Music Export Fund’s Director Mark Adam Harold is somewhat of a Vilnius Veteran – Brit. Vilnius Council Member. DJ. Fun maker.
He first arrived to Lithuania in 2004 with the intention of meeting musicians.
And while he’s known for raving, for part 2 of MXF’s guilty music pleasures series, Mark sat down to fix the impression that it’s not just dubstep that features in his music library.
In an interview which reveals he was partly responsible for spilling a pint on Chrissie Hynde during the mid 1990s, Mark opened up about some surprising guilty music pleasures, which range from a Lithuanian patriotic song to a Simon and Garfunkel cover.
“You want music to make people smile, jump, should and dance,” he said.
And that’s what it should be about, right?
1. Shine On, Dolly Parton
I’m not sure whether I’m ready to reveal the Top 5 yet. I think we’ll have to go through this step-by-step so the pain is spread out over a longer period of time, but I do promise to admit some proper guilty stuff.
Well, we’ll have to start with the best singer in The History Of The Universe. It’s Dolly Parton, because I really like old American music, which was influenced a lot from UK stuff.
Dolly sings in a way that makes me actually cry. I mean, films I can easily cry at, too, but normally it’s the human voice singing emotionally that’ll instantly set me off.
And the first note of this song, well, before that, I can start crying because I know she’s gonna sing. I’m normally alone when this happens… [Laughs]!
Well, this song from Dolly Parton is one she did as a tribute called Shine On, as a tribute to Tammy Wynette. It’s an adaptation of one of my favouring songs ever, which is Amazing Grace.
It’s like the standards of all standards. I mean, if you’re talking about jazz standards, these are 50 steps ahead of the standards they were based on, so that’d be gospel or traditional music.
I don’t think enough people would guess I listen to this kind of thing. You know, I guess people think I just listen to Dubstep all day. That’s what I’m known for. The least likely thing I would listen to is Dolly Parton, but well, I do!
I know ‘Shine On’ sounds a bit of an English insult, you know, “shine on, son” but this video will make you cry if you have a heart. Or a soul. [Laughs].
I have to say, though, if I’m going to listen to a guilty pleasure, then 95 percent of the time it’s this song by this artist.
2. Raudoni Vakarai, Ieva
The next one is Red Evenings or Raudoni Vakarai, in Lithuanian.
Another guilty secret in general, is that I don’t listen to much music at all.
I can’t listen to music when I work. I don’t know why, but I’d stop working and end up just listening to that.
It’s okay if someone else is listening to it, but I just can’t. And where I work a lot, I don’t listen to a lot of music, apart from the stuff people play in the office.
I don’t have a big sound system at home, either. I would, however, listen to Dubstep in the car or something.
But this one, though, maybe it’s not surprising, but this is a really patriotic Lithuanian song about partisans.
It’s super patriotic, and I think it would surprise some people who I wouldn’t agree with politically because they think I don’t feel anything for Lithuania, or I hate it here. You know, there are a few things I’ve said might give them the wrong idea about my feelings for this country…
I’m not even sure if I agree with this song, but it’s an amazingly perfect, even if you don’t understand the lyrics. Just listen to the syllables. It’s beautiful.
Then when you learn what the lyrics mean, they’re really moving. It’s also the main theme tune to Tadas Blinda, think of it like the Lithuanian Robin Hood.
They made a big epic film about it. And the story goes that someone on the set played this song, and everyone agreed it should be the theme tune. It’s just very sweet.
If you also agree with the politics behind it, it’s also very moving. Either way, you can see people are commenting in English about the song, so I think that says something.
There’s a new version, too. But it just doesn’t get me as much as this original one. This video also has more that 3 million views, so that means every Lithuanian has watched it once! [Laughs].
3. Scarborough Fair, Simon and Garfunkel
Scarborough Fair is one of the oldest traditional English songs going.
It’s the guilty pleasure I listen to when I need to feel a bit English, which isn’t so often. I don’t really feel homesick often, but my mum listened to a lot of this kind of music, so it’s my mum, it’s Englishness and all this and that.
It’s so old and you can tell it’s survived for so long because it was such a perfect combination.
I can’t find a proper old school version so we’ll have to stick with the Simon and Garfunkel one. Anyway, we’ll use this one because when I was a teenager, one of my friends really loved Simon and Garfunkel and I hated it.
Any time he played it, I’d always moan, so all of my friends decided they’ll play this at my funeral to annoy me when I’m dead [Laughs]. But my guilty pleasure is, is that I quite like it now… even the Simon and Garfunkel version.
The original is from the 17th century or earlier, but it’s one of the original ballads and also a bit of a comedy.
It’s a joke that this guy’s ex-girlfriend lives in a different town, so he tells his friend to tell her “hey, do this list of completely impossible tasks” and then I’ll take you back!
He’s proper taking the piss, so you can see it as one of the original “fuck you, ex-girlfriend” songs!
Like I told you, a lot of people think I just listen to electronic music so I feel I should say that I started with rock.
I was in a band and all that stuff and I hated electronic music. I played drums in, oh, god! There were so many names, but we were called Honey one point, then Paraffin at another point…
I was in another band with my mate Jeff Metal, and we did Beck covers. We were called the Moon Cadets. He was playing his guitar with electric toys and all of that ’90s stuff.
I didn’t actually start listening to dubstep until 2007 or something. I’m not sure why I switched, but at school I had a mate who had a car and he was always playing Happy Hardcore. I was complaining about it, then after a while I got into it.
I think a lot of people try to analyse music as music, but it’s always the association with something else, so I associate that music with my mate and those times – you know, the rave era which I disliked then, but now wish I was a part of.
Another reason about how I got into electronic music is UK hip-hop, which is really crossover and really experimental.
You could be into hip-hop if you were into guitar bands because they were using guitars and all that – look at Run DMC and Aerosmith for example. Then you might start getting into electronic hip-hop and trip hop. Then you might end up promoting dubstep in Lithuania [laughs].
Another story about me and rock music, is when my mate Jeff threw a tape at Chrissie Hynde.
It was after a Blur concert, but it was a Moon Cadets tape [laughs]! He thought he’d give it to Justine Frischmann, but unfortunately it landed on Chrissie Hynde’s pint… which landed on Chrissie Hynde.
Then I think he got turfed out, so I had to find him at the back door or something.
But hey, we all have stories like that, no?! [Laughs].
4. Kandy Pop, Bis
Well, I guess I should find a guilty pleasure from the old rock music days, which isn’t going to be Blur because I’m not ashamed of that.
This song, at the time was a guilty pleasure and now it still is. I think the story behind them is that they were the first band on Top Of The Pops without being signed. It was one big stunt.
Then it turns out they got signed, but I’m pretty sure that’d happened before! Anyway, I like that story, and it was a big deal.
It’s just a tight, short energetic punky-pop hit, which I couldn’t get out of my head. I thought it was really cool and it was also cool that they made it on Top Of The Pops.
Now you’d never get something like this being on there, but I also liked it because it’s called Kandy Pop. It’s not guilty pleasure for them, and they’re openly saying “hey, this is candy pop”.
Like I said, I was really into alternative music so it was proper guilty back then for me.
I remember them playing at Reading Festival and I had to leave my mates, and go and see them on my own. Nobody wanted to be seen attending their gig.
I remember that especially ‘coz they just kicked a football into the crowd and it was pretty awesome. They did a couple of other things too, but they never really happened.
Sometimes I still listen this song because of its energy. It’s also really important too, because it shows you don’t have to do anything too much if you show your energy and fun.
That’s the most important thing in rock/pop music, because you want it to make people smile, jump, should and dance. So in a way, it’s a guilty pleasure but I would also use it as an example of showing how to do things right – it’s two guitars, and a girl singing playing a keyboard.
They have annoying voices too, so it’s got everything you need for a one hit wonder. I wish more people would use that kind of energy and not feel guilty for going full out for pop. It shouldn’t be a guilty pleasure.
I haven’t actually told anyone I like this music since the ’90s, so you’ve got an exclusive there! [Laughs].
5. DZIECIE BASU MIXTAPE LEVEL 2, DobreBity.pl
Let’s do Polish Grime here. I originally wanted to do Russian Hardbass because it is quite possibly the worst music ever, but it’s also the best.
On average, it’s five out of 10, because it’s zero for being rubbish and 10 for being awesome. I don’t get why it annoys people because it just makes you smile and want to dance like an idiot. In fact, why don’t we do that more often? We’re all humans and it’s funny.
I can’t say I have a favourite Russian Hardbass song, so let’s just say that’s something I wish more people liked and would be less embarrassed about. That said, I’m not ashamed at all, so I don’t feel like it’s a guilty pleasure.
Something else I’m not embarrassed about, well, I am a little, is that I really like Grime. I’m from South London and most of the music I like is from there, but my favourite grime is actually Polish.
I found this mixtape and it’s some Polish guys who obviously have some contact with London. It’s like that feeling with French hip-hop, when they do it better than Americans. So, the Polish doing grime better than Londoners I feel a bit guilty about. However, I much prefer this mix-tape to anything else.
I don’t know how Lithuanians would feel about it because it’s Polish language and that upsets some people. However, I love the Poles! They saved England during the Battle of Britain. I like that connection between Lithuania, Poland the UK.
I just feel a bit guilty that my favourite grime isn’t from London. In fact, I don’t even understand what they’re saying!