Ukrainian singer on George Bowie charity track cowered below air strikes above Kyiv flat to record vocal

A Ukrainian singer was forced to record her lyrics for a charity single with Scots dance icon George Bowie while fighter jets soared overhead.

At one point, Anastasia Derkach even had to seek refuge in an air-raid shelter while trying to lay down her vocals for the Things Can Only Get Better remix at her home in Kyiv.

George and Sparkos – real name Marc Anderson – wanted to do something to help those displaced by the Russian invasion and felt the hit 90s track would be the perfect tune.

They were quickly granted permission by dance pop duo D:Ream, who originally released the iconic song, with their label, New State, offering to release the finished mix.

George Bowie and Sparkos

After finding Anastasia online, the team worked round the clock to make the final product happen – despite the young singer facing extremely challenging recording conditions.

She explained: “It wasn’t impossible but I can’t say that it was even normal: for the time when I was recording I heard air-fighters flying overhead and they made a very loud sound. “We always have air raid alerts and I needed to go to the shelter.

“I strongly believe that it’s my duty to do what I can to help all my sisters and brothers – all Ukrainians. I have no plans to leave, I will stay here.

“When George got in touch with me I felt excited. Thanks to you George and Marc for giving me an opportunity to perform such an outstanding song and help my country.

“The song is extremely outstanding, I like the sound so much and the lyrics are so appropriate for the situation.”

Speaking about life in Ukraine now, she explained: “To make a long story short, it seems that normal life is coming back but the fact is it only seems that way because some businesses are open, I can see more people walking through the streets .

Anastasia has been hailed for her bravery
Anastasia has been hailed for her bravery

“However, panic and fear can be read from the people’s faces. A lot of them lost their families. The situation in the Kyiv region is awful and a lot of people have families that are living here.

“As it can be understood, some of them won’t meet the members of their family any more. The life changed and changed so rapidly: now I have before and after life as many Ukrainians do. We are for sure a very courageous nation”.

Despite the logistical obstacles, GBX legend Bowie was certain the team could pull together to get the final remix over the line.

He said: “The idea came about very quickly after I met Anastasia.

“We had been going through potential singers for a GBX track and when I asked her to send a demo she said she couldn’t for a few days because she was in Ukraine and there was a 48-hour black out.

“I found the fact that she was continuing to work through these conditions and all the horrors that a war brings inspirational and thought we could maybe do something.

“Looking back I felt we had no chance of making it happen, there was too much we needed to do, but everyone worked round the clock on this.

“I just felt like it was meant to be. It’s all very well having the idea but convincing people can be another story. Pete and Al from D:Ream said they would be delighted to help but the final decision would be with New State, their record label.

“We got a Zoom call with Tim and Tom from New State later that day and they gave us the green light depending on how the song sounded.

“Myself, Marc and Ellene already had an idea for the song so we knew we could make it work. Pete recorded his vocal from him and we put a demo together which everyone seemed to love.

“The hardest part was getting Anastasia to record her part, she was in Kyiv so she couldn’t really walk up to a recording studio and book a session, but somehow she did it.

“She is an amazing professional and an inspiration to young people everywhere. Once the demo was finished I found a gospel choir in the US who I had used before and got them to sing over the chorus.

“When we mixed down the final version it was quite emotional but none of this would have happened if Pete, Al and New State weren’t so accommodating, I can’t thank them enough.”

Marc added: “Talking to Anastasia really brought it home and made it relatable just what the situation was. You can’t escape the pictures and the horror of what is going on.

“We wanted to raise vital funds but we also wanted a song of hope and Anastasia told me that’s exactly what this is for her and the good people of Ukraine and that meant more than anything to all of us.”

D:Ream ft Anastasia Derkach – the GBX and Sparkos Ukraine Relief Mix – is released at midnight on Friday with all proceeds from the song go to the DEC appeal to support refugees.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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