Los Colorados talk about their recent breakthrough in music
Fame came to Los Colorados from abroad, as it often the case for Ukrainian musicians. Their cover of Katy Perry’s “Hot N Cold”, posted on the web, made the Ternopil-based band known worldwide. The upcoming football tournament appears to have given the band a great opportunity to conquer European stages, radio and television. The ZDF, one of the most popular TV channels in Germany, is going to play their cover of “I Like to Move It” during football matches. Los Colorados have already signed a contract with Motor Music, a record label known for working with Rammstein, recorded their first album and several videos. The Ukrainian Week asks guitarist Rostyslav Fuk and drummer Oleksandr Drachuk how they feel about their unexpected success.
U.W.: At first glance, your breakthrough looks like pure luck. To some extent it is, but luck still had to have fallen into the fertile soil of years in music schools and rehearsals?
RF: That’s true. We all played in many bands before coming together in this one. Each of us went to music school or took music courses.
OD: Each of us is lucky to have an individual musical talent. Serhiy, the bassist, for instance, knows electronics and rents the studio. I’m better with sound engineering. Rostyk does arrangements and translates lyrics from English. Ruslan, the lead singer, has a good ear - he is the one who selects the repertoire. This is how everything comes together and makes it easy for us to work together.
U.W.: When did music become a job rather than just a hobby for you?
R.F.: In the unhappy times when the crisis hit Ukraine and we ended up without jobs, we decided to focus on music, the only thing we were actually good at. Sometimes we would take any offers, even ones where we had to spend more than we earned. I guess everyone should go through a hungry spring of sorts, to gather a harvest in autumn. People started to invite us to play gigs for money in 2009 after our “Hot N Cold” cover became popular on the Internet. We used to play for money before, but that was more of a hobby - just to pay for guitar strings or equipment for sound effects. Now, we are professional musicians, because that’s what we do for a living.
U.W.: Love for Los Colorados in Ukraine seems natural, as the audience understands the lyrics and knows the tunes. What was it that captured the international audience?
RF: I think it was our positive attitude and humor. We try to keep our personal negativity inside, even if it is considerable at times, and not bring it out to our audience. In fact, people also like the flavor of Ukrainian folk music. Folk music is almost extinct in Germany, for instance. One day, we were drinking tea with our sound producer at the studio and he asked us to play something Ukrainian. We picked up a guitar and sang a song in three- or four-part harmony. “I don’t get it, how did you do that? Did you memorize this song?” he wondered. In fact, we played it just once before. It must be in the blood. That’s what they want. It would be nice and cool to export something Ukrainian, such as music, or see Germans wearing vyshyvanky (embroidered shirts – ed.). Their pop music is in no better shape, it’s too sweet and refined, and the videos on their music channels look like a primitive Ukrainian music show from the 1990s.
U.W.: How come a German record company and TV channel is so interested in your music?
RF: The ZDF wanted to shoot a video for Euro 2012, so they were looking for a Ukrainian or Polish band to do it. When we talked to the people in charge of the auditions in Berlin, we learned that they had about 20 options, many of them well-known bands. Eventually, they had this idea to get some unknown guys rather than celebrities. That’s when Los Colorados came to their minds – one of them had seen our video on Youtube. The record deal and the studio followed.
U.W.: You started your European tour with a concert to celebrate your 5th anniversary. Where will you be performing and how long will it last? And how do you work with Motor Music?
R.F.: We were promised at least 50 gigs over a period of four months. That makes one concert per two and a half days. The countries include Austria, Switzerland and Germany. We signed a three-year contract which includes making at least two records. We’ve already recorded one, which was released on 1 June, in conjunction with the championship. This is a great jump-start because the ZDF will be playing the “I Like to Move It” video five-six times a day.
U.W.: Ukraine is still a terra incognita for many foreigners. What do you tell people abroad about your country?
O.D.: It is possible to say many things, but we immediately invite them to visit Ukraine. Let them see it for themselves and form their own impressions. No matter how much you tell people, nobody can tell what is the truth, and what is a subjective impression.
RF: We brought people from the ZDF to Ruslan’s village and they took photos of all the potholes there. We apologized for the quality of our roads and they just said, “It’s okay, we’re all from Eastern Germany, we had the same thing 15 years ago”.
OD: We just showed them everything as it is. They have to form their own opinion, and I think it will be a positive one.
U.W.: How do you see your music?
R.F.: We are rockers.
UW: I wouldn’t venture to say that your music is pure rock. It has so many different elements to it.
O.D.: In Germany, they classified our style as polka-punk. We actually have two repertoires. One is in rock and the other is acoustic. Together, they are polka-punk. That’s the closest definition of what we play.
U.W.: You also do rap and a capella, don’t you?
O.D.: We simply listen to many genres of music. We never stop looking for something new.
R.F.: That’s right. Everyone in our band likes different music. We used to argue about that at one point, but later realized that we needed to compromise.
U.W.: You make nice and interesting cover songs but this is possibly not enough, after all, they are remakes. Do you have your own songs?
O.D.: We have 30 or more songs of our own. Of course, people noticed us because of our cover songs. The first album has both covers and our original songs. The initial idea was to promote Los Colorados as a cover band. Luckily, we had some good songs of our own and the German audience was the first to hear and like them. We can do both cover and original songs.
U.W.: One of your recent videos was shot in Lviv about Lviv. Do you think that the people of Ternopil will be offended?
RF: Well, we also have to help our brothers. They asked us to do the video, so we figured, why not? Moreover, we know many musicians and have many friends in Lviv, so we wanted to do something nice for the city. We received an invitation from the Lviv City Council and the visitlviv.net portal. They wanted to make a catchy song to invite foreigners to Lviv. The video we shot is a remake of an old hooligan song called Tilky u Lvovi (Only in Lviv). It was a originally a waltz, but we turned it into a rockabilly or rock song. We added the accordion and electric guitar to the tune and it turned out to be an interesting song and in our style. The plotline of the video is also interesting – as if each of us is using different means to get to Lviv.
In a recent poll, Razumkov Center, a sociology group, has found that 73% of Ukrainians fully or partly agree with the statement that political parties which spend a long time in power always have tainted reputation. So they only believe new political forces and their leaders