The official history of the well-known Kiev-based group called MANDRY begins on December 24, 1997. This was the day when they had their debut concert and won their first fans.
The band tries to fill a certain niche in contemporary youth culture. They offer an exceptional combination of Ukrainian folk traditions, modern rhythms, elements of city romance and French chanson, and the traditions of reggae, blues, and rock. Owing to this stylistic diversity they can boast a varied audience representing all age groups.
The music of MANDRY, in spite of being a synthesis of various genres, is coherent and artistically unique. Their songs are full of imagery and have emotionally charged melodic patterns making poetic lyrics understandable to people from all cultures.
MANDRY's repertoire is still growing, expanded not only by new songs written by the Band's members, but also by popular folk songs in new interpretation.
The present line-up:
Foma - vocals, guitar
Leonid Bielej - accordion
Serhij Czehodajew - bass guitar
Andrij Zanko - drums
Salman Salmanow Mamed Ohly - percussion
Practically all lyrics and music, with the exception of a few instrumental compositions, are written by Foma. Arrangements are a shared task.
The idea of forming the band belonged to Foma, who had already been involved in Kiev underground culture circles (the "Day Dies Early" group - "Den wmyraje rano"). At the beginning MANDRY had only three members (Foma - vocals and guitar; Oleksandr Kochanowski - bass; Oleh Borobjow - percussion). At that time the group gave mostly acoustic performances.
In October 1997 Leonid Bielej appeared, together with a new drummer, Salman, who joined the squad of "mandrywnyki" (wanderers) with a beautiful set of percussion instruments.
In October 1997 the new line-up played a concert which turned out to be not a very satisfactory performance. There appeared some doubts as to whether the band should still play together. Luckily, with some help of the director of "Asteroid" recording company who offered the band a contract, MANDRY survived.
Later, MANDRY invited drummer Andrij Zanko and Andrij Czehodajew, who replaced Oleksandr Kochanowski on bass. After that, the sound of the band changed quite radically. Their music was enriched with contemporary rhythms and became more ornamental.
In the months that followed the group released their first MC with "Asteroid" label. It was recorded in a hurry, which unfortunately had some influence on its quality. During a year and a half, the material was being constantly reworked.
In August 1998 the band produced their first video, which quickly won the appraisal of the audience. In September 1998, during the First All-Ukrainian Music Video Contest MANDRY video was in the top three; also the director, Anton Trofimow, was awarded.
The first single of the group, which, apart from music, contained also a video clip, a text with some info and a photo gallery, was launched in December 1998.
In 1998 MANDRY played in Lvov, Dnepropetrovsk, Cherson, Doneck, Minsk, and Kiev.
1999 was very busy for them. In springtime they visited Budapest to take part in a festival commemorating the 50th anniversary of the EU. Then, they performed at "Rock - Kiev", "PEPSI-SZIGET" (Budapest) and "Slavianski Bazar" (Vitebsk) festivals. At the end of summer they started working at a new video.
In June 2000 MANDRY took part in the International Festival of Ukrainian Culture in Sopot, Poland; in September, they played at "Rock - Existence" festival in Kiev.
In 2001, from June 14th to 26th, MANDRY had a big tour across Poland. In two week's time they managed to visit Wrocław, Warszawa, Kraków, Szczecin, Gliwice, Białystok, Olsztyn, Sopot and Lublin.
At the beginning of November 2001 "Creon Music", a French recording company, released a compilation called "Ukrainian Rock", which included a couple of songs by MANDRY.
On May 19th, 2002, MANDRY, together with other Ukrainian performers, played a concert in "Hippodrome", one of the most prestigious clubs in London. The show was part of the Festival of Ukrainian Culture in Great Britain.
On May 17th, 2003, the band took part in "The Day of United Europe"in Kiev.
At the end of August 2003 MANDRY started shooting for a video of "You Gypsy Wind", which was presented in October in the M1 music channel.