Nitepunk: A Story of Dubstep, Immigration, and Perseverance

BY CATHERINE CHOJNOWSKI

The room is dim, lights are flashing, people are dancing and the speakers are pounding with heavy bass. Georgian-born DJ and producer Lasha Mamulashvili, known as "Nitepunk" in the world of dubstep, comes out from backstage. He puts on his headset, and blasts the room with a storm of syncopated percussion patterns and prominent bass lines. Years ago, this was merely a dream; now it's become his reality.

Although 24-year-old Lasha's main creative outlet is now music production, he started off as a hip hop dancer. At 15, after watching a dance group perform on Georgia's Got Talent to a track he "thought was insane," he could not find the remix online. He then decided to try to create something of his own and looked up how to make dubstep on Google, spending his evenings "looking through tutorials instead of doing homework."

He began experimenting with music production in his hometown of Tbilisi, Georgia. The small country, located at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, had a small music scene that Lasha took by storm. Lasha played shows almost every weekend, created instrumentals and covers for Georgian artists, and even played the main stage at Georgia's largest electronic music festival, Tbilisi Open Air. He then decided to take his ambitions to another level -- and another country.

Lasha had always been intrigued by the diversity and vastness of New York City, which he had only experienced through watching movies. Deeming New York "the place of self-discovery," he knew he wanted to explore his creative expression there. Lasha "couldn't wait to see what [he] could see and who [he] could be." He arrived in the U.S. in January of 2015 on a tourist Visa. He had little knowledge of what he was getting himself into, but a strong sense of determination to succeed as a musician.

"I told myself I'll figure something out, I'll make it no matter what," he said.

About two months after arriving in the U.S., Lasha sought out a lawyer who would help him obtain an EB-1A (Alien of Extraordinary Ability Visa), which allows individuals with extraordinary ability or achievement to gain permanent residency and citizenship.

"It was definitely hard, but I just believed," he said. "The dream was just so strong."

For Lasha, there was no going back. He just kept striding forward, even with no guarantee of citizenship or success. Lasha was approved for a Permanent Resident Card in October of 2015, which allowed for him to legally and permanently live and work in the States.

Since obtaining citizenship, Lasha has worked to refine Nitepunk's style and fine-tune his original sound. He describes the music he produces as "cinematic, almost like a saga and very visual." While most of Lasha's music is heavy and bass-driven, he occasionally likes to work on softer, more ambient tracks as well.

"Everything he does comes from the heart," says William Wyrebek, Lasha's former manager. "It's crazy to think that someone who makes such aggressive sounds is also one of the nicest and soft-spoken dudes."

Lasha has played various shows in NYC, including opening for one of the artists that first inspired him to start producing electronic music, Downlink. He also traveled to New Orleans in the summer of 2017 to open for Jackal and Luca Lush at The Republic NOLA. In more recent months, Lasha has opened for other notable DJs including Noisia at Highland Ballroom, Caspa at Analog BKNY, Eptic at Highline Ballroom, and Must Die and Laxx at the Music Hall of Williamsburg.

"Dreams and reality came together, I could do nothing but appreciate it," Lasha says.

The most intriguing part of electronic music, according to Lasha, is the infinite amount of sounds he is able to make or produce and their infinite combinations. He is currently working on creating more original tracks, and is planning on coming out with an EP in the summer of 2019, but will continue to release tracks regularly until then.

However, for Lasha, the experience of creating music is nothing like performing live for a crowd, which he wouldn't have been able to do without documentation.

"It's a crazy feeling -- like a high. I just get so full of energy, I feel like I'm a different person when I'm in that zone."

Lead Image Credit: Nitepunk / Instagram