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krapka;KOMA: when music has no boundaries

(Raffaella Mezzanzanica – 17 agosto 2020)

Krapka;KOMA is an Ukranian Elektro-Pop female duo formed by Ira Lobanok (krapka) and Alona Kovalenko (KOMA). Both have a jazz background but they definitely prefer to be “limitless in using and playing instruments”.

In the interview below you will discover more about their origins, their music, their latest single and how they have dealt with the Covid-19 lockdown.

Q.: Tell us about yourself. Who are you? Where and when did you meet and how long have you been playing together?

Alona Kovalenko (KOMA): We are Ira Lobanok and Alona Kovalenko. Primarily, Ira is a pianist, and I am a drummer, both coming from a jazz background, but we don’t limit ourselves to only these instruments. As I often say: “In the project ‘Krapka;KOMA’ the dreams of playing any new instrument come true :D”, thus now we also master guitar, trumpet, and vocals, and apply it all in our music. 

We met each other last year while working in the theatre, where we played in the multimedia performance ‘ORPHEUS.UA’ in Lviv, Ukraine. After we started communicating, we found out that for several years before our acquaintance we had always been somewhere close to each other – living in the same neighborhood, hanging out with the same people, visiting the same workshops – but all in different times. Maybe it was kind of destiny 🙂
And the day, when the project was born, is July 7, 2019 – it’s when we first gathered at Ira’s home studio in order to try to make some music together, and actually that very first jam ended up as our first single ¨Asylum¨.

Q.: What about the origins of the name “krapka;KOMA”? Does it have a specific meaning?

Ira Lobanok (krapka): It means “semicolon” in English – we even have that sign between the two words to give a subtle hint. We thought it would be cool to come up with something that consists of the independent parts like a “dot” and a “comma” that can exist separately, but they can also get together and create a “semicolon”. Alona came the other day to the rehearsal saying, I decided I’m going to be KOMA, so I said instantly – I’m krapka then! That’s how it all started.

Q.: At the beginning of July you released your new single, Sugar Moon, feat. Pixi INK and this song was originally thought as a piece of music for a game. How and when have you started thinking this could have been your new single?

Ira Lobanok (krapka): Yeah, so we’ve spent most of the lockdown creating quick uplifting beats which became a soundtrack for a game “Titan Chaser”, however to keep our social media alive we’ve also been posting those beats there. One day Carla Jane Duffy aka Pixi Ink commented under our Quarantine Beat 2 and I’m citing “This is pretty. Would love to sing something over this x” – that’s how it all started 🙂 She created beautiful lyrics, full of hopes and dreams, and recorded a soulful vocal line on top of our instrumental beat. I showed it to Alona and she melted, I absolutely loved it too – the tone of the voice, the phrasing. That’s when we decided to make it official and release “Sugar Moon” as a single together with Pixi Ink. It was released on the 8th of July and became our first international collaboration.

Q.: In the press release, you pointed out that it’s a song “focusing on love, hope and navigating through hard times”. What’s going on? How hard has this surreal 2020 been for you so far?

KOMA: Ufff, I can say that for me it was really hard; I went through dark times inside myself, which due to lockdown caused excessive self-analysis. And ¨Sugar Moon¨ somehow helped me to survive that period, as it was our first international collaboration ever, and such a pleasant one! I really liked its lyrics and vibe, and enjoyed working on the song.

Krapka: I mean, I was crashed by the fact that our tour to Europe and EP-release party in Kyiv were cancelled, it took me a month to get used to the new reality, but after I did, it was quite a productive period for me actually. I got a lot of teaching jobs, I’m teaching management and marketing for musicians that just began their career and also I teach Music Production in Ableton Live. I also got into voice acting – totally new experience for me, but after recording about 150 phrases for this game character in my home-studio (or shall I say, in my cupboard covered with acoustic foam, haha?) I really got into it and I’d like to keep improving that skill – it’s fun!

Q.: I’m definitely addicted to art covers. Who is the artist behind the cover of Sugar Moon?

KOMA: Hehe, we always joke that people are often more interested in our visual art pieces than in our music 😀 Well, the artist is from Russia (his profile in Instagram is @wolfmagnum), and he’s been accompanying us since the beginning of the project. Besides covers, he also draws comics-like mini stories for us through which the life and adventures of Krapka;KOMA are told to the audience. Currently there are 8 mini-comics, which will be included in the printed collection, and a new volume is going to be published every half a year. 

Q.: You are also main-stays of the Sofar Sounds community in Ukraine. What is it? And how has this helped you to become better known as artists?

Ira Lobanok: Sofar Sounds is an international music events organisation that creates small performances in unique locations in over 300 cities around the world. I became a city leader of Sofar Sounds in Lviv in December 2018 and we’ve organised 14 music events since then. The idea of Sofar Sounds is to give an opportunity to emerging musicians to perform in front of the audience that really listens, without talking, eating and clinking beer glasses. The events are secret and the audience doesn’t know which three artists are going to be performing that night, the location is also revealed only 24h before the event. Sofar Sounds Lviv is run by volunteers – everyone contributes what they can and is happy to do in order to create those vibrant and cosy music evenings.

Thanks to Sofar Sounds, we could perform in Malaga and in Madrid when we went to Spain this winter – always a lovely audience and it’s great that there is always a packed room of music lovers, even if you’re new in the city and nobody has ever heard of you. At Sofar Sounds people don’t care about big names, they come for the sake of the cosy atmosphere and to be surprised by the artists they’ve probably never heard before.

Q.: Have you already started making plans to face the post Covid-19 world? Is there anything you had to put on hold but you really wish to go ahead with?

Ira Lobanok: Actually, we had a little self-organised tour to the UK and two concerts in Berlin postponed due to the epidemic. We were quite sad at first, as we’ve planned it for a long time and really looked forward to it. We also put our third music video on hold as we were frankly just not in the mood to release it in April. Finally, we decided to release this music video in August, as we were encouraged by one of the PR managers we had a consultation with. So for now the plan is to release the music video at the end of August, then our first EP at the end of September and start working on the new songs until it’s possible to perform again, because to be honest we miss our touring and living-on-the-road lifestyle the most and looking forward for it to restart asap.

Follow krapka;KOMA:

www.krapkakomamusic.com

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