During the video interview, Alina Pash walks through sunny Kiev, smartphone in hand. The conversation is not interrupted by an air raid alarm, but the war is of course still a topic. The most successful Ukrainian singer and rapper has just returned from seven concerts at the front in the east of the country.
At the end of the month, a European tour will take her to Germany for three concerts. The start will be on March 30, 2023 with a performance at the Fitzroy in Berlin. In Hamburg, the Turmzimmer im Böse follows Berlin
WORLD: You were at the front for a week and gave concerts there.
Alina Pash: It was a challenge. We played for soldiers, but also for families with children, for people in hospital. Now I'm happy to be back home. There is no better place - sometimes you feel especially how true this sentence is.
WORLD: What impressions do you bring with you from there, from the east of Ukraine?
Pash: Everything on the front feels unreal. When we were children, we saw the films of the Second World War and we were absolutely certain: there will never be anything like this again, ever. Now we have to understand that humanity still has to fight for humanity, for humanity. It's about protecting life instead of destroying it.
WORLD: How did you experience the people there at your concerts?
Pash: Of course it does something to me when I'm with people who are defending my home, my culture, my language, my family. That's very depressing. However, what I saw in her eyes is not anger, not aggression. There is much more life, compassion, love, and most of all, energetic courage. These people embody what they fight for.
WORLD: Despite your experiences?
Pash: Yes, despite the indelible, traumatizing experiences of the war. You see pigs eating the corpses. This is the reality in Bakhmut, in Donetsk. This is a huge area of our country, this is the whole East. War is hardcore. We as musicians bring our music to the front and light into the darkness.
WORLD: What do you take with you on your tour to Germany?
Pash: I want to speak to the people and talk to them. It's not just about Ukraine, but about humanity worldwide, right down to Iran and the African states. We must do something to counter the danger everywhere. We have learned that hoping that these issues will never concern us is unwarranted. If we don't keep reminding ourselves of this, it will hit us hard.
WORLD: Is that your mission as an artist?
Pash: Getting the truth across is at its core. I can feel it in every fiber of my body: I should, I can be the voice that does something to save this planet. Also in Germany, where many refugees from Ukraine live today. My thanks go to all those who support them and have sympathy for my country. I want to give something back to them with my concerts.
WORLD: You have made many pop songs, rock songs and last summer the song "Heaven" about the war, but you are announced as a rapper.
Pash: Yes, as a female rapper. It's still very unusual and new in Ukraine, four or five years ago rap was a really new wave. But there are quite a few really cool female rappers in Kiev. And of course that fits very well: in rap you can let out any problem, even social problems, out loud. That's why I do hip hop with an instrument, I can also sing like a folk singer from Eastern Europe and I can do pop songs. I don't belong in any drawer. Today, cultures mix worldwide, the musical mix means participation.
WORLD: It always gives rise to new possibilities.
Pash: I believe in that. The German and the Ukrainian culture can be combined very well. In the Netherlands there is the wonderful Eurosonic festival, that's where I met a German musician named Schmyt and was surprised at how much I love his all-German music. He convinced the jury and I realized that the most important thing is not to be cool, but to be honest.
WORLD: How is it that your taste in music is as diverse as your ways of expression?
Pash: That's because I'm from Buschtyno, a small town in western Ukraine, close to the border with Romania, but also not far from Hungary, Slovenia and Poland. I come from different cultures and languages. This also resulted in an exciting musical mix for me, because it wasn't far to concerts in Bucharest or Budapest.
We didn't orientate ourselves so much to Kiev when I was a teenager. It was easier to go south. There I heard rock and punk, techno and metal, all kinds of styles. I can't commit to one genre. There was a super cool underground scene in Kiev when I arrived here 12 years ago, when I was performing under a different name. Hip hop was the last step. I love the cool. Also, there are few rappers in Ukraine and certainly no women who do hip hop, so I tried it out - and I feel very comfortable with it.
WORLD: One more question about the past. You almost entered the Eurovision Song Contest for Ukraine in 2022 with your song "Shadows of The Forgotten Ancestors" and had already won the national competition. But then you didn't compete because of an alleged illegal stay in Crimea occupied by Russia?
Pash: That's true, but that was years ago and was due to youthful ignorance. It was illegal to fly there, which I did when I was 22. At that time I performed as a background singer at a wedding without informing myself about the legal situation. Had I gone to Crimea by train or car, I would have been registered at the border and there would have been no problem. I love my country and haven't done anything against the law - anyone who hears the lyrics to the ESC song understands that immediately. At that time I wanted to do my best for my country at the ESC, which was then no longer possible. That was like a wake up call for me.