This is a subject I’ve been wanting to write about for a while now but hadn’t gotten around to it until now. Since the Russia/Ukraine war is still going on, I guess this is as good of a time as any. No matter which way you look at it, to say that the Russian/Ukrainian war has generated strong feelings on either side is perhaps the understatement of the year.
Being in music PR especially over the past year, I’ve found some interesting dynamics regarding the feelings surrounding the war. That doesn’t come simply from sifting through the millions of posts and comments. I’ve had the unique experience of working directly with both Russian and Ukranian artists over the past year.
Now, before I go any further, I want to assure you, that prior to accepting the project from the Russian band, I did respectfully inquire and then found out that thy were in fact, dead against the war.
It was very interesting talking with this band as they reside in a country whose government engaged in unprovoked attacks against Ukraine. We won’t get into the devastation caused by Russian troops. Most everyone is aware-enough of what has gone on. In speaking with the Russian clients, they spoke a bit about how many members of the artistic communities are in fact afraid to be outspoken in their anti-war viewpoints for fear of arrest or worse.
Let’s side track for a moment…
Some time ago, I made a Facebook post asking people’s opinions regarding supporting Russian artists despite the war. Many of the individuals who replied said they had no problem with supporting Russian artists and that they viewed them simply as fellow members of the creative community. In this case, we’re talking about the “goth industrial” community. Interestingly, a couple of individuals gave simple answers of “No” without further explanation.
There were a few individuals who stated that they would support Russian artists but only if they knew if the artists were for or against the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Here’s where it gets really interesting…..
Beyond combing through social media posts, interviews or website content, how is one supposed to find out the artist’s view of the war? And if Russian artists are not publicly speaking about the war for fear of retaliation or punishment by their government, how could this information be found? Perhaps by engaging in respectful, civil conversation with an artist you are interested in? Maybe. That’s how I found out my clients were opposed to the war.
Now… I also had the fortune of working with a Ukrainian ebm/industrial band. Interestingly, we were promoting a single they’d written called “Get Out” which was actually composed prior to the arrival of the Russian troops. Communicating with the band was a challenge obviously. I received emails that informed me of anticipated delay or breaks in social media access since my client often had to relocate. In one case, I was old that one of the two members of the band had moved to the other side of Ukraine. But the one I’d been speaking with was right in the center of Kiev. Imagine trying to plan a release while bombs or rockets are a constant immediate threat. I’ll never forget one message I received….
My client told me that they would get back to me once they were able to get out of the bomb shelter. Let that sink in for just a moment.
I’ve been blessed to work with many artists but these two campaigns were definitely two to remember.