The Jinjer enigma

A 10-year-old band from Ukraine with no original members sign to Napalm Records, headline in Europe, and get on the bills at Download UK, Wacken Open Air, and Bloodstock (2020).  This is the enigma that is Jinjer.  Their career trajectory has been nothing short of blistering and there are only so many conclusions that can be drawn from this.  One could be talent, but sometimes that’s not enough.  Another could be pure hard work.  Whatever it is, the progressive groove four-piece, which formed in 2009 and added vocalist and lyricist Tatiana Shmayluk the following year, are now ticking off other big items – a headlining tour of North America, a new album and their first Australian tour. 

Shmayluk has been off stage for 30 minutes when Grater catches up with her by phone.  “So far we’ve played two songs from … Macro … but we are thinking about inserting more songs to our setlist,” Shmayluk says of their new record. “We’ll insert them in this tour, maybe two more, maybe one more.”  She is talking of Judgement (& Punishment), which has a bit of reggae among the heaviness and On The Top, which features all of the band’s quirky trademarks.  Macro, which was released on October 25, follows on from January’s EP, ‘Micro’. “(There’s) absolutely zero concept.  I like to call it ‘extended version of Micro’ because some of the topics are being repeated there in Macro and some of the lyrics also… so that’s why they are intertwined.  They are connected.”

As is customary, guitarist Roman Ibramkhalilov, bassist Eugene Abdukhanov and drummer Vladislav Ulasevish composed all of the music on the eight tracks, with Shmayluk tasked with the lyrics. “All the lyrics were written by me, although I ask Eugene to help me but he had no inspiration, so I had to deal with it myself,” Shmayluk laughs.  “All the music was written by the guys of course.  I don’t take part in composing.  Sometimes Eugene helps me with lyrics if he has something to say.”

Once the American tour winds down, Jinjer are taking a break and staying at home for winter – though nothing is assured in the music industry. “Sometimes a festival or concert just pops up …  As far as I know we’re going to have a break. Three months, which is not that much.” The band now call Kiev home after fleeing Donetsk province in eastern Ukraine due to Russian military intervention in 2014. “Five years ago we moved to Lviv, which is in the western part of Ukraine and then we lived there for one and a half years and then moved to Kiev.  We live … all together in Kiev.  Our drummer (Vladislav Ulasevish) has been living there for maybe 12 years. The events that are shown in news… I don’t see anything good happening right now in my country, because we are in conflict.  There’s constantly some kind of crisis, so I don’t know where we are going, so that’s why we’re like constant change of president and this political horror and economic (problems).” Despite the turmoil, a small metal scene and finding success in overseas markets, Jinjer are still calling Ukraine home.  “… It’s hard for people to understand that Ukraine is not only about shit, you know … The best thing that you can do to persuade yourself that it’s not that bad is just to go there and see how beautiful, Kiev, for example, is.”

Following their rest period, Jinjer will play their first Australian shows, hitting Adelaide, Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane in March. Shmayluk says while she wants to play for every fan, it’s not as simple as booking a few flights, accommodation and venues.   “I know from the comments on the socials that people have been asking us for coming there for about maybe two years already or more. ‘Come to Australia, come to Australia, why don’t you like Australia?’ she laughs.  “They just don’t understand that we have so many things to do and it’s really hard. Everything has to fall into place.  For every tour there’s a right time.  The only thing that I want to ask people in Australia or in other countries around the world is to just be patient.  There is no country in the world that we don’t want to visit.  We need time, we need money, we need energy.  There’s a lot of business to do; it’s not very easy.” 

The musician says she has only heard good things about Australian nature, landscapes, cities and the music – especially prog. “We are good friends with Twelve Foot Ninja and I am a big fan of Karnivool and The Butterfly Effect, so you have a lot of progressive music, which I love.”

The ‘Macro Australia 2020’ tour runs March 3 – 7. Tickets.

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