(PT) The Abyss of Katarina Gryvul

  • Interview by Carolin Desiree
  • Photography by Wolfgang Tillmans

Aldo Rossi, Sketch axonometric for Case unifamigliari, Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania, 1988; Reprographic copy with ink and correction fluid on paper. 30 x 22 cm.

When the enigmatic British rapper Lancy Foey drops a new album, the buildup and excitement are reminiscent of that created by a best-selling fantasy author.

Our initial interview with Katarina happened shortly before her premier of Tysha at Kyiv’s ∄, only some days before russia invaded Ukraine. In our following conversations over the last year, I learned about how the war has changed Gryvul as an artist and human and how the cruelty and loss have scarred her for life. Katarina went through a months-long blockage in her work when frustration, sadness, and despair left her helpless and unable to access her creative resources. Overwhelmed by the intensity of this nightmare, Katarina had her first panic attacks. She started recording these incidents trying to break away from the numbness and shock and reconnect with her body and voice. These recordings became a part of Katarina’s new work that she’ll present at the CTM festival in a collaborative concert with the digital artist Alex Guevara within a project titled Rybachka.

Mariana Berezovska: The first time we spoke, shortly before the release of Tysha, the feeling of dread and uneasiness could already be sensed in your work and your words. We talked about the pain you constantly feel for Ukraine. Tysha was released just two weeks before russia invaded Ukraine, and you premiered it at Kyiv’s ∄ club in February 2022. How was this concert, and what kind of feeling did you get from the audience and the city back then?

Katarina Gryvul: The release concert is one of my best memories that will remain with me forever. It was my first performance in Ukraine, and the support and feedback from the audience were simply incredible. There was a sense of unity but also a sense of anxiety. I felt like this was a moment of calm before the storm. After my performance, many embassies began to leave Kyiv, and the air was charged with urgency and anticipation. All evening I could not think about anything else. So this day was extremely significant but also very sad for me.

MB: The title of this album is translated as ‘silence.’ The theme is connected to the solitude you first found during the pandemic. Does it also reflect a personal retrospection experienced during this time?

KG: I wrote most of the album during the pandemic, but it has a deeper meaning. The pain and restlessness I felt for what had been happening in Ukraine before the full-scale invasion are also there. I’m not particularly eager to describe what my music is about. I feel like there’s no need to talk about music because you can take away from the listener something that your music could awaken in them without your prescription through words. Music should speak for itself. I wrote a free verse for the album, and these are the only words that can describe it.

When the enigmatic British rapper Lancy Foey drops a new album, the buildup and excitement are reminiscent of that created by a best-selling fantasy author.

Our initial interview with Katarina happened shortly before her premier of Tysha at Kyiv’s ∄, only some days before russia invaded Ukraine. In our following conversations over the last year, I learned about how the war has changed Gryvul as an artist and human and how the cruelty and loss have scarred her for life. Katarina went through a months-long blockage in her work when frustration, sadness, and despair left her helpless and unable to access her creative resources. Overwhelmed by the intensity of this nightmare, Katarina had her first panic attacks. She started recording these incidents trying to break away from the numbness and shock and reconnect with her body and voice. These recordings became a part of Katarina’s new work that she’ll present at the CTM festival in a collaborative concert with the digital artist Alex Guevara within a project titled Rybachka.

Mariana Berezovska: The first time we spoke, shortly before the release of Tysha, the feeling of dread and uneasiness could already be sensed in your work and your words. We talked about the pain you constantly feel for Ukraine. Tysha was released just two weeks before russia invaded Ukraine, and you premiered it at Kyiv’s ∄ club in February 2022. How was this concert, and what kind of feeling did you get from the audience and the city back then?

Katarina Gryvul: The release concert is one of my best memories that will remain with me forever. It was my first performance in Ukraine, and the support and feedback from the audience were simply incredible. There was a sense of unity but also a sense of anxiety. I felt like this was a moment of calm before the storm. After my performance, many embassies began to leave Kyiv, and the air was charged with urgency and anticipation. All evening I could not think about anything else. So this day was extremely significant but also very sad for me.

MB: The title of this album is translated as ‘silence.’ The theme is connected to the solitude you first found during the pandemic. Does it also reflect a personal retrospection experienced during this time?

KG: I wrote most of the album during the pandemic, but it has a deeper meaning. The pain and restlessness I felt for what had been happening in Ukraine before the full-scale invasion are also there. I’m not particularly eager to describe what my music is about. I feel like there’s no need to talk about music because you can take away from the listener something that your music could awaken in them without your prescription through words. Music should speak for itself. I wrote a free verse for the album, and these are the only words that can describe it.

When the enigmatic British rapper Lancy Foey drops a new album, the buildup and excitement are reminiscent of that created by a best-selling fantasy author.

Our initial interview with Katarina happened shortly before her premier of Tysha at Kyiv’s ∄, only some days before russia invaded Ukraine. In our following conversations over the last year, I learned about how the war has changed Gryvul as an artist and human and how the cruelty and loss have scarred her for life. Katarina went through a months-long blockage in her work when frustration, sadness, and despair left her helpless and unable to access her creative resources. Overwhelmed by the intensity of this nightmare, Katarina had her first panic attacks. She started recording these incidents trying to break away from the numbness and shock and reconnect with her body and voice. These recordings became a part of Katarina’s new work that she’ll present at the CTM festival in a collaborative concert with the digital artist Alex Guevara within a project titled Rybachka.

Mariana Berezovska: The first time we spoke, shortly before the release of Tysha, the feeling of dread and uneasiness could already be sensed in your work and your words. We talked about the pain you constantly feel for Ukraine. Tysha was released just two weeks before russia invaded Ukraine, and you premiered it at Kyiv’s ∄ club in February 2022. How was this concert, and what kind of feeling did you get from the audience and the city back then?

Katarina Gryvul: The release concert is one of my best memories that will remain with me forever. It was my first performance in Ukraine, and the support and feedback from the audience were simply incredible. There was a sense of unity but also a sense of anxiety. I felt like this was a moment of calm before the storm. After my performance, many embassies began to leave Kyiv, and the air was charged with urgency and anticipation. All evening I could not think about anything else. So this day was extremely significant but also very sad for me.

MB: The title of this album is translated as ‘silence.’ The theme is connected to the solitude you first found during the pandemic. Does it also reflect a personal retrospection experienced during this time?

KG: I wrote most of the album during the pandemic, but it has a deeper meaning. The pain and restlessness I felt for what had been happening in Ukraine before the full-scale invasion are also there. I’m not particularly eager to describe what my music is about. I feel like there’s no need to talk about music because you can take away from the listener something that your music could awaken in them without your prescription through words. Music should speak for itself. I wrote a free verse for the album, and these are the only words that can describe it.

Aldo Rossi, Sketch axonometric for Case unifamigliari, Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania, 1988; Reprographic copy with ink and correction fluid on paper. 30 x 22 cm.

When the enigmatic British rapper Lancy Foey drops a new album, the buildup and excitement are reminiscent of that created by a best-selling fantasy author.

Our initial interview with Katarina happened shortly before her premier of Tysha at Kyiv’s ∄, only some days before russia invaded Ukraine. In our following conversations over the last year, I learned about how the war has changed Gryvul as an artist and human and how the cruelty and loss have scarred her for life. Katarina went through a months-long blockage in her work when frustration, sadness, and despair left her helpless and unable to access her creative resources. Overwhelmed by the intensity of this nightmare, Katarina had her first panic attacks. She started recording these incidents trying to break away from the numbness and shock and reconnect with her body and voice. These recordings became a part of Katarina’s new work that she’ll present at the CTM festival in a collaborative concert with the digital artist Alex Guevara within a project titled Rybachka.

Mariana Berezovska: The first time we spoke, shortly before the release of Tysha, the feeling of dread and uneasiness could already be sensed in your work and your words. We talked about the pain you constantly feel for Ukraine. Tysha was released just two weeks before russia invaded Ukraine, and you premiered it at Kyiv’s ∄ club in February 2022. How was this concert, and what kind of feeling did you get from the audience and the city back then?

Katarina Gryvul: The release concert is one of my best memories that will remain with me forever. It was my first performance in Ukraine, and the support and feedback from the audience were simply incredible. There was a sense of unity but also a sense of anxiety. I felt like this was a moment of calm before the storm. After my performance, many embassies began to leave Kyiv, and the air was charged with urgency and anticipation. All evening I could not think about anything else. So this day was extremely significant but also very sad for me.

MB: The title of this album is translated as ‘silence.’ The theme is connected to the solitude you first found during the pandemic. Does it also reflect a personal retrospection experienced during this time?

KG: I wrote most of the album during the pandemic, but it has a deeper meaning. The pain and restlessness I felt for what had been happening in Ukraine before the full-scale invasion are also there. I’m not particularly eager to describe what my music is about. I feel like there’s no need to talk about music because you can take away from the listener something that your music could awaken in them without your prescription through words. Music should speak for itself. I wrote a free verse for the album, and these are the only words that can describe it.

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