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Tember Blanche: Ukrainian Folk Duo Triumphs Over Adversity Through Music

In the midst of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, stories of resilience and creativity emerge, providing a glimpse into the strength of the human spirit

In the midst of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, stories of resilience and creativity emerge, providing a glimpse into the strength of the human spirit. One such tale unfolds through the music of Tember Blanche, a folk duo composed of singer-songwriter Alexandra Ganapolska, affectionately known as Sasha, and guitarist-producer Vladislav Lagoda, known as Vlad.

Meeting on the bustling streets of Kyiv, Tember Blanche's journey began with a six-year period of busking across the capital. Vlad's musical prowess on the guitar, combined with Sasha's soulful vocals, formed a harmonious partnership that transcended the ordinary. However, the invasion forced the duo, like many others, to flee their beloved Kyiv, seeking refuge in the western part of Ukraine at Vlad's parents' home.
Despite the peaceful exterior of the countryside, where they now reside, their reality is far from tranquil. Air raids have become a regular occurrence, a constant reminder of the war raging in their homeland. In the face of adversity, Sasha and Vlad have found solace in their work, both able to continue their professional lives remotely—Sasha as a copywriter and Vlad as a motion designer.

The power of music to heal and uplift has not been lost on Tember Blanche. Sasha recounts the initial struggle to listen to any music during the first weeks of the invasion, describing it as a period of emotional numbness. Slowly, they found their way back to the melodies that once brought them joy. Music, for them, became a form of distraction, a way to momentarily escape the harsh reality of war.

Not content with merely consuming music, the duo has also contributed to the cultural resistance against the aggressor. Tember Blanche released two songs born from the crucible of their experiences. "Ти живий" ("You're Alive") is an uplifting ballad celebrating the strength of the defenders of Ukraine, a testament to hope and resilience. The second, "Ненародженим" ("Unborn"), mourns the destruction of a children's hospital in Mariupol, expressing grief, anger, and disbelief at the tragedy.
Recording from their new base in the countryside, Tember Blanche faces the challenge of channeling their emotions into their music. Vlad emphasizes that, for them, music is a therapeutic outlet—a way to express the overwhelming feelings stirred by the war. In their own words, "The war is life now," and their songs serve as a raw and unfiltered reflection of this reality.

While Tember Blanche acknowledges the two facets of war-themed music—the celebratory and the mournful—they find that the current mood in Ukraine leans towards the latter. The somber tones of their recent releases mirror the prevailing atmosphere of suffering and uncertainty. Through their art, the duo navigates the responsibility of keeping the Ukrainian spirit alive on both the cultural and political fronts.

Reflecting on the impact of the conflict on the Ukrainian music scene, Vlad notes a significant shift away from cultural ties with Russia. The invasion has prompted a reevaluation of artistic connections, with a collective desire to distance themselves from a cultural influence that seeks to erase their identity.

As they continue to persevere in the face of adversity, Tember Blanche remains deeply connected to their Ukrainian roots. While not explicitly incorporating traditional elements, their music is undoubtedly shaped by the rich cultural tapestry that defines their homeland.

Currently working on their second record, the duo has decided to release it only after victory, emphasizing their inability to concentrate on songs unrelated to the war. In a resolute stance, Tember Blanche envisions a future where music is acknowledged for its inherent political nature, urging a departure from the lingering influence of Russia in Ukraine—both culturally and musically. Through their art, Tember Blanche exemplifies the indomitable spirit of the Ukrainian people, turning the darkness of war into a canvas for musical expression and resistance.

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