Radistai, a Vilnius-based DJ duo, has been a part of Lithuania’s EDM scene for the past decade. The guys behind the name, Rolandas Mackevičius and Jonas Nainys, have recently announced that Radistai got signed to Warner Music UK. Their first single will be released this Friday, so keep your eyes open for that one.
Radistai rose to popularity thanks to their radio show on ZIP FM but in the past few years the duo has earned Lithuania’s EDM ambassador name. Their tracks gain millions of views and their yearly summer festival ‘Radistai Village’ will take place for the fifth time this summer.
Jonas started DJing in his university years: “My roommate at the time was Karolis Labanauskas, better known as Embody. I used to watch him make house music all day and that’s when I fell in love with the genre. There were like 7 clubs in Šiauliai and I used to play at each one.” – he says.
Jonas continues: “My career really took off when I came to Vilnius though. In 2007 I was noticed by Lauris Lee from RyRalio DJs, a very popular duo at the time. They needed a resident for ‘Dusty Groove’ house music parties. I took the name Jovani as my pseudonym and that’s when it all got started seriously”.
The same year Jonas met Rolandas and they started their radio show called Radistai. Their duo as DJs didn’t come together until 2010: “During one of Jovani’s shows Lauris Lee asked me why I don’t play alongside him; I used to just dance at Jonas’ parties” – Rolandas told Music Export Fund. “So I figured why not. They told me to bring my music next time. I didn’t know what I was doing so I brought a bunch of 3 minute radio edits in 192kbps MP3s. It was a rocky start”.
For the first few years Radistai only played selections of popular hits but in 2013 they released their own LP called “On Air”. “We were sitting with Manfredas, who used to help us with our show’s jingles and he said: “guys, why don’t you make an album?”. Then we brainstormed on the idea and came up with a concept of 10-track album where every song would be of a different genre. Finally we brought Manfredas and Embody to Nida’s Art Colony and began working on it’ – Rolandas told MXF.
Jonas says that they gathered bunch of Lithuanian musicians – vocalists, instrumentalists, etc. who helped during recording sessions, while Radistai themselves took the job of producing the LP, directing the whole ‘orchestra’.
One of their most beloved project is ‘Radistai Village’ – an EDM festival that takes place on a small island surrounded by woods. “The capacity of Obuolių island itself is only 5,000 so we are not aiming for the huge stars like David Guetta. However I think that the success of the festival is not only because of the artists we invite. The festival is an experience.” – Jonas explains.
The most important thing for Radistai these last few weeks was their recent contract with Warner Music UK. Jonas says that it all started with the release of their second LP “On Road” in 2016: “We have already reached a point in our career where we can release a song and it easily reaches a wide audience in Lithuania. However, it’s not that easy to make the track and make it go viral abroad so I had this idea that we should give away one of the songs to some popular YouTube channel”.
“We chose ‘Coming Home (feat. Beatrich)’ as our first single. They told us we have to give away the rights of the song and we aren’t going to get paid for it. In turn, they will share the track with their base of a million subscribers. We agreed to the deal and after two months the owner of the channel contacted us. He saw that we were pretty famous in Lithuania and asked if we have a manager. We introduced our manager Deividas to him and he introduced Deividas to a guy from Warner Music Germany“.
After almost a year of correspondences between the parties, they got a label contract from Warner Music UK. “They were keeping eye on us even before the YouTube thing” – Rolandas says. “They knew what we look like, what we do, they knew about the festival and everything. Finally, they have offered an open-ended contract.”
Rolandas continues: “This is how it is going to work: Warner Music UK will give us an advance to make some tracks for them. Then they’re going to release the tracks and if they do well, Warner will ask us to do more. It all depends on the listen count we get since all of the singles will be released exclusively on Spotify”.
If the tracks will be successful, Warner Music will try to expand the distribution – mainly by including Radistai’s tracks to popular Spotify playlists. The deal is exclusive but it’s not a 360° one – Warner won’t be managing the duo’s gigs.
Jonas says that they are pretty excited for the contract. “For us, it is a ticket to the foreign market. The tracks will reach a fairly big audience on Spotify and the radio, which means more publicity and gigs for us”
Rolandas revealed that “On Road” is probably their last LP: “we figured that people only choose two or three tracks from the whole thing and the other songs are left forgotten, meaning a loss for us. From now on we will focus on singles.”
For one of their upcoming tracks Radistai recruited a team of four Swedish songwriters and a vocalist. Then they flew to UK to make the instrumentals with Embody. “It used to seem that you can make a track completely on your own but now we have 7-8 person team working on one song and it really helps” – Jonas told MXF.
The duo are quite optimistic about Lithuania’s electronic music scene. “We get quite a lot of tracks from young producers who wants us to feature them on our show. Some of those tracks are so good that I actually tried Shazaming them – sometimes it’s difficult to believe that they made it themselves and not just changed the name of an existing track”.
Although it seems like Radistai have got it all figured out, they say that the deal is only a small step in their career. When asked about their ultimate goal they told MXF that their main dream is to travel with their music much more. “Our main goal right now is to make our music popular abroad. We get invited to more and more festivals so we hope that we’re going to escape the no-name territory soon – the Warner deal will probably help us with that.”
Radistai revealed that going international was part of the plan from the very start: “At the moment, we are fairly attractive to almost any label: we have quite a big following on social media, our last album is doing very well and the recent collaborations have really raised the quality bar of our music.”
“We’re not saying that we are going to become A-list DJs but everything is possible with enough persistence. We didn’t got to where we are now by some kind of extraordinary talent; the most important thing is to gather the right team. There may be some guy behind his laptop making even better music but no one will hear it. Having a team can help you with that” – Jonas advises.
Rolandas concludes: “You can be the greatest carpenter but if you work alone – how many products will you be able to produce by yourself? If you are a great CEO, you can have a firm with 10 carpenters producing enough goods for everyone. And that’s who we are”.
You can find Radistai on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/radistai.zipfm/
Check out their music on Spotify: