I Believe in Sincere Collectivity, Which Is Not Only Based on Identities — Nino Davadze

ვახო ქარელი / მედია აპრილი

“I am a musician and a person who is interested in the specifics of combinations when it comes to sound and music. Also, by researching the facts that are created by certain combinations, including the combinations of our decisions and how these combinations are expressed in music”, – this is how Nino Davadze, a musician and a multimedia artist, described herself to me.

People who live in Tbilisi and take by subway have probably noticed new installations at the Rustaveli metro station. Sound lanterns make different sounds and it is possible to listen to the compositions of three musicians. One of them is Nino Davadze, our respondent.

27-year-old Nino tells us that she doesn’t see the need for coming out, and when she is labeled with a queer identity, she prefers to interpret it as well. In Nino’s understanding of the word, queer should not be confined only to the borders of sexuality, because queer culture claims to be very flexible and easy, according to individual experiences.

“Queerness is when you are proud of being an outsider. Someone feels this alienation towards sexuality, someone feels it because they couldn’t fulfill themselves creatively, someone feels it because they might have a problem at work, some because of body shapes, and so on.

"Being queer is about stepping over this alienation and offering your agenda to society, with reservations that are a little better."

Absolutely every individual is queer in some aspect of life, because we all have the experience of alienation from society, and this aspect does not necessarily have to do with sexuality.

When I say that I am queer, I mean that the mechanism of coexistence with capitalism, political regimes, modern art, urban conditions, or in general with my microcosm is different for me than it was before. My coping mechanisms are more resilient, my judgment is softer, my perception of my body is different. And when they look at the importance of queer culture only in terms of sexuality and are only interested in that, it hurts me a little. It’s easy lock the queer culture in this narrow understanding, when it can be so broad and interesting,” Nino explains.

Vakho Kareli / Aprili Media

We started the interview by talking about the experience of being a woman and the self-identification of gender and political identities. Nino told me that being a woman is a kind of process for her. It cannot be just a statement, nor does it have to be, because “manifestos and statements” become more superficial and intangible with today’s accelerated pace of information dissemination. She says that the most important is the work process, which means coexistence with women, living with them, friendship, neighborliness, and so on.

"For me, supporting women is expressed not by my own femininity, but by doing things together, compromising for them, empathy, solidarity, etc."

“The gender and political form of identity worries me a little, because if we lock gender into a political view, being a woman becomes a weapon. I was born a woman, I do things based on that, and this is already a very beautiful state. I absolutely understand people who focus on being a woman politically. 2-3 years ago, I was more categorical about the intersection of gender and political identities, and then I just got tired of it, which may not be morally correct now, to be tired in this social situation. I focus more on action, doing things with women or thinking from their/our perspective, which often doesn’t include highlighting and victimizing women’s identity,” Nino tells us.


Nino was born in Kharagauli. According to her, it will not be special if she says that life, including musical education, was difficult because she grew up in the 90’s. She also remembers the cold and darkness that were an integral part of that period, but since almost all children of this age have similar experiences, she tries not to often think about how difficult that period was and not to turn this worry into a sentimental background.

She has a classical music education and studied at a music school for 14-15 years. She says that life in Tbilisi is still quite foreign to her, because she did not grow up in this city.

" Absolutely every individual is queer in some aspect of life, because we all have the experience of alienation from society, and this aspect does not necessarily have to do with sexuality."

“Kharagauli is a small region and therefore it is easy to concentrate on a routine. I always spent a lot of time on music. At the same time, nothing much was happening. Therefore, I had a lot of time and I had comfort. I really wanted to be a pianist, but it didn’t work out, because I couldn’t see much and didn’t know what was happening beyond the conservatory. So I went in another direction. Music was more of a diversion than a main activity or interest, although it was always a part of my life. At the university, for example, I used to have small concerts, or I always exercised after lectures, – Nino recalls.

After going to England and being exposed to British underground music and the local music scene, she realized how much she was constrained by pressure when she should have been focused on self-expression all along.

"In England, the first time I had my band, I just had a community of musicians that was also very queer-friendly, but that was never the focus for us. The focus was always being together, what we talked about, what we cared about, what we shared with each other. This was more important."

She says that the transition from Kharagauli to England was easier than from England to Tbilisi. England turned out to be very comfortable for her, because she was interested in medieval gothic music at that time, and it was while being there that she was able to find people with similar interests, make friends, and later even create a band. She shares with us the aspects of life in England that are a consequence of emigration. In particular, social and cultural loneliness.

Vakho Kareli / Aprili Media

“Britain has a different culture and it has nothing to do with Georgia and our socialization principles. Still, it was easier for me to exist there because I was at a point where I was ready to create my own space and there was also a lot more acceptance of me as a person. It happened that what I did as a child was somehow more relevant in England. For example, playing the piano. Since many children there do not have the luxury of a classical education, my ability to play the piano was a rare skill, so I used to play at the beginning of public dinners at the church and was paid for it, which amazed me. It’s a little strange that England is more connected to my childhood than Tbilisi,” says Nino.

Attempting to Communicate with the Capital

After returning to Georgia, she realized that it was impossible to have access to musicians and people with common interests in the same way as in England, because she simply did not know enough people yet. After realizing this, she decided to start doing everything herself and see where the process would take her.

“Now I am very happy and very grateful that I already have this creative community here. Little by little, our relationship grows and strengthens around our interests, which are very difficult to implement and make real. This happens at the expense of a lot of talking, discussion, often conflict, but we always manage to consolidate and stay friends. Then we collectively decide what we want,” shares Nino.

"I plan to stay here, I love Georgia. I am finding a common language with Tbilisi. I realized some things, how to live in order to survive here. For example, I realized that you shouldn't fight with this city and you shouldn't be categorical."

Nino advises people who are still trying to find a common language with Tbilisi to create desired spaces and “tiny autonomous communities”. According to the musician, we need to take radical responsibility for ourselves in order to make Tbilisi more diverse. This is explained by the fact that such resources are extremely limited in the city. According to Nino’s experience, the relationship with Tbilisi became easier in various aspects after she felt the claim to create and develop her own space, but not with conflict and tension, but with friendship and consolidation.

“In this city, there is one publication, one label, one radio, one NGO that functions – you have a couple of things, and each one is valuable, but at the same time it is very limiting because of the lack of choice. It is very difficult to depend on this individual person or organization. Especially since they also have their perspective, truth, experiences and established vision. After you create your own space in this city and create a small microcosm by practice or example, things arrange differently. But this is also a big process and it happens as a result of great empathy, ethics, hard work – the goal itself is community, friendship, care and not just one’s own identity. Otherwise, existence in this city is either exploitation, uncertainty, mistrust, or conflict. I don’t know how correct this conclusion is, I’m still trying to test the mechanisms of the community, but so far friendship and sharing spaces with others is working well,” says Nino.

We also talked about the need for decentralization and the limited resources that the capital has. When I leave Tbilisi for a few days and get back to being myself, then I think about how the capital has drained out of ideas. She says that the regions do not really need Tbilisi for the development of ideas.

Vakho Kareli / Aprili Media

"It's important to leave room for mistakes. Things may not go as planned, but that shouldn't become the basis for new anxiety."

“Everything is extremely difficult in Tbilisi. I remember cases when I was not in Tbilisi for a few days and I became amazingly free and expressive. When I am somewhere else, I especially realize that Tbilisi does not define the extent of my self-expression. Not because it’s in Tbilisi, but because where you live, that environment is probably always perceived as sensitive and stressful for you,” Nino tells us.

Creativity and Mental Health

We couldn’t skip the mental health part of the conversation, especially since she mentioned anxiety and fear of loneliness several times, especially in the part about living in England. She shared with me what her anxiety is based on; On the one hand, how she tries to deal with anxiety and on the other hand, to regain mental energy, the resource of which is exhaustible for everyone, if we do not add and fill it with some energy from external sources. According to Nino, happiness for her is associated with being close to nature, getting away from the city, reading, listening to music and dreaming. That’s why she tries to find time for self-care and not get away from these activities, because she knows where she should be and what should be happening, she can return to these activities and dreams and be happy with that.

“Today’s common anxiety disorder is a result of our loneliness, or perhaps our fear of judgment. My main coping mechanism for this anxiety is often to figure out where the feeling of loneliness is coming from. It is important to organize my own microcosm with the people around me, to find a common language and to increase our common interests in action. I enjoy knowing that I can be there for them when they need it, and they’ll be there for me when I’m weak.

It’s important to leave room for mistakes. Things may not go as planned, but that shouldn’t become the basis for new anxiety.

We need to give each other space sometimes to figure out what’s right and what’s not, so that mistakes don’t destroy the common goal that a particular creative group might have. We grew up in an environment where no one taught us how to speak up, how to make friends, how to let go of the toxic past that our generation lived through. That’s why many things happen to us and very logically. I think leaving room for these mistakes is the most important thing. When we work effectively, it is very beautiful to see. By doing this, our humanity and ego are trained, and it gives you mental self-confidence and makes you more focused on the more positive aspects of existence,” shares Nino.

Vakho Kareli / Aprili Media

She says that she used to have big dreams. Of course, she still dreams, but her wishes have become more pragmatic, tangible and part of the everyday life that makes Nino happy for most of the day.

"In today's political regimes, I get the feeling that even dreaming about something is a privilege. To want things, to have big desires, to think your favorite thoughts is already a great superpower."

Social Background and Creative Space

We also talked about the problems of the existing social reality for artists and not only. Nino expressed sincere concern that she has often thought about who might care about her stories, for example, in the background of the ongoing processes in Palestine, Ukraine, when there is such inequality. Nevertheless, in her opinion, self-expression should be somewhat impulsive, and the fear of self-expression being perceived by others can be overcome. It is the result of constant practice and routine work.

“When it comes to an album, artwork, etc., I’ve had similar questions about whether it’s time to share it. But as more questions arise, it sometimes means that the magic moment is right now, and right now it should be released,” says Nino.

According to her , she did not choose electronic music “for a great purpose”. As she says, it turned out to be the most accessible, the most realistic and the fastest to do exactly what she wanted. She explains staying in this genre by the fact that she simply cannot do it any other way.

“I can’t say that music makes me happy. I don’t like it when people talk about art as if these processes are self-evident, musicians are happy and lucky, and inspirations come naturally. Creating music is not a pain or struggling either, but it is a difficult process – you can’t do many things; There is a lot of frustration with yourself, because you only have a relationship with yourself, you can’t blame anyone else. This process is also very personal”, – describes Nino.

She says that she does not believe in the existence of muses. Which bus do muses come in with? – she joked. She notes that in the capitalist regime, people, including artists, have to be pragmatic, which, in turn, makes it difficult to leave the place of the muse. According to Nino, muses exist, but at the expense of greater effort — sometimes writing music can become a duty, a routine, and the presence of muses is not always necessary.

"It is very important to neutralize the existing situation with something - the more complex the existence, the more important it becomes to see the result of each individual expression in this complex existence."

“You have to put a lot of supporting poles in this process to make everything work out. You have to ask things, you have to talk, you have to go out, it’s a very complex process and often it may not be uniquely exciting or trendy. It’s routine work that I’m still learning. Then comes confidence and solidity. Some things progress, but some things stay the same. It was very difficult for me in the beginning, but now it’s amazing how it’s expanded—it’s an endless space, and I’m humbled by it.

With the passing of time, your principles of dealing with the outside world also grow. Here, you can be less accommodating and more categorical, because you already know more what you like, what you don’t like, you know how they should talk to you, how to establish a connection with others, and you recognize yourself more in the work process. It often turns out that you have different expectations when interacting with the outside world, and your requirements are reduced internally, when interacting with music. At this time, you become a conductor of these two very different worlds,” says Nino.

Vakho Kareli / Aprili Media

She also told me about the process of creating music. She says that she never had a preconceived idea of ​​what she was going to create. Inspiration can be any sound, for example, sawing or a scratching.

“I can talk about it only after finishing it, in the beginning I just like specific sounds and write them down. Then I play with things and some things come out of it. Finally, I getting serious. In the beginning, the goal in itself is never, for example, to convey an eco-feminist perspective in the work,” says Nino.

Nino Davadze, album “Agora”

Diversity of People

We also talked about intersectionality and the multi-layered nature of people. The fact that her identity includes being a woman, a queer, an artist and other layers is very important to Nino, although in the Georgian space it is lost in its content. She states that any form of identity in Georgia is always strong, intense and, at the same time, sensitive, which comes from the conflict in the nature of the region.

“There are national, cultural, political identities and this has always been acute for us and probably for the Caucasus in general. In recent years, urbanization and challenges have added to this intensity, and political games have become even more intense, though, superficial. Accordingly, I have a protest with this issue, and not with the fact that I am referred to by a specific identity.

Queer culture is so soft that, considering this, we have to be careful talking about queer identity in Georgia. However, even this caution did not work here, because being queer might turn out to be a tool too,” explains Nino.

"I'm trying to focus on the richness that queer culture has to offer, more culturally and creatively, rather than the political layers that make this community so shallow in our country."

As a result of the emergence of different identities in a heteronormative and misogynistic world, the two most common markers of oppression are perhaps gender and sexuality. Therefore, even in seemingly accepting and lenient spaces, such as, artistic circles, being a queer woman may turn out to be a prerequisite for discrimination on more grounds. According to Nino, this is one of the problematic parts when talking about identities.

“For example, there are specific lineups in which a woman should be included, because she is a woman. The women in there are just women and nothing more. I have not personally experienced oppression in this sense, because the music space is more open, although there are people in other fields who have experienced it more intensively.

My positive solution to this issue is that in the end everything seems to be why you have done it. Is something done just because, say, you’re a woman, or because it’s a very complex, true, and well-told story. It can always tell when something is a quality work, and I can’t say that we make low-quality art in Georgia. We are slowly practicing, myself included, to perceive all of this together in our practice and not to attach these stickers to things that are the result of leaving space for each other in addition to work and training,” Nino tells us.

Vakho Kareli / Aprili Media

According to Nino, acceptance of diversity in society is given a context as if people have to make an effort to accept people who are different from us. The musician thinks it’s the other way around — it’s easy to coexist with the different. Moreover, people suffer from being the same, and not accepting different people is only related to fears. Being with diversity is a natural fact, and our body and mentality are ready to adapt to it.

"Political and economic systems need things to be easily classified. But it is difficult not to live in diversity. In fact, monotony is simply uninteresting and boring."

In order to bring a better agenda to others, she shares a simple conclusion — we all have to start from our own microcosm and make it the way we want it to be. She says, we cannot go on a large scale if we do not start with our microcosm and explain to the people in them what and why we want to make them more involved.

“People are most afraid of the ambiguity of the result. That’s why you have to set a precedent for others, or if you can’t do it, motivate them to. I believe in sincere collectivity, which is not based on identities,” says Nino.

At the end of the conversation, she also shared with me that she was often on the verge of ending his relationship with creativity, although she did not stop, and then something came out of it. She advises beginner musicians and, in general, everyone who is close to giving up, not to define their abilities only by this year, this environment, this city, this country. She does not like to give guru-inspirational advice, because she does not know whether she herself is in the place from which people make such speeches.

“Always go beyond the reality where you are. Then it will become clear that if something is limiting you, it is only the environment. Consider these factors and then you will become more resilient in critical moments. Always try, based on what you learn or read, to mark a space and not depend on others, even on the city itself, which is very limited,” Nino tells us.

"Be sure to see yourself and the field you're dealing with as a much broader phenomenon than your current environment presents you with. This will empower you greatly."