Cultural identity through art: How Georgian folk can be heard in electro music field of Utrecht

Cultural identity through art: How Georgian folk can be heard in electro music field of Utrecht

Humans are shaped by memories and experiences, and you can learn a lot about an artist’s background through their work. Culture and identity are closely linked, influencing creations based on the impact artists have felt. This connection is evident in music.

While the Dutch education system includes music, it differs from the Georgian tradition of early choir singing. This contrast inspires young Georgian artist Anushka Chkheidze to infuse her electronic music with Georgian polyphonies.

“I used to feel the fullness and freedom in choir during my childhood. It’s the same now—I am energized when I create music,” says the 26-year-old musician from Kharagauli, Georgia. Having toured Europe and played at festivals like ESNS and Tweetakt in the Netherlands, Anushka seamlessly blends ambient music with unconscious harmonies from her culture.

“Being from Georgia will always make me an interesting musician,” mentions Anushka. Her music goes beyond just sound, beats, or harmonies; it incorporates her cultural identity. Tracks like “My Lands,” “+995” (Georgian phone code), and “Utrecht” reflect this.

For Anushka, her work is a journey back to childhood, home, and old memories. She explores how cultural expression can harmonize with music in a different country with diverse backgrounds. “Folk is not mechanical; it is made by humans,” explains Anushka, emphasizing that culture is a community that transcends borders. Music as a language that nongeorgian speakers can listen and feel at the same time.

So how does this happen? How can electronic music scene in a totally different country welcome Geogian musician with open arms? With Anushkas unique sound, listeners understand that this new experience she created by her music is not just a drum beat, nor a piano chord, but a cultural trans made live. Distinctive sound of Georgian harmonies could be more prominent for a georgian listener but polyphony which weaves together many voices, each with its own melody, can be felt by all.

“When my first album came out, I received the best feedback from Dutch vinyl shops. I thought If I had to study abroad, it had to be the Netherlands—it felt closest to my sound,” says Anushka Chkheidze, nominated for IMPALA’s European Independent Album of The Year Award. She is currently studying at HKU.

within HKU’s dimly light studio Anushka sits in the center of the room. Upon entering, one can’t help but notice an array of instruments neatly arranged against one wall, including synthesizers, drum machines, and other electronic devices that contribute to the artist’s distinctive sound.

In the center of the room, the artist’s laptop is connected to a set of speakers, serving as the command center for her creative process

The studio ambiance is a key aspect of the creative process. Dim lighting sets the mood, and the walls filled with posters and artwork reflect the artist’s inspirations.

The fusion of electronic elements with traditional Georgian sounds showcases a intresting blend of modern and cultural influences. The studio exudes creative energy, and there’s an unknown excitement in witnessing the birth of each experiment.

To understand that cultural identity could be found in the sound lines of a musician’s laptop screen, that before every live show Anushka sits in this studio and creates magic beats, makes this hidden gem of a place feels  like a museum. Exhibition of a cultural kind with history of music, old, new and modern. To be able to show who are you through untold words is the power of culture.

About The Author

Lizi Kurdadze

I am a 19 years old student in digital media and communications from Georgia. Over the coming 6 months I will follow a minor in cultural journalism at Hogeschool Utrecht. During my current minor, I will delve into exploring the further cultural landscapes of music and people. I am eager to learn more about the aspects of storytelling as well as audio and video journalism.