GANNA – Kupala (feat. Julian Sartorius & Tanja Maljartschuk)





Ganna Gryniva’s new solo album KUPALA is released by BERTHOLD records in October 2023. “This album is a summary of my work over the last six years as a solo performer with loops, effects and samples,” says the singer, composer who, with power and emotion, interprets traditional Ukrainian folk music. In her highly regarded previous album HOME she recorded, with the GANNA QUINTET, a more jazz oriented version of the music. “It’s not that I’m moving on,” she explains. These two things are happening at the same time, each within its own music style, but still very much connected by the same Ukrainian folk music roots.”


Ganna, who grew up in Ukraine and came to Germany as a thirteen year old with her parents in 2002, sees Ukrainian culture as the core of her artistic output. She has travelled in Ukraine collecting old songs and visiting folklore archives. In her solo music she presents her discoveries in a new and highly original way. Whilst studying with Michael Schiefel at the Weimar University of Music she learnt the art of looping. She now employs that skill to create evocative and multi-layered songs. “My looping machine has five tracks,” she explains. “On each I can build endless layers that can vary in rhythm, harmony, you name it. For KUPALA, together with London based producer Tomáš Kašpar, I expanded these possibilities even more through the tools of music production.” The composer, supported on some of the tracks by the Swiss drummer Julian Sartorius, never gets carried away with the technology. She allows it to enhance the drive of the music, whether it be in the winter ballad Hanya or the teasing love song Obrutch. “I like the idea of having songs on the album that are life affirming,” says the singer “as in the track Kupala which celebrates the midsummer feast on the longest day of the year at the start of the harvest season, during which people jump over fire with flowers in their hair.”


Two tracks on this album can also be heard in the highly acclaimed documentary film “When Spring Came to Bucha” which deals with Russian war crimes in the Ukrainian town Bucha following the invasion. Mila Teshaieva, one of the film’s directors, was so impressed by Ganna’s music that she included versions of Lebidonka – “about Cossacks defending their homeland whilst those at home pray they come back alive”, and Mistoa haunting love song. “The film is very powerful. It shakes you and makes you incredibly sad. But not only that. It’s much more about the strength that people in Ukraine have and how they help each other rebuild their lives after the terrors of the occupation,” says the singer.


Together with filmmaker Peter Bräunig, Gryniva has also just finished working on her own documentary film Spivanka about her travels in Ukraine in 2018 “interviewing grandmothers, singing to me, and telling stories about their lives. The film gets to the heart of the folklore music, the old men and women who remember and pass on the traditional songs, and perhaps to seeing Ukrainian traditional music in the context of understanding independent Ukrainian identity.” Spivanka was chosen for the film selection at the WOMEX music expo 2023 in A Coruña.


Ganna admits that KUPALA might surprise her ardent fans in the jazz scene, but she is also “continuing with work on new music with the GANNA QUINTET.” The solo album is no more or less than a confirmation of her commitment, versatility and brilliance.


Ian Bild, August 2023