Batushka Lineup Drama: Two Competing Versions of the Band Promise New Music
Trouble has been brewing in the Batushka camp for several days now as guitarist Krzysztof Drabikowski and vocalist Bartłomiej Krysiuk (Bartek) spar over who owns the rights to the band’s name. The result is that there are currently two Batushkas, and fans have been left scrambling to make heads or tails of the situation.
Krzysztof, who started the band and claims to have written all of their prior material, posted the following message last Sunday on Batushka’s then-official Instagram page (which has since been removed and replaced with this one):
As Krzysztof’s statement implies, Bartek has since gone on to claim that he has ousted Krzysztof from the band he created and, together with new members (or possibly some existing members of the band? it’s not clear) plans to record and release new Batushka music without Krzysztof’s involvement. Bartek, whose label put out Batushka’s album, issued the following statement via Facebook explaining as much:
“We would like to address the statement published on the (then) Batushka Instagram last Sunday:
“Kris, our former guitarist, was told earlier this month that he would not participate in Batushka activities as we move into 2019. Kris was disappointed but understanding. We tried on multiple occasions to regain access to the Instagram page which was solely controlled by Kris. We had hoped that Kris would follow through with his promises to hand back control of Batushka’s Instagram but clearly that was not the case. This prompted a claim to have any pages operated by Kris, shut down based on intellectual property and trademark ownership.
“Rest assured, everything will be reinstated soon!
“Batushka is moving ahead with plans to release new music and begin a new touring cycle in 2019!
“MORE NEWS COMING SOON!”
Krzysztof struck next with a video message through Batushka’s YouTube channel (one of the few band web properties he still has control of) by releasing a video of himself reading a statement explaining the situation in more detail. The video is a bit difficult to understand (embedded below), so here is a transcript:
“My name is Krzysztof ‘Derph’ Drabikowski. Most of you know me by the moniker Христофоръ, the leader and creator of the musical project Batushka. I am recording this video because I have lost control over Batushka’s website, Facebook page, webstore and as of Tuesday, even the Instagram account. This is the only way I can tell you what is happening and how my former vocalist is trying to take the band away from me.
“I created Batushka in the spring of 2015. I am the author of the music, lyrics, the name, the painting that you know from the album cover and the overall monk image idea. I have made the musical arrangements, wrote the melodies and recorded most of the instruments on the Litourgiya album in my private home studio. Before the finishing touches I invited Bartłomiej Krysiuk to do the vocals according to my guidelines, and Marcin Bielemiuk to re-record my drum parts on acoustic percussion.
“Batushka was meant to be an anonymous musical project, and from the beginning the idea was to keep the line-up unknown to the public so that the listeners could focus their attention on the musical experience itself. The album, released by Krysiuk’s underground label, became a hit. The demand for live shows from all over the world was enormous. So, I decided to, with the help of my friends, bring Batushka’s music on to the live stage.
“During the past two years I have written and recorded the material for the second Batushka album, and Krysiuk pressed me to release it as soon as possible. As I wasn’t satisfied with the results yet, I postponed the release of the follower of Litourgiya which followed with Krysiuk declaring he is leaving the band. On the Friday of the 21st of December I learned that Krysiuk hired musicians to produce an album that he planned to release as the new Batushka record, behind my back! He also registered Batushka as his personal trademark. Before I managed to do anything, he cut off my access to all Batushka’s media platforms, and tries to enforce some kind of censorship on all media interested in the band situation. In response I have taken legal action and have been advised by my lawyer to not say anything further.
“All the new pictures you see on the website and Facebook page are of Krysiuk and random people like his son pretending to be Batushka. Every upcoming festival claiming to have Batushka in their line-up has made a deal with Krysiuk and not me. I would like to kindly ask you to copy and share this message wherever you can. Let the truth be heard. As of now the only true Batushka will be that without Krysiuk behind the mic. Thank you for watching and thank you for your support.”
Who to believe here? It’s incredibly difficult to tell. On one hand, my instincts are to side with Krzysztof on account of him having created the band, writing the music and masterminding nearly everything having to do with it. On the other, I’m left wondering why Bartek abruptly quit and hijacked control of the band; there must be some information missing here about something that went down behind the scenes between the two men. While we wait to find out more, jam Batushka’s critically acclaimed debut album Litourgiya at the bottom of this post.