The drum & bass and bass music community has joined forces once again to create one of largest charity V/A albums we’ve ever seen to raise money for the Ukrainian Red Cross Society in light of the current humanitarian crisis happening right now.
Artists ranging from Billain to Calibre, Noisia to Nu:Tone, Mandidextrous to Malux plus many Ukraianan acts such as Limewax, Dub Head and Warm Roller have all contributed music to Together With Ukraine, a remarkable 136 track album.
Complete with 30 bespoke digital art pieces, curated by renown graphic and cover artist Uno, the project was brought together in just over five days by Ukrainian promoter Vlad Yaremchuk and UK promoter Rhys Bainham who has been based in the region for the last year.
The size, scale and speed of how quickly the album was created has never been seen before and matches the urgency of the situation as the Russian leader has continued to order troops into Ukraine and airstrikes on its key cities since Thursday February 24.
“Action is happening in Kyiv every day. Most people are sticking to homes or staying in bomb shelters, basements or the metro stations,” says Vlad who relocated to a town in the Zhytomyr region 140 km west of the Ukraine capital just days before the invasions began.
“The amount of bombings is worrying. It’s hard to explain it. There’s a large amount of anti-air defence in the city but the Ukrainian troops still have to fight a lot. The major tactic, instead, seems to be bombing the hell out of civilians. There are other cities that aren’t so protected like Mariupol where there is currently no communications, no heating no electricity and they’re not letting humanitarian help do its job.”
Vlad describes his own personal situation as experiencing “survivors guilt” and says that if you look out of the window in his parent’s house, you could convince yourself there’s no war. “It feels weird for me to feel relatively safe,” he tells us. “I guess the best thing is for me to divert my attention into doing something.”
After suffering two days of intense anxiety worry, “doomscrolling for 14 hours a day”, Vlad called up Rhys and started working on the Together With Ukraine album. The response from the industry blew him away.
“We are using our resources to talk to the artists and agents and get everyone involved,” says Vlad who organised and ran the 600,000 cap Atlas Festival in Ukraine last year. Refering to himself as “a cog in a much bigger machine”, he’s quick to highlight how much support he and Rhys have had from friends and industry peers to help make the album happen including his partner Diana and friends Jan, Piotr and Bohdan plus key labels such as Critical Music, Metalheadz, Shogun Audio and Hospital Records who enabled him to access to the contributing artists and their music.
“I’m crazy about this music, I’ve been listening to drum & bass for over half my life now and I’ve never regreted my love for it. It’s given me some of the best friends I’ve had, some of the best experiences I’ve had and now this album is the biggest thing I have ever achieved. It solidifies everything I’ve stood for and been passionate about.”
Vlad is even more passionate about his homeland than he is D&B. He pours out love for his country and his people and explains how it’s not about the donations and the relief that the album will raise, but the awareness of the situation and how he hopes it will influence more positive actions.
“Donations are amazing, but the main thing is to encourage awareness and get people to share the truth, read what is happening, go to demonstrations and contact your local politicians and campaign for stronger sanctions,” he explains. “We’re doing the best we can and we urge the world to do the same.”
Explaining how the album helped him regain his sanity, got rid of his headaches and helped him sleep, Vlad tells us that all day-to-day work and conventional life is on pause while everyone tries to find ways to protect their families, their people and help with humanitarian rescues and repairs. Applying his industry skills and bringing over 120 artists together for this 136 track album enables to him push his country’s message as far and wide as possible.
“We have no clue what’s going to happen in an hour or a day or a week,” he explains. “The fact the world is watching and trying to help provides some type of relief. I have faith that Ukraine will have some of its best times ever when this is over. The whole world will know how beautiful this country is and how strong our people are.”
One person who already understands how strong Ukrainian people are is Rhys Bainham who has been living in Ukraine for over year, having fallen in love with the country, culture and people. He too has been overwhelmed by the support for the album.
“It’s honestly been pretty mind-blowing,” says Rhys. “We can’t thank everyone enough for getting behind it so heavily, particularly on such short notice. It goes to show what an incredible community exists within D&B (and wider bass music), as well as how much of an impact the current crisis is having on so many people. Everyone is just eager to help in any way they can. Special shout-out to Halogenix too, who was one of the first artists to get involved, and was instrumental in getting a ton of other artists on board early on.”
From Halogenix to Workforce, S.P.Y, A-Sides, Zero T, Ed:It, Black Sun Empire & Nymfo, Annix & Simula, Bop, Flaco, London Elektricity, Quartz, Modestep, Bukez Finezt, Monty, Monrroe, NC-17, DJ Marky & Makoto, Cauzer, Winslow and sooooo many more, this is beyond a ton and – following the great streaming fundraisers of 2020 and major charity VAs last year such as the Bou-initiated DNB 4 Peace collection – yet another reflection of just how compassionate, unified and thoughtful the bass community can be when there are those in serious need.
Together With Ukraine is out now. As well as 136 tracks, it comes complete with 30 pieces of bespoke digital art curated by Uno. All revenue raised will go directly to the Ukrainian Red Cross Society. Buy it now from Bandcamp.