If you ask any devoted Lithuanian clubber about Eternia music, they will definitely mention the dark themed drum & bass parties in Vilnius based Kablys club. They are organized by Gytis Dubauskas aka Intakx, a DJ, the owner of Eternia music label, and the host of the very same club. It so happens that Intakx is a member of Music Export Fund and Eternia has just released their 30th record, so there couldn’t be a better occasion to get acquainted with his drum & bass label.
The beginnings of Eternia music
„The idea to start my own label occurred to me as early as 2008. It took some time, however, for the idea to take a shape. Because of my lack of experience and waiting rather than doing, Eternia music didn‘t fully materialize until 2011“. Regardless, it couldn’t have been a better time to launch a music label, Gytis recalls. „It was the golden age of the Internet, and the beginning of social media, e.g. Myspace or Soundcloud, where a lot of my favourite artists would post their brand new unreleased tracks. This was the main reason that drove me to start my own record label“.
Gytis admits that at first he naively expected Eternia music to be an easy way out to get previously unreleased material for his own DJ sets. Although some mistakes are bound to happen, everything Eternia is today Gytis owes it to his acute taste in music and natural gift of piecing together solid drum & bass releases.
Label’s values and the selection of new talents
One of the latest releases on the label is a 4-track EP “Cryptograms”. “It is a significant and special release as it perfectly represents the sound of Eternia. It is like a short almanac of the whole label, which is something to be proud of”, says Gytis.
“Cryptograms” is a substantial compilation EP, featuring some serious names such as Loxy, Overlook as well as bright up-and-comers like Antagonist and Erkiu. This record is the 25th release in the official catalogue of Eternia music, and unofficially, it is the 29th, followed by recently released newborn track and the remix “Boulevard”.
To Gytis, the number of releases is of little matter. The label is principally focused on the high quality of production and diligent execution of the concepts lying behind each release. He’s not hiding his beef with contemporary music industry either, “I can’t imagine Eternia ever becoming some ordinary, mass-production label”.
Gytis is faithful to the values of his label, so it’s not that easy to get released on Eternia music. The content of each release is decided by following the three main criteria: the significance to the genre, aesthetic compatibility with the label and the originality of the piece.
There are very few Lithuanian producers that can meet these criteria, so Gytis is always happy to find new talents outside his home country: “I’ve always been very open to the music from different regions of the world. For instance, to me, drum & bass released in Romania is a much more intriguing phenomenon compared to what they have in the UK. Same goes to other artists such as Hungary-based Apostroph, Psycho Mantis from Turkey or Erkiu from Poland. Perhaps their music isn’t as flawless on the technical level but they all bring to the table exactly what drum & bass needs these days”.
Evolution of the genre
It’s not easy running a music label, especially when the genres are on a constant change. According to Gytis, drum & bass is already drifting to the margins of the genre and splitting into two directions: the traditional drum & bass that has been and will be this way many years to come, and the 170 BPM half-step. “[Half-step] is techno, ambient, drone or other kind of electronic music infused drum & bass, which is different from the classic jazz-soul-breakbeat-driven DnB. One could say that this kind of sound is targeted to musically educated and intellectual listeners, but if you’re a raver with a good taste, you will enjoy it too” – Gytis explains.
He also adds that the traditional drum & bass scene has now fallen into a lethargic state: “It seems that leading labels and producers are more concerned with the quality of the sound and profits rather than the rebellious essence of the genre, which was the main reason of drum & bass glory in the 90s”. Fortunately, there are some labels such as Blackest Ever Black (particularly Pessimist’s self-titled album), Samurai Music, UVB-76, etc. that promise a bright future to the innovative sound of half-step.
Streaming and release formats
With streaming services on the rise, the distribution of electronic music has become somewhat ambiguous: the DJs are more likely to buy full tracks in order to use them in their sets, while casual listeners prefer streaming. This means that the labels have to provide both of these options to leave everyone satisfied. Luckily, the followers of Eternia music can either stream their favourite tracks on Spotify and Soundcloud or buy them on Bandcamp. “I like Spotify; if your musical work is good enough to the point that people choose to enjoy it by streaming it – you have to be on Spotify. It’s like fast but healthy food for your ears. Same goes to Bandcamp which is also the best music store. God bless its founders” – says Gytis.
As for the music formats, Gytis is playing it safe: “Thoughts about vinyl as a release format has crossed my mind but I find it rather risky. In my years of experience, I have developed a practical approach to music publishing, which is why I always try to decide what is worthwhile and what isn’t”. On the other hand, it would be a shame to see no tangible records in Eternia music discography, so Gytis makes a promise: “By 2027, we will definitely release a limited edition of some badass 12-incher that could soon be sold in Discogs for 100€ a piece”.
Having a good eye for talented artists and emerging music trends helps Gytis apply different strategies when selling the records. Some releases sell themselves, especially if they are produced by up-and-coming artists like June Miller whose track “Isis” became the most profitable Eternia release.
The importance of aesthetics
Most of the time, however, new releases need a good marketing campaign. It goes without saying that a powerful artwork can be a real game-changer.
Everyone who has Eternia music on their radar can recognize it’s dimmed, unearthly, almost phantasmagoric aesthetics everywhere. Gytis reveals that the cover art plays a critical role in his label: “After the music itself, the design is the most important part of the label. It requires a lot of thought and sometimes even obsessive attention to details. I am truly surprised that even the biggest DnB labels forget to put some effort into the design of their releases and ignore the fact that music has always been going hand in hand with the artwork, which can take your sound to the next level”.
Running a music label has a lot of nuances to it. Sometimes, it is not the profits, the amount of releases or the popularity of the artists that make it count. Not for Gytis, anyway. As he puts it, “Since the very beginning of Eternia, digging up promising contemporary producers and bringing their music to the world was one of the label’s primary goals, and now it is the driving force, too”.
Eternia Music on Bandcamp: https://eterniamusic.bandcamp.com/
Eternia Music on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thisiseternia/
Cryptograms EP on Spotify: