Ptakh_Jung (photo by Kostyantyn Strilec)

Ukrainian duo Ptakh_Jung discuss making experimental electronica and writing movie scores

Ptakh_Jung is an electronic music Ukrainian duo based in Kyiv, made of keyboardist Anton Dehtiarov and guitar player Volodymyr Babushkin. The band was formed in 2016 and scored a handful of movies, theatre plays, ballets, art performances since then. Their latest EP ‘Black Period’, released last year, was listed among the best EP’s of 2018 in Ukrainian music media.

It all began when the two were playing in the band called Viranda. Anton played keys and Volodymyr took up a guitar. When the band broke up, both of them started solo projects – Anton used pseudonym Ptakh while Volodymyr named his alias Jung. Since the two were still friends, they decided to jam for fun and the result became their first live show under the name of Ptakh_Jung.

Ptakh_Jung (photo by Vitalij Mariash)
Ptakh_Jung (photo by Vitalij Mariash)

The duo collaborates extensively with Svitlana Reinish, also known as VJ Reinish. She does visuals for most of the band’s shows. “We blindly trust her.” – the guys said. “She creates things that are seen on the screen behind our backs. She feels the vibe of our music very well so we can just send her the sketches. and that’s it. She does her visuals live too – she prepares footage for each of our track and mixes them live so every show is unique”.

In 2017 Ptakh_Jung scored their first movie, a documentary called ‘Invisible Battalion’ which was screened in many countries: “our music is quite cinematographic on itself and we have friends in the industry, so few years ago they asked us to make a soundtrack for the film. It was 6 short stories about Ukrainian women at war made by three women directors”. Another score that Ptakh_Jung wrote was for the documentary ‘No Obvious Signs’, directed by Alina Gorlova. The movie is currently screened in various European festivals and it was awarded at Kyiv international documentary festival DOCU Days and at DOC Leipzig.

Since ‘Invisible Battalion’ they did scores for about 10 Ukrainian movies and they say that each time is different. “It’s always about the film itself. We begin with trying to understand its basic mood and the atmosphere. Many ideas come up during the first viewing. When working with archive films like “A man and an ape” you sometimes have a wider range of possible solutions because there are no limitations, restrictions or director’s suggestions – that makes the process more complicated”.

Ptakh_Jung (photo by Vitalij Mariash)
Ptakh_Jung (photo by Vitalij Mariash)

Volodymyr reveals that the aforementioned “A man and an ape” was his favourite: “we had absolute freedom since it was a silent film. That’s a real luck for composer, isn’t it?”. Anton did a complete re-score for Dziga Vertov’s “Man with a Movie Camera” which he considers his favourite: “it was a challenge to pick the best solution for music concept which would fit with the images. It was exciting. The filmed was screened alongside my live performance in Pokrovsk and Kyiv. I also composed the music for the “Kod Mista” project in Eastern Ukraine (Pokrovsk is one of them)”.

When asked whether they prefered playing live to composing in the studio, Volodymyr said that the studio work is more routine and now he enjoys playing live more, while Anton said he enjoys both equally: “as an electronic musician I am used to spending a lot oftime composing and producing in the studio. Mixing is not what I particularly enjoy, although I love composing and playing it live afterwards”.

Their latest EP “Black Period” was released few months ago and it’s stated that ““three of four tracks of the album emerged on the intersection of different kinds of arts”. The band says that the title track was initially a 1.5 hour long improvisation, played at Olexa Mann’s exhibition, which was rewritten as a 10 minute composition. The track “Monika” was made as a short song for a movie and the duo developed it fully some time after. The guys think that the song that is closest to the primary version is ‘Object’. “We have written it for a special event at Kyiv’s short film festival callled ‘Sound and Vision’. The idea of the event was to select an existing short movie, make a soundtrack for it and perform it live. We’ve chosen ‘Object.”

Ptakh_Jung (photo by Kostyantyn Strilec)
Ptakh_Jung (photo by Kostyantyn Strilec)

Now Ptakh_Jung expect to expand their music abroad and their first step is playing a showcase festival ‘MENT’ in Slovenia. “At the beginning, it’s really hard to grab the attention of the right promoters, journalists, booking agents, etc. These people are overloaded with tremendous amount of music and musicians. The point is not only about the great content but good management, personal contacts and some bit of luck too.”

Ptakh_Jung (photo by Vitalij Mariash)
Ptakh_Jung (photo by Vitalij Mariash)

“Another point that prevents some Ukrainian bands from going abroad is undeveloped music industry which could potentially push and promote our musicians worldwide. We have to do everything on our own and build the industry on the way”.

The band online:

Ptakh_Jung on Facebook.

Ptakh_Jung on SoundCloud.

Ptakh_Jung on YouTube.