During the fall of 2018 I traveled to Georgia to interview MokuMoku, an experimental Hip-hop band from Tbilisi, formed in 2014.
With a fresh and innovative sound, these great musicians continue to break ground for the new generation of Georgian artists on an international level.
The first reference I had to the band was when reading the article ‘Urban Soundtracks: Tbilisi According to MokuMoku‘, in Post Pravda Magazine. Editor-in-chief Patrick Dooley lived part-time in the Georgian capital, and knowing his strict criteria regarding who appeared in his magazine, I knew I had to listen to that music no matter what.
Fortunately, on YouTube I found the album Black Heaven (2016), and what an incredible surprise it was to hear such a fresh fusion, with so much identity. I was just starting this blog and decided that on my next transcontinental trip, I would go to Tbilisi to talk with MokuMoku, and mainly, to listen to how their music happens.
“A kind of hip-hop with instruments, Soviet post-punk influences, raw sounds” are just a few adjectives that the members of MokuMoku throw into the air when defining their sound. But they are all that and more.
Tato Rusia (Moku T), and Jondo Japaridze (Moku J) started the project with a dark atmospheric urban cassette tape titled Blues Build The Temple. This hidden gem was the perfect recruiting call for some of Tbilisi’s brightest musicians, who under the MokuMoku label have played on stages in London or Madrid.
Beyond the ups and downs of the world, if something has become clear in these years of constant evolution, it is their multifaceted sound identity, not only as a band but as individual musicians.
Their creative process is one of the most organic I have ever witnessed. Everything starts with a line that triggers the jam, everyone’s harmonic improvisation, accompanied by composition in situ of Tato’s lyrics, some Jondo or Tsotne choirs, guitar effects, keyboard, percussion, brass!
The rehearsal room is a sound laboratory from which geniuses such as SoulFood Society have emerged, the eponymous song to the album they were recording when our interview took place.
MokuMoku is a genuine facet of contemporary Georgia that deserves to be heard around the world
Returning to the present, 2023 has seen the birth of his fourth album ‘Off the record’, from which we can already hear the single ‘True North’, with some progressive touches and its characteristic beat that invariably makes you move.
MokuMoku and all the crew behind them are very demanding artists when it comes to the production process. Tato and Misho had already collaborated in the audiovisual and sound production sectors in advertising, and having added the photographer Giorgi Zatiashvili marked a before and after in the visual aspect of the band.
MokuMoku’s music is the quintessential soundtrack to everyday life in Tbilisi. It is the ideal pairing for that palette of warm pastel tones and soft contrasts that floods the eye when walking aimlessly in the capital, it is the vibrant nature of a place with so much tradition and so current and purposeful on a cultural level. A strong, creative, and rebellious sound personality that will continue evolving.