Smala talk with Manfredas (LDDLM)
Manfredas is a real music lover that keeps pushing the boundaries of electronic music. Hailing from Vilnius, he established his cult Smala club night at which he welcomes artists that became friends like Ivan Smagghe, Chloé, Daniel Avery, Marc Piñol amongst many others and exactly at one of these nights, he gave Smagghe a USB stick with some tracks that eventually set the foundation for his Pink Industry EP on Les Disques De La Mort. Apart from this phenomenal debut with original productions, he demonstrated his talent for remix duties for the likes of C.A.R., Telepopmusic and Finnish weird-pop artist Jaakko Eino Kalevi. Manfredas is definitely a top-pick for our watch list, so we caught him for an interview recently. Don’t miss also his superb mix for our DOGMATIC radio show. Enjoy!
Hi Manfredas! If you have to burn down your entire record collection except three pieces, which would you pick and what memories do you associate with them?
Ata Kak ‘Bome Nnwom’
I was at this party where this song was playing for 20 hours or more non-stop. Surprisingly, I still love it, so there’s a big chance I could listen to it forever.
Krikor And The Dead Hillbillies ‘God Will Break It All’
After losing all your records this is the one you should sing (blame). I really think it’s the best track of recent times, it should have been on the radio. I saw a friend of mine, who never danced before, doing an incredible inner, boneless shaman dance to it. It was some kind of alien energy shaking every molecule. Stuck with me.
Nick Drake ‘Been Smoking Too Long’
Actually, might be the real reason for losing all your records. Heard Peel play this for the first time, but I think it was Coxon singing it. Took me ages to chase the original.
Do you think that a special record store or radio influenced you significantly?
I grew in the place of no record stores or pirate radios playing acid so tapes brought by sailors to my forgotten country were my first channel for cool music. And since I lived in the ass hole of it all, I could only get a copy number 154 of the album so I could hear Funkdoobiest doing their thing somewhere far, far away on that tape. Than we caught some German radio on satellite and recorded some music of their hip hop show and played it on our radio show with German DJ sometimes talking over the tunes. Working on the radio myself for almost 20 years, doing every kind of show possible has left the mark. And than all of the pirate software that helped me to find the craziest things in music. It’s just not possible to get a physical copy of some stuff you want anymore because there’s only one tape of it somewhere in Bulgaria. But my karma is clean because I buy records all the time as well as digital releases that I play, too. Phonica in London, Music Mania in Ghent are nice shops and Discogs, of course, on internet. Bandcamp is amazing for digital discoveries.
You invited several international renowned DJs like Ivan Smagghe, Chloé, Daniel Avery, Marc Piñol and many more to your club night Smala in Vilnius. How does the night differentiate itself from other events in your city?
It’s just the people that we really like or share the tastes or experiences with. Yes, music is the key, but this party is very much about the friendship we find with guests and our crowd feels that very well. That’s why we have the same people coming back very often.
I live in a small town so there were only two more people here who fell for the same things like Kill The DJ or Kompakt at the time when the night started and they play with me in Smala too, so it wasn’t that difficult to be different from other events, I guess. In the sense of music, it is much wider now.
Our neon sign just works as a magnet for the vampires, hard party beasts and it’s getting only crazier. Three years ago, we shut down the party round 5 o’clock, now it’s still busy around 8AM. I’m losing my Vitamin C.
Ivan Smagghe & Leon Oakey’s Les Disques de la Mort (LddlM) depicts your remix of C.A.R.’s ‘Angelina’ as ‘a cross between a panzer and Rondo Veneziano on acid’. Do you think that this is also an adequate characterisation of your style of DJing?
Oh that Ivan, he has a sharp tongue. I see my style of DJing more like riding an epileptic unicycle towards the light.
You remixed Finnish weird-pop artist Jaakko Eino Kalevi recently. Could you imagine collaborating more with vocal artists or do you prefer a stripped-down approach?
I’m working on two tracks with C.A.R. at moment and one of them will hopefully appear on my next EP. I also just asked my new Israeli friend to record a vocal for the Headman remix I just finished. I’m really happy with this one. I might ask Jaakko to sing over one of my tracks, too.
Your Pink Industry EP on LDDLM received serious support by the international DJ elite. Which of the two Zongamin remixes of ‘Square Lights’ do you play more and how do the mood of the two versions differ from your perspective?
I love them equally, that’s why we ended up putting them both on the twelve inch, but for my DJ sets “take one” is my favourite. It has all the greatness Zongamin is cool for — really live sounding and moving drums, percussions and so many unpredictable moments.
You released a mixed CD Sobieski Uogos in 2007. Could you imagine compiling another mixed CD soon or do you think the time of physical compilations is over?
That was CD that went together with vodka, I think 100 000 or more copies have been pressed. Crazy! I’m sure that I won’t beat that number with my name on it, but I would love to do one with 300 copies, too. I love the concept of it as an album, not just a podcast. Selecting tunes that will work like one thing forever and won’t get aged in a week. Also work together with the artwork. It must definitely have a nice idea behind it, not just be a mix of new best bikini jams.
How important is video for a release nowadays?
Compared to how many dance tracks are released everyday and how many of them have a video image — I think that makes sense a lot in means of promoting your music. It is so rare that dance releases have a video and it compliments the music so much. There’s no need to say that great ideas can be realised without any big budget, too. If your music is interesting and fresh, trust me, it can be the main motivation for visual artist. And that’s the other side of things – the magic when somebody makes an image inspired by your music. I am trying to get as much of my music visualised as possible. I have a video of original version of ‘Square Lights’, which was not published before, coming out very soon. My friend, who just finished film school, asked me to do it and I think its amazing that now I have chance to bring his ideas to my people, too. And actually the track will be available only as a video.
Do you think that a move to a bigger city with an established music scene would benefit your musical career?
Only in the sense of my own experience, being influenced by new things, new people. I think living in a small country and creating something fresh here club-wise and music-wise worked for me even better. But yes, I am thinking about moving to London or America, but it’s just that I’m tired of going to the same two pubs everyday.
What can we expect next?
A remix for Robi Headman that I just finished, two things might work for Multi Culti, one of my favourite labels right now, my second EP on LDDLM until the birds come back and of course you taking me to the best sauna in Istanbul.
Manfredas on Soundcloud