"It's cool when the club gets the status of a cultural institution." ___ DJs / founders of Lizdas club / Roads: Žilvinas Širka x Pakas: Mantas Pakeltis / Kaunas / Lithuania
How do you describe the Lizdas club?
Pakas: It has become sort of an institution. It is a club that people go to, and young DJs want to play. It is setting trends. We are trying to put as much work as possible into publicizing the culture itself so that it is not just another club where you can drink a cocktail. At first, everything was different. I didn't even think we would have a club.
Roads: One week before the opening, I still thought we were opening a gastro bar, not a club.
Pakas: There was supposed to be a restaurant where you could eat during the day and become a nightclub in the evening.
Roads: Thank God, we didn't make a single burger. We only make good parties, bake them one after the other.
When did the turning point happen?
Roads: After the first party, when a lot of people gathered and it got really hot, we realized that a club might be a better option. We were more interested in musical events, so everything fell into place.
Pakas: When we started working, we opened at seven in the evening. People came to sit, talk, and drink beer, but nothing good came of it. After a month, we changed the working hours.
How did the party culture develop?
Roads: At first it was really difficult. The whole cluster of the club, which we now imagine and name as an institution where people know what's coming, didn't happen right away. Even when we went looking for financiers, they told us that we were doing the opposite of how business works. There must be demand, and then entrepreneurs make the supply. We were told that we were just boys who came with the supply, hoping that we would magically create the demand. But everything started to take shape little by little. People realized that it is possible to spend time in a different way, to know that you will get cultural content in the club.
How does Lizdas Sound Institute help you discover young talent?
Roads: Every two months, we have the events of the Lizdas Academy, which are a testing ground for young performers. We don't do any mix contests or anything like that. Our scene and country are small enough, we can easily discover something good and interesting. Then those people appear at other events, depending on the music being played. We often invite and see our former academics; some even get their series of events.
Pakas: Due to the quarantine, the club has limited opportunities. Now is the time to show the youth who they are, and how important and interesting it is to them.
Roads: More niches have emerged for young, talented people to appear. Shutting ourselves off from the outside world allows us, both listeners and clubs, to focus on existing and potential talent.
You were the first in Lithuania to start a streaming culture during the quarantine. When beginning new initiatives, how do you convince yourself to experiment with new names?
Roads: When we discover new artists, we believe in them. As for streaming, it would have been hard to sit through the quarantine without doing anything. We wanted to use our skills for another content, virtual events. At least we could get out of the house on Fridays and organize everything.
How do you find new ways to make the club more than just a place to experience music?
Pakas: We have a really nice team in Lizdas, and a wonderful lighting engineer Mindaugas. During the quarantine, everyone got a little crazy, but somehow, we managed to prepare for the broadcasts. Although everything happened in the same place, the setting was different every time. Watching the same thing every week is boring. When we were very young, Žilvinas and I was ravers. We liked to organize parties in different places because our music could not fit between the walls of a club. It still gives me great joy. At the same time, it is a big challenge. Adapting the room to new experiences is very cool.
Roads: The other aspect is ideological and political. One of the missions of our club is to present it to the general mass of people as another cultural unit. One way to do this is by collaborating with others, especially in our city. We cooperate with galleries and museums, various artists - dancers, and symphony orchestras. Broadcasting was also a good chance to do it. When we travel through the spaces of our friends and partners, we not only film in that space but also try to present the content they make to our audience. Although the galleries were closed, we made short video clips about the galleries and museums themselves.
Why is it important to show the world that clubs are cultural phenomena?
Pakas: Recently, Žilvinas and I talked about the club's ambition. It's cool when the club gets the status of a cultural institution. The club would be equal to the theater. There is also a scenography, people create and perform music, and the audience enjoys it. It would be like going to listen to symphonic music at the Philharmonic. There are countries where clubs are recognized as cultural places and receive funding and benefits from the state. The people who come to them have a different attitude.
Roads: The state's attitude towards clubs is also changing - they are getting included in the city's strategic plan. It helps tourism and attracts young professionals. They are coming to the city not only for career opportunities but also for a full-fledged cultural life. The club makes up a large part of that supply. The authorities are not discussing it yet, but they should.
Lizdas Academy invites representatives of various cultural fields to discuss music and club culture. Why is it important to hold such public events?
Pakas: Club culture carries certain values, which need to be discussed often. We are interested in how people feel at the club. We aim to strengthen the community so that the club encompasses more than just music. The party starts with the idea, the artwork, and the style of music that will be played there. We always accept minorities in the club and have rules – we do not allow any sexism, homophobia, and similar things. We are talking about what is safe clubbing. Running away from such topics is not a good way to go. The more we raise this issue, the sooner it gets resolved.
Roads: On this platform, one can also express issues and discuss them with specialists. We invite professionals from different clubs and scenes to examine a relevant problem, and the audience can also ask questions. That is how we start a healthy discussion. We hope that the further he goes, the more he will drive in.
You bring people from abroad and cooperate with foreign platforms - for example, you had a collab with Red Light Radio, and your DJs played there. How does this motivate you to spread international values in the context of the club?
Roads: Lithuania is a small country, and the scene is also small, but from a global perspective, so is the European scene overall. Sometimes recommendations help. We invite the artist without even knowing them, and it turns out they are working on some project and offer to collab. The same thing happened with Red Light Radio. They were interested in our Lithuanian scene and decided to make a showcase. Together we selected interesting artists, and a broadcast took place, which was a great success. People abroad were interested in what was happening in Lithuania, while Lithuanians accepted this project very well.