The Pleasure of Song


Nino Katamadze is a bona-fide star: just give a quick glance at the vast army of fans the singer has amassed over her career. Armed with a vast array of questions in advance of her upcoming Black Sea Arena concert, GEORGIA TODAY went to meet her.

What made you decide to sing?

It’s not something you can decide; it’s a rather intimate, innate process. I for one think that I still have miles to go before I get this inner confidence that allows you to step on the stage without fear. Music is all about making mundane things magical. Each morning, each person you meet, everything should be looked on through this magical prism because you cannot bring mundane into music.

What song brings you the happiest memories and why?

With me, it’s more about certain phrases, tunes and scenes, than memories. I usually get attached to specific phrases or tunes. For example, my current favorite is a bit from our new album, the song is called “Never Like This”, and at the beginning, you have this angelic chorus sung by the Patriarchy chorus and it’s just breathtaking. To be honest, oftentimes when I sing I might look quite funny as I have to leave my everyday self behind and it’s just another Nino who goes in and faces the music and tunes and embraces them. And I remember how I felt recording each and every one of my songs, starting from the very first album ending with every concert. And these feeling are what I really cherish.

How long do you need to tune up and create a new song?

The main component of my musical life is my band – Insight. We started together, and are still together, nobody left, nobody come in. As for time, well, once again, it’s not about time, it’s how and what do you feel. You can “give birth” to three compositions in one day, but that would have to be a really special day. We wouldn’t call ourselves composers, we take more after painters, if that’s a thing in music. And let me tell you, its hugely emotional. When you create music, when you unite this dissonance into something harmonious, melodic, it’s a real miracle. The emotions are… pure would be the right word, I suppose. And you have to cherish and take care of that wholeness, too, because it can go away.

Do you like all your songs?

Like, not like… it’s not like that. There are times when I find it difficult to sing. For example, in the aftermath of the 2008 August War, we recorded the “Red” album. We toured two years with it, but it’s was such a strain emotionally that we had to “save ourselves” and record the “Green” album. That’s the kind of remedy we usually resort to. There are also times when a song has already said what it wanted to say, to express and tell the listener and then it enters a kind of hibernation and you are wary to wake it up again. There are songs that make you hurt and there are songs that make you happy, there are songs that remind you of love and, truth be told, it would take a much fancier talker than me to describe all the myriads of feelings that these songs can invoke.

You’ve toured abroad extensively. Which was your favorite audience?

Apart from Georgia, you mean? Well, we go where we’re wanted. Where we can warm other people’s hearts, do some good, get them to see a better tomorrow. That’s why we often go to places where it’s difficult to sing, but then again, the real bravery is to face whatever reality you are in, to sing when you’re in war. Half of Earth’s population is our listener, so it’s really hard to pick favorites. Wherever there is sea, that means the audience is more relaxed, more easy-going, so you need a different kind of repertoire.

But then again, if I’m pressed to say, I’m totally in love with Art-Gen. There was this one time I was singing Turpa, at 3am. We weren’t allowed to leave and I was basically laying on the floor singing and I open my eyes and see 12 other people also laying on the floor beside me.


The mood is fantastic. I love singing on my birthdays – sitting at the supra and listening to toasts for five hours straight can never ever beat singing. You know what made me especially happy? 21st of August is a Monday, it’s a working day and I personally know scores of people who postponed their busy schedule to be there with me on that very Monday. That counts for a lot, really.

As for the Black Sea Arena itself, it’s just fantastic, with loads of opportunities and we’re really putting in a shift to be on top of everything. We’re inviting the Sameba Cathedral Choir, which consists of 33 people, so you’re in for a musical feast, trust me. There will be a bit of everything: Georgian songs, hip songs, we’ve got DJ Trouble, who’s been doing “Real Music” for decades now and we’re really excited to be collaborating with him. We’ve got the Sixtet “Quintesence”, which… Actually, I won’t describe them – you’ve just got to listen to it. Well, perhaps one sentence – it’s music that warms your soul. Nikoloz Rachveli will also be performing, of course Insight will be there, the orchestra, everything. It’s a huge space and we’re determined to fill it to the brim. The preparations are going apace and I’m sure you won’t be disappointed. It’s kind of a test – me and my team will be wrestling with all that our country has to offer and trust me, it’s plenty.

How do you balance music and family life?

You must be kidding. There is no such balance, music demands everything, devours every second of your time and attention. This June, I took my child to Batumi and ended up seeing him twice in two days. So I’m rather grateful that I live in this age of technical progress, where there are loads of gadgets to help me see him, talk to him and so on. It’s a painful topic. Really. And then you imagine how those mothers feel, mothers who are abroad to sustain their families… it gives you motivation to put all you’ve got into what you’re doing, because you’re doing it for them; you dedicate it to them. If you don’t then I don’t know what art of activity can be worth the time you’re taking from your partner, your child. It’s difficult.

What would you like to do but struggle to?

I would rather like to travel and visit my friends, who need my attention, my friendship and I’m unable to do that as much as I would like right now. I sometimes don’t have time to buy gifts that would make other people happy but there is no time to simply go the store and do that. So there’s plenty I’d like to do. There are some things I might not agree on with some people, but there is music between us and this is much more than personal differences sometimes. Music is a remedy for your mind and for your soul, it… kindles it, I suppose, making you a better person. And to be able to do that, I have to say no to myself about a lot of things.

Giorgi Iashvili

03 August 2017 20:45