Concentrating on industrial and related music genres, Ghia states that the aim of Area is to provide musicians with a space to meet like minded people, perform, and create music so they no longer have to take an ‘underground’ approach to their music.
With Area fast approaching, Music Export Fund met with two of Ghia’s of the main organisers Algirdas Šapoka and Mykolas Jarackas to discuss Lithuania’s industrial scene, its distinct philosophy, the upcoming festival and Ghia’s plans.
Between 2002-2013, the industrial music scene in Lithuania experienced an upsurge in popularity. However, it‘s been much quieter ever since and industrial bands are mostly a thing of the past. Area, then, is a great chance for them to meet and even possibly lead to future collaborations and a revival of the genre.
Area will be the third event organised by Ghia, with the first two taking place in Lithuania’s second largest city, Kaunas.
Mykolas: We have our wonderful partners Largo in Kaunas, and the space they have, the atmosphere they create and the opportunities they provide us with are all amazing and very suitable for this scene.
Algirdas: Even though Largo organises many electronic music parties, the type of electronica they play is fairly different, more underground, and more interesting and crooked. Of course, the music we promote is the rawest, darkest and angriest on the whole spectrum. For this kind of music you need specific spaces such as Largo where the listeners understand the idea behind the music.
After the two events previously held in 2016, Ghia has received only support. Local musicians, event promoters and audiences – not just from Kaunas but other parts of Lithuania – all agree that industrial music has been viewed as the underdog for too long.
Since Ghia was formed, they have placed an emphasis on establishing a good reputation from the very start. Putting the musician first is a definite, but what really makes the organisation stand out is its unbridled passion for industrial music. Current trends have made a number of promoters push the genre into line-ups to increase ticket sales. Ghia cares about the artists, so they keep making music and listeners can continue going to gigs.
To create an attractive image, Ghia has defined from the start that visuals must go hand-in-hand with the music. Some of the Ghia‘s first unique visuals were made by Algirdas’ good friend, photographer, Karolis Gelažius, whose work concentrates largely on post-Soviet Lithuanian architecture.
Algirdas: Architecture is a big interest of mine – especially brutalism, and the post-Soviet space. That’s actually where industrial music comes from – the depression that comes from having to live in a concrete box. That’s how our visuals were born, and we wanted them to be as convincing as possible. When Einstürzende Neubauten started, they brought perforators and sanders on stage. Mykolas’ (who will perform at the festival under the name of Body Cargo) called one of his albums ‘Kai Betonas Tampa Niekio Manifestacija’ (EN: ‘When Concrete Becomes a Manifestation of a Trifle’). Looking at a concrete block from your window in Justiniškės can make you understand that inspiration also comes from living in a miserable post-soviet space.
Mykolas: As funny as it may sound, there are noise artists in warm southern countries as well but the compositions and sounds differ. They’re crazier and more experimental, but you won‘t get that crushing pressure that dominates the Baltic, German and Scandinavian scene.
Algirdas: Well, imagine you go to Ibiza – who thinks about concrete there?
The whole organisation agrees that industrial isn‘t just about the music. This is why they will continue to aim for a philosophical angle in the future.
Algirdas: I would like to do a photography exhibition and a lecture cycle about the visual side of the post-Soviet world and city life. Industrial is after all the music of the city. The post-Soviet world may be depressing but from this misery, we’re making music. It’s a legacy we shouldn’t deny, and in fact, we should take something from it.
Aside from these plans, Ghia’s first priority after the summer parties will end will be to open its own record label. With the belief that Lithuanian musicians have never had a chance to come together and promote the genre’s scene, they felt the need to fill a gap in the market. After making a number of releases, Ghia‘s main plan is to showcase their music abroad and aim for as much export as possible.
In Autumn, Ghia will also be back with even more events in Kaunas, but for now the focus is on Area. Its line-up is mainly industrial but Ghia did aim to cross genre boundaries, challenge conventions and rely on the mood of sounds rather than strict traditions.
Mykolas: We don’t close ourselves into the conventional boundaries of what’s normally considered noise and industrial. We take everything that has at least some thread to it. That’s how even techno can make it to our line up if it’s heavy enough.
Algirdas: I have no doubt that in the future even black metal will be used if it’s interesting enough. But overall, Area is fairly pure industrial. It’s just that this term “industrial” is pretty broad. It can be hard to describe but it’s usually a sound of noise and rage.
It now makes it easier to bring together different genres because previously separate subcultures are now merging together – for example, the previously popular notion about underground being the cool thing is now fading away. Musicians put their music online for everyone and once social circles have become social networks.
Algirdas: Techno has opened a huge number of listeners especially because this genre is moving more and more towards a darker sound. Perhaps, it’s the sociopolitical circumstance that make people want darker music. The Danish label, Posh Isolation, were also important in this process.
Mykolas: I went to Copenhagen to their tiny office packed with folders and equipment at the time. We got really drunk, recorded an amazing cassette, and they released it. Later, this label became very popular all over the world as they possessed this in-between role. They didn’t care about any boundaries in terms of music. They let the artists create what they wanted as long as their work had an industrial vibe to it and was quality work. People nowadays look for certain moods over firm attitudes which used to say for example, that techno is stupid and noise is intellectual.
During Area, only the strongest will last until dawn but the music will vary between calm and banging, meaning there is something for everyone.
One of the most exciting artists to see will be Laurynas Jukonis who started making music in the 1990s. His newest and most industrialist project NULIS:S:S:S will be the most highly anticipated for many Area goers.
Algirdas: What Laurynas does is absolutely Class-A international level music. He is definitely at the forefront of the whole scene. This project is a different variation from his previous ones – more modern, more interesting, and colder. When he was making music under the name Oro! Oro! or Girnų Giesmės, the sound was dominated by mysterious and tribal elements. Meanwhile, NULIS:S:S:S has a purely cold, digital and concrete sound.
Both Mykolas and Algirdas reveal that the atmosphere that comes with organising a music festival is highly positive. Subsequently, they feel that the future for Area is bright and they are already thinking about 2017.
Algirdas: Even when organising this year’s festival, I was already thinking mostly about the next one.
Overall, Ghia will keep working for industrial love to ensure that the scene doesn’t just become an object for for selling extra tickets.
Mykolas: It’s important that people know our name and trust that we’ll provide a quality product, bring good music and provide everyone’s ears with a great time!