The road to Georgia

Guitarist Zaza Miminoshvili reveals how The Shin have held fast to the innocence and emotion of traditional music

By Layla Haroon

Published: Thu 5 Feb 2009, 10:09 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 11:23 PM

(l-r) Guitarist Zaza Miminoshvili and bassist Zurab J. Gagnidze, with lead vocalist and percussionist Mamuka GhaghanidzeBACK IN MID-90s, they travelled to Europe as Adio, knowing little that they would end up living there for 15 consecutive years. All they performed were the ‘democratic’ version of instrumental jazz that made them realise the Iberia-Caucasian style of music.

But with time, things went in different ways. Guitarist Zaza Miminoshvili and bassist Zurab J. Gagnidze, with Mamuka Ghaghanidze as lead vocalist and percussionist, formed a band called The Shin.

This week, The Shin is in the capital to perform at the World Music Festival. City Times caught up with Zaza Mimioshvili prior to their upcoming performance.

You were born to a family of writers, mathematicians and artists. What made you want to start making music?

I guess it happened exactly as I was born in family of very creative and intellectual people. Already in the young age I was spending hours at the neighbour’s piano, absorbed in my own musical tales and directing an invisible orchestra—all of my own will.

What does the word ‘shin’ actually mean?

In Georgian ‘shin’ means ‘coming home’. Home has a special meaning for us, as we have been living abroad for many years. It makes us realise even deeper: where are we from and what are our roots. Although each of us has our own road home, we want to lead everyone home, with our music - no matter how far it may be. We want to lead you somewhere you know you’ve been before, where the windows are fogged over from the rain and familiar smells waft in from the kitchen, where you hear familiar voices and you understand, even when you can’t make out the words.

Does nostalgia guide you while creating a song?

When I create nostalgic songs, I feel nostalgic. When writing joyful pieces, I feel happy. During sad compositions, I feel sad. Nostalgically, I think about happiness.

The EgAri has kind of an old school sound – in a positive way. Did you talk and discuss about the sound of the record?

This project is based on traditional Georgian music. That is why it has a seal of a good old school. But EgAri is also a bridge between old and new and that is why I hope it has also a sound of modern music.

How much did the group get into this record with a feel good, party attitude, compared to your earlier ones?

EgAri means ‘That’s it’ in Georgian language. It features The Shin collaborating with five Georgian folk musicians, singers and a dancer in pursuit of a quintessentially Georgian, yet unmistakably modern sound. Each of the musicians taking part in EgAri programme is the best in his field.

In a nutshell, EgAri is shaped around traditional Georgian instrumental styles, polyphonic vocals, and folk dance. It unites us for the first time ever in a brilliant aural and visual display. We can also call it as a non-conventional hybrid of archaic and modern elements, Caucasian and non-indigenous instruments, startling Georgian harmonies and more familiar jazz threads. And so, it reinitiates a peaceful dialogue between East and West, old and new, ‘ours’ and ‘theirs’. Were you given easy access to what you were trying to find during the project?

We were mainly inspired by our country. We wanted to show very untraditional approach to tradition: equally great individuals in instrumental, vocal and dance, but not traditionally where instrumental part is just a support for a dance.

I believe polyphony should not be combined with dance and instrumental music and so on. We wanted to have in EgAri fruitful union of these three parts of our culture with expert musicians. We found a main inspiration of this kind of performances in programmes of Paco de Lucia and generally in flamenco projects. I am happy to say, that we have managed to fulfil our ideas in this project.

How do you adapt to the interest of modern people, considering you are smoothly blended in classical genre?

The thing is that this young guy, who I was 30 years ago, has not disappeared. He is still in me and I am always checking my music with him. Well, it is natural that each new generation has it own style and music. But it is very important for me, that my daughters like the music I create…

What has been your biggest challenge as a band?

We create music, which makes us happy. To say correctly, we create music when it forces us to create it. Challenges come and go…There were many challenges in EgAri. We wanted to show first to ourselves and then to people around the world how beautiful and indispensable is the small part of this Universe, called Georgia. Another challenge was to find a way to unite old tradition and new form. But the biggest one is to find the creative urge.

What volumes are coming up next in The Shin’s discography?

Right now we are recording the new album ‘Black Sea Fire’. The main focus of this album will be on the music of Black Sea region. With the great guest musicians as Theodosii Spassov from Bulgaria, Fuat Saka from Turkey, Nariman Umerov from Ukraine we will envision the myth of the Black Sea with its fire, its temperament, its profundity, its emotion and unique salty sense of humour. The album will be released in May, this year, by a German music label called Jaro.

Where will you be performing next?

Recently, we had a series of concerts in Georgia: at Gala concert of the Geostar music contest and charity concert in Gori. In March, EgAri will take part in German world music competition. We are glad to be able to present our deep and joyful music to German’s world music scene. And I think EgAri was a good beginning. Work goes on and there are many ideas and exciting projects ahead.

Event Details

What: The Shin at World Music concerts

Where: Cultural Foundation, Al Dhafra Auditorium, Abu Dhabi at 8.30pm

When: February 5

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