russian is not about standing for one’s ethnicity or cultural heritage, it’s
about promoting an ideology, that of Russian imperialism, supremacy and genocidal wars. Russian
culture is toxic. Please, cancel it.
S: I can give advice to anyone who watches Russian mass-media: be sure that 90% of what they
say to you is lies. Lie is the basis of their existence as a country. They lie to each other, lie to
everyone about “Ukrainian nazis”, lie about not killing civilians, and lie about their “great culture”.
This great culture gave life to thousands of killers and rapists who brought us inhuman horrors.
EV: I agree with Sasha. Russians are liars. Don’t trust them and don’t deal with them.


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Official website