Photos: Sunil Sharpe

Today, Groove is launching Off The Tracks, a new format that provides an open-minded platform for artists writing about music, film, literature, art, as well as more personal insights on their experiences on the road, dance music related topics, and sharing their all-time influences. Off The Tracks intends to change roles, offering a weekly contribution narrated by various artists in and outside the electronic music scene per invitation of Groove editor Sebastian Weiß.

Off The Tracks will be inaugurated by Irish DJ and producer Sunil Sharpe. Being introduced as one of Groove’s „Hoffnungsträger“ for 2016, Sharpe has been known as Dublin’s local techno hero, gradually playing at clubs such as Berghain and Fabric on a regular basis. Aside from his international DJ career that has taken a leap forward since 2012, Sharpe not only founded his own labels Earwiggle and On The Hoof but is also teaching DJ techniques and music production at the Bray Institute of Further Education for the past 10 years.

Starting our new series Off The Tracks, Sunil Sharpe writes about his first visit to Georgia, playing the infamous club Bassiani in Tbilisi, and what is takes to play longer sets.

 


 

When I found out about my upcoming gig at Bassiani, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had been hearing positive reports, but doing more homework, I worked out that it was situated underneath Dynamo Tbilisi’s football ground and has quickly been becoming one of Europe’s key techno clubs. Flights from Dublin take a while so I had to set off a day early and travel overnight via Istanbul. Winds were so strong around Dublin airport that the airline were warning that (for safety reasons) our luggage may not make it onboard and could get delayed anywhere up to 36 hours to get to Tbilisi. This left me with a potential problem – although I was carrying on 20kg of records as hand luggage, I wasn’t sure exactly of what I had in there. It wouldn’t be enough for a 5 hour set at Bassiani or have the variety I wanted; I just kept my fingers crossed that the 30kg of records that I checked in, would make it too.

The records made it over and through to Tbilisi thankfully. Levan from the Bassiani crew picked me up, he said that Georgians had just been given confirmation that they wouldn’t need visas for travelling into EU countries anymore. He anticipated that the crowd at the club would be in a celebratory mood as a result; the timing of this Resident Advisor event seemed just right! Remembering previous DJ experiences in Eastern Europe, and my first regular gigs outside of Ireland, we discussed the Slovak techno scene and the movement that Toky, Dalo and Brano created in their heyday. It seems like different parts of Eastern Europe have enjoyed golden spells – Bratislava certainly had one, and right now Tbilisi are enjoying theirs. In addition to Bassiani, there are about four or five other specialist clubs too. The fact that the city also has a recently-opened record shop for techno and house etc, Vodkast Records, also gives the impression of a scene that’s in the right place.