“I Won’t Give Up” is a unique composition by over twenty Czech, Ukrainian, Russian and Belarusian musicians expressing their opposition to the war in Ukraine and sending a clear message to the world – we are all in this together.
The new version combining the well-known songs Obijmi (Hug me) and Bez boj (Without Fighting) by the cult Ukrainian rock band Okean Elzy was produced by the Czech Republic-based producer and musician Igor Ochepovsky.
He invited to the studio drummer and singer David Koller, actor and singer Igor Orozovič, singers Monika Načeva and Lenka Dusilová, guitarists Michal Pavlíček and Nikita Krein, accordionists Aliaksandr Yasinski and Roman Zabelov, guitarist and balalaika player Kirill Yakovlev, double bassist Taras Volos, violinists Vartui Saribekian and Natalia Lisniak, cellist Simon Marek, violist Jan Forest, domra player Kateryna Vatchenko and pianist Olesya Ochepovskaya.
“For Ukrainians, Russians and Belarusians these are absolutely iconic songs that we all know well. Our nations and lives are connected not only by the melodies, but also by the themes of love, hope, courage and determination. The musicians involved are some of the finest artists I know. Apart from our love for music, we are also united by our dissenting attitude towards current events,” says Igor Ochepovsky, explaining the background of the project.
The recording of the song took place on Monday, 28th February, four days after the start of the war in Ukraine, in Boris Carloff’s Soundevice studio.
“When my wife Alena woke me up on Thursday morning with the news that the war had really started, I was shocked. I immediately wondered what I could do. We sent money to charities, I called all my friends in Ukraine and Russia, and checked to see if I could help at the borders. However, I am a musician, I speak to people through music. So Alena and I sprung into action and within two days we had everything arranged. Those involved cancelled their original plans to support the project, for which they deserve a big thank you,” says Ochepovsky.
The #iwontgiveup project also highlights the current situation of ordinary Russians and Belarusians who face severe punishment for even the slightest support for Ukraine. The participants of the project would like to use the #iwontgiveup song to give courage to express disagreement with the current situation and to unite all those who put humanity and moral values above national borders and economic interests.
“A small thing like changing your Facebook profile picture or participating in a demonstration can mean you or your family will be severely punished, and that you will never be able to return home and see your loved ones again. Even at such a high cost, we must speak up, there is so much more at stake now,” Ochepovsky concludes.
“The main message is clearly stated in the song: we will not give up without a fight. It doesn’t matter if we are a bigger or smaller fool, we are all equal in the world. I don’t know if any art can help what’s going on, but if everyone joins in, at least everyone knows they’re in the same boat and they should help each other.”
“The sounds of distant explosions land on our souls. I’m glad I can at least scream with my guitar and send this message to Putin that we will not tolerate killing and hatred and that we want to help Ukraine. Music strikes an emotional chord that can mobilize and uplift us.”
“I decided to sing this song as a moral support for Ukraine, for all the people who live both here and there and are having a hard time.”
“I’m afraid that people will start denouncing Russians who live here and don’t agree with what’s happening.”
About Igor Ochepovsky
Ural-born Igor Ochepovsky is a sought-after composer, guitarist and producer who has collaborated with major artists from the Czech alternative and pop scene, including Ewa Farna, David Koller, Lenka Dusilova, 7krát3, Vesna, ILÆY and Klara Vytiskova. Ochepovsky is a composer of music for theatre, film and computer games and a lecturer in music production.
He is the founder of the Ochepovsky Project, a band in which he concentrates excellent musicians around him. The formation, which moves with ease and sophistication between genres, won the Jazz Fruit competition in 2016 and has had numerous successes abroad, in addition to the domestic stage.
ABOUT THE #IWONTGIVEUP PROJECT
Songwriter: Океан Ельзи
Creators of the project #iwontgiveup:
Igor Ochepovsky – project concept, music producer
Alena Ochepovsky – project conception, production
David Koller (Czech Republic) – percussion, vocals
Igor Orozovič (Czech Republic) – vocals
Monika Načeva (Czech Republic) – vocals
Lenka Dusilová (Czech Republic) – vocals
Michal Pavlíček (Czech Republic) – guitar, vocals
Aliaksandr Yasinski (Belarus) – accordion, vocals
Roman Zabelov (Belarus) – accordion, vocals
Kirill Yakovlev (Russia) – balalaika
Taras Volos (Ukraine) – double bass
Vartui Saribekian (Ukraine) – violin
Natalia Lisniak (Ukraine) – violin
Šimon Marek (Czech Republic) – cello
Jan Forest (Czech Republic) – viola
Kateryna Vatchenko (Ukraine) – domra
Nikita Krein (Belarus) – guitar, vocals
Olesya Ochepovskaya (Russia) – piano
Igor Ochepovsky (Russia) – music production, guitar
Music production: Igor Ochepovsky
Sound engineer: Adam Pakosta
Audio mixing: Boris Carloff, Adam Pakosta
Mastering: Boris Carloff
Cinematography, editing: Jan Kratochvíl
Cinematography: Tomáš Moravec, Jakub Ondráček
Photography: Silvie Kořenková
Translation: Alena Krömerová, Tomáš Tajchner, Vartui Saribekian, Kateryna Vatchenko