Solo Ansamblis

Solo Ansamblis on creating the sound of Vilnius, Lithuania, and drinking with Tom Waits

Solo Ansamblis are the latest melancholic rock band from Vilnius.

The threesome released their debut album ‘Roboxai‘ in March 2016, and has since received critical acclaim from within Lithuania, and already resonated with fans abroad.

Its single ‘Juoda Juoda Juoda Juoda Naktis‘ has also received considerable radio plays and according to the band, there is “no doubt” that it is their most popular song.

Speaking to Music Export Fund, the band feels that ‘Roboxai‘ represents the sound of Vilnius. Not content with just showcasing the Lithuanian capital via their “sad-dance” sound, their future plans involve making music that speaks for Lithuania as a whole…

Here’s how they plan to do it…

Solo Ansamblis

Music Export Fund: You describe your sound as “low-fi, experimental, electronic, sad-dance” – what do you mean by “sad-dance”, and who and what influenced you to choose this direction? 

Solo Ansamblis: While we try and keep things simple, we have never avoided experimenting with our music. When we play, we start from scratch and don’t know where it will end. We are all long-term friends and share similar perspectives on music and life, so we all have the same goals.

Secondly – and this is very important –  there is a certain story, feeling and distinctive atmosphere behind every track.

What do we mean by this atmosphere and feeling? It’s about us, our surroundings and our lives. “Sad dance” means that we never stop moving. Even if we are in dark situations, there always is another side to this, so you could call our sadness “sadness with hope”.

Solo Ansamblis

MXF: Why did you choose to pursue this sound as opposed to a straight-up rock/electronic sound? Do you think it makes you unique?

Solo Ansamblis: Everything we’ve done has been by trial and error. We know subconsciously what sound and energy we are looking for, and we work a lot to get it right. We  want to emphasise that all of this comes from a common sense of culture, history, and place.

Our music represents the sound of an Eastern European city. You can hear the sound of the 1990s, some coldness and a certain element of strictness in it. At the same time there is some hope and a bit of warmth, which is a bit of fun. It’s a reflection of us as kids who were born in a country that was part the Soviet Union with all its nonsense. Lithuania then regained its independence and experienced all the kinds of changes that a young country goes through. During that time, there was also rave music and the acoustic-instrumental stuff-  this is why we mix electronica with live drums and guitars.

However, the main thing is the feeling and we would be happy if you agreed that our album ‘Roboxai’ is a soundtrack of Vilnius and Lithuania.

MXF: How has your sound been received by audiences so far? What is your most popular song for listeners, and what is your personal favourite? 

Solo Ansamblis: Our audience has grown since we found our “musical language” with ‘Roboxai’. This album broken the common idea that actors create only witty or very poetic, romantic tunes. Now people recognize us as a band with a unique taste and approach to music.

There is no doubt that at this moment our most popular song is ‘Juoda juoda juoda juoda naktis’ but other tracks such as ‘Įstrižižiburiai’ or ‘Monotonija’ are very popular as well.We think the song ‘Moteris’ has a serious opportunity to get to the top, because many of our audience describe it as their favourite.

Our personal favourite track is one of the oldest songs ‘Monotonija’ and the newest cover ‘Apvogė’, which was originally performed by Lithuanian band called ‘Lipnūs Macharandžos pirštai’. But frankly all of our tunes have their own history, and this makes them unique.

Solo Ansamblis

MXF: Since forming, have you found any listeners abroad? 

Solo Ansamblis: Of course yes! From time to time we get messages with invitations to play abroad and quite a lot foreigners have been to our gigs already! Judging by the comments on the Internet, we would like to think that they have been touch by our music.

We are often asked “why don’t you sing in English? You’ll have a better opportunity to get recognised abroad,” but we don’t think it’s necessary to understand lyrics because music should be about music and emotions. As a musical instrument , language has its own colour and nature and we want to save and maintain this – that’s basically the main reason why it should stay in Lithuanian.

MXF: On your Facebook page, a number of well-known young Lithuanian musicians – ba., Justicious, plus a few members of No Real Pioneers – have given you a ‘like’. Do you believe this is a sign of a close-knit community of musicians growing in Vilnius, and do you think that this could lead to the development of a Vilnius or Lithuanian ‘sound’ that could be exportable to foreign markets were you to collaborate? 

Solo Ansamblis: Because we’re from a small country, we know many musicians face to face and we can honestly say that we feel a connection between us. We have started to organise some big events, because we share some common interests and we want to do much more together for our music community and scene. We would be immensely happy a “Lithuanian sound” emerged and we believe we have every necessary quality to make this happen.

Solo Ansamblis

MXF: If you could invite five musicians you like to have a drink, who would they be and why?

Solo Ansamblis: Tom Waits because he is a damn good drinker [laughs]! ‘Modeselektor’, because they play interesting electronic music, Nigel Gondrich, because he is one of the best music engineers, and ‘Warpaint’ for the cute girls. We’d also ask David Bowie because nobody is able to treat him to a drink anymore…

All photos by Alan Scerbakov.

More information:

Solo Ansamblis on YouTube:

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