Interview: Ukrainian Refugee & Pop Artist Natisa Gogol Opens Up About Fleeing Her War-Torn Home, Song Inspirations, & More

Natisa Gogol © 2023
Natisa Gogol © 2023
The terror of war and the quest for courage is channeled through Ukrainian refugee and pop singer/songwriter Natisa Gogol’s brilliant new song, “Wind of Hope.”
Stream: “Wind of Hope” – Natisa Gogol

When a stellar musical talent faces the tragedy of war at close range, it can be both terrifying and a source of courage and inspiration.

Exactly one year ago, Ukrainian singer/songwriter/vocalist Natisa Gogol, along with her young son, was forced to flee the Russian attacks on Kiev, Ukraine. Mother and child slept in the car on the road to the Polish border in freezing conditions with little food or water for nearly five nights.

Now a year later, Natisa Gogol’s new single “Wind of Hope” displays a lyrical power with a moving pop/classical arrangement which underlines the emotional stress they endured. “Wind of Hope” lyrics include: “Tell me why they broke into our house/Tell me why they tore apart our lives?’ ‘Love will rescue us/Ukraine lives in our hearts.”

Wind of Hope - Natisa Gogol
Wind of Hope – Natisa Gogol

In her music video, Natisa plays softly at a white grand piano, luring in the angst-filled strings to build up toward a soaring chorus, with an electric guitar solo after the 2nd verse. Her aching voice and Ukrainian accent bring credibility to her message. “Wind of Hope” is reminiscent of the majestic emotional build of Elton John’s “Someone Save My Life Tonight” (in fact Elton is one of her biggest influences).

Natisa will soon be performing at the Hlavni Nadrazi train station in Prague to mark the anniversary of her trip. She has a new upcoming album including the single “Wind of Hope” coming in 2023, produced by American Prague-based Gregory Darling (Julian Lennon, New Radicals).

Born in 1988, Natisa graduated from the Kiev Municipal Academy of Performing and Circus Arts. She played with the state academic orchestra, where she collaborated with DJ Shiller, as well as 1970s Afro-German-Caribbean, disco/funk vocal supergroup Boney M. Natisa also teaches singing to Ukrainian sponsored children. She is determined to leave a positive legacy out of the horrors of war.

Natisa Gogol © 2023
Natisa Gogol © 2023


Atwood Magazine: Tell us how you felt and what happened one year ago on February 24, 2022 at 4:45 a.m. when you and your young son were fleeing the war in your hometown of Kiev in Ukraine. At the Polish border, you were sitting in your friend's car in pitch darkness. What did you feel, and what happened next?

Natisa Gogol: What we felt is difficult to describe. Fear and uncertainty, I guess. I wanted to open my eyes and wake up and realize that it was just a dream, that it wasn’t real. We were sitting in the car for five days with practically no water or food, the only thing that saved us was the humanitarian aid we occasionally encountered. We had to save gasoline, it was freezing at night, and it was snowing. But all obstacles are possible to overcome when there is hope in our souls. And there is, there was and there will always be hope! Because it is in the blood of the Ukrainian nation to believe and to hope for the best. And also people… people’s help and support are priceless in these difficult times. People started helping each other more, and this cannot help but motivate, it gives strength and a desire to live in spite of everything.

Your song ''Wind of Hope'' has a very powerful message that even in the darkest hour you have to stay strong and hopeful. What does this song mean to you?

Natisa Gogol: It is a cry from my soul. When you cannot keep silent, when tears come to your eyes and your heart is full of pain but also of a bright hope. This song is my personal anthem for goodness, hope and victory!

You will be performing at the main station in Prague on February 24th, 2023, the day when the “Wind of Hope” record is released and the anniversary of the war. This is the station where the refugees were arriving. You will sing and perform the song “Wind of Hope.” What message does this song send to people?

Natisa Gogol: I’m really looking forward to this event! I get goosebumps when I think about it. It’s so beautiful to sing for people when they aren’t ready for it, to see their real, live emotions and reactions. For me it is a very responsible and exciting thing. I want to sing for each one of them and for all of them, I want to just sit down and tell my story that I put to music. I need that. We all need it. What’s inside of us is stronger than what’s outside. It’s always worth remembering that!

Natisa Gogol © 2023
Natisa Gogol © 2023

Tell us about your work with American producer from Prague, Gregory Darling? His last collaboration “Lucky One” with Julian Lennon and New Radicals’ Gregg Alexander recently spent two months in Billboard Triple A Top 40.

Natisa Gogol: I am grateful to fate for meeting this bright, charismatic, talented and very positive man! How much kindness and creativity he brings to the world! I admire his personality. It is a pleasure to work with Gregory, he is a true professional and a “Man” with a capital letter! “Winds of Hope” is our first collaboration, and this is just the beginning. There are many plans and goals ahead of us.

Your musical heroes include Ella Fitzgerald, Quincy Jones, Elton John, Barbra Streisand, Madonna and Mariah Carey. What were your greatest musical influences growing up?

My father is a musician and singer. He is the first and most important person who influenced me. I grew up in an atmosphere of creativity, he taught me to sing and play the piano. Later on, I was very influenced by jazz music, I am a fan of Ella Fitzgerald, as a child I used to listen to her every day and follow her jazz improvisations. I love improvising a lot.

Tell us about your family, are they still in Ukraine?

Natisa Gogol: No, my whole family is abroad at the moment. And I am very happy that they are not in danger. Unfortunately it is not safe to be in Ukraine right now.

Natisa Gogol © 2023
Natisa Gogol © 2023

You teach singing to Ukrainian children at MRIA-UA. What do you enjoy the most in this work?

Natisa Gogol: The joy of my work is to be useful, to be helpful, to share experience and skills, to inspire, to motivate. When I teach vocal lessons to Ukrainian children at MRIA-UA, it’s like I’m going back mentally to the times when I taught vocals at the show “The Voice-Children” in Ukraine. Those were wonderful, peaceful times, when children could study and perform. I want to give them that feeling back.

Who is on your playlist now (which artists do you listen to)?

Natisa Gogol: I’m a musician, I like and listen to very different kinds of music. My playlist now includes Elton John, Kovacs, Julian Lennon, Tchaikovsky. Tomorrow my playlist may be totally different!

What are your plans? Both musically and personally?

Natisa Gogol: My plans are most daring and beautiful — how could it be otherwise? I am a dreamer, and I am trying to do the best I can to make my dreams come true. I believe that you will hear and see everything soon. The main thing is to make plans with love in your heart, then they will come true for sure.

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Stream: “Wind of Hope” – Natisa Gogol

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