Composer, violinist, creator of prepared instruments and builder of beat boxes, Koka Nikoladze escapes definition. He is a collector, who turns found objects into exquisite works of music-making generative art.
Born in Tbilisi, Nikoladze trained at the city’s State Conservatory before studying at the Musikhochschule Stuttgart and the Norwegian Academy of Music. Influenced by an eclectic selection of musical references, from James Brown to Karlheinz Stockhausen or John Cage, Nikoladze specialised first in violin with Ernst Arakelov, then turned to composition, which he studied with Zurab Nadarejshvili and Marco Stroppa.
In 2009, Nikoladze developed a technique for prepared guitar using a light bulb, then later composed Starshine, a work for a trio of violin, prepared guitar and percussion; his current research interests continue to address the use of technology in performance. The artist’s first opera, Vor dem Gesetz(2012), was premiered at the Wilhemspalais Stuttgart as part of the opening ceremony for the contemporary music theatre.
In 2016, Nikoladze created his first Beat Machine, initially as a distraction to get through a difficult time. Treasured found materials, cables and random objects are transformed into electro-mechanical instruments that generate new arrangements of beats every time they are turned on. The machines have been widely viewed online and Beat Machine 3forms part of the permanent collection at the Pop Music Museum in Oslo. For the artist, however, these works have a therapeutic end: “Every time I am overwhelmed with chaos I need to make a new beat machine to hold onto that little piece of order for a short period of time. That’s what drives it. The beat machines are timed pieces of order that I make out of this chaos.”