Music & Interview
Newa, female shooting star from Tbilisi, Georgia
Hi Ana, nice to have you for our “Music & Interview” series. You are one of the main characters of the young Georgian techno scene which is also important for the political development of the country. But let’s start with the very beginning. Your childhood and youth. Could you please tell us a little bit about where and how you grew up? And what was your first favourite music? What kind of music did you listen when you were a teenager?
Thanks for having me for this interview. I grew up in Tbilisi, in the capital of Georgia. During my childhood Georgia as a country was having a lot of difficulties. As we had a civil war and war with Russia. So the situation was not good, we had shortage of electricity I remember learning on candle lights and doing “concerts” for my family as we were gathering in one room to economy the candles I was in the center of attention. As a child it was fun for me. But when I look at it now it affected me a lot and not in a good way. My favorite music when I was kid was jazz, because my grandmother was a piano teacher, she had her jazz band and I was singing in the band. Occasionally playing drums and piano. My father and grandfather had a huge collection of vinyls from frank Sinatra, Earth Wind and Fire, Steve wonder, Keith Jarrett, and lot more. Also rock bands like pink Floyd, led zeppelin and many many more. So I grew up listening to this music and I remember when I first heard Keith Jarrett playing “the wind” I felt so much love and disappointment in it, I cried a lot.
(Newa, live pic)
You are a classical trained musician and have a background as Jazz musician. What exactly did you train? How did you become a Jazz musician? Did you play in a regular band?
As I told you in the beginning I was playing in my grandmothers’ jazz band. She is a piano teacher and teaches classical jazz and classical music. She had a small jazz band and I was singing there, was playing piano and drums occasionally. We were having concerts around Georgia and it was fun for me. I earned my first salary from singing in the band and I was 8 years old.
After performing Jazz you decided to spin and produce techno music. When and how did you come up with the idea to switch the genre? Was there a special moment that you impressed? Who are your musical influences/role models/heroes?
I started producing experimental music at first, I wanted to learn more, find out more, it’s a part of me that is always looking for the answers so I found techno and acid techno particularly. It felt really pumpy and playfull and interesting to know so I started making techno. I remember the first techno track I’ve heard and it was acid. It was from Datacide – Datacide II album from a collaborative project by Tetsu Inoue met Uwe Schmidt. It’s a mix of ambient and techno music and it impressed me a lot and I started digging deeper.
(stream of “Turtle” from “SUB.REC.5” on Subspiele Records)
As mentioned you are vital part of the Georgian scene. So you play regularly at clubs like Khidi & Bassiani. Could you please describe these 2 clubs and say why you lile them? Please also tell us something about the scene itself in general (parties, producers, audience etc)?
Both of the clubs are very special for the Georgian scene, they have different souls, although they are both techno/house clubs mainly. Both have their own unique soul and for everyone they are different experience, some find their home on Khidi others on Bassiani. I just recommend to visit this clubs, and have your own opinion about them. The scene is getting bigger and bigger day by day I just wish the quality to be on a higher level amongst producers and for me artist who has followers and people who like their music has a great responsibility towards them, we have a power to change so we have to use it wise. Because you can kill with music, and why not do the contrary?!
(Flag of Georgia)
Both clubs got some attention from the “European” club scene because of amazing line-ups etc. So many people here were shocked by the (temporary) shutdown of Bassiani and another club by the Georgian police earlier this year. This led to protests in front of the parliament building. Also Khidi supported the young demonstrators who also expressed the political views there. Could you please tell us something about the background of the closing, the political situation in Georgia and your personal thoughts about it?
I was there for two days, first day was happier then the second. We were nearly attacked by fascists and nationalist groups who came up there. Dance is a political act in Georgia. There are a lot of people who were tired of this war and just went to leave in Europe or somewhere else and I understand them it’s tough. But we are here to defend it and we will dance together and fight together till the end. Political situation is in hand of pro-Russian government and Russia for us is a cage, is a monster who is tearing us apart everyday taking our citizens from their houses, during many centuries this country was causing controversy amongst Georgians. We are for freedom we won’t take this any longer and we will win this war.
Enough politics – let’s get back to your music vision. You released e.g. EPs on La Chinerie & Subspiele Records and tracks on Semantica, Ben Klock’s label Klockworks & Bassiani’s label. How do you start with a track production? What are your inspirations? Which equipment do you use? How is the production process?
Track production process starts very early in my head. I get inspired by people, nature, music, books, I get those emotions in me and process them for a while, before that I’m just a librarian, who is gathering sounds and training the skills, and when the right time comes I just sit next to my equipment and everything just comes out of me like I’m giving birth to something that has a soul and you can’t touch it but it’s in there. I’ve been making music in my computer but now I can afford to buy machines, it’s more fun with them.
(stream of Newa’s remix of Dold’s “Version”, out on Interstate Records)
But you don’t just release stuff on several labels, you are also involved in running the label Icon Trax. In total three samplers were already released – including two tracks by yourself. What’s your idea / philosophy behind it? What’s your task there? Any special image you want to create?
Icontrax represents light in the darkness. As the world leaves in the darkness unfortunately we want to discover the light in it. We want to focus on light. We want to avoid releasing “regular” mainstream music. We focus on Georgian artists and their soul through music. We always listen together with Berika he’s labels boss. And when we feel it we understand instantly. We want icontrax to be a truly Georgian label, represent Georgian soul and our feelings
(stream of the third release on Icontrax)
You support the local scene e.g. with your label mentioned above. Could you please name 5 Georgian artists who we should check out and have an eye on? What’s the reason for you to like them? What makes them special?
Skyra – he’s also released on icontrax, he has two tracks in two different released. I love how he looks at music, he’s way of thinking is totally different. We are now releasing Ep consists of 4 skyras track.
Nicole – she had a boiler room debut on Bassiani couple of months ago, she was making music in a duo named by body thrills but now she’s making music alone. She hasn’t released her music yet but I’ve listened to couple of her tracks and she will take you away for sure.
Phonothek – he works in the field of dark ambient and uses his horn delicately in his music, he has several alias and plays horn professionally in a Georgian philharmonic orchestra.
Octachoron – it’s a duo from Georgia and they released their first album this year “Octachoron – Land Of Meta” you should definitely check out their spacey sounds.
(Electronic Beats feature about “Photon”)
Getting closer to the end of the interview let us talk about your DJ career again. Beside releasing on Klockworks you have another connection to Ben Klock – you played 3 times at his “Photon” show. What is so special about it? How did you experience these nights? Any other gigs you kept in mind because of special moments and experiences? What happened at these parties?
I feel very honored to take part in Photon nights, which are combined with the amazing lights that creates the atmosphere along with the music. First one was at Berghain, and it was absolutely thrilling for me because I knew I would play there 6 months before so as the date was approaching I felt more and more anxious and nervous, we went there by 8;30 as I had to start at 9 and as soon as we entered I felt at home, Sterac was playing before me with his warm vibes and when I stood there I saw all my friends around the world standing very close to me it was such a special moment. I don’t remember what I played which tracks I played it was going simultaneously with the people with the lights and I felt that connection which was unforgettable and I’m thankful for ben and Klockworks that I can be part of those amazing nights.
(snippets of “Split One” by Newa / Mariska Neerman on Semantica)
This is already the last part of our small chat. So what do you plan for your near future? Any releases coming up? Or some new special gigs?
Releases are mainly V/A-s, also just released on split Ep on Semantica and I’m really happy about it. My schedule is getting busier and busier day by day so I’m trying to stay in shape and continue loving music as I did before. Thank you
“Split One” by Newa | Mariska Neerman on Semantica
Dold’s “Version” w/ Newa remix on Interstate Records
Tracklist of Exclusive Mix: