Kalush Orchestra have said they will be cultural “soldiers” for Ukraine when they take to the stage at the MTV Europe Music Awards (EMAs).
The Eurovision Song Contest champions feature on the bill at the PSD Bank Dome in Dusseldorf, Germany, alongside international acts including Stormzy, Lewis Capaldi, Gorillaz, Bebe Rexha and David Guetta.
Harry Styles leads the pack with seven nominations, including best song and best video for the smash hit As It Was, as well as best artist, followed closely by Taylor Swift who has six nods.
Speaking through an interpreter on the red carpet, lead singer Oleh Psiuk told the PA news agency: “We feel a bit of pressure because it is so huge. We feel pressure to perform for Ukraine and today we would like everybody to show that the culture of Ukraine is so unique.”
He added that “now it is war and culture is one of our weapons, so today we are are soldiers that present Ukraine’s culture”.
Speaking about Liverpool hosting the 2023 contest in place of Ukraine, Psiuk added: “We are very grateful to the UK for helping to deal with this situation.
“And of course we hope the UK can integrate some details of our culture – something that is important for Ukraine because we did our best last year.
“This year our country will make the best artists, the best music, to win one more time. So when we win the war, Eurovision 2023 could be in Kyiv.”
Asked if Kalush Orchestra would perform in Liverpool, he replied: “We don’t know right now for sure how everything will be going on.
“But if we could be special guests or something like that, we will be happy.”
Sam Ryder, who came second for the UK during Eurovision, said he was excited to see Stormzy perform during the awards show.
The singer, who is presenting the prize for best collaboration, told PA: “I am not going to say because that is a trap and I am not going to fall into that trap. What I will say is that I am excited to see Stormzy. He is an inspiration and a kind soul and a good guy.”
Asked how he felt about Eurovision taking place in Liverpool next year, he added: “I have been a fan of Eurovision since I was a little kid and it never mattered where it was.
“If I lived in Liverpool it might be a different story. I would be like, ‘Oh my God, it is coming here’. The traffic is going to be mental. I will enjoy it no matter what country it is in.”
Speaking about whether he will perform at the 2023 contest, Ryder replied: “As for my role, I can’t begin to presume. I just want to be there. I would love to see it and experience it at home with everyone else.
“It is such an amazing city. It has given us the bedrock of music as we know it. But also the richness of Ukrainian culture.”
Muse singer Matt Bellamy said the fight for freedom by the people of Ukraine and Iran has given them inspiration for their music.
The British band are performing at the ceremony and are also nominated for best rock artist.
Bellamy told PA: “Our songs always have a little bit of a political leaning to them, but not necessarily a particular side that we take.
“But in terms of stuff that is going on in Iran, for example, and stuff going on in Ukraine, obviously, we feel that like what’s going on there is such a real struggle for people struggling for their freedom and fighting for their lives and their freedom. We empathise with that hugely and it inspires a lot of our music.”
OneRepublic frontman Ryan Tedder arrived on the red carpet after playing in Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi in the past 48 hours, and said he is next heading to South Africa.
He praised Swift, who is nominated in numerous categories and tipped to win big, telling PA: “I would say that followers and social media, I am not going to lie, it is way more important than I wish it was.
“Your ability to write great material is the single most viable asset you have as an artist – more than your look, more than your attitude. Your talent. How good are you at telling your story?
“Look at Taylor Swift. She is a prime example. She is a better writer than everybody. That is why she is winning.”
US singer Gayle, 18, said it means “absolutely everything” to her to perform her viral hit Abcdefu at the award show after writing it with friends when she was 16.
She told PA: “I wrote the song when I was 16 with my best friend, who was 19 at the time, and another friend of ours, and we wrote this song in a room with a guitar, and the fact that a song that we wrote has gone to places that we have never been before, and that we get to play this song, just means absolutely everything to me.”
She is also nominated for best new artist and best push alongside a host of top global musicians.
This year’s ceremony will be hosted by celebrity power couple singer-songwriter Rita Ora and Oscar-winning filmmaker Taika Waititi and marks the sixth time the awards show has been held in Germany.
It will be the couple’s first time working together after keeping their partnership mostly out of the spotlight since they first sparked relationship rumours last year after appearing alongside each other on red carpets.
In the nominations, former One Direction star Styles will go up against fellow Briton Adele for the best artist award in a category dominated by Americans including Beyonce, Swift and Nicki Minaj as well as Spanish singer Rosalia.
British stars including Ed Sheeran, Calvin Harris and Coldplay are also among the nominees.
A raft of famous faces are also due to take on award presenting duties including Baywatch star David Hasselhoff, Eurovision runner-up Sam Ryder and singer and John Lennon’s son Julian Lennon.
The MTV EMAs 2022 will take be broadcast live on MTV on November 13 at 8pm GMT and will also be available to watch on Paramount+ UK from November 14.