Photo: Levan Maisuradze (HVL)
Tbilisi’s underground has been the talk of the town of roughly a year now and much of that has to do with the impressive Bassiani club, hosted underneath a football stadium. In just three years, the club has contributed much to the international renown of the Georgian club scene which Groove’s editor-in-chief Heiko Hoffmann visited for an in-depth feature in our new issue. While Bassiani regularly invites DJs from all over the world to play there (sometimes longer expected, as was the case with Sunil Sharpe who wrote about the experience in his Off The Tracks feature in February), the young club draws mostly on local talent. Gigi Jikia alias HVL has been a resident at Bassiani since the very beginning, playing bi-weekly at the club and thus shaping its sound. Jikia, who has also made a name for himself as the producer of a slew of gentle-yet-rough House EPs, went the extra mile for his contribution to our Groove podcast to bring the Bassiani vibe to your home.
What got you into electronic dance music and when did you pick up DJing?
I was trying out various types of music making with acoustic instruments since I was a little kid, but I didn’t get into electronic music until my late teens. I’m not sure what exactly got me into it, but albums by Luke Vibert, Boards of Canada and Aphex Twin, to name a few, must have had an important role in that. They were revealed to me through the internet of course, not from my parents’ record collection or anything like that. As for DJing, it came along with my music productions and the evolving electronic music scene, in around 2010. Clubs like Mtkvarze and Cafe-Gallery were the first places to let me and my friends play at their nights. Their support was very important when I was doing my first steps. These clubs are still going strong to this day.
Tbilisi’s club scene has risen to international fame in the past few years. How did you experience the scene when growing up and what would you say makes it so attractive for outsiders?
It might seem like it’s been only a few years, but I feel like the environment was being prepared for quite some time. I’ve been around to witness and observe the big part of this development and it’s been a rough ride. But we’re finally getting somewhere. There are multiple places in Tbilisi where you can go and listen to various types of quality music or rave like crazy every weekend. I think what makes this scene so appealing for outsiders is to see how much local music enthusiasts, facing the harsh background of our country, actually enjoy and value these experiences.
While Georgia’s infrastructure makes it quite expensive and difficult to land international gigs, you’ve already played in other countries. Which country or club would you still like to visit?
There’s not much to pick out from, I’ve only played abroad couple of times, but I would really love to visit and play in Japan, South Africa, UK or Australia. I’ve been getting lots of support over the internet from those places, but never had the chance to go there.
As a producer, you contributed the first catalogue number by the Georgian-run, Cologne-based label Rough House Rosie and have released a slew of records there afterwards. What is your relationship with Rough House Rosie and its founder, George Beridze, like?
George is a good friend of mine. It was his initial idea in 2012 to wrap up some of my tracks that I had laying around on Soundcloud and put them out as a hand stamped record. That became my first ever release as HVL and it also provided a good way for him to start the label, simultaneously doing his PhD in biochemistry or something. I’ve done a bunch of tracks for him since then, it’s always good to be back on a label that gives full freedom and doesn’t suppress my musical choices in any way.
Bassiani opened in 2014, you have been a resident from the very beginning, playing at the club more or less bi-weekly ever since. What does it take to keep things interesting for your audience?
Not much that I wouldn’t do anyways. The good thing is I get to be me and be appreciated by the club and the listeners. Sometimes I tend to do unusual sets for a Techno club setting, shifting moods and tempo, playing weird stuff that I’m into at that moment. There are days, when those things may not be what a sweaty dancer wants at 5AM in the morning but I don’t necessarily try to please anybody. I play stuff that I like and if I’m lucky, others enjoy it too. At Bassiani I can get away with that thanks to the sophisticated crowd and club management. I get to play around, experiment, try new things each time. I’m very grateful for the given opportunity. Having all that said, through these years at Bassiani, I’ve developed the wit to figure what works best for the particular night.
Your contribution to our Groove podcast puts an emphasis on murky underground Techno. What was your idea behind it?
I’m not used to recording an hour long beat-matched DJ mixes at home, I have only done couple of them. I actually had to borrow a second turntable to do this mix because I’ve only got one. So I thought it would be a good idea to showcase some recently encountered 130 bpm techno beats, to get into Bassiani vibe.
Last but not least: Where can we see you behind the decks outside of Tbilisi – and what are your plans as a producer?
No plans for playing outside of Tbilisi at the moment, you’ll have to come to Georgia. As for my release schedule, you can already check out the preview of my new 12” on Rough House Rosie called Hidden Valley which comes out in Autumn. In addition, I have recently wrapped up a mini album for my friends at Organic Analogue Records, that one will hopefully hit the stores at the end of this year. It’s also worth mentioning that I’m discussing the options of doing a solo release with Bassiani Records, which would be a neat way to let people abroad hear, what it sounds like underneath the national stadium in Tbilisi.
Stream: HVL – Groove Podcast 120
01. Molodoy Chelovek – Untitled 1
02. Ivan Erofeev – Sahiba
03. 400PPM – Bølling Oscillation
04. Area – Entireless (Genesis Chamber Beats By Donato Dozzy)
05. Africans With Mainframes – Djibouti
06. Sigha – Loop 6
07. Kiyadama – Universal Dicktator
08. Pvre Matrix – Hyper Object
09. X343 – Untitled 09
10. Lubin – Magneta Finale
11. Unit Moebius – Sewer
12. Daniel Andréasson – Sheffield
13. Buttechno – Augustus 13
14. DJ Bookworms – Photogenic
15. MNLTH – Meadow
16. Lubin – Night Shift Deux
17. Penik Ettek – B2