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Local musicians with close ties to Ukraine pay tribute to the country and its people

A black and white photo of a woman playing guitar with a band. The woman is in mid-leap.
Rachel Bennett
Courtesy of the artist

Sofia Krutikova, who performs as Sofiiak, and Mary Robins, the lead singer and bassist in the band Biblioteka, both have Ukrainian family. They are performing at The Vera Project and plan to pay tribute to the country in a show of solidarity.

Two local artists with strong ties to Ukraine will perform Friday at Seattle’s all-ages venue The Vera Project. One of them is Mary Robins, who is half-Ukrainian on her mom’s side. She’s performing as the lead singer and bassist for the band Biblioteka.

Robins says she's been glued to the news in Ukraine. Her mother and brother had been in Ukraine since November taking care of her grandmother, who passed away a couple months ago.

"The last week, before they left there, they noticed signs being put up around the town, pointing to bomb shelters. And so it's been really surreal seeing it happened in Kyiv," Robins said.

As she watches from afar, she's reflecting on what her role is as an artist and musician. While her mother and brother made it out of Ukraine before the invasion, they still have close family friends who remain.

"I think it's important in situations like this — we need to listen to the artists because, first and foremost, artists are storytellers and we're the ones speaking the truth and trying to put the feelings out there in a way that other people will be able to understand or feel it or apply it themselves somehow," Robins said.

Robins says she will dedicate Biblioteka's unreleased track "Where Did We Go Wrong" to Ukraine. The song was inspired by her Ukrainian grandmother with whom she connected on a deeper level before she passed away.

Robins says she's working on several new songs inspired by the Russian invasion and feelings surrounding it.

A tattooed female in a deep-cut black halter top stands in front of a graffiti-covered wall.
Courtesy of the artist
Sofia Krutikova

Sofia Krutikova performs under the name Sofiiak and is the other artist on the Friday's night's lineup who is Ukrainian. Their mother is Ukrainian and their father is Russian. They were the first in their family to be born in the U.S. and grew up speaking Russian as their first language. So when the invasion happened, it hit close to home.

"I feel like the past week, I've just been kind of like zoned out because either I'm, like, doomscrolling on my phone or I'm just crying. And I was, like, wait, 'I have an event coming up. I will make it about my people,' " Krutikova said.

Krutikova is one of the organizers of the show, which was initially planned for February but was postponed due to COVID-19. The musician produces experimental electronic music with hints of punk. They’ll be performing two songs as a tribute to Ukraine. One is an original that references the Ukrainian soldiers' cries of “Russian ships, go f— yourselves” when they were told to surrender. And the other is a song from the Soviet Union written during the World War II era about Russia and Ukraine working together to fight Nazi Germany.

"As I want to be in Ukraine right now, I am not. So by creating music and creating art, I'm hoping to bring them a little bit of a solace as well," Krutikova said.

Tickets for the event are available online or at the door.

Krutikova shared a sheet that will be posted around the venue on Friday with several resources to stay informed about what's happening in Ukraine and also some organizations to support:

Nova Ukraine

Sunflower of Peace

Kyiv Independent

Ukraine Pride

Grace Madigan covers arts and culture with a focus on how people express themselves and connect to their communities through art, music, media, food, and sport.