When the young band appeared in front of a crowd of around 1,000 people in Kyiv’s Sentrum club on Dec. 8, their members didn’t show they were surprised by its size.
Instead, Dasha Pugacheva calmly took her place on drums, Ira Luzina opened a suitcase with Panivalkova inscription on it and pulled out a percussion instrument called cabasa and Ira Kulshenko started playing the ocarina, a type of vessel flute.
“We didn’t expect so many new people to come,” Kulshenko who sings, plays keyboard and other instruments said in an interview to the Kyiv Post on Dec. 20. Luzina, another band’s vocalist, said that there are usually just a few new people at their concerts.
“Many people came because of the music video for a song “Let Me.” It’s pleasant to see that music video gives such a push (to the band’s popularity),” Kulshenko said.
Panivalkova released their latest music video “Let Me” in November, and it went viral almost immediately, reaching more than 80,000 views on the YouTube.
In the video, the girls perform in astonishing traditional costumes. As they sing, someone’s invisible hands start slowly taking off their clothes, leaving them in skin-colored bodysuits by the end of the song.
The band used the same thing for their concert in Sentrum: In the middle of the performance the band members started to untie the strings that held their embroidered dresses together, transforming them from long dresses stretching almost to the floor to mini skirts. They threw pieces of clothes into the crowd, and the few children who were at the concert got on their parents’ shoulders to catch them.
Pugacheva, Luzina and Kulshenko founded their band more than three years ago on International Women’s Day – March 8. They said that the idea to create the band came to them spontaneously, when Kulshenko and Luzina decided to rehearse together. Both of them said they didn’t strived to write a hit, unlike many of their colleagues in the music industry. They just experimented with a sound.
The girls named their band Panivalkova after their common friend Olga Valkova. Pani in Ukrainian stands for “miss” or “missis.”
The band sings in four languages – apart from Russian and Ukrainian there are also songs in English and French. Their first album consisted of just five vocal-driven songs with minimal instruments. In contrast, their latest songs are played on various instruments, including quite unusual ones like flex-a-tone, which is a flexible metal sheet suspended in a wire frame ending in a handle, and cabasa – a percussion instrument that has loops of steel ball chain wrapped around a wide cylinder.
“It wasn’t out intention (to use many instruments). We feel that we need certain sound and get those instruments (that produce it),” Kulshenko said.
She added that despite the fact that she and Luzhina finished music school majoring in piano, Luzhina “had no other choice than to play the ukulele for some reason (instead of piano).”
“Panivalkova (the band) dictated her own rules to us,” she said with a smile. During their concerts Luzhina and Kulshenko often switch instruments.
This spring the band played in 15 Ukrainian cities. They plan to have a tour abroad next year, but don’t want to disclose the details yet. The band is also working on a new song and plans to hold another show in spring.
The girls say that they are very demanding and straightforwardly talk about their mistakes or drawbacks to each other and to other people who work with them.
“Our result depends not only on us. If there is something wrong (at the performance), the audience doesn’t know that it was not our mistake but of our sound manager. We are responsible for all the flaws,” Pugacheva said.
“Therefore, we want other people to take their responsibility. But not everyone is ready to accept the criticism.”
Luzina added that it would be impossible to openly criticize someone if not the support of other band’s members.
“We are lucky we have each other,” she said.