"Music must have a lasting value." ___ DJ / program manager at Lizdas club / Name: Šarūnas Šimaitis / Kaunas / Lithuania.
How does it feel when the lockdown restraints are lifted, and you can go to the dance floor again?
I'm anxious because our lifestyles have changed completely in half a year. As far as I’ve communicated with my colleagues, everyone is a little bit afraid. Everyone got used to living like a normal person - watching Panorama, going to sleep at ten, and getting up at seven.
Have the audience's needs changed?
Beach parties are likely to be packed this summer. Techno is popular amongst young people, for whom the most important thing is to dance and let loose, but there is also more sophisticated music.
In your sets, the genre of music is something you forget because you play a lot of different things.
Over time I’ve realized that there is a lot of good music. Genres are losing their meaning. I try not to limit myself to genres. Of course, a techno party puts you in a certain box - you already know what you are going to play.
You are both on and off stage. How do you see everything from backstage? What is trending right now?
Just like in the whole world, there are certain fashions and trends in Lithuania. Sometimes they come a little late. Since mostly the young generation, eighteen to twenty-two years old, go dancing events in Lithuania, they like heavier, faster music, although now it caught such a speed as in 2004-2006. Everything comes full circle, but in Lithuania, it happens a little slower.
It is interesting that the genres mix. How do you choose the music you play?
I and others are different. The post-Soviet rave 90s happened when I was a teenager, and everyone thought it was trivial. It has become trendy in Lithuania as in the whole of Europe now. For example, trance. Maybe that music is also more accessible. We can choose more interesting examples of it. Previously we downloaded it through some websites. It was all we could have. Accessibility changes trends. By the way, it is strange that Europe has caught the sound of Eastern Europe.
Lithuania is gradually entering the map that goes hand in hand with fashion. Why do you think this could have happened? When the borders opened, people started driving to parties.
There are influences like that, but the Internet changed everything. You don't have to go anywhere - you can see everything. There is the Boiler room, you can follow what other clubs are doing. You listen to music, see images, and don't have to be anywhere. The promoters put a lot of effort into the parties, which makes them high quality. But the party participants themselves still lack culture. Young people, please be more cultured.
You mentioned promoters who work on lineups. When you look at the artists brought in from abroad, you really like to look for them - I'm talking about Lizdas. For example, you have invited DJ Marcelle. Music is only part of who the artists are. They are personalities. You seem to be one to choose a personality.
Good question, but not really. I saw DJ Marcelle at a festival and liked her selection of music. When you have a personality and are a good performer, you can sell more. If you play well, that's a formula for success. You need a personality these days.
Do you know any Lithuanian performers who have interesting personalities and play well?
When a person is young, the personality is too big sometimes. They have a big ego. It takes time to form a personality. You need to reflect a lot and see the world. There are some personalities, but they are not fully formed yet. They are still searching for themselves. But there are definitely talented young performers, more than one or two.
Perhaps historical circumstances could have led to the fact that personalities were more difficult to form? There are DJs who lived a darker life - DJ Marcelle, and Max Durante. They have lived through many different historical periods.
Marcelle is a mature woman. If we look at the younger generation, they have experienced the same things. For example, Manfredas is a Lithuanian personality. And for young people is not difficult to "discover themselves" in the age of the Internet. You just need to want it and not show your ego. You may not be popular or trendy, but you will have integrity, which is very important in this scene.
Is it hard to put together a festival lineup or a big event with Lithuanian artists? Last year we could only work with Lithuanian artists.
The problem was that everyone was playing everywhere, the same people at different events. When we had Lizdo pliažas, we formed b2b from various artists who hadn't played for anyone yet. People found it quite interesting.
It's nice that the local context seems quite diverse after the quarantine. Many artists have found their groove and developed a more interesting sound than before.
That's still in question because we haven't seen them in a club yet. Posting on social media and recording a mix is one thing, but how will it sound on the dancefloor? If a young artist sees what people are dancing to, they will decide not to play slower music because everyone is listening to techno. Although I like techno, it's just an example.
Maybe you like tasteful techno because there is music that is very straightforward, not interesting to listen to.
Music must have a lasting value. Lots of techno doesn't have it. You don't collect techno records unless you play them. Will you be picking up that vinyl and listening to it in ten years? I doubt it. It is better to have your own collection - it can be techno, house, or disco, but it will be unique.
As far as I have seen interviews with you, you are very close to culture. If you look at the pre-quarantine period when the parties were going on, Lizdas had a lot of parties. Do you see progress in that?
There is always some kind of progress. It is important not to regress. In Lithuania, there is a lot of rotation, a change of people - many people come and go. After staying for two or three years and learning the club etiquette, they leave, and others come in their place. Just like in school - in the ninth, or tenth grade you learn everything, spread your wings and fly.
What main problems would you single out that could be solved the fastest?
Lithuania's drug policy isn't good. Let's be honest with ourselves - people do drugs in clubs. There is a law with which we cannot fight - for example, we can't make educational posters. It is a big problem because we cannot educate people, and education is the most important thing. Otherwise, you will not learn anything. Another problem is that some men don't know how to behave with girls. They live in a small town, come to the city, and their eyes are big. It's not your fault that you didn't have any culture, your whole world outlook was different. You go to a club, find friends from Kaunas, and don't know how to behave. After some time, you learn, but then find a wife and don't go out anymore.
The rotation is too fast. Why aren't their many people over twenty-five in the clubs?
In Germany or Holland, our parents' generations grew up with music. They go to parties because they can make money and spend it there. Our parents did not understand that music. We had a rave against the system - people went to discotheques. Maybe the adults realized it was a vanity fair. There was no education. Now people don't go to clubs because only young people go there.
Are you thinking of organizing a 35+ party?
I have thought about it many times, just not 35+. In the past, parties for people over thirty were popular in Lithuania. Organizing a 25+ party might work out nowadays. On the other hand, it is nonsense because you are discriminating against people. Why can't a young person who wants to come to a party come because of the age limit? They can drive, serve in the army, and buy beer, but they can't come to you because of the age limit. Some twenty-somethings are smarter than their elders. It's more of a cultural thing than an age thing.
How would you describe the parties here in Kaunas? Is there a big choice of events to go to?
Kaunas is a small city. Having one club, and a few good bars is enough. Some say that we should have one more club, but there aren't so many people in Kaunas. When we organize Prisukamas Abrikosas, a lot of people gather, but there are many older people who come for nostalgia and other reasons. In Kaunas, we also had the Exit club, which brought in foreign artists every weekend. One club was enough. Now Lizdas is doing the same thing, and we hope that it is enough. Of course, fasting only increases hunger, but it motivates us to try and do something even more interesting.
One of those things is probably the outdoor space you've opened.
It is necessary to unite people little by little so that they are no longer afraid of each other. We have many plans to go more into the culture to educate and to show that dance is not just techno, house, or disco. It is a broader thing, a whole worldview, a way of life. We work on it, live by it, and feel it. The electronic music scene is closely related to contemporary art.
I have seen many times how performers from Kaunas go to Vilnius or somewhere else and bring people who follow them and support them.
There are such performers. It's great that this is happening - a small community is being created. Your followers may be listening to the same set for the third time, but the best part is that they still support you. It is a sign that it is not as bad as it sometimes seems.
Do you have to see the same faces during different events? You DJ quite a lot. Social networks also work - you post, you show that you are going to play somewhere, and people come.
Although there are so many faces that sometimes I don't remember them anymore, even though I used to remember faces well.
Speaking of your own parties, such as Tarp Dviejų Aušrų, what do they mean to you?
Money, power, glory! I’m joking. Other than that, it's educational for me. Sometimes my colleagues get mad about the artists I bring in and pay a lot of money for, but I tell them that we need to educate people so they can listen to a broader range of music. Then people will have good taste.
You had to prepare for today's set. What was the preparation like? It must be strange to DJ without an audience.
I was anxious. When there's an audience, it's different. Now everything has to be done very technically, while in the club sometimes mistakes are forgivable, people don't even hear them. The energy of people is also important. I'm not a fan of being in front of the camera. I don't really like playing when there are lots of lights and everyone's screaming. I like to have space when it's dark enough and there are people who are screaming but keep their distance from me. Club parties are about the music, not the person on the stage. Nowadays being a DJ is an iconic thing, but I don't really understand it, it's probably not for me.
How would you describe the DJ set that you are going to play?
I don't know. You will see, hear, and understand. I'm still thinking about what to play. I'll play dance music that I wouldn't play in a club because it's a little different, less straightforward. I don't play broken beats only because it's hard for people to dance to them. Some people find it difficult to dance to drum and bass because the rhythm is not straightforward. It is a little different outside of Lithuania. Maybe I would play sets like that there.
So, today it will be possible to dance and think.
Think while dancing.