"Theres so much music being streamed right now, it’s great spirit"
Manfredas is something of a legend in his home of Vilnius, Lithuania. From running Smala, a club night and sporadic radio show alongside, to opening up Amadeus – a DJ bar with a record shop above that is lovingly referred to as Manfredas’ Bar – he has been indebted to his local scene, arguably putting the city on the map on a global scale. Manfredas caught the right moment and learnt how to reach out to listeners and stay relevant up till now – only because of understanding the audience and realising it’s not just about short term success. We chat to Lithuanian DJ and producer Manfredas about music and much more.
What was your first foray into the world of electronic music?
I wanted to learn music editing software and that led to experimenting with sounds, sampling and simultaneously hearing stuff on Mo Wax, early Chemical Brothers, transitioning from hip hop to electronic music. I don’t remember well but i think it was that.
In which creative discipline do you feel most comfortable?
Obviously music, but that can be many things: djing, radio, recording, writing, releasing or selling records, doing events. I have done a little bit of everything. I also know something about hospitality business and i’m not the worst cook.
DJs and producers often mention their musical education came through their family’s record collection. Was this the case for you? Can you pick out any pivotal records from your upbringing that informed your musical journey?
I don’t think that was my case. I probably owe it all to MTV. My first two random albums were Guns N Roses “Use Your Illusion 2” and Metallica “Master of Puppets”, but it was only when i bought Public Enemy “Muse Sick-n-Hour Mess Age” and Beastie Boys “Ill Communication” and really got into it.
Which artists have your interest these days?
Im listening to the music of Cornelius Cardew today only because i never did. But as we’re obviously having a break from djing, i dont listen to music that much. Been spending most of the time in the studio and reading Jim Dodge’s “Stone Junction” or listening to the voice of Melvyn Bragg in those wee hours before the bedtime.
Outside the electronic music circle, who is an inspiration to you?
Good weather, a walk in the park in between the studio sessions, hash, my friends.
Are you particularly permeable to your environment, creatively speaking?
I don’t think i need anything but good rest to spike my creativity. And not having too many things on your mind.
What inspires you to produce your tracks?
Altered states of mind, movies, dreams, silence, coffee, the need of money.
Would you like to share a set? Can you tell us more about it? When and how was it recorded?
Theres so much music being streamed right now, it’s great spirit, but i took a chance to have a little break from djing in any form so no podcasts from me, but i’d love to share a mix my friend Dreems recorded in Australia last summer. He’s such a good dj and always radiates a very special vibe. If for some weird reason you wanna hear a full on banging club set, my friends Odopt made an amazing one for our Smala Radio series just recently.
What makes a good mix to you?
Confidence of the player.
Any labels that you are enjoying at the moment?
Ive been going back to Brian Eno’s Obscure Records. Basically i’ve just read this interview with Michael Nyman and it led back to many things, some of them i’ve never heard. From more recent music i love Venus Volcanism album “Rizitiko” that Optimo Music just put out. Ive been following her for a long time and i’m glad her voice and those Greek folk songs have found a good home.
What are your favorite places to hang out in the city?
I very rarely go anywhere else than to the park for a morning run, my recording studio and my bar for the day of work, local market to buy some sauerkraut and my home. These also happen to be my favourite places in the city.
How do you deal with C19 confinement with your work?
There are much less distractions, less noise and much more work is getting done. I was caught up in the idea of sitting on the sofa and watching Seinfeld only for a couple of days, then i just carried on going to the studio, but of course only because its 5 minutes away from my place and i drive my car there early in the morning and don’t interact with anyone. I’m taking the lockdown thing very seriously.
Of course i miss my night job a lot and its not much of a joy to be unemployed, but i appreciate the spare time we all have now very much. I don’t think i had more than two free weekends since 2000. Even before starting playing at the clubs i was doing nightshifts at the radio so yeah, basically, i didn't sleep much, ever. That Mathew Walker guy makes me really worried so its a good time to catch up on that.
What social and musical implications do you think this situation can lead to?
Well, music’s gonna be really busy this autumn. There’s gonna be a lot of shit on the internet and much fewer records released, but they’re gonna be really good ones. Socially i believe we will go back to the smaller spaces quite soon, because we can’t stay in forever, at least in the countries that took the crisis seriously. It’s gonna be less money for everybody, but more intimacy. It will probably be in the waves for a while.
What tracks would you recommend us to liven up the confinement?
New James Holden EP is great, he’s one of my favourite producers ever, also my friends Smagghe & Cross released a beautiful album on Often Records. Its perfect for the days like these. It radiates tranquility, but i also find it really positive. Albums of Robert Ashley. My new remix for Eyes Of the Others, if u didn’t catch that one, im very happy with it because it didn’t take five months of my life like a lot of other stuff i have worked on and its really good too. Ive been adding music i love to Manfredas Music Cabinet playlist on Spotify in the last couple of days again.
Can you tell us something about your current or future projects?
Nothing is certain these days, everything still needs to settle. Though one thing i did when i was self-isolating for two weeks, was a compilation of new music from Vilnius. It’s a very nice collective of people and we will try to raise some money for a local charity. I collaborated with a lot of people that I never have before.
Les Disques De La Mort, label that releases my music, finally has got the permission to put out digitially a very special edit i did some years ago. We’ve been on it for such a long time. Then there’s time to finish artworks, do music videos. Not sure people still watch them, but i love them and i love working on them.
What makes you happy?
My woman. The sea. Sometimes a great night at the club.