“When I realized that I had to spend nine years in prison, I realized at the same time that I should not waste these nine years being absent in this world. I knew that I had to make music there.”
In 2013, Michailo Todua was randomly stopped on the street in Tbilisi and subjected to a drug test by the police. He was found with trace amounts of MDMA in his bloodstream, and shortly sentenced to nine years in prison, which is where he taught himself how to produce music. This week’s podcast, based on a story published on Electronic Beats in 2018 and included in the forthcoming Electronic Beats 20 year book by former deputy editor Chloe Lula, revisits Todua in his home shortly after he is freed. His outsize punishment for consuming drugs is part of the fight for humane drug reform in Georgia, a movement led by the LGBTQ club scene with vocal representatives from the techno venue Bassiani, known as the “Berghain of the Caucasus,” and drug decriminalization activist group White Noise.
Within the episode, Lula and Todua reveal the sociopolitical climate in post-Soviet Georgia since the early aughts, the aftermath of the viral “Behind Bars” article, and how music and music journalism continues to be a driving, progressive force for grassroots reform.