The music scene in Dubai is so much more than travelling international DJs and the occasional above-average brunch band. It’s increasingly becoming home to a burgeoning talent pool of creatives honing their own distinctive sound – not least of which are Healer Twins; Georgian sister duo Liana and Thea Shengelaia whose foray into the working world was as, er, qualified doctors - hence the rather poetic-sounding name. We sat down with the overachieving twins to discuss their journey and how their special brand of etheral folk fits in to the modern musical landscape of the Middle East...
Tell us your back story...
We discovered our passion for singing from the age of seven, organising small gigs in the neighbourhoods we grew up in around different parts of the world. It became an everyday ritual to sing and dance while we were getting ready for school. We started to write songs back then and never stopped performing in every country we’d reside in. We’ve now been performing for over 20 years and we've always felt most comfortable on stage by expressing ourselves and spreading love through music.
We're from a conservative family and we were never really supported to pursue a music career seriously. Instead, we had to continue the tradition in our family of coming from generations of doctors. However, we didn’t stop performing throughout uni and after we graduated in 2011 we formed a band called Healer Twins with the concept being healing through music. Music has a therapeutic effect - so many studies have been conducted about its health benefits.
Aside from pursuing music, we’re always eager to learn more and recently completed our MSc in Social Science in London. While we were studying there, we perfomed at The O2 Academy in Islington and the Youtube Space London as well as a few others.
How would you describe your music and who are your biggest inspirations?
Initially, we started as a fusion band with a twist of Indian, classical and western music. We were inspired by everything from jazz, folk, pop and other subgenres, but also by nature, arts, films and people. Our biggest influences are Georgian musicians Inola Gurgulia and Gia Kancheli but also Pink Floyd, Nancy Sinatra, Aretha Franklin, Nina Simone, Bob Dylan and Simon and Garfunkel.
What’s been your career highlight so far?
Having performed in multiple countries, we often return to our home away from home, Dubai to perform intimate shows at venues and events like The Fridge, The Music Room, Freshly Ground Sounds, SIKKA Art Fair, and recently at Dubai Opera. We released our debut album back in 2016 in Dubai produced by Rayan Bailouni and released under the label KMAC K&G owned by our beloved producer Kamal Musallam. The album was illustrated by Liana with the eye painting inspired by surrealism. We were also shortlisted for entry-level at the Grammy Awards but, sadly, didn’t reach the finals.
What do you want people to know about what’s important to you?
Be genuine and honest with yourself and don’t let anything or anyone change you to fit in with society. Just keep doing what you love.
How is music shaping culture in the UAE?
There are people in the UAE working hard to promote the art scene in the region, many of which work and perform at SIKKA art fair; one of our favourite shows so far.