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Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 2006 | SELF

Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada | SELF
Established on Jan, 2006
Band World Rock


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Zrada (CD Review)"

Zrada (Independent)

Winnipeg Free Press


With the current popularity of so-called gypsy-punk music and touring combos like Gogol Bordello, it makes sense that our city -- with Ukrainians making up 15 per cent of the population -- would have a band with a repertoire based on its ethnic ancestry. This youthful Ukrainian sextet's debut has just the right amount of cultural tang mixed with enough rocking gusto to make both you and your Baba want to fill up on oniony, fried perogies, plump holopchi and garlicky kielbasa and polka around the room.

Everything is in Ukrainian so we can't tell what leader Andriy Michalchyshyn is on about, but it doesn't take a linguist to understand the persuasive vibe behind superb tunes like Give Me Liquor and The Cliff!

The mix of traditional violin, flute and trumpet next to Dobryan Tracz's near-metal guitar riffs is invigorating without sounding the least bit trendy.

4 stars out of 5.

Jeff Monk

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 26, 2009 D2 - Winnipeg Free Press

"Zrada (CD Review)"

Zrada (Independent)

Stylus Magazine

Formed in 2005, local act Zrada Cultural Academy is an earth-shattering mix of traditional Ukrainian folk, metal, ska and punk rock. Held together by soulful Balkan and Slavic melodies leading into epic guitar shreds, Zrada’s album is 16 tracks of harmonious majesty, intricately crafted with raucous rock attitude. Beginning with the introductory question, “Who Was Born In?” Zrada moves into “Give Me Liquor” a lament about excess. Songs like “Dark Skies” and “Quick Waters” are melodically grandiose, while songs like “Parade” and “In the Woods is a Path” are fantastic forays into fantasy metal. One of the best cuts “The Young Writer” begins with a punk rock opening before diving into a funk section, all the while held together with traditional dance sensibilities. Although the entire album is entirely in Ukrainian, you don’t have to have a command of the Slavic language to enjoy it immensely. Mark my words, this album is absolutely incredible and a fitting testament to Winnipeg’s incredible music scene and rich Ukrainian history. (Independent, www.zrada-music.com)

Kent Davies - Stylus Magazine

"Loud, proud, no polkas allowed"

They've got the traditional accordion, violin and sopilka (shepherd's flute).

Their names are Andriy, Taras, Mikhas, Andrijko, Dobryan and Nick.

But if, after a few shots of vodka, you go staggering up to this young local band and request a song typically played at Ukrainian socials -- like the rollicking polka Fly Kozak! or the novelty tune It's Fun to be Ukrainian -- they'll tell you to go suck a cabbage roll.

Don't bother asking them to turn down the volume, either.

"It's not a wedding band," declares drummer Nick Luchak of the band Zrada.

The group's six members were all born in Canada, but grew up steeped in Ukrainian culture, language and religion in Winnipeg's northern neighbourhoods. Two of them, violinist Mikhas Chabluk and bassist Taras Babiak, are members of the red-booted Rusalka dance troupe.

Zrada is a loud, aggressive ethno-fusion act that melds Slavic and Balkan melodies and Ukrainian lyrics with rock, punk, reggae and ska.

It performs a few traditional folk songs, but it also does a Uke-punk version of Waltzing Matilda.

"We're a folk-rock band," says main songwriter, lead singer and trumpet player Andriy Michalchyshyn, 26, who is more apt to perform in sloppy camouflage shorts than Cossack gear.

"We're not taking requests, we're playing our music," adds the tall, dark-haired vocalist. "Ukrainian music is typecast as, like, polkas and perogies... We're going against what people expect Ukrainian music to be. It's not traditional. It's much more in-your-face."

Zrada is set to perform Thursday night -- Ukrainian New Year's Day, based on the Julian calendar -- at the King's Head pub. The show is a casual Malanka, a New Year's celebration that can take place any time around mid-January.

It will include a midnight countdown, at which time Zrada promises to play a mashup of Auld Lang Syne and an age-old Ukrainian song that proclaims "The old year is passing."

On Jan. 23, the band plays a more formal Malanka in Toronto. Michalchyshyn admits he was amazed to get that gig, because such dinner-dance fêtes usually employ conventional wedding-style bands.

"We never expected to be invited to play at a Malanka," he says. "I spent a good half-hour on the phone going, 'Are you sure? Have you heard our music?'"

It turned out that the organizers, a Ukrainian youth association, had seen Zrada at Toronto's Ukrainian Bloor Street Festival this past September and knew what to expect.

Zrada formed in 2005, but didn't solidify its current lineup until last year.

It's a part-time pursuit, since the six, ranging in age from early 20s to early 30s, all have "straight" lives. Michalchyshyn is a high school teacher. Luchak is an aspiring graphic designer. Babiak and guitarist Dobryan Tracz are scientists, Chabluk is a pharmacy student and accordionist Andrijko Semaniuk is a commerce student.

In October, Zrada released its debut independent CD, which earned four stars out of five from Free Press reviewer Jeff Monk. The self-titled, 16-song disc, available at Into the Music, War On Music or www.cdbaby.com, has earned stylistic comparisons to a British band called The Ukrainians and to New York Gypsy-punk band Gogol Bordello.

In September at the Garrick Theatre, the Zrada boys got to open for a famous ensemble from Ukraine that they greatly admire, the "Carpathian ska" band Haydamaky. One of that band's albums is called Ukraine Calling, presumably a reference to the seminal punk album London Calling by The Clash.

The two bands hung out and talked about the dream of Zrada touring Ukraine and playing European festivals. "They were encouraging, but they gave us a lot of constructive criticism," says Michalchyshyn.

Haydamaky is named after 18th-century Cossack and peasant rebels. Zrada's name also expresses rebellion. It means "treason" or "betrayal."

"It's a very strong word," says the singer. "It's showing that we're different. It's not a happy-go-lucky polka-band name."

The album cover of London Calling may have depicted The Clash's bassist smashing his instrument against the stage, but Zrada's CD art includes "a demented Kozak smashing a bandura (Ukrainian lute) over his head."

Reactions to Zrada's local shows have been mixed. Some elderly members of the tight-knit Ukrainian community have walked out "because it's not their bag and it's loud," says Michalchyshyn.

On the other hand, "some older people are very pleased that we're doing something in Ukrainian."

As a child, Michalchyshyn says, "I probably knew Ukrainian before I knew English." His songs, with titles such as Dark Skies and Winter, often employ nature imagery, which is inescapable in traditional Ukrainian lyrics and poetry. He is often asked why he doesn't write in English.

"To me, (Ukrainian) is more poetic," he says.

"When your culture is so ingrained, so deep, there are so many emotions there. It's impossible to ignore. If you can connect that to something creative, it's so fulfilling. It's the ultimate expression of who you are." - Winnipeg Free Press


2011 - "Ethnomachina"

2009 - "Zrada"

2006 - "Return of the Wagon" (EP)



Cast, wrought and hammered into design as an antidote to the state of kitsch-driven Ukrainian music that has filled social halls for the last half century, Zrada plugs into an energy that unleashes unbridled fury and liberates Ukrainian music from cliches and stereotypes.

This ethno-cultural maelstrom of Balkan and Slavic melodies fused with the rawness of old-school punk-rock is something to be experienced. Brought together by heritage, love of good music, ancestral identity, debauchery and a dying wish to see Montana, the Zrada machine is firing on all cylinders.

With the release of its eponymous debut in September 2009, Zrada demonstrated that Eastern European music can be powerful, entertaining, and meaningful. The album wove tales of fate, romance, longing and mayhem into a tapestry of surreal intensity. Zrada was able to create a sound that was truly unique with their debut album which was characterized by intricate melodies, wild energy, and emotional elegance. To this day, the track "Natasha" is still a staple on late night Romanian television. In support of the album, Zrada toured with Ukraine's TNMK, Oleh Skrypka, and Haydamaky, who introduced the band to new audiences throughout North America.

It is this raw energy of their live show which Zrada captured in June 2011's "Ethnomachina." The six tracks of raw power and mayhem, tap into the energy of a rowdy crowd which Zrada injects into their Ethnomachine. The opening track "Magic Mirror" hits you like the blunt side of an axe, combining hopeful imagery and rebellion; while the back swing of the blade is "Song is Yours", a tune that combines true 1970s British punk with Ukrainian folk melodies. A striking and bold rendition of Vasyl Symonenko's "Ukrainian Lion" demonstrates the significance of Zrada's ancestral homeland. The song is a love letter to the city of Lviv which is a place close to the hearts of Zrada's musicians and songwriters.

Where the debut opened the door for Zrada, "Ethnomachina" kicks it in as Zrada takes a leap into dominion of the dance floor and mosh-pit.

Following "Ethnomachina," the band went on a mandatory hiatus to invest in Alaska Airlines, save democracy, and dabble in shipbuilding - all to a great success. While in hibernation, Zrada sadly bid farewell to bassist and founding member Taras Babiak, who joined departed drummer Steve Sirski. Both left to pursue other opportunities but continue to be active in a variety of musical projects. Not to be diminished, the boys welcomed talented bassist Alex Derlago into their fold. His inspired and unique bass playing have propelled Zrada's music into a higher realm and will leave Geddy Lee crying.

Like the hum of a powerful machine turning on, Zrada's relentless efficiency and strength flows through its unique blend of parts. When something works well, you can feel it - the machine is burning with a revived sense of purpose and passion.

The Ethnomachine is back.


Andriy Michalchyshyn: vocals, guitar, trumpet, sopilka (flute), trembita (shepard's mountain horn),  tsymbaly (dulcimer)

Andrijko Semaniuk: accordion, vocals

Mikhas Chabluk: violin, vocals

Dobryan Tracz: guitar, vocals

Alex Derlago: bass

Nick Luchak: drums and percussion

Band Members