Do you remember last year’s interval act at the Grand Final? It was someone called ‘Onuka’ with the Naoni Folk Orchestra, and like you, I thought I knew exactly what to expect – a big-voice lady in a flowy dress showcasing diva trills to the backdrop of rows of people in traditional dress, and would likely end with some sort of choral performance. My money was on a children’s choir.
Holy crap, was I wrong. Instead of any of that, what we did get was the above virtuouso performance from Onuka and a bunch of folk artists. The whole thing could have been headlined, “I did not expect that” as Onuka took my assumptions and flattened them under a barrage of electronic beats and Lion’s head drums and horns three times as tall as I was. Dressed like the world’s most stylish stormtrooper, Onuka put on the best performance of the entire evening, starting with a simple folk song and building to the post-Soviet assault on the ears that is “Vidlik”. The performance was so good that it made me pregnant. (And yes, it was a healthy baby boy and I’ve named him Vidbir.)
Flash forward a year and Onuka has released an entire new album of 10 new tracks called Mozaika, which can all be heard at her website. And once again, it’s a tour de force of — well, of everything. Its tracks go all over the place, are sung in Ukrainian (Russian?) or English (if they have lyrics at all) and encompass all genres, from dance club banger to folk epic (seriously, I’ve started scripting the Marvel superhero film of which this song will be a centrepiece).
My favorites on the album include:
- Animal, another collaboration with the Naoni Orchestra that suddenly erupts into trills of flutes;
- Golos, the aforementioned Marvel theme, which relies heavily on the Hans Zimmer ‘braaaaammmmmhhhs’, and;
- The closing track Vatra, which, even as it’s bringing in the folk elements that symbolize a night winding down, continues to be compulsively danceable.
I want these tracks to be played on radios all over the nation. I want them to be standards at club nights. I want to hear them blaring from the car stereos of the people who drive too fast down my high street. Onuka is a genius, and I am greedy for more.
I’ve checked her tour dates, and she’s not scheduled to play anything outside of Ukraine for the rest of this year. Can some enterprising person bring her and the Naoni Orchestra to the UK for a tour? I’d totally quit my job (for two weeks) and caravan across the UK to sit in the front row and experience her icy genius. Someone make this happen, please!