Ukrainian singer who wrote songs as the bombs fell wins fans thanks to UAE radio station

A young Ukrainian singer who wrote music from her building in Kyiv during the first wave of the Russian invasion is about to break into her career after her music was performed in the United Arab Emirates.

Anastasia Khomenko, 21, a songwriter born and raised in the Ukrainian capital, has compiled a 12-track album inspired by the turmoil unfolding in her country.

The musician with a degree in piano and vocals recorded songs in her bedroom using a keyboard and her computer to produce an impressive playlist in Ukrainian and English.

As air raid sirens sounded throughout the city and her neighbors fled to the countryside, Ms Khomenko, her parents and her older brother decided to stay home and wait out the war.

My next song is in the Ukrainian language and describes the experiences of the people of Mariupol who were in the worst situation.

Anastasia Khomenko

Unable to come out at the start of the invasion, the singer drew on her own experiences and those of those around her to write a full album of songs that have since been picked up by Rak Rock Radio, a private online radio station.

“When I released my song, Far, I started looking for radio stations that accepted indie music and came across Rak Rock Radio,” Ms. Khomenko said.

“I didn’t expect to get a response and when I heard they wanted to add me to their rotation playlist I was so happy.

“The music they play is similar to mine – kind of pop rock – so it seems to be going well.

“The situation has been tense for two months here; our city was surrounded and we didn’t know what the future would be.

“The air raid sirens sounded quite regularly and we heard a lot of detonations. We didn’t know if the next one would be close to us or not.

This uncertainty inspired her to write a powerful set of songs, now available on Apple iTunes, Spotify and SoundCloud.

Music inspired by Ukrainians

His single, Far Away, is now on the daily playlist of Rak Rock Radio, a radio station established during the pandemic in 2020.

It plays a selection of classic rock, blues and country songs, as well as music from original unsigned artists.

Listeners tune in from all over the world, with the majority of its audience found in the United Arab Emirates, America and Canada.

Ms. Khomenko hopes the exhibit could help secure a record deal to further her career.

“All the while, when the bombs were going off and people were leaving town, I couldn’t stop thinking about my music,” she said.

“I used to record songs in my own mini-studio at home and continued to do so.

“I wanted to focus on those who didn’t give up in Ukraine, they inspired me to keep going.”

His musical tastes include Ukrainian electro band Go_A, which plays a mix of folk and rock. She is also inspired by foreign artists such as the American group NOFX and solo artists Demi Lovato and Christina Aguilera.

The album has yet to be played on Ukrainian radio stations, but it has been picked up by other online stations, including Phoenix and Amazing Radio.

“I tried to reflect what happened here in my music and my lyrics,” Ms. Khomenko said.

“My next song is in the Ukrainian language and describes the experiences of the people of Mariupol, who were in the worst situation. This music is for them.

“They were forced into horrible conditions. Hopefully this can lift their spirits, inspire them and encourage them not to give up.

“My music describes real situations. If it can help people out of their own difficult situations, I will be happy.

Supporter of unsigned bands

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES.  SEPTEMBER 22, 2020. Phil Richardson who has been hosting quiz nights and booking bands and other artists for 30 years.  (Photo: Antonie Robertson/The National) Reporter: Nick Webster.  Branch: National.

Rak Rock Radio is one of the newest radio stations in the United Arab Emirates and was established in 2020 by Phil Richardson, a Briton who has lived in Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah for 30 years.

He is a strong supporter of unsigned bands and his work in the music industry has helped dozens of artists get their music performed in front of an audience, whether in live venues or on radio shows.

Mr Richardson said it was the story behind the music that encouraged him to play Ms Khomenko on his station after she reached out to him on Twitter in May.

“Anastasia has a great voice, and like many unsigned artists, she sounds just as good as some of the well-known musicians who made it big,” he said.

“It’s a nice margin between succeeding or not, hopefully.

“Anastasia’s story has helped us understand her music. It’s hard to imagine recording songs quietly in a bunker surrounded by Russian tanks and exploding bombs.

“Knowing that she was recording music inside a war-torn country made me want to listen to her more.

“It fits our genre, so we’ve added his new song Far Away to our playlist.”

On average, the station receives approximately 30 demo tapes from emerging artists each week.

With listener numbers on the rise, Mr Richardson has ambitions to secure an FM frequency (and license) in the UAE to reach a wider audience, if he can raise the estimated million dirhams required in start-up costs.

“A few weeks ago, the United Arab Emirates was the number one region for our listeners, so there is a market there,” he said.

“We get new music every day.

“Some are good, some not so good. It could be someone singing in their bedroom and it doesn’t quite sound good for broadcast.

“Anastasia wrote her album in the middle of a war zone, so it means a lot to her.

“We’ve only just added it to our reading list, but the response has been very good so far.”

Updated: 01 June 2022, 09:54

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