New East Digital Archive

A portrait of Tbilisi coming to life, captured in one joyful music video 

20 April 2020

“Lingotto”, the latest track from Georgian talent Anushka Chkheidze, takes its name from a district in Turin. Its video, however, directed by Anna Sarukhanova, is a sincere love letter to the bustling beat of Tbilisi, the comfort of human interactions (however big or small), and the reassuring busyness of city life before lockdown.

Beginning with a shot of Chkheidze rising from bed, “Lingotto” portrays a city coming to life as we travel through the streets and courtyards of Georgia’s capital. In actual fact, the city was in the process of shutting down due to the Covid-19 pandemic as Vato Gomareli and Nikita Kutepov began filming. Shooting turned into a race against time, with venues closing and movement being further restricted everyday.

“By the fourth day, all the city markets were shut down,” Sarukhanova explains. “By the fifth day, public transport was closed. It was a ‘now or never’ situation.”

At the time of writing, Georgia has a country-wide ban on private vehicles, along with a curfew that forbids residents from leaving their homes from 9pm to 6am. “We tried to find alternatives for some of the venues. For example, instead of using a gym, we filmed gymnasts in a theatre, which had closed, too.” The video features a spontaneous dancing scene at Tbilisi’s Central University library, which was only possible with the help of its employees, who let them use the space for an hour.

“These small acts of kindness — people helping each other — were crucial for the making of the video,” says Sarukhanova. So much so that the video became a tribute to Tbilisi’s community-spirit, and all the small things that locals love and miss about the city.

Musically, there is nothing hurried about this track, which begins with the gentle sound of church bells inspired by Chkheidze’s recent trip to Italy that fade into a soft drum and bass beat. The rest of the track unfolds like a sunrise, carried by a drifting peaceful melody that takes you on a warm nostalgia trip. The artist’s introduction to music was through folk songs and church music in early childhood, complemented by years performing as part of a dance group, and listening to hip-hop in her teens. Chkheidze’s electronic sound combines the sunny euphoria of 90s dance music with the artist’s signature ethereal synths and classical influences.

“Lingotto” is the first release from Chkheidze’s debut album, Halfie, which is due to come out on 24 April on CES Records. In 2019, CES Records released a compilation by female Georgian musicians, entitled Sleepers, Poets, Scientists, to which Chkheidze contributed three tracks.

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