With Eurovision in full swing and the city’s streets awash with the Ukrainian colours of blue and yellow, this time around for our 10 Questions instalment we’ve put together an extended conversation with Kharkiv born and bred Tash Chernyshova.
We sat down with Tash, the lead singer of the Liverpool based punk group Bleach Brain to talk about finding a second home here in Liverpool, the promising up-and-coming punk scene, and of course, Eurovision.
Jordy: Hey Tash, can you tell us who you are and what you do?
Tash: My name is Tash, I’m extremely proud to call myself Ukrainian, and I am the lead singer and guitarist of your new favourite punk band, Bleach Brain.
Jordy: What brought you here in the first place?
Tash: Boarding school. I moved to the UK on my own when I was 15 so I’ve been here for 8 years but more specifically Liverpool for the last 6. As hard as moving to another country was, a whole new culture, new language, no friends, no family, it has made me stronger and a better person. You really have to learn how to deal with your shit fast, but it’s given me the independence that I have now.
Jordy: Has that experience influenced the music that you make today?
Tash: 100%, angry is what I’m always going for. Where I grew up it felt like anger was a primary emotion for me. If I were to identify with one of the seven deadly sins, it would be Wrath! And it’s through punk music that I make with the people that I have found that has become a cathartic sort of catalyst to express that anger in a healthy and creative way.
Jordy: The people that you make it with I assume are your counterparts in Bleach Brain, how did you find each other?
Tash: We knew each other through studying here in Liverpool a couple years ago. I was really good friends with our drummer Tom throughout our time at LIPA, we just connected over the music that we liked. And we actually knew Hattie too but not so well at the time, she was in the same year as us. It was only after graduation and covid that Hattie came back to Liverpool, and we started hanging out properly. We’d initially gone through a few bassists and then asked Hattie if she wanted to jam, and the rest is history! As for the name it just feels like how we sound, or at the very least how we want people to feel when they hear us, just raw energy, and to let go of whatever you’re holding on to when you’re with us in the room.
Jordy: Is there anyone that has influenced the conception of that sound that you’ve captured?
Tash: The moment I saw Brody Dalle from The Distillers I thought to myself, this is what I wanna do, in my own way. She was like a gateway into that world so subsequently bands like Hole, L7 and Hands Off Gretel followed, and I just fell into that whole grunge rabbit hole. I could see how they were channelling their aggression through their music, and it just felt like the right switch to flick.
Jordy: Off the back of that, what have you been listening to recently?
Tash: You’re gonna laugh, I’ve just discovered Electric Avenue by Eddie Grant and I know it’s so famous, but it just makes me feel so happy, very punk of me, right?
Jordy: And what song do you wish you’d written?
Tash: Northern Star by Hole, it’s one of the best songs ever written in my opinion. The lyrics and the guitar parts shouldn’t go together but they do, the vocal line is so complex to sing. It just keeps changing every time I hear it, I hated it the first time I heard it, but the best songs grow on you.
Jordy: If anything, it is punk because it’s unexpected! What has being an artist in this day and age taught you about being a musician?
Tash: Know your worth. That’s the struggle. We, as so many bands do, put so much effort and time into practice, social media, promotion, radio, there’s so much to do. It’s knowing which gigs to choose, because there are bad gigs where you may not get paid anything, and though ‘exposure’ is important there comes a point where our time and the experience we want to provide for the audience should coincide with a monetary value. Some promoters will offer us no pay, no guestlist, no rider, no expenses and it’s taken these experiences for us to realize that we can say no to those gigs and ultimately refine our own understanding of our worth. We get that we have to climb the ladder, but there’s a line.
Jordy: So, do you feel the industry is gatekept in some way?
Tash: It’s not gatekept it’s just a wreck! I just feel that advantage can easily be taken if you don’t know what’s out there and how to get it. And, as we’ve learnt, that takes time and experience. We need to pay for photoshoots, recording and petrol to get to the gig and ‘exposure’ doesn’t cut it, especially when we know the money is there.
Jordy: Considering how you feel about the industry, from your perspective, how have you found the industry as a woman?
Tash: At first, I was kinda nervous but because I’ve learnt not to take bullshit, I’m quite scary on stage, and the punk community is so kind and supportive, I’ve found my space in this male dominant industry. Where it changed was, we played a gig at Retro in Manchester and had the soundcheck from hell. There was this buzzing and the mic kept cutting out and I was on the stage for an hour with seven bands watching me. I was the only woman in the room. It got to a point of utter panic, and I just asked the bands for help, and they did without question. Really made me realise that most people in the industry are actually pretty nice and understanding.
Jordy: You mentioned the punk community, have you found that there is one here in Liverpool?
Tash: When we started playing gigs last year, punk in Liverpool was barely a thing, I didn’t know of any local punk bands at the time, and it took us ages to find our audience. But recently we played a gig in the Kaz Stockroom and people just turned up with mohawks, ripped clothes, spikes, piercings the whole thing! Even though punk is nothing new, it all of sudden felt like something has started to move in Liverpool. There are these other bands that are part of this this kind of punk collective/movement whatever it is and we’re all kind of nurturing it. There’s Sourflake, Maggie Witch and Long Meg and it just keeps growing. People seem to think that punks are these scary unapproachable people but really, we just have this unwritten unbreakable rule: be kind, that’s it. Say ‘hi’ to your local punk!
Jordy: Where can we find Bleach Brain next?
Tash: Our next gig is in 24 Kitchen Street on the 29th June supporting Spilt, so if you wanna spike your hair and get in the pit then you’d better be there.
Jordy: What do you see 2023 looking like for Bleach Brain?
Tash: We want to record and release more, but the releasing process was probably the most stressful experience of my life, the pre-release, radio plugs, organising a headline gig for the single launch, the photoshoot, the interviews, it’s so much more than I thought. So, recording and releasing will happen later in the year, but right now getting more gigs further afield is the plan.
Jordy: Finally, being Ukranian, how does it feel to have Eurovision hosted right here in Liverpool?
Tash: The Russian bombs are still dropping in my hometown of Kharkiv, and my family are still there. It is important not to forget why Eurovision is here in Liverpool, it is because the war it is still happening on a huge scale, war doesn’t sleep until one side has lost and another has won. No matter how much or how little the media are showing, it’ll never be enough to demonstrate how constant and brutal the fighting and the attacks on Ukraine are. There are brief moments of relief, but it usually means that there’s heavy fighting somewhere else in Ukraine. So, when Liverpool, a place that has become my home, got nominated in place of Ukraine, it felt bittersweet. It blew my mind that I knew I was going to be here and witness the strong representation and support for my country on the world’s stage, but it’s also a reminder that the Russian invasion has not gone away. So, for right now it feels like I’m in a unique position, it feels like my home has come to me right here on my doorstep in such a dark time. I love Eurovision, I watch it every year, we’ve won it three times so it’s a big deal for Ukrainians. It really feels like I get to have both of my homes in one place for a little while.
To keep up with Bleach Brain’s upcoming gigs follow them @bleachbrain_
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