New path of David August
My initial encounter with David August a decade ago revealed an emerging artist whose potential outshone his past accomplishments. His artistic approach was still developing, holding untapped possibilities. Even though he has now achieved his creative goals, back then, trying to guess where his artistic path was heading seemed like a mysterious challenge. On September 1, at the Decoder festival night at Ciskari Garden, he will meet the local audience in Tbilisi once again.
We can break down his musical career into various segments, and each step of leveling up demanded a significant transformation. In this interview, I find my responses to be more genuine than his from years ago, as we discuss that transformation and the creative process.
INDIGO: You've brought your musical magic to Georgian audiences multiple times. What's the story behind your very first visit and how have your experiences evolved and grown over the years?
David August: Georgia has a special place in my heart. I think the first time was a live set in Tbilisi, it must have been 10 years ago or so? It was a very welcoming audience. I came back a couple of times, Batumi and Anaklia were also part of a tour, I remember. Being a while ago since I last came, I am very much looking forward to visiting again.
Having also a half Ukrainian/Georgian girlfriend, you can imagine coming back to this territory at this moment of our timeline is emotional.
INDIGO: It's fascinating how you've showcased various phases of your career here in Georgia. I recall your evolution from a DJ to introducing live performances, experimental projects, and live improvisations. I wonder what's your perspective on the audience here, Do you feel they're genuinely tracking your creative journey? And does performing for people who are familiar with your music add an extra layer of excitement?
David August: Usually I try to reflect my current state. People are surprised sometimes as we are used to associating a sound with a personality. But how can creativity stay the same when we undergo constant changes as humans?
It is important to honor and give room to change and transformation and not be afraid of it.
My perspective on an audience in general, is presenting a vision that is influenced by the cultural environment you would perform in. Playing in Lisbon or in Stockholm are two very different things. It is important to have a dialogue with the people who are listening to you.
INDIGO: Your musical journey and complete discography seem like a voyage where your creative impulse guides you along diverse musical paths and approaches. Even during the initial phase of your career (RA, 2012), you've noted that there are moments when you can't quite identify with your past tracks. How do you feel when you revisit your catalog and observe the creative choices you've made?
David August: The creative choices were conditioned by the possibilities. The music I am doing now (that will come out later this year) could never have existed 6 years ago. You are limited by the possibilities you have, technically, spiritually, and so on. What you call “approaches” are not always choices, but more of a necessary vehicle for growth and inner exploration.
Revisiting a back catalog confronts you with who you were and what you wanted at a specific moment of your life. I try to be gentle to myself and critical at the same time.
INDIGO: You've been creating music and touring for two almost 15 years. What continues to fuel your motivation and inspiration for composing, producing, and performing?
David August: It remains for now a medium through which I am able to speak about something that is not translatable into words. This freedom, it is probably what I am looking for the most. There are no boundaries, everything is possible and this gives me consolation.
INDIGO: It appears that collaboration is something you find enjoyable as well. For example, you have contributed to two collaborative side-projects, Aşa (with jazz-noise vocalist Cansu Tanrikulu) and Madrā (with Carnatic vocalist Sushma Soma) in the past. Could you shed some light on the challenges that come with this approach?
David August: It was a very smooth collaboration with both, Cansu and Sushma. I loved having worked with them on these pieces.
They are two incredible vocalists with very different approaches and cultural backgrounds. How diverse the same instrument can be used was inspiring.
With Sushma we sent each other files back and forth as she lives in Singapore. With Cansu it was easier as we had spent time together in Berlin in the studio, besides sharing also a friendship.
INDIGO: One of the really exhilarating projects you've been involved in was the 12-month residency at Radio Alhara in Palestine, where you collaborated with some intriguing artists like Suzanne Ciani, Donato Dozzy, KMRU, etc. What sparked the idea for this project, and did it give you a different kind of experience compared to your usual work?
David August: I recorded a couple of DJ sets and uploaded them on Soundcloud in 2020. It was the first year of the pandemic and I felt sharing some music was the only thing I was able to do. It became a series called “Tomorrow Is Forever”.
At the end of the year, Elias from Radio Alhara texted me on Instagram out of the blue, asking if I wanted to contribute to a show on their Radio. I told him about the mixes I did and took the idea a step further to involve the label.
So we created this residency format where we’d invite an artist every month to submit a show, keeping “Tomorrow Is Forever” as the residency name.
INDIGO: You're also at the helm of 99CHANTS, a label that's been making waves for more than five years. Can you share the story of how the idea to launch the label first struck you? Was the driving force behind this endeavor rooted in your desire for complete creative freedom, or did you just want to make something personal?
David August: It came out of necessity, even though the idea of a label was a romantic vision years before. I didn’t come up with a good concept so I postponed it.
In late 2017 I recorded a drone/ambient album called DCXXXIX A.C. and it was the same time my Italian roots shaped most of my creative output, including the album D’ANGELO that came out in 2018.
Because the drone album was something a bit off the radar from my previous outings, it felt convenient not to be dependent on anyone and just release it myself. Luckily a name came to mind as well, but I had no idea how to run a label. It was a work in progress with dear friends and partners who supported this project.
INDIGO: Having featured artists like Louis Sterling, Bunita Marcus, Giulio Aldinucci, and more on the imprint, what's the label's upcoming direction? Where is the label's sound headed?
David August: We just released a non-profit compilation “Imaginary Landscapes” earlier this year. Lots of beautiful music on it!
Next on is my album VĪS coming October 6th.
INDIGO: Could you give us some insight into your recent performances and your upcoming plans for the near future?
David August: I did literarily only a handful of DJ sets this year, with the ones in Georgia being two of these.
With the new live shows starting in October this year, I will go back to the theatrical stages presenting VĪS, a new show involving choreography, scenography, and a live percussionist on stage with me.