Talk Talk: An Interview With Manfredas

Lithuanian producer Manfredas has no doubt started a dialogue within the electronic music scene with his signature sound and left-field remixes. Signed to Ivan Smagghe’s label Les Disques De La Mort, Manfredas also runs his own club night Smala back home in Lithuania. Smashing it here in London having already played numerous shows, we caught up with the producer to talk about how he got into music, the scene in Lithuania, and “that cover."

When did you first start producing music?

I’ve been on the radio for almost 20 years and besides hosting shows I was programming music and working in recording studios. You know, making things like ads, jingles, background music for weather reports, editing radio shows. Usually people learn music and then get into production, but for me it was other way around. I’ve learned the software and at some point it shifted to making my own beats. I’m not sure I ever finished anything because it was just an after hours hobby and the idea of releasing it was just outside our world at the time. 

Did you instantly know what kind of music you were going to be producing?

I don’t think I ever did and I still don’t. Even now whenever I’m starting anything new, I have absolutely no clue where it will take me and how it will sound. Of course it reflects my influences and right now I’m somewhere where they took me so it stays relevant with the people who like my music. Usually I just fool around with single sound until it gets some texture in my mind, and then that usually brings some musical memory or idea of where to go. Maybe calling your friend to play a guitar on top or sometimes if there’s no idea at all showing it to my girlfriend; and her random but intuitive idea can be the best. It’s important not to get pissed and just stay aware of whats happening around it. Its like a Brian Eno-ish way of work, i guess. So what I’m saying is that I can imagine producing a coldwave album, but at the same time doing a hip hop remix for somebody is somewhere very close too.

What is the electronic music scene like in Lithuania?

Club scene is great even though we only have two clubs; Opium being in the front with one of the best crowds in the world and superb line-ups, and you can really hear amazing local DJ’s playing the small bars too. If you come to visit make sure you don’t miss DOS clubnight if you’re into weirder stuff and artsy crowds. I think in general our city has good taste. You’d find it hard to hear shit music being played in any club or bar. I think we’re kinda lucky because the people who’ve been programming clubs, radios, throwing biggest parties and knew how to market shit, were into quality stuff.

Speaking of national music product, I like We Are 18, Zoe Zoe, Konsistent, Munpauzn, Mecanica, Mario Moretti, Roe Deers. Newcomers Siaubas are about to release some top stuff on Kris Baha’s label. V is a new project by Vidis. It sounds solid and soon should be all over the place. Then there are techno dudes who are already known around the globe. Garden of Gods and Few Nolder, they know their guns. Digital Tsunami make good parties and podcast series to follow.

If you want to dig closer to my roots check Kardionas, my all time favourite Lithuanian band from the 80’s. Probably the only Lithuanian disco record by Kęstutis Makačinas was also just reissued and is definitely worth getting one of the few copies. 

You run your own club night Smala at Opium Club in Lithuania. What kind of music do you play at this club night and when did you first start it?

Me and my friends, DJ duo 12 Incu Po Zeme, have been running this night for almost four and a half years. Not sure there’s label you can stick to the music we play, but usually it’s very slow or very fast and always psychedelic. 

You did a cover of Vamos Ala Playa and it turned out to be a hit on the Lithuanian national charts! Could you tell us more about this?

We produced this with a couple of friends for fun. We were just smoking pot and creating fake bands with fake members and stories and funny tracks like that. It was a joke. It’s so funny when people put this fact as the main thing to promote my gig. 

Out of all the countries you have visited or toured, which city has hit you in the spot in terms of the music and culture?

Has to be Tel Aviv with all my inspiring musical family from there. The new rock n roll coming out of there is amazing. Or London, where i’ve been kind of living for the last five months; it’s always bubbling and exciting. There’s always a show you can go and see and you can meet people you’ve been friends only over social media. Though i barely do that and goof around the parks instead.

MusicJamal Guthrie