How can music initiatives persevere amidst difficult climates? Can they go so far as to effect positive change, both in and outside of music cultures? This panel brings artists and organisers together to consider these questions. Bassiani is the Tbilisi venue which risked closure in 2018, though thanks to the support of their widespread community, they managed to persist. Nyege Nyege Festival welcomes a wide array of music and cultures, and faced accusations of promoting homosexuality (which is banned in the country). Russian duo IC3PEAK have received a substantial amount of attention from authorities for their provocative output, but have still continued touring.
Termed “[t]he most challenging band in this [Moscow] scene,” (Noisey) IC3PEAK are the duo of Nick Kostylev and Nastya Kreslina, who describe themselves as “audio-visual terrorists.” They craft futuristic, dystopian opera, and recently found themselves in direct opposition with the Russian authorities, playing secret shows and being shut down by the FSB for their outspoken political views.
Giorgi Ujmajuridze was born in 1990 in Tbilisi, back in the days of war and extreme poverty in Georgia. Now, he serves as operations manager at club Bassiani, where along with his fellow teammates, he has spent years throwing parties and struggling against cabal drug policy and homophobia. He has personally experienced and witnessed violent counter-attacks from the oppressive regime and far-right groups against the club and its members.
Derek Debru co-organizes MTN Nyege Nyege Festival, "a twisted gathering where 4,000 gays come and practice open sex and evil rituals in a lush green forest," as described by an informed critic, though the organizers themselves tend to consider it to be a transformational festival.
Stefanie Alisch is a musicologist from Berlin. In 2017 she obtained a PhD from Bayreuth University with a pioneering study on electronic dance music form from Angola called kuduro. Alisch studied musicology, Portuguese, and English at Humboldt University Berlin, and ethnomusicology at UFBA in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil.