The Ukes

Canzoni contro la guerra di The Ukes

The Ukes is a collective of musicians who share a passion for playing Ukrainian music. We play as a 3 piece, and duet. I also do solo gigs as Stepan aka "Ludwig", the nick name I am known by in the UK Ukrainian community. Our style is upbeat, taking traditional Ukrainian music and serving it up with big vocals, accordion, bass and drums, and whatever other instrument seems fitting. I was the original accordionist with British indie folk rock band The Ukrainians for taking their first eponymous release on tour, and recording and co-writing for Vorony, Kultura and The Smiths EP. I also do session musician work, info at
I am a qualified gym instructor/personal trainer and swimming teacher and ,
but the music will never stops, speaking of which, you will find my iTunes releases here

Transcript from the interview with Stepan Pasicznyk.

– My real name is Stepan Pasicznyk. Pasicznyk means something like Beekeeper in Ukrainian. In Ukrainian circles I am better known by my nick name, "Ludwig" hence, the name of this site. I am of Ukrainian/Irish descent.

Why this name?
The word "Ukes" or "Ukies" is an abbreviated term for Ukrainians that many people of Ukrainian decent in the English speaking world use, much like Brits for British or Iti's for Italians. We do not currently use Ukeleles which Ukes is also an abbreviation for.

"The Ukes" came into existence almost by accident, as a response to a request by Carsten, a friend of mine from Germany who was fond of my accordion playing during my time as accordionist and co-songwriter with “The Ukrainians”. He asked if I could put a show together for a festival, which I did. This event, near Hanover, Germany, in Summer 2002, done in a folk/rock/world music style, was our debut live appearance. It was also the subject matter for our debut CD "Rokovyny" (Anniversaries), available by visiting our website Since then, other interest and concert offers has spurred "The Ukes" on to play when opportunities arise. So far, these opportunities have presented themselves occasionally in England, Germany, Canada and France.
About my time performing and co-writing with "The Ukrainians".
I was the piano accordionist & co/songwriter with the indie/pop band "The Ukrainians", founded by ex-Wedding Present guitarist Pete Solowka for the Vorony, Kultura and Smiths releases.
Roman Remeynes, original mandolinist co/songwriter and I, grew up participating in our respective Ukrainian communities which gave us both a good grounding in traditional music. "The Ukrainians" achieved considerable international success performing at venues ranging from Ukraine's second anniversary of Independence in Kyiv (Kiev), Ukraine, through to the Bumbershoot and Glastonbury festivals in the USA and England, & numerous European festivals & venues. It also recorded a sound track to a Nike sports wear advert.
I was accordionist with this band for touring the "Ukrainians" debut CD, and accordionist and co-songwriter during "Vorony", and "Kultura" LP's, & the Smiths covers EP & The Nike Ad. Radio appearances have included Peel and Kershaw sessions and other British, Canadian, US, and European Radio and TV.

How "The Ukrainians" crafted their songs?
Whilst I was with them, The Ukrainians' unique sound was the synergical product of all its band members unique contributions and musical influences. The songs that you hear on your CDs or at gigs were normally the ideas of one or two of us, refined or sometimes even roughed up, and then crafted by the whole team. Pete, Len and Roman were the song writing team before I joined but then I became part of it for Vorony and Kultura. You can see some of my specific contributions here
I enjoyed being in the Ukrainians "Mark 1" line up, sometimes affectionately referred to as "The A team" which, I stress, relates to personnel chronology, and not musical ability or quality!
Speaking of which click here to hear me with the original line up being broadcast from the space shuttle by Ukrainian American astronaut/Plastun Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper. Nice to know she had a CYMivets on her CD player! First CYM member in Space!

My Musical CV.

Member of quartet Vyrkhovyna, Luton Based Ukrainian folk group.
Accordionist with Reading based "Metelyk" Ukrainian dance ensemble, veterans of European international folk festivals.

Waltham Cross based "Zhnyva" Ukrainian dance & function band.
Original line up accordionist and co-writer with one time John Peel favourites, Wedding Present spin off, The Ukrainains.

Music for BBC TV Football programme hosted by Mark Wright "Row Z".
Music for London theatre, Frederic Molnars "Husbands and Lovers", London City Lit.
Bass singer in Ukrainian male voice choir “Bulava”directed by international opera star Pawlo Hunka Bulava for their first tour "Vyrkhovyna".
2007, sessioning on accordion for Welsh Folk Rockers Here be Dragons incuding a few gigs in Italy and Chicago USA for their US TV debut.

Session work on: The Bishop of Buffalo, Rev Hammer, produced by Justin Sullivan, New Model army.
The Bridewell Taxis's release "Cage" produced by Roxy Music's Phil Manzanera.
Accordion on NY Ukrainian duets "Darka and Slavko" last release.
Accordion on latest release "Elvis Lives Here", by The Swagger Band featuring Swill (Phil Odgers) also of The Men They Couldn't Hang.
English translations of Orange Revolution hit, Ya Patriot, and "Children of Orange" by Ukrainian artist Lessia Horova (Atlantic Records).

CD's since "The Ukrainians"
Ludwig's Eclectic Collection:

15 tracks varying in lyrical content from serious to light hearted, and in musical styles from Ska, Latino/Jazz, & dance through to Rock, Reggae, Swing & Township rhythm. The first three tracks are re-interpretations of traditional Ukrainian folk songs, two of which are sung in Ukrainian, and the rest are original compositions sung in English, some of which are about Ukrainian themes, such as "Song for Yuriy Shukhevich" and "Refugee Nation". The CD is exactly what it says it is, very eclectic. There is even a Bavarian style beer drinking song on it!

"Rokovyny" (Anniversaries)

Debut CD of new musical collective produced by US Hollywood and Canadian Music Industry award winner Roman Klun. 10 Ukrainian tracks given a different treatment, ranging from dynamic to melancholy.

Orange Revolution

A collection of songs relating to Ukraine’s struggle for independence and events as they unfolded at the time of the Orange Revolution, including English mix of Razom Nas Bahato, Greenjolly’s Revolution rap anthem and Eurovision song contest entry. It was suggested I do an English translation by above mentioned Lessia Horova, friend of Greenjolly.

And since then, in keeping with environmentally friendly thinking, releases as provided above via iTunes. Not doing CD's saves plastic!

A short musical life biog.

My Ukrainian Dad bought me an accordion when I was nine years old and got me involved with the music scene in the British Ukrainian community, and my musical tuition was helped along by my Irish Mum, an accomplished fiddle player. In typical Irish tradition, our family band comprised of my Mother on fiddle, sister Mariyka on guitar, and myself on accordion playing Irish and Ukrainian music. My sister Mariyka and I also used to played in a folk group representing Luton's Ukrainian community called Verkhovyna, once a favourite at Luton's bank holiday festivities. My Mother comes from a musical family. Her cousin was the late Eddie Rabbit, the Irish/American Country & Western singer who wrote "Every which way but loose" for the Clint Eastwood film featuring an Orangutan ape, and also "Kentucky Rain" made famous by Elvis Presley.

Other stuff :

Family man who works as a fitness instructor/personal trainer and swimming teacher when not doing music:

A little correction
Re The "Kolos great Ukrainian music of Britain" compilation release a few years ago, it quotes "The Ukrainians" "Lebedi Materynstva" track 4 as "part recorded in 1993, completed in the above sessions" (July & August 1997). In fact a 1993 recording was in its own right a complete live recording for BBC Radio 5 Manchester, not just arranged by Solowka/Liggins as stated on the release, but arranged and performed by Len Liggins, Pete Solowka, myself, and long time friend Andriy Maslyaniy (who sometimes stood in on Mandolin and now plays with me in "The Ukes").
The version on Kolos sounds like it might be an overdub to this previously completed recording. When played together, one from the Kolos tape and one from an old cassette of the BBC live session, they were in key and in sinc.

Do you play live?

Yes I/we play live, everything from Ukrainian traditional dance functions, to world music pop festivals, to specialised music clubs. So far appearances have ranged from Canada, to Britain, France and Germany.

How, do you think, does the internet (or mp3) change the music industry?

I think the internet and MP3 technology serve as a great levelling ground, a way of helping the public choose what they want to listen to rather than letting a select few fashion guru/music moguls decide for them. The whole process of delivering music to listener then becomes more open, and more honest. Everyone benefits. Its just a matter of time before the culture of Internet, and MP3 levels out with CD's and shops. I think the different ways of delivering music, new and established, can co-exist and offer more choice to the public.

Would you sign a record contract with a major label?

Possibly, but not if it was at the expense of being allowed to be who we really are just to please some PR image maker somewhere. Already having been in a signed band, I'm not as easily dazzled by the prospect. The advent of the Internet and just getting out there and doing our stuff has been just fine! To be tempted, it would have to be a good deal for the bands long term development, which requires a belief in a bands artistic, and not just profit making potential.

Your influences?
Any good music that comes from the heart, and not the "pop machine" .

Equipment used:
Accordions, bass guitars, mandolins, guitars and voices.

Official Website: