Meet Cape Cod, a ris­ing star of Ukraine’s elec­tronic mu­sic

Kyiv Post - - Lifestyle - BY DARIA SHULZHENKO [email protected]

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.

Early steps

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.

Cape Cod

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)

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