Ukraine Fundraiser: Amplifying Reykt
In sequence with our first fundraiser, and in the lead-up to the next on November 25th, we’re handing our platform to a Ukrainian voice with a strong connection to OOST. During Friday’s club night, longtime friend of the club Eugene Malashok – artist name Reykt – is brought over from Kyiv to close down The Arcade.
Words by Yevhenii Malashok and Kos van Erp / Second picture by Nadiya Vasylyeva
Hi Eugene. At the moment of writing you’re still located in Ukraine. Can you tell us a bit about the current situation there? How has it evolved over the past days and weeks?
”Ukraine has made significant progress in de-occupying its territories over the last few months. Being further away from the frontlines, it is difficult for me to imagine what my fellow citizens had to go through. Even reading their testimonies and seeing what Russians left behind is unnerving. Torture, rape, forced deportation, and this gruesome list goes on. Yet the terror spreads far beyond, reaching not only my hometown Kyiv, but also cities in the Western Ukraine like Lviv or Ivano-Frankivsk. Long-range missiles target energy infrastructure, leaving the civilian population all over Ukraine without electricity, water, internet, and heating. Such air strikes happen nearly every week now, so I and my family have experienced the consequences personally. We have been lucky to not be injured, killed or have our homes destroyed. Perhaps these attacks are aimed to frighten civilians, make them give up. Yet continuous shelling of London during WW2 only made its population more united and furious. I can clearly see the same happening with Ukrainians. We may be living in blackouts, but not in darkness.”
How has the situation affected daily life and culture? We hear a lot that people, organizations and cultural spaces try to stick to their core activities as much as possible.
”Daily life has changed dramatically. On the one hand, there are people who try to live on. New businesses are opening up, real estate is being purchased, refurbishing goes on. It is rather hilarious to hear a neighbour drilling his wall, while you are hiding in the bathroom because the air strike alarm went off. On the other hand, some people frown upon those having fun in the cafes or other entertainment venues. Both points of view (and everything in between) is justified. In my opinion, if we all just sat at home in shock and fright, russia would win the psychological warfare. Enjoying our lives should not be a reason for shame, as long as we remember who we owe this opportunity to – Ukrainian soldiers – and contribute as much as we can. Especially when any of our lives might end very abruptly thanks to a rocket launched by terrorists.”
”Literally every respectable club, festival or bar I know of has transformed into a hub, shelter, volunteer collective or something similar. They have cooked food for soldiers or people who were not able to feed themselves, weaved masking nets for snipers, bought, transported, repaired and painted vehicles, raised money for military or humanitarian aid and so on. Acquaintances of mine, who formerly organized seriously banging raves, now are collaborating directly with Ukrainian Military Intelligence on producing state of the art air drones.”
Despite horrific crimes and actions by russia on a daily basis, public attention seems to have reached a plateau. There’s constant coverage in Western media, but that initial peak in urgency seems to have dipped as we often see with longer running conflicts. How do you think we in the Netherlands can keep this subject at the forefront? What aspect of the situation do you think demands most attention right now?
”We are deeply grateful to Western governments and citizens who continue to stand by our side. I think it is essential to differentiate what kind of support and rhetoric Ukraine truly needs: to push russians out of our sovereign territory. Sometimes I feel that we receive support just enough to hold on. However, the last 9 months have shown an increase in trust and respect from our western allies. I am sure they were surprised by how much we did with how little they gave us, so they felt enough confidence to give us more. Whether someone likes it or not, Ukraine needs military support. I hate war, I condemn violence, but our enemy does not want to stop this war via diplomacy. I tend to arrive at the conclusion that russia and the majority of its population only speak and understand the language of violence and fear. So it is long overdue that the West stops living in a fantasy bubble.”
”In my view, simply mentioning and discussing Ukraine is already good. “Do not stop talking about Ukraine.” As long as people have enough trustworthy information, they are likely to make up their minds in favor of supporting Ukraine. Do it to save innocent Ukrainian children, do it for elderly population who have nowhere else to go, do it for orphaned animals, or do it for our brave soldiers. It doesn’t really matter to me where you stand on the spectrums of pacifism or world conspiracy theories. Do your research and share it. Donate some if you can afford it. Eliminate useless narratives about two sides of this war. The only second side that could be there is our corrupt government, but in no way it justifies russian aggression. Even that will eventually be dealt with, I hope.”
”I should add that, naturally, it is not just Ukraine that needs public attention. It just so happened that it got more coverage and resonance than other countries or communities that have suffered from autocratic regimes. Instead of speculating about the reasons for that, we should all do more and be less cynical. The unprovoked war started by russia made me more concerned about other situations around the world. My former ignorance is being replaced with a conscious desire to help or at least spread the information. However, being a Ukrainian, seeing to the end of this war is the priority for me.”
On November 25th – if all goes well with authority clearance – you’re coming over to represent Ukraine through your music. How has the war affected your sentiment towards DJing and other forms of culture? Has it changed the way you listen, play, select and take in?
”It would not be an exaggeration to say that the war has totally paralyzed me in many ways. I am not coping with stress easily, so by March 2022 I was already devastated. Never have I felt like this in my life. Listening to music, let alone digging or playing, became something unnecessary. Gradually, it got better; I guess humans can get used to anything when they have no choice. Nevertheless, my interaction with music is different now. Most obviously, I stopped listening to music produced by russian artists. There are very few exceptions: I could count them on the fingers of one hand. Although it might seem almost chauvinistic, I am not claiming it to be the right way. This decision flows out of my belief that art is not detached from politics. Moreover, I think one should be extremely cautious praising russian artists who seemingly condemn war, when in fact too many of them are insincere, to put it mildly. To perform as a Ukrainian DJ on a fundraiser makes my art political. Given the context, it is exactly the purpose I currently need to do my best. And I hope it might cue you to check out many more talented Ukrainian artists, whom I look up to.”