Go_A Band from Kyiv includes Kateryna Pavlenko (vocals) and Taras Shevchenko (founder/keyboard and percussion).

Kyiv’s Go_A Band reinterprets Ukrainian folk music with electronica 

Go_A Band from Kyiv includes Kateryna Pavlenko (vocals) and Taras Shevchenko (founder/keyboard and percussion). They represented Ukraine last year at the Eurovision Song Contest. Hear what's on their minds right now — and a little of their music, too.

The World

Go_A Band from Kyiv includes Kateryna Pavlenko (vocals) and Taras Shevchenko (founder/keyboard and percussion).

Daniel Ofman/The World

Ukrainian musician Taras Shevchenko wanted to embark on a new electronic project. Then, he crossed paths with folk singer Kateryna Pavlenko.

“We thought that, wow, we can combine, you know, Ukrainian folk music with modern electronic music,” Shevchenko said.  

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In 2012, Shevchenko, a keyboard player and percussionist, and Pavlenko, both of whom played with numerous rock and metal groups in the past, formed the electro-folk band they call Go_A.

Their band’s name alludes to their brand of music — drawing from the word “Go,” as in movement, and “A,” referencing the ancient Greek letter alpha, a nod to getting back to one’s roots.

Since then, the group has found plenty of success. Go_A was nominated for the Ukrainian music awards called Yuna as a discovery of the year in 2020. 

They also represented their country in 2021 at the annual Eurovision Song Contest, Rotterdam, Netherlands, where they became the first contestants to perform their song, “SHUM,” entirely in Ukrainian, for which Pavlenko whipped up original lyrics. 

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Their repertoire features songs about spring rituals, gathering together and the changing of the seasons as just a few of their themes.

“Our ancestors believe that when they gather and sing very loudly, winter go[es] home and spring [comes] to Ukraine.” 

Kateryna Pavlenko, singer, Go-A

“Our ancestors believe that when they gather and sing very loudly, winter go[es] home and spring [comes] to Ukraine,” Pavlenko said. 

“SHUM” is about “awaken[ing] and boredom and connect[ing] people with nature, about coronavirus … that people can connect and make this world much better,” she said.

For both Shevchenko and Pavlenko, music has been a part of their lives since they were very young. 

“Well, I think it was my mother since I was just an infant. She was singing to me. She was a big Beatles fan, so I listened to [the] Beatles also. And of course, I didn't understand the lyrics, but my mother just tried to explain to me what it was,” Shevchenko said. 

Later, he heard the band Queen and immediately, “I thought, ‘OK, this is what I want to do in my life. I want to make music.’” 

Pavlenko’s passion for music also stems from childhood: “When I was [a] small child, I hear[d] my [grandmother]. She sang me [a] lullaby. She sang me Ukrainian folk songs … I remember a time when my grandmother gather[ed] with other old women and they [sang] Ukrainian folk song[s] in polyphonic. It was very amazing,” she said.

To listen to more of their story and music, click on the audio player above.

Volodymyr Solohub contributed to this report.