Mark and Marichka Marczyk met and fell in love during the Revolution of Dignity in Ukraine. Their experiences of war coupled with their unique knowledge of the polyphonic blues of the Ukrainian plains exploded into an ethno-bass live set in which the duo sing live to original EDM, trap, trance and electro-pop influenced tracks. The astounding vocals are accompanied by equally compelling documentary footage from the front lines of the war, black and white archival material from the same region, and popular soviet cartoons.
"Our traditional music reflects our experience of the tragedy of war over the course of the past thousand years," says lead vocalist Marichka Marczyk, who spend the better part of the past 20 years travelling to villages across the Ukrainian plains learning traditional polyphony as an ethnomusicologist. "We draw on that beautiful expression of tragedy and our more recent collective experience and try to make it a source of strength and unity for others."
"Balaclavas have been part of the Ukrainian zeitgeist since the 2014 revolution," says frontman Mark Marczyk about the band's name. "They're meant to conceal, but when I put one on, I feel more exposed and vulnerable. You know how they say eyes are the windows to the soul? Balaclavas hide the face, but they expose the soul. Whether we're on the front lines, at home or on stage, the balaclavas never really come off. You may not see them, but this is our blues, and invisible tattoo permanently etched on our faces forever."
The project debuted at Luminato Festival in Toronto and Latitude Festival in the UK last summer and then went on an 11-show humanitarian aid tour of Ukraine, including stops in the war-torn Donbas region. Their first single, "Don't Leave Me," was featured in The Invisible Battalion, a film about women on the front lines of the Donbas war, and was released by Ukrainian future-pop star Ivan Dorn's experimental label Masterskaya. They will release their first full-length album in January with Six Degrees Records and have a 20-show weekend residency at the Vault Festival in London January-March 2018.
The couple created the award-winning guerrilla-folk opera Counting Sheep and are co-founders of the infamous balkan-klezmer-gypsy-party-punk-super-band Lemon Bucket Orkestra. They won a Scotsman Fringe First Award, two Dora Mavor Moore Awards, several Canadian Folk Music awards and an Amnesty International Freedom of Speech commendation among other accolades and have been covered widely by International press-- the New York Times, the Guardian, the Globe and Mail, etc.