Both on and off stage participants of the tribute concert for Braty Hadiukiny (the Hadiukin brothers rock band) indulged in comparisons, calling legendary rock musician Serhiy Kuzminsky the ‘Ukrainian Jim Morrison’, ‘Ukrainian Mick Jagger’ and even Elvis Presley. Myroslav Kuvaldin’s laconic quote “The world tried to catch me but failed” drew a clear parallel between its author, wandering philosopher Hryhorii Skovoroda, and the rock star. Andrii Partyka, guitarist of the famed band, said that “Kuzia,” as Kuzminsky was lovingly called by his friends, was both the Shevchenko and the Gogol of Ukrainian music. However, Kotliarevsky seems to be a more fitting literary prototype here – Kuzminsky helped found Ukrainian-language rock in post-Soviet Ukraine. The band’s first songs, before he became its frontman, were in Russian. Oleh Skrypka, another pioneer of Ukrainian rock’n’roll, says that one of Kuzminsky’s early songs, All’s Cool was a harbinger of changes in the country. The band demonstrated that the country can have quality rock’n’roll in Ukrainian
THE PHENOMENON OF BRATY HADIUKINY
I first started thinking about the individual, exceptional and unique role of Braty Hadiukiny in the history of Ukrainian rock music in 1996. It was the year the band made the fantastic record called Have a Good Trip. Unfortunately, the band broke apart soon after its leader, Serhiy Kuzminsky, left for Moscow. Before that, he became popular in Kyiv night clubs playing as DJ Pubert. Rumors had it that robbers broke into his apartment in Kyiv and stole everything he had discouraging him to stay in town after that. People had different opinions on his work in Moscow but all it did not take him long to became one of the most popular DJs in the Russian capital.
Yet talk of the band’s triumphant comeback did not fade. The idea that the band would stage a comeback made sense as their records All’s Cool, We are Guys from Banderstadt, Love Hurts, and L!ve were continuously reissued finding more and more new fans. Over the 10 years that the legendary band did not play together in Ukraine, record companies let it fade from memory. A new generation of fans grew up who had never heard Braty Hadiukiny play live. They first saw and heard them in winter 2006 in the sold out Sports Palace, one of the biggest concert halls in Kyiv. The audience was from all over Ukraine and when Kuzia shouted the names of virtually all of the country's regions he heard those in the audience from these regions call back. Was it national love? Apparently, it was.
In the late 1980s, young rock’n’roll fans massively viewed Braty Hadiukiny as Lviv’s response to the expansion of Vopli Vidopliasove with lead singer Oleh Skrypka in Kyiv. A popular debate of that time was about which of the two super bands was cooler. In fact, away from his stage image, other musicians praised Serhiy Kuzminsky as a connoisseur of Western trends in modern music. He had a tough character and hated arrogance, backslapping and vanity in people. He was easy-going but not primitive.
Here is a fragment of a letter Kuzia wrote to the Ukrainian producer Oleksandr Bohutsky from rehab in Belgian: “NEVER!!! in my life have I seen so many people understand my problems. And the main thing is that they are all so eager to help as much as they possibly can. This is all real, no faking, these things evoke different feelings. I felt as if these people shared their energy with me and no matter how bad I felt I would get up and go to the meeting. And then somebody said “He’s here”. It turned out that everybody had been waiting for me for a while already. I met a bunch of people and I now seem to live in their energy space which keeps me from falling down because my legs are still too weak to walk this world. I will write much more about the traditions of this program and how it works. I hope that we can do something similar in Lviv. And it’s necessary, because it does work, trust me, I can see it with my own eyes every day.”
In the early 1990s, Braty Hadiukiny were an extraordinary cocktail of rhythm’n’blues, rock and authentic Halychyna folklore. Oleh Skrypka, the leader of Vopli Vidopliasova, exploited surzhyk, a mix of the Ukrainian and Russian languages spoken in Kyiv suburbs, and looked like a typical hooligan. By contrast, Serhiy Kuzminsky opted for the image of a thoughtful slob who learned some trendy words and terms. Both artists brought the anti-hero to the stage, though each did so in his own unique way. But in fact this anti-hero was a common guy, neither good nor bad, just the way he was. Taking slang and brutality, both artists turned marginal dialects into aesthetic irony. This was what made literary and musical underground in Ukraine unique on the verge of the two eras. Today, the legend returns reincarnated in all kinds of remixes and covers. Hit songs, such as Arividerchi, Roma; My Little Star; We’re in Trouble; Love Hurts; Mostyska; Junkies in a Poppy Garden; Roksoliana, Cool City Ternopil; 40 Packs of Cigarettes; Jalize Ass; Libido; A Girl from Kolomyia; All’s Cool, and Underage are slowly becoming classics of Ukrainian rock.
So, what’s so special about them? The music of Serhiy Kuzminsky and his band really is an organic part of Ukrainian comedy. Their songs are permeated with laughter, sometimes through tears, and with colorful ethnic characters. Kuzia’s modern protagonist is no worse or different than classical characters in many old proverbs and sayings. These are identical characters — they simply come from different times. Consequently, when reanimated this bright phenomenon turns into genuine total support of the legendary brand, not something inspired by PR campaigns. It is equally praised by the rock music elite and the audience. Kuzia, vivat!
Video: Let’s Party!!! = Zabava
UKRAINAIN STARS ABOUTHADIUKINY
In the early 1990s, people often thought we were Braty Hadiukiny. Sometimes fans in different cities would come for autographs and asked us to play All’s Cool, Arividerchi Roma, and Junkies in the Poppy Garden. They had no idea these were all Kuzia’s songs. This explains why Braty Hadiukiny are still thought to be the best reincarnation of the Rolling Stones in Ukrainian music. Not only in terms of style, but a certain mission. Through his music and unique energy, Serhiy Kuzminsky changed the way of thinking for the entire post-soviet generation. I’m sure it was his All’s Cool song that launched transformation in the country.
Oleksandr Yarmola, Haidamaky
Serhiy made such a huge contribution into the modern Ukrainian culture that I can think of only one word for him – a genius. He had an easy and natural way to blend all kinds of problems ranging from the post-perestroika idling of the youth in Halychyna to “Soon, very soon, we’ll see Jesus!” His unique vocals, fantastic charm and a sense of humor had no rivals here. I can compare him to some world rock music icons, like Jim Morrison and Mick Jagger.
Video: Underage = 117 Stattja
Sviatoslav Vakarchuk, Okean Elzy
I knew and loved their first record, All’s Cool. But I didn’t know Kuzia back then. I was so impressed by their songs. Back then, they were something outstanding to me, as if they were from a parallel reality. We would talk of them like they were the Ukrainian Rolling Stones. Kuzia also moved me with his fascinating charm. He looked kind of weak and inert but he was like an open nerve inside.
Taras Chubai, Plach Yeremii
Kuzia is a storyteller, an artist, music intellectual, ironical philosopher, human expert, and an experimentalist on his own body and mind. In two words, he is a unique person. Let’s just play his songs and make everybody happy.
Volodymyr Yakymets , Pikkardiyska Tertsia
It was Braty Hadiukiny who gave Ukrainians their own rock’n’roll. In the early 1990s, both music fans and people who were not crazy about music all loved and understood their songs. But the biggest guru of the band was the charming Serhiy Kuzminsky. At that time he knew Western music the best and, what’s most important, wasn’t afraid to experiment with lyrics or music. Pikkardiyska Tertsia thanks Kuzia and Braty Hadiukiny with our covers of the Immigrant Song and Yellow Ribbons.
Andriy Khlyvniuk, Boombox
No one had more influence on the establishment of Ukrainian rock music than Serhiy Kuzminsky and his band. Their funny satirical songs have always been a breath of fresh air in today's opportunistic show business.
Video: Junkies in a Poppy Garden = Narkomany na horodi
Viktor Broniuk, TIK
If I have to compare all of our national heroes, I would put Kuzia in the front. He made Ukrainian music modern and up-to-date. His name will remain in the history of our country, not just rock music, and Braty Hadiukiny’s music will live forever. We will never forget him.
Vadym Krasnookyi, Mad Heads XL
Serhiy Kuzminsky is a legendary leader of a legendary band. I cannot imagine Ukrainian rock music without them today. His stunning charm and funny provocative humor in the lyrics became part of Ukrainian culture and will always stay in our minds.
Video: Cool City Ternopil = Fajne misto Ternopil
Oleksandr “Fozzy” Sydorenko, Tanok na Maidani Kongo
Serhiy Kuzminsky is a voice of revolution in Ukrainian music. He’s our Elvis. There had been show business, it lived on TV, and then Braty Hadiukiny came and changed everything, and they still do.
Serhiy “Foma” Fomenko, Mandry
Kuzia was a bright, lively, ironic and genius legend man, and he’s always on the front burner because he’s real.