WorldSmith of the Month is a new feature, showcasing traveling artists and creative professionals around the world. I believe travel in itself can be a creative pursuit, but there are so many ways travel and art can (and do) intersect and fuel one another. Travel can bring you closer to creative endeavors, and living creatively can help you travel more. Read on to meet the newest addition to the WorldSmith community and learn how she balances art and travel.
“As soon as you see someone in your hostel with a guitar, you instantly know you can easily build a conversation with them,” says travel blogger Lena Tarasyuk. But what if instead of a guitar in a hostel, it was a ukulele on a street corner with a camera set up to record?
In addition to her work on the Travel Monkey website and blog, Lena and her partner travel the world making music and bringing together new friends.
Born in the Ukraine, Lena has loved music since before she can remember. “I think some sort of art has always been in me…from annoying my neighbors by singing on my backyard swing to recording my first lousy acapella songs on a cassette player.”
In high school, she got her first big break singing in a nu-metal band.
“I was one of those rebellious kids who wore black nail polish and red stripes in my hair, which was under-appreciated in our ‘fancy gymnasium’ where everyone wears a uniform,” Lena says. “Obviously, I stood out, so [this guy] approached me and told [me] that they were looking for a singer.”
Over the next year, they toured the country until Lena left for college in Lithuania, where she discovered her next great love: travel.
“I think each one of us has their own addiction. For some, it could be video games, for others partying, YouTube videos, TV shows, etc. My addiction is traveling,” she says. “The idea of some new planned adventure is something that gets me through the day.”
She continues, “With the Schengen zone visa, I could to go any country in Europe I wanted for very cheap. I started doing that when I was a student, crashing [with] Couchsurfer hosts or cheap hostels… After my first ever big trip to Panama in 2014, I really wanted to dedicate all my free time to traveling.”
Lena eventually left the Ukraine with her partner of 10 years – a guitar player from her lead singer days – and they’ve continued making music as a duo, Karren. One fateful trip, worlds collided.
“On our trip to Scotland, we decided to take a ukulele along, just for fun, but it came in rather handy,” Lena says. “For lack of something better to do in a small fishing village, we made a…live video cover on the street and got pretty good feedback from people on YouTube.”
“Now we take the ukulele with us at every opportunity and shoot live video covers in different places we visit. It is quite fun, especially to see locals reacting to our recording process,” she says.
While Lena has hung onto her full-time job as a project manager in Copenhagen, she still manages to travel at least once every two months, often with ukulele in tow.
She says, “Making music on the road is definitely not easy, especially since you can’t always take your musical instruments with you, but if we have it, it always comes in handy and makes us happy with the results.”
So where are Lena and her ukulele strumming beau headed next? 2017’s biggest adventure will be a month-long tour of Australia, from the desert to the beach.
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