By Ksenia Kutovaya, Journalist
We talk to Vadim Dubovsky, the well-known "singing truck driver" while his trailer is being unloaded in Cincinnati. It is morning outside, about 8 a.m. local time.
– How did your ironic songs appear?
– The first idea that came to my mind was to sing "Broad is my native country". And I decided to continue after the success of "The Anthem of Anti-Russianist". However, these are not songs, but rather ditties, humorous rhymes. I do not take them seriously, and the "fame" they brought as well. Though I consider that "The March of Putleryugend" has been underestimated.
– But there are people who do not like them…
– When I read attacks at me, news that I am of minority sexual orientation, have excess weight, or was bribed, it pleases me. Because there is no criticism against the ditties I composed. Instead of arguing the fact, they attack the author. Therefore, I am right, and they have no arguments.
– What feedback prevails?
– Certainly, positive, you can see it if you go to my YouTube channel.
– And what do you do with the money that YouTube transfers for frequent reviews of your videos?
– I transfer it for the needs of the Ukrainian army and hospitals.
– You have a good voice, you sing perfectly. Where did you study?
– I graduated from the evening department of Kiev conservatoire, but it was my second higher education. Having returned from the army, I resolved to enter the pedagogic institute – before the army, at the age of 19, I was already teaching singing at school and decided to continue it after army. At the institute, I revealed quite a good voice with an interesting timbre. And then I made a mistake because I did not transfer to the conservatoire – I would have made quite a good opera or chamber singer. But I made a certified teacher who started working in professional choirs from the fourth year: Revutsky man's choral chapel, National chapel of Ukraine "Dumka". I did not become a solo singer, because chorus and solo singing are incompatible.
– But you worked as a professional vocalist?
– For about 10 years in the National chapel "Dumka". I have warm memories about these years – it was great, I was young. We traveled all over Western Europe with performances.
– Why did you decide to leave Ukraine?
– I emigrated in 2002, but I made such a decision much earlier. When I went to GDR in 1989, half a year before the fall of the Berlin Wall, I saw people living in East Germany and understood that we did not win World War II, but lost it. It is not a matter of welfare and standard of living, though they matter, too. It is important how people treated one another, work, rest, and life. I liked it very much, and I understood that life is one, and I should live it so that there is nothing to regret.
– How was your life after emigration?
– I earned my living by very hard work during my first years in America. I was an unskilled worker at construction sites, carrying huge buckets with mortar, bricks and slag stones, I lost 30 kg and felt like a real man. I had not lifted anything heavier than a spoon or a Kalashnikov in the army before. Half a year later, I became an assistant joiner; in 2004, I was invited to "Independent Radio" as a person with voice and computer skills, where I worked until the beginning of the world economic crisis in 2007.
– Then you took the steering wheel?
– After radio, I was employed as a driver – I took children for study and back, it is a limousine service, not a school bus. But I earned only $350-400 a week, it was not enough. Therefore, I decided to become a truck driver. The company where I work is owned by Yugoslavs and Lithuanians.
– Do they know that they employ a person who sings songs that are so ambiguous for the Russian listener?
– Nobody told me directly, but I feel by the dispatcher's voice that they, probably, guess. The attitude towards me did not change. You know, even Serbians who are famous for their love to Russians, are not so big Russophiles here as in the homeland.
– Do Russian emigrants approve of the actions of the Kremlin?
– You will not see any support of Russian policy in America, only from our "formers", "vatniki" (supporters of Russia) who sometimes turn up. But the Sun also has spots. Though it is surprising why they are here, why they arrived in the USA if everything is so bad here, everything is so good in Russia and Putin is so perfect.
– Did you see the country working as a truck driver?
– At the beginning of my career of a truck driver I went to 48 states, except Alaska and Hawaii. I worked this way for about half a year – and I got tired. It is not a life if you are not at home for two or three weeks or even a month. I changed the company – now I drive across the Midwest, around 500 miles away from Chicago. As a truck driver, I cannot judge any megalopolis because trucks are not permitted to the downtown. I know Chicago as a pedestrian – it is a most beautiful city with magnificent downtown. City, skyscrapers and water – nothing better to think of.
– How did life in the USA influence you?
– I got rid of very many fears in America. I am not afraid of criminals here, I could come across them anywhere in Ukraine: in a train, tram, in the downtown, on a beach, in the evening, in the morning. I am absolutely quiet here. I do not go to ghettos where shootouts between black Americans are possible. I got rid of the fear that I will lack money to pay for my purchases at the cash desk and I will have to take something out of the basket.
– Do you fulfil yourself as a singer anywhere else?
– Since I arrived in Chicago, I sing in the vocal ensemble of the Cathedral of St. Vladimir and Olga. We perform in various churches – both in Orthodox and in Catholic ones, at weddings and on religious holidays. My colleagues are professional singers who graduated from conservatoires in Ukraine.
– You were born...
– In Donetsk and lived there until I was 12. I have no relation to Donetsk as "my Homeland". I feel pain for the whole Ukraine. But I am glad that people have woken up and do not want to live in that Soviet system imposed by Putin.
– Are you proud?
– Of course! We are not sillier than Russians! It is them who do not understand that the world has to develop under natural laws. Russians are happy that the Duma and Putin decide everything for them. Ukrainians are already absolutely different, they keep their eyes open. Many have relatives abroad, many have gone to work or on holidays abroad, they saw how people can and should live.
– Russia cultivates an opinion that Russians and Ukrainians are one nation…
– I read attacks and comments of "vatniki", I observe their perception of war against Ukraine and I see how Ukrainians react – they are two different nations. Unfortunately, there are black sheep among Ukrainians, too – I found out that in the National chapel "Thought" where I worked, there are people supporting the policy of the Kremlin.
– Why do you think?
– There was no national idea for a long time. When the era of the President Leonid Kuchma began, I suddenly saw that there was no independence as such, it does not exist in the souls and heads of people. We remained in the Soviet system. In the 90s, very few people understood the idea of national identity. I am now observing the Ukrainians identifying themselves as a nation.
– You are invited to a talent show, did you take part in similar programs?
– Organizers of "The Voice of the Country" contacted me through Facebook and suggested I take part in the project. But I do not need it, it is for young artists who want to learn something and gain experience.
– Do you miss the homeland?
– Nostalgia? No, I do not suffer. Because I know that I can get on a plane at any time and be in Kiev 12 hours later. This opportunity prevents me from feeling nostalgic. I understand those who went to America after World War II – they felt nostalgic for their homeland because they could not return, they would have been put into prison.