In the late sixties of the last century, the USSR began to create musical groups designed to become analogues of Western rock bands. The next decade was a “golden” era of Ukrainian pop music. The film “mustache funk” explores the phenomenon of Ukrainian rock, which has not lost its relevance to this day.
The release of a documentary about Ukrainian music or music in Ukrainian is a rarity. “Mustache Funk” is a movie for the big screen, which was shown at festivals last year, and now it has finally reached full-scale rental. The film was shot entirely at public expense – UAH 1.7 million with the support of the Ukrainian State Film Agency.
The author of the idea and script was a music journalist, ex-manager of the groups “Ocean Elzy” and “Skryabin” Vitaly Bardetsky. The film was shot in 2019, but due to a pandemic and other delays, it will be released only in June 2021.
The film is available worldwide with English subtitles on Takflix.
In general, the genre of “mustache funk” does not exist. More precisely, it did not exist until it was invented by the filmmakers and began to be popularized. Now, it is clearly associated with the Ukrainian pop music of the 60s and 70s, which absorbed folk motifs and syncopated American rhythms.
A film about the “golden age of Ukrainian popular music”
“Mustache Funk” tells the story of Ukrainian ensembles that began to appear en masse in the 1960s under the direction of the USSR Politburo. They were supposed to replace the Soviet youth with Western rock bands, but everything went wrong: instead of a party loyal to Ukraine, an original modern scene was born.
When the harsh totalitarian regime was a little weakened, young people fell in love with the “capitalist declining sounds” that sounded from vinyl records. Those who knew how to play musical instruments were already actively copying the Beatles, but they did not have time to give a few concerts, as the party organized everything in its own way, taking the entertainment under some control.
Now, the musicians had a task to gather bands that could capture the attention of music lovers who were delighted with the western rock. However, they could not be named a group, but a VIA (vocal-instrumental ensemble). And it’s important to note that it is the countryside that formed the basis of a unique style that had no analogues in the world.
So, numerous VIAs appeared all over Ukraine, among which there were art enthusiasts and quite professional groups, which quickly became popular (for example, “Vodogray”, “Patterns of Ways”, “Living Water” and “Svityaz”). Some of them gravitated to rock and roll, some played swing and boogie, and some were fond of funk, there were even experimenters (such as the ensemble “Opryshky”, whose work can be called the first psychedelic Ukrainian year). They knew world music, in some ways even openly copied it, but over time, these musicians invented their own unique direction, adding to the songs a traditional folk sound with polyphony and Western rhythms. The so-called VIA used to gather stadiums, but now their songs are almost forgotten.
It is an accurate story about original Ukrainian music, which was much more interesting and progressive than the Soviet views on culture.ITC.ua
This is told in the documentary by the VIA participants themselves, who willingly share their memories and laugh at how the Iron Curtain could not stop the thirst for quality music. Surprisingly, during all this time, the phenomenon of original Ukrainian art, which existed in the 60’s and 70’s, has not received any name. So the creators of the tape took the initiative and came up with the name mustache funk.
Why mustache? It’s very simple – most members of famous men’s bands proudly wore mustaches, it is noticeable even on the covers of records.