Ummagma is a strange combination — a Yukon-Ukrainian collaboration of uplifting ethereal pop vocal mixed with rock guitar. Their music crosses genres between electronic dance music, shoegaze and dreampop and is gaining attention around the world. Ummagma’s music is being played in more than 30 countries, has charted in Scotland and is on the rise in Brazil. Also, Ummagma has just won the Alternative Eurovision song contest on the British internet radio station Amazing Radio.
Ummagma is a collaboration between Yukoner vocalist Shauna McLarnon and her husband, Ukrainian guitarist Alexx Kretov, who met while McLarnon was visiting Russia.
“Russia is a very strong country,” she says. “And it can be a very strong drug for those who have been there. It can pull you in and consume you — that’s what happened to me. I’ve lived there five times already, in four different places.”
When McLarnon was a member of Yukon Women in Music, she created a cappella songs about Russia, often in Russian. She kept singing when she moved to Moscow and worked with musicians there.
“In fact, I was working with three different musicians, all in different directions – one was more poprock (similar to The Cranberries, for instance), one was more Britpop, one was more folk and Celtic oriented,” McLarnon says.
Then, in 2003, at an acoustic guitar concert, McLarnon met Kretov and fell in love and into musical collaboration.
“Our meeting was one of those rare you-just-know-it moments in life,” she says.
As Ummagma (a nod to Pink Floyd’s album, Ummagumma), Kretov provides the instruments, recording and videos while McLarnon supplies the lyrics and management. They collaborate on composition and vocals.
Last July, they released two albums, Ummagma and Antigravity, simultaneously on the Internet from their home in the Ukraine.
“This is more than just East meets West,” says McLarnon of their sound. “It is something totally new and unique with a sense of bliss and sometimes beautiful melancholy.”
The songs are built around Kretov’s guitars and their contrasting vocals, with other instruments, sounds and effects layered in. Like the guitars, the vocals are reverbed, processed, filtered and layered in like the other instruments. The result is a sound merging folk, European jazz and even classical elements and is similar to Sigur Rós, The xx and some of David Bowie’s instrumentals.
Now based in western Ukraine, Ummagma have been using social media such as Facebook, Twitter, SoundCloud, Youtube and Reverbnation, to draw attention to their work. ?
“We’ve gotten in touch with bloggers, podcasters and radio stations; we like to give the music a chance to be heard,” says McLarnon. “In order to find our audience, we have intentionally reached out to countries that are often overlooked and in ways that are often not fully explored — it seems that is what sets us apart and has created such a buzz surrounding Ummagma in just a short amount of time.”
Both Ummagma and Antigravity are available on the Ummagma’s Bandcamp website as pay-what-you-want. Their website, ummagma.com has links to their videos. Their SoundCloud site is also streaming remixes of their songs by other artists.
Outstanding Tracks: on Ummagma: “Rotation” and “Human Factor;” on Antigravity: “Live and Let Die.”