At best, the 1990s in Georgia should be remembered as a complex time for the newly independent nation. On the one hand, there are the strong memories of bread queues, a brutal civil war and regular power outages. On the other, there are memories of freedom from Soviet imperialism, precious, carefree childhood memories for those now in their twenties and thirties, and the introduction of so many new things from the west. At a time when Tbilisi is undergoing mass commercialization, greater inequality, and suffering the effects of gentrification, the 90s have become a point of nostalgia when people could depend upon their friends and people partied no matter how broke they were. Of course, like all nostalgic memories, it is warmer in retrospect, but that doesn’t make it any less valuable.
For the third year running, acclaimed restaurant Ezo will be hosting their annual 90s party, where attendees are encouraged to embrace all the wildness and excitement of the decade for one special night. Since they started hosting the night, it has rapidly gained a reputation for being the best party of the year in Tbilisi. This year’s event will be happening once a few issues are solved with security and we’re absolutely excited to check it out. It is a night from which everyone leaves with a smile, a couple more friends, and a couple drinks in them. People dress up all in black, eat mtsvadi, dance to all their favourite 90’s music, and embrace the unpretentiousness of the time. It has always been a positive night, where people celebrated not what they ought to be but what they once were. They celebrate a time when partying was far from perfect but was based upon genuine friendship.
In celebration of this upcoming party, we got the dudes from Ezo to put together a list of their favourite Georgian 90s tracks. Make sure you check out this event if you’re in Tbilisi and dance the night away like a Mkhedrioni!
Mother on Mondays
Alternative is just a word for 90s local youngsters, wandering in the cold streets of Tbilisi, looking for freshly released music and exchanging homemade mixtapes, while the civil war was happening outside. The group’s name – Mother on Mondays – was influenced by Frank Zappa’s band, The Mothers of Invention.
Founded in 1992-93 from 3 different groups: Shadow, Mysteria and Out of Need, their first album is Clear and Cold. After this release some members quit and the group continued playing as a trio (Goglik, Gogi, Levan), whereupon they recorded their second album, Friends.
“We had our first radio live show the next morning, when we realised that we were actually only a group of friends, without a name for our project. After lots of thinking, we still had no idea of what to call ourselves, so I decided to name us after the first thing I read when I woke up the next day. So, the first thing that came to me was – Soft Eject, written on my fresh cassette player. Everyone was a bit sceptical about this name in the beginning.” – says Vaho Babunashvili, founding member and bass guitarist of Soft Eject.
The band was founded in 1989. Their music combines Georgian folk influences, with psychedelic and art rock music. Soft Eject shot their first video for the single Please Just Carry On, which remains one of their most popular songs to this day.
In 1992, two of the most iconic figures from the local underground and alternative music – Dada Dadiani & Irakli Charkviani, teamed up with fellow bass guitarist Josepha. They set up a home studio in Dada’s country house, near Tbilisi, to separate themselves from their social lives, and dropped a musical project full of Kawai drum machine sounds and specific vocals from Irakli, that blends into electropop and indie pop aesthetics.
Shedikhar Tkeshi from the Children’s Medicine album (1992) has authentic Georgian pop tones and mixed lyrics (English-Georgian)
“The wishes are wishes as nobody follows
you go into bushes – shedixar tyeshi
you sit on the sand, sit on the sand
sand by the river – romelic mdinares gavs”
There’s nothing much on the web about this indie Georgian fellow named Devi Skanadze (aliases: Kumle, Bruce Lee, Engineer Loner, e_loner). His musical style varies from post-punk, up to modern jazz & funk. Nowadays he’s producing D&B and IDM music but he used to contribute to several bands in the early 90’s. Friends remember his live performances as an act of protest against those days by a genuine, rebellious punkster.
Here is an alternative punk-rock band that hails from the former capital of the ancient Kingdom of Colchis, the present legislative capital of Georgia and third most populous city in the country. The group’s founder and chief ideologist is Robi Kukhianidze. In the early 90’s, Outsider was the only Georgian band that participated in global alternative music festivals (Moscow 1992, Tallinn 1991). The group recorded its first album Inside in Peter Mamonov’s studio in Moscow, in 1992. Their popularity started to spread from 1996, when they won a prize at the Margarita 96 festival (a festival of contemporary Georgian music, where almost every local artist participates) as best Georgian alternative band.