Solo performances during summer in Lithuania are generally few and far between, but music lovers need not despair! This time of year is one of the most exciting for fans of all genres, thanks to the sheer number of festivals happening in the country.
Galapagai is one of the best known festivals in Lithuania, and before the event which takes place in the town of Zarasai between July 28 – 30, Music Export Fund met with three of the event’s organisers, Mantas Rasimavičius, Aušra Kareniauskaitė and Rasa Morkūnaitė, to discover the highs and lows of organising one of the best loved music festivals of the year.
Music Export Fund: How much has Galapagai changed since it started in 2011?
Galapagai: At first it was organised by the Roko Naktys festival, which was more of a modern rock festival. The music became less heavy every year until we split up with them in 2013. Since then, we have been a completely independent event.
MXF: How many people generally attend the festival?
Galapagai: This year’s event will be the biggest since the launch! we used to attract around 6000, but this year it’s set to be around 8000 people.
MXF: Is it true that it has been tough for you organisers people are not buying enough early tickets?
Galapagai: In 2016, it was the first time we started selling tickets and announcing the line-up so early. We did that in February. Every festival is trying to get its audience to buy tickets beforehand, because it’s a lot cheaper this way. Maybe some smaller festivals are struggling with that but speaking about Galapagai and Bliuzo Naktys? Early bird tickets are selling great. If you have a big name in the line-up, it’s easy.
MXF: What difficulties do you come across when organizing ‘Galapagai’?
Galapagai: It all seems easy from the outside, and that’s why there are a lot of new festivals emerging every year. The reality is that there are many things that can affect the success of the event. There were plenty of festivals in the country that had great line-ups but it wasn’t enough, because you have to create a distinct atmosphere for it to work. The show doesn’t stop after the festival, either – you have to work on it continuously through the whole year.
You can’t ignore emigration too. When organizing three festivals it’s easy to see how these kind of things affect the attendee count. Brexit will do some damage too, and it will be painful for both sides – musicians will have more difficulties travelling, while the listeners will have to pay more for the shows.
MXF: Do you have any interesting stories from behind the scenes?
Galapagai: Despite the obvious ones when musicians lose their baggage or bandmates in another country, we had a really funny one happen in 2012 when Chase & Status were headlining. The duo had a lot of equipment and two lorries were supposed to come. A fortnight before the festival we got a call from Zarasai administration saying that lorry had arrived. We thought it was a misunderstanding and did nothing. Then the festival came, the other lorry arrived, and the driver got out and told us a story about how Chase & Status’s show in Russia was cancelled! He drove here and lived in Zarasai for two weeks. He made a friend with some guy, parked the lorry in his backyard and had a mini vacation. He told us that Lithuanian tomatoes are very tasty!
MXF: How will Galapagai look within the next few years?
Like all festivals, we expect to continuously grow. I’m positive that after a few years we will catch up with bigger festivals in the area and Positivus in Latvia would be a great benchmark. We would like attendees to come for the smaller, lesser-known artists too, not just the headliners. This year we will be having some artists who are not particularly known in Lithuania, but they’re great nevertheless.
We love a lot of different music and over the past 6 years we experimented with the audience a lot – we tried electronic, hip-hop, and rock headliners to see what works the best. Now we know the direction in which ‘Galapagai’ is heading, and we are confident that it’s going to be a modern and high quality music festival.
All pictures by Šarūnė Katinaitė