Eugene Hütz (Ukrainian: Євген Гудзь, Yevhen Hudz′; born Yevheniy Aleksandrovich Nikolayev-Simonov, Russian: Евгений Александрович Николаев-Симонов, September 6, 1972) is a Ukrainian-born singer and composer, most notable as the frontman of the Gypsy punk band Gogol Bordello. Hütz is also a DJ and actor.
Hütz was born in Boyarka, to a Russian father and a mother who was of half Romani ancestry. His father was a butcher who also played guitar in one of Ukraine's first rock bands, Meridian. Hütz learned English through his musical "mentors" because
"Russian rock always had lyrics that were superb and more advanced than the original Western rock 'n' roll, I think. Of course, Western rock is much stronger when it comes to performance and production, but Russian song writers were the champions of writing lyrics. So naturally I picked mentors who taught me how to tell a story, like Johnny Cash or Nick Cave or Leonard Cohen or Shane MacGowan from The Pogues. I learned English through my mentors. I feel like they are kind of my uncles in this sense."
Hütz's ride to the United States was a long journey through Poland, Hungary, Austria and Italy. Descendants of gypsies called the Servo Roma (a tribe known for its blacksmiths, horsetraders and musicians), Hütz and his family fled their hometown after hearing of the Chernobyl meltdown. Enduring a seven-year trek through East European refugee camps provided Hütz with an immigrant experience that is reflected in his songwriting. However, it is Hütz's Roma and Ukrainian background that is his central inspiration, influencing his lifestyle and the music of his band Gogol Bordello.
Hütz arrived in Vermont in 1992 as a political refugee through a resettlement program with his mother, father and cousin Yosef.
Hütz started his musical career in Ukraine with the band Uksusnik (Vinegar Dispenser). While in Vermont, Hütz formed the punk band The Fags. Later, Hütz moved to New York and took on his mother's German maiden name of Hütz. It was in New York where he met members of Gogol Bordello including violinist Sergey Ryabtsev, accordionist Yuri Lemeshev, guitarist Oren Kaplan, drummer Eliot Ferguson and dancers Pam Racine and Elizabeth Sun.
In 1999, Gogol Bordello released their debut full-length Voi-La Intruder, produced by Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds drummer Jim Sclavunos. In September 2002 the band released their second album Multi Kontra Culti vs. Irony. In 2005, the band released the E.P. East Infection followed later that year by the SideOneDummy debut Gypsy Punks: Underdog World Strike, recorded by Steve Albini. Gogol Bordello's next offering, Super Taranta! (produced by Victor Van Vugt) became one of their most critically acclaimed releases with music critic Robert Christgau calling Gogol Bordello "the world's most visionary band." Their next album, Trans-Continental Hustle, was released on April 27, 2010, and the LP on May 11, 2010.
Gogol Bordello's live shows and Hütz's stage presence has earned them invitations to places such as The Whitney Museum in New York, The Tate Modern in London and the Venice Biennale in Italy. Gogol Bordello has played events such as Coachella, Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, Glastonbury, Roskilde Festival, Reading, Virgin Mobile Fest, Leeds, Bumbershoot, Austin City Limits Music Festival, Byron Bay Bluesfest and A Campingflight to Lowlands Paradise.
Since moving to New York, Hütz has also made a name for himself as a DJ with a style best represented on his experimental side project J.U.F. (Jüdisch-Ukrainische Freundschaft) and a newer incarnation, MITITIKA. He has also performed and recorded with the Kolpakov Trio.
Hütz made his film debut in the 2005 film Everything Is Illuminated, playing the character Alex. In addition to starring in Everything Is Illuminated, Hütz wrote and performed (as part of Gogol Bordello) some of the music for the film's soundtrack. Much of Gogol Bordello makes a cameo appearance in an early scene in the movie.
Hütz is also the subject of the 2006 documentary, The Pied Piper of Hützovina. Directed by Pavla Fleischer, the film chronicles Hütz's annual trip across Ukraine and Eastern Europe exploring his musical and cultural roots.
In 2008, Hütz starred as the lead character in Filth and Wisdom, the film that marks Madonna's directorial debut. The film premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival on February 13, 2008.
Hütz wrote the introduction for the Subculture Books edition of Taras Bulba, released in December of 2008.
Hütz has also worked with Les Claypool on various materials; he performed on Claypool's album "Of Fungi and Foe", on the track "Bite Out of Life".
Eugene Hütz appeared on the cover of Vogue Ukraine May 2013 with model Kätlin Aas.
In the 2006 movie Wristcutters: A Love Story, the character of Eugene (played by Shea Whigham) is based on Hütz and several of Hütz's songs are featured in the film.
In the January 2008, Gucci menswear show in Milan, Hütz was cited as the key inspiration for the collection.
Hütz is an avid supporter of Romani rights, using his music to introduce the gypsy culture to a wider audience. When he's not touring with Gogol Bordello, Hütz can be found DJ-ing at the Bulgarian Bar also known as "Mehanata" in New York or touring with the Russian gypsy group Kolpakov Trio, led by his mentor Sasha Kolpakov. Eugene has no siblings, although he refers to his maternal cousin as his brother; his cousin made an appearance in the movie Everything is Illuminated playing the trumpet. Both Eugene and his cousin are 1/4 Romani. His maternal grandmother is his tie to his Romani roots, although this knowledge was kept away from him until he was fourteen. In October 2008, Hütz told the L.A. Weekly that he had moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In November 2009, he told Pagina/12 that he had moved to São Paulo.
Kill Your Idols (2004) as himself,
Kill Your Darlings (2004 short film) as the prince,
Everything Is Illuminated (2005) as Alex,
The Pied Piper of Hützovina (2006) as himself,
Gogol Bordello Non-Stop (2008) as himself,
Filth and Wisdom (2008) as A.K.