Okean Elzy (Ukrainian: Океан Ельзи, translation: Elza's Ocean) is one of the most successful and popular Ukrainian rock bands. It was formed in 1994 in Lviv, Ukraine. The band's vocalist and frontman is Svyatoslav Vakarchuk. Okean Elzy is one of the best-loved Ukrainian rock bands not only in Ukraine but also in most CIS countries. In April 2007 Okean Elzy received FUZZ Magazine music awards for "Best rock act".
The band Okean Elzy was founded in 1994 by four young men from Lviv; who were former members of the band Klan Tyshi (Ukrainian: Клан тиші, translation: Clan of Silence) which was founded in 1991. The original line-up featured a lead vocal, lead guitar, bass guitar and drums. Throughout 1994 the band spent their time rehearsing.
Their first concert took place in front of the Lviv Opera Theatre on 14 January 1995. Shortly after that appearance they released a demo tape called 'DEMO 94-95'. In 1995 they also participated for the first time in the two biggest (at the time) Ukrainian music festivals - Chervona Ruta and Melodiya, also participated in Is, a personal project of Lviv musician Oleg Sook, performed the song Long time ago.
In 1996 the band establish themselves on the festival circuit in Ukraine and beyond. Okean Elzy participated at Sribna Pidkova Festival, Alternative 2, Perlyny Sezonu, Tavriyski Ihry, Trust Open Air Gernsbach (Germany), Trash 96, and R.F.I. 96 (France).
In 1996 Okean Elzy also held their first concert outside Lviv. Their first appearance in the capital Kiev took place in 1996 where they supported Deep Purple. In November–December of that year they recorded and released the group's first maxi-single Budynok zi skla ("House of glass"). Shortly afterwards the first movie about the group was made by TV Channel TET and was broadcast nationally.
1997 saw tours in the south of France and in the west of Germany. Back to Ukraine they held a concert in their hometown of Lviv, drawing massive crowds.
The band's big break came in 1998, when they made the decision to move to Kiev. There they started working on their first album Tam, de nas nema ("There, where we are not"). The group's first music video was recorded for the song "Tam, de nas nema". This video was the first piece of modern Ukrainian music to make its mark on MTV Russia, as well as France's MCM Channel.
At the very beginning of 1999, Okean Elzy started working on their second album Ya na nebi buv ("I was in the sky"). In May the group decided to try to expand their fan base into Russia. Their first concert was at the festival Maxidrom. There were thousands of people there who already knew their songs, with many singing along.
On 16 September they played a solo concert at the MCM Cafe in Paris.
In 2000 exactly one year after they started working on Ya na nebi buv the album was released.
On 5 February Okean Elzy held a solo concert at legendary Astoria Club (London). In March the keyboard player joined the band.
In 2001 Okean Elzy became new face of Pepsi Cola in Ukraine as the new millennium dawned. They have released their third album Model. They started a big tour around Ukraine called "Ask For More". In August they started working on their fourth album - Supersymetriya ("Supersymmetry"). The album was eventually released in 2003 and immediately the group embarked on their biggest tour ever.
At the end of 2003 Svyatoslav Vakarchuk as the frontman of the band became an official Ambassador of Ukrainian Culture.
In 2004 Denys Dudko (one of the best jazz bass players in Ukraine) and Miloš Jelić (composer from Novi Sad, Serbia) joined the band.
During the "Orange Revolution" Okean Elzy actively supported the democratic changes which the population were demanding, with Slava emerging as a figurehead of the revolution.
In 2005 Petro Cherniavsky joined the band.
On September 22, 2005, Okean Elzy released their new album GLORIA. After that the band went on tour (30 cities in Ukraine and 10 in Russia) with audio crew Sergey Kamenev, Alexandr Kostin, Yurii Barybin and Vyacheslav Lavrinenko.
In September 2005, Vakarchuk became UN's Ambassador of Good Will. Also, in September Okean Elzy started joint campaign with IOM and MTV Europe Foundation – fighting human trafficking. Svyatoslav Vakarchuk as UN's Ambassador of Goodwill during 2006 year had different meetings with students at Ukrainian and Poland universities. Now Vakarchuk provides a huge social project running to propagate reading as a natural process. The general idea of this project is to draw the attention of young people to books and help fight illiteracy.
In November 2006, Okean Elzy visited Kosovo, where musicians had a concert for peace makers from Ukraine, Poland, Germany, United States and other countries, which include international contingent of peace makers.
During the Football World Cup 2006 in Germany Okean Elzy actively supported the Ukrainian national team and cheered the fans with their songs. The last song of the band called Veseli, brate, chasy nastaly... ("Oh, brother, merry times came...") as always made a huge splash in Ukraine. The song and the video were released as a single and all money profited would be donated to the child care center treating AIDS. Charity activities play a major role in OE's life.
In April 2006 OE went on tour, which includes Chicago, New York City and Toronto, where thousands sang along their songs.
On April 25, 2007, Okean Elzy released a new album Mira ("Measure"). After that the band went on a huge nationwide tour. During the month they held tremendous concerts in 27 Ukrainian cities. The outstanding feature about Mira was that all the concerts were held at large cities, mostly stadiums and sports palaces. The concerts were attended by more than 120,000 fans, which has become a record for the group. For the two Kiev concerts the attendance was about 24,000 total. In the history of Ukraine only Okean Elzy "for the second time (after round of GLORIA) brought so many people in one place in such a short time.
In 2010 Okean Elzy went on their Dolce Vita Tour, in support of their latest album Dolce Vita, which included over one hundred concerts in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Europe and North America.
In December 2013 the band performed during Euromaidan-protests.
In 2013, Okean Elzy announced on their website a new album and new tour through Ukraine.
June 21, 2014. For their 20th anniversary Okean Elzy performed in front of 70, 000 fans in Kyiv at NSC Olimpiyskiy. This concert was the largest in Ukrainian history.
Since the 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea the band stopped performing in Russia., being one of the few Ukrainian artists to do so.
On December 7 the band became the subject of a meme on Russian social media. The joke is: The saleswoman at the market overheard Okean Elzy playing on my headphones, she then sold me Ukrainian sausage under the counter.
Svyatoslav Vakarchuk — vocal (1994–present)
Vladimir Opsenitsa — guitar (2013-present)
Denys Dudko — bass (2004–present)
Miloš Jelić — piano, synthesizers (2004–present)
Denys Hlinin — drums (1994–present)
Tam, de nas nema (Там, де нас нема - There, Where We Aren't) (1998)
Ya Na Nebi Buv (Я на небі був - I Was In Heaven) (2000)
Model (Модель) (2001)
Supersymetriya (Суперсиметрія - Supersymmetry) (2003)
Mira (Міра - Measure) (2007)
Dolce Vita (2010)
Zemlya (Земля - The Land) (2013)
НАЙКРАЩЕ (НАЙКРАЩЕ - The Best) ((2014)
Bez mezh (Без меж - Without limits) (2016)
Sources: Last.fm, Wikipedia