Meet Cape Cod, a rising star of Ukraine’s electronic music
When people hear Cape Cod’s music for the first time, they often say they never heard anything similar before.
For his live performances, Maksym Sikalenko, 32, who is now widely known as Cape Cod, a Kyiv-based electronic music project that collaborates with musicians from all over the world, combines electronic music with soul, blues, jazz, and breakbeat, creating new sounds.
Cape Cod has nearly 30 performances in Ukraine per year. He released his second album “Echoes” late September.
Two months after the album release, Cape Cod was rewarded his first independent music award — Jager Award — for the best electronic project of the year.
“I always had a desire to help people love music, and contribute to their self-development in cultural aspects,” Sikalenko says.
According to Sikalenko, the reason he chose the name of his project as Cape Cod, a southern corner of mainland Massachusetts, the U.S., since he believes it is “one of the quietest places in the world."
“Even though I have never been there, I believe the place is special, that is why I have chosen this name for the project,” Sikalenko says.
Sikalenko had been combining his musical career with a full time job as a digital media director since Cape Cod’s establishment in 2011, and quit his job only in 2017, saying that initially it was important for him not to make music his primary job.
“I thought that when music is a hobby, it is easier to experiment and express myself as much as possible,” Sikalenko says.
“But now, I’m so lucky that even after I have switched to making
money through music, I still experiment a lot,” he adds.
Sikalenko, who also heads Kyiv House record studio since 2013, supports local musicians and helps them in promoting their music. He says that people should support their local musicians, and believes that modern Ukrainian bands can compete with Western ones.
“Our local musicians are interested in doing something new, and people need to appreciate their individuality,” Sikalenko says.
Nowadays, Sikalenko performs with guitarist Artem Dudko.
Cape Cod will present the songs from his new album “Echoes” at Atlas concert hall in Kyiv on Dec. 12.
While music has always been Sikalenko’s main hobby, prior to founding Cape Cod, the musician had quite an impressive number of jobs.
Sikalenko graduated from Kyiv National University of Trade and Economics with a degree in commercial law, and has later worked as a logistics assistant, real estate appraiser, journalist, computer repair specialist, and has even spent several months as an intern at the Ukrainian parliament.
However, music has been his priority ever since he listened to electronic music for the first time at the age of 11.
“Someone brought me a CD with electronic music, and I remember that I felt so related to this music, and at that moment I even thought that it would be great to make it my profession,” Sikalenko says.
In 2005, Sikalenko, together with three friends established a rock band called “+\-”. The band was spending almost all their free time travelling across Ukraine performing experimental hard rock music. The band fell apart in 2011 but it contributed a lot to Sikalenko’s establishment as an independent musician.
Sikalenko says it was during that time that he realized he could no longer grow professionally in rock music, and eventually established Cape Cod.
“I have taken the concept of mixing completely different styles from ‘+\-,’ and applied it in creating the Cape Cod project,” Sikalenko says.
Sikalenko established Cape Cod in 2011, while he had a job at Moon Records, one of Ukraine’s music record companies, and proceeded working there fulltime till 2017, when he quit the job to devote himself to music, and to release his second album.
He released his first album “Cult” in 2016, in cooperation with Stuart Hawkes, a sound engineer from Europe’s largest record studio — Metropolis London. Sikalenko worked on his first record for over four years.
He says his first album is mainly connected to house and soul music, and the second one, “Echoes,” combines electronic music with disco, funk, break, and neo jazz motives.
“It was important for me to combine completely different styles of music that do not always work with each other, and to make a complete product with a common vibe,” Sikalenko says. “My second album is more holistic, compared to the first one,” he says.
The music album “Echoes” consists of 14 songs, and was created in cooperation with musicians from Ireland, U.K. and the U.S., who recorded vocals for Sikalenko`s tracks.
“I wanted to record this album with foreign vocalists only, to be completely sincere with the audience,” Sikalenko says. “I did not want the songs to be translated from Ukrainian into English, but wanted the vocalists (native speakers) to create some stories behind each piece of music,” Sikalenko adds.
During his live performances Sikalenko plays bass guitar, keyboards and drums, but he does not sing himself. Instead, he uses pre-recorded singing by other vocalists.
If he did sing, he would do it only in Ukrainian. He would also raise social issues in his songs as “there are not enough musicians who can sing about reality and its problems.”
“When I realized that music can influence people, I started talking to the audience during performances about post irony and post truth, as well as respect towards Sikalenko says. art,” “It is really important for me to create music that can be connected to stories or events, music that has meaning.”
Ukrainian electronic music artist Maksym Sikalenko, also known as Cape Cod, plays the guitar as he performs at Jager Music Awards ceremony in Kyiv on Nov. 16, 2018. (Courtesy of JagerVibes Ukraine)