— You’re not ready for what you’re about to hear. It will blow your mind and seem like a total provocation.
These were the first words of our conversation with Mykhailo Vitiuk, also known as Vakula. «I’m not a performer or musician. I’m just a person in search of truth. And music is one of the means of finding myself and my truth» says Vakula, the DJ and the creator of electronic music.
Being born in Konotop, he couldn’t fit in there; he thought of going to the monastery in China, lived in Moscow, Kyiv and Odesa, and now plans to move to India. «Ukraine has always been a slave’s space for me. I long to finally live next to my people». At the moment, the musician is living in Konotop. He is staying at his parents’ house, communicating with no one, and practicing the creator’s solitude. Cukr.city visited Mykhailo to get to know his way of living, to ask why he thinks music is unimportant for this world and calls people liars and hostages of the system, as well as to find out about his scandalous album cover with genitalia — a betrayal and destruction of his artistic career, in his own words.
Important: the editorial board does not share Mykhailo's views on vaccination, drugs, work with a psychotherapist and harsh statements on the development of humanity in general and Ukrainians in particular. We write about this to fully show the inner world of the hero.
I don’t usually give interviews or cooperate in other ways because I’m prejudiced towards Ukrainian society. The majority of our nation is devoid of an ability to understand the culture. There’re no artists, creativity or individualism. Everything is just a copy from the Western world or from the past. There is no one to say proudly about «That’s a Ukrainian thing!».
«I’m not a performer or musician. I’m just a person in search of truth. And music is one of the means of finding myself and my truth. I don’t have a goal to make a world a better place or to help people — everybody needs to help themselves».
I wanted to go to Tibet
Since childhood, I was misunderstood by others. I was beaten, I couldn’t find any kind of support and I always knew that nobody was ready to talk to me. When I was 16, I wanted to go to a monastery, Shaolin or Tibet. I went — no, I escaped — to Moscow in order to earn some money and become a monk. But I failed to move further to Tibet. I stayed in Moscow, started creating music and performing a lot.
I always knew I was different. I was the one looking for the Creator since adolescence
I always had something that wasn’t given to other children. For instance, the Joy of the Lord. Up until I was 24, I could simply go outside and start jumping around, if I was feeling love towards the Universe. Everything around me tried to seduce me out of this state with lies and illusions of joy — girls, clubs, good jobs and cars. These societal indicators of success are an absolute deception that I, unfortunately, followed for a long time.
Firstly — Konotop’s radio, then — DJ-sets in Moscow
Music has been in my life since childhood. It’s in my genes; my grandfather played bandura. But «playing music» is not the same as «writing it». I’ve collected CDSs for some time, got interested in the lives of musicians, and simply listened to quite a lot of music.
1998 was the year of discovering DJing
Together with my friends, I opened the first radio station in Konotop, the format of which was similar to Moscow’s «Station 106.8». It has only worked for three months because we mostly played drum'n'bass and hip-hop. That was very unusual for Konotop in 1998, that’s why it simply couldn’t exist longer. I still wonder that we dared to do it anyway.
After moving to Moscow in 2003 I began writing my own music. In fact, accidentally. I stopped by a music store, met a guy there, who was buying the same vinyl as I was. We got to know each other, and he told me he was interested in DJing and making tracks. He shared his laptop, techniques, basic tricks with me; suddenly, I ended up in a whirlwind. At first, it was a mixture of techno, house, downbeat and hip-hop. With time my style changed; I was making music while being influenced by the world around me.
But rarely something was really good. I was striving for more and even better
After getting tired of Moscow, I have lived in Kyiv, St Petersburg and Odesa. I moved back to Konotop only when my mother was dying. I renovated the house a bit, set up a studio and stayed here for a while.
I made a track with my thoughts on pro-vaxxers
People call the truth I’m following differently, mostly a «conspiracy theory». But it is still my truth. We are now witnessing the beginning of the end. There’s no mercy to humankind that is still sleeping, still boozing and still killing for a chunk of meat. The more people kill, the less are the chances that they will eventually stop.
I think, only those who understand themselves and will change their ways of living can survive
In order to understand themselves, people have to learn how to solve their struggles individually, not with a psychotherapist or anything like that. There’re lots of instruments, for example, meditation or psychedelics. You have to be brave. But everyone is terrified of gobbling a few mushrooms and diving into their fears. Of course, it’s hard. We all are beaten up by our childhood traumas. But we should heal. Not bodies, but our minds and souls. I am positive that a soul is a real thing. My mother passed away in my arms; I saw her soul floating up, I heard her last breath and felt the numbness of her body that was still living only a few moments ago. Heal your soul before it’s too late.
People are still getting those shots only to keep their place in society, to save their jobs and all those beautiful lives… Humankind is stupid; it doesn’t get that vaccination is just a beginning. Those who died from the illness had been living in a wrong way from the start — they ate meat and boiled food, drank alcohol. I’ve even made a track in which I described my thoughts about pro-vaxxers harshly. It will soon be out and I hope that it will open someone’s eyes and this person will be as honest to themselves as I am to myself. And even if I will have to choose between the vaccine and death, I will 100% choose death.
I tried to wrap up my music career three times
I have almost no interest in the music world because, as a matter of fact, I’m not constantly in it. However, I always return. I have told myself three times already «That’s it, the last album — and I’m done». And every time there’s some kind of trigger, a person inspiring me to tell one more story. Now I’m not the man I was at the beginning. My music is about ethnicity, acoustics, polyrhythms and African motives. I don’t think of it as something genius or superior. Still, I believe I make something totally unique.
I change alongside my music
I change my music as much as I change my lifestyle or routine. The deeper I go, the deeper my motives are. And I have no plan; I do what I like. This word, «like», is something from the flow that no one can influence. It’s the state in which I’m high when I lose a sense of time, hunger, and all connections to my body. I get a signal from the brain and I act without trying to explain anything.
The released album is like a dirty sock
What’s my opinion on music that was released a long time ago? The same as my relation to shorts I wore when I was five. That is in the past and I cannot associate myself with that. Yes, it was there. Yes, we can use our past actions to define ourselves in an argument saying «I did this, this and this. What about you?» But what did my past self really understand? Sure thing, Vakula was revolutionary for Ukrainian and Russian music.
But I’m a different person now and my former merits have no sense
Every finished album loses its value to me. I draw a line and I’m already disgusted by what I’ve done. Of course, there are some tracks that I relate to for some time. But in most cases every new release is like a dirty sock — I take it out of sight and move on.
Why create anything if there’s no one left?
My music is only meant for those who strive to understand themselves. My art is as deep as the topics I choose to talk about. It’s not for everyone; it’s like a stream of my innermost thoughts. Nowadays only few people get what I’m doing. Maybe there could be more followers but my reputation is, like it or not, ruined. Vakula is out of business. And screw those who are unable to value good music. I need my people, not illiterates but those who can really hear, feel and adopt it. Modern musical culture has always lacked a profound approach but earlier I was able to find a way to a bigger number of hearts.
I was sure that the people I was on the same page at that time would evolve alongside me and will value my art
In reality, I went further and the majority of them stuck on a phase «beer, cigarettes and amphetamine». When you lose a listener, your motivation lessens as well. You ask yourself «Why create anything if there’s no one left? I have no one by my side».
The career-ruining scandal
The scandal that tore me to pieces happened three years ago. I released an album on the cover of which was a penis floating in space alongside world-famous DJs: Nina Kraviz, Nastia, Peggy Gou and The Black Madonna in the driver’s seat. I knew each of them to some sort. This picture didn’t mean anything that the public opinion has ascribed to it. I was accused of sexism and misogyny. People were saying that I was a women-hater.
The album was deleted from streaming services, the industry refused to work with me, tours and festivals were canceled
Everything was taken from me — work, money, hope. That was an incredibly difficult time; I was ready to physically destroy everything. But I didn’t do that. Instead, I turned on the watcher’s mode — a healthy diet to clear my mind a little and psychedelics to find a way to constructive thinking and the real me.
I wanted what Krovostok had, but got even better
Another symbol of the opposition to that scandalous time was the album featuring Monatik, Dorn, Jamala and SunSay. At first, I wanted to make something similar to Krovostok — hip-hop and provocative lyrics. But everything went in a different way; the artists heard the music and the creative process began. And it was not what I anticipated. It was even better; it was coming from their souls. Jamala, if I’m not mistaken, was at home when she got the track.
Being pregnant at that time, she made this song in just one hour — she was in the flow. She was never able to repeat that in the studio. So, the released track is based on that demo
SunSay and Dorn also joined me. And then I decided to invite Monatik since the album was already too tightly connected to the pop music. With the help of my friend, I’ve reached Monatik’s wife, described my idea, and in a few days got a reply. Dima listened to the tracks and was so inspired he only asked «How much time I’ve got?», «Two days» was my answer; I got the song on the third day. That was a really cool experience. In the end, we’ve got not a commercial pop album, we created a real art piece; everyone liked the music, each of us was high on inspiration…
I am different now — I make music and think differently. Maybe I don’t need music anymore. Because when I end up in nature, I lose any meaning of my artwork. Only city life and its sick people need music. And I don’t want to live in a mad society any longer. I want to find my people. I’m going to India to look for those who will need me to perform. And about recording music… I want it to end, as well as I want to see the end of light and all opportunities available to humankind. Only then the people will wake up and begin asking themselves «What’s going on?».