Meet The Band: Motanka

Napalm Records

This week’s featured Meet The Band artist is the Ukrainian group Motanka, whose self-titled debut blends metal, folk and electronica. Bassist Sergii Hodik introduces us to his band.

Chad Bowar: Give us a brief history of Motanka.
Sergii Hodik: Motanka was formed in November 2015 in Lutsk (Ukraine) by four musicians: Victor Verba (Zhalnin), Dmytro Diachenko (Svarog), Anatolii Zhalnin and Sergii Khodorchuk (Hodik). The name Motanka comes from the traditional Ukrainian knitting doll motanka that ancient Ukrainians used for protection and for communication with ancestors. We played as a band before, but it was in a different genre. When we found our own sound we decided to take this name, because Motanka is more associated with our music.

Describe the songwriting process for your self-titled album.
A lot of parts for the songs were created a long time ago, but when we started to play as Motanka all of them got together to the songs you can hear in the album. Almost all songs were written in Lutsk (our hometown). Before the recording process we practically had the full album, but when we came back to Ukraine from Germany Victor wrote two more songs (“Verba” and “Bosymy Nizhkamy”) and then we put them on the album as well.

In the west of Ukraine we have mountains called Carpathian, and people called Molfars live there (its like a shaman). They can cure people, disperse the clouds and can predict the future. And one of them was Molfar Nechay. He was a really strong Molfar. He even knew his death day. And this man inspired us for the song “Des’ u Horakh.” “Fire Burns” was created with imagination of our ancestors being connected with souls near fire in the forest. “Oy ty moya zemle” is about the motherland, about boundless sky, native land, joyful sun and dear Mom. “Air” reminds us about simple but important things that we sometimes forget to set a value on, like “precious air.” I think it’s better to say that those songs were born in the right time and the right place.

What will be your strongest memory of the recording of the album?
Several times when we played “Fire Burns” some strange things happened. The recording studio was not an exception. There were no windows in the studio and we couldn’t see the weather outside. And when we started playing this song, we looked to Gerrit (our sound engineer), he was behind the big glass by the mixing console, and we saw water going through this window glass! And when we got outside, we saw the strong storm which started to flood the studio. Interesting fact that nothing like that had ever happened in this building for more than 20 years.

How would you characterize its style/sound?
We don’t want to give a certain name to the genre we play, because it’s like to “hang a label.” But we call it Mystic Metal.

What lyrical subjects do you cover?
We sing about simple but important things for a human. Despite the fact our songs are mostly written in Ukrainian, people who don’t speak our language still understand the message that we try to convey.

How did you come to sign with Napalm Records?
When we played Wacken Open Air, a manager from a famous German booking agency liked our music. He offered us a booking contract and also presented us as a band to Napalm Records. After we sent our record to them, they immediately answered that they they wanted to work with us. Actually we had already sent our demo to different labels before, and some of them really wanted to work with us. But we were waiting for a perfect one that matches our music, and that was Napalm Records.

What are your goals and expectations for the album?
We feel that this music should be heard in the world. This album is like our child, so a really important thing that we want to share is this energy which goes from the depth of our hearts and from the ages of Ukraine culture. We realize that this album is very special.

What has been your most memorable Motanka live show?
I think the best show was in our hometown Lutsk. It was a long journey from the point where we decided to make a concert with theater to the sold out show. We made this gig ourselves. Our wives and friends were helping us, even on the stage as actors. Victor’s wife even sang a one song (“Oy Liuli”). We played in the Drama Theater where we used interesting decorations and around 40 actors were performing on stage. I will remember that concert as a sweet dream, it was really great show. BTW we are planning to present the full live video from that concert, I think you will like it!

What are your upcoming show/tour plans?
This summer we will play Ukrainian festivals. Of course we want to share our music by live shows in the whole world, but it takes some time. A couple of big concerts are to be announced soon, we also hope to go on tour around Europe later and then we’ll see.

How did you get started in music?
When I was 15 years old my father presented me my first acoustic guitar. The biggest influence I got from Metallica. When I was listening to the …And Justice For All album I was thinking, “How they can do this with their guitars, they are like ‘speaking’ with each other with those riffs.” So I started to play covers with my friends. Victor, Dmytro and Anatolii were playing in the room right next to mine in the rehearsal building and they also played Metallica – that’s how we met. We played for some time together. We tried different styles and in a few years we came to the point when Motanka was created/

Who were your early influences and inspirations?
As I said before Metallica was the band who made me play guitar and compose. But also I took a lot of inspiration from Limp Bizkit. They introduced me to heavy music. Sepultura, Death, Soulfly, System of a Down, Linkin Park – all of them I was listening to on cassettes. Interesting fact that all the Motanka members have similar taste in music.

What was the first rock/metal concert you attended?
My first metal concert I attended as I was in school. That’s weird to recall it now, because I remember it was brutal death metal bands from Poland and Kyiv. I was 12 years old and everything was in the school concert hall! I was shocked by what was going on on the stage and who are those people with long hair. It was fun. I remember only one name of the band who was there. The band from Kyiv was called Mental Demise.

What’s the best concert you’ve been to?
It was Limp Bizkit concert in Kyiv in 2009! It was a really significant show for me personally. From 2006 to 2009 Limp Bizkit did not even exist, and as I just tried to go to their website I was like, “Oh my God, I can’t believe it!” I read that Wes Borland was back and they would be touring. And you know what? They were going to play in Kyiv in May 2009. I decided that I’m gonna be there no matter what! I think Limp Bizkit was the first nu-metal band who played in Ukraine. I remember the show day. There were a lot of people with red caps there. It was really great that before the performance there was no background music or support bands, just Limp Bizkit family, and Ukrainians, hungry for that kind of music, so there was a lot of energy in that place. Just lights turned off and happiness has begun. Now when I compare this concert with other ones I can say that was the best concert I’ve ever been to.

How’s the heavy music scene in your area of Ukraine?
Honestly, it is not so good. There are a lot of great interesting bands in Ukraine, but all the media and culture are more focused on pop music. Nevertheless, we have bands like Jinjer, 1914, and Stoned Jesus who are touring around the world. We are really happy for them and we do our best to make heavy music develop in Ukraine.

What’s currently in your heavy musical rotation?
Now on my playlist is Amon Amarth – With Oden On Our Side (great for the gym!), Katatonia – Great Cold Distance, Bring Me The Horizon – Sempiternal, Hatebreed, Throwdown – Vendetta, Jinjer – Cloud Factory and Inhale Do Not Breathe, Killswitch Engage – As Daylight Dies, Iron Maiden – The Number Of The Beast, Pink Floyd – Dark Side Of The Moon, Batushka, Tool – 1000 Eyes, Karnivool – Themata, Tesseract and Enter Shikari.

Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
I just want to say that we’re really excited to release our debut album and we appreciate that we can share our music with you guys. Watch our debut music video Verba, it is like a historical movie, listen to our released singles, subscribe to our socials and listen to Motanka!

(interview published June 8, 2019)

Watch Motanka – “Verba”

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