The interview: Mario & Vidis

Lithuanian production team Mario & Vidis round-up a particularly busy year with their two-disc album Changed, a 20-track strong journey that blends in everything from dreamy sonic sound capes to hypnotic pop melodies. Released on Silence Music, the dynamic duo’s debut album covers much musical terrain, with the first disc better suited for indoor listening, whilst the second one clearly takes matters to the dance floor. With a string of special guests appearing on the track list (Kathy Diamond, Jazzu and Giedre), Changed confirms Mario & Vidis’ reputation as the taste-makers by excellence for a new breed of promising talent that’s reinvigorating the scene’s entire Eastern promises. We caught up with both Mario & Vidis by email to ask them about their top three records of 2011, their hometown and who they’d book for their last ever party.

Where are you right now?

Mario: We’re one foot in Lithuania and the other worldwide.

Vidis: Haha…That’s a more generic point of view. But it’s right. We’re in the studio right now to be more specific, putting down some answers for you. We’ve been working on a new track with Ernesto today. It’s called ‘Care’, and we really really like it. We’re really feeling it because it turned out like no other track we’ve ever made. Ernesto recorded two tracks with us for our album. Now we’re giving something back to him – producing some stuff for his new album as well.

What have you been up to this month?

M: We’ve just finished a remix for Australian indie-pop band Architecture In Helsinki which turned out to be very different in a good way – none of our remixes sounded anything like that before. Yes! Again. We’ve been doing some hybrid tracks recently. We don’t even know what the style is really. It just happens when we work together in the studio…

V: Also we’ve been working on a Bon Iver cover for ‘Re: Stacks’ featuring vocal treatment of James Mathé. We’re very much into this at the moment. We want to finish it as soon as possible and we’ve been traveling quite a lot recently too. Playing Russia, Ukraine, then again Russia, and ready to do a few dates in Germany, Italy, and Turkey very soon.

We tried to make it a real journey, not just a collection of our tracks new and old.

Tell us about the album. How long has it been in the making? Where was it recorded?

M: We were working on the album for three years. It was recorded in my studio apart from one session when we were recording live drums which were recorded in another studio. Also with Plastic People, which was co-written by Vytautas Sondeckis a good old friend of mine, he recorded these plastic fantastic keyboards in his basement studio and the vocals too! Believe it or not but only the songs with Giedre were recorded here in this studio. All other vocal parts were traveling back and forward in between Vilnius, London, Brighton and Gothenburg.

V: This is where we have a slightly different approach. The album showcases our work from the last three years. But it was recorded mainly in five months from May to September 2011 and most of the work was done in the middle of the summer – in July 2011. So I’d say we recorded it during a very productive summer of 2011. Even though the album showcases our work from the last three years.

How would you describe the mood of the album?

M: Deep and mysterious.

V: I’d say it’s got a consistent mood.Different tempos and styles aside we’ve put a lot of time and effort editing tracks, mostly the beginnings and the endings, to make it a smooth listen. And pardon for the cliche expression, but we tried to make it a real journey, not just a collection of our tracks new and old.

Electronic music is very much an art of context.

The two disks possess drastically different moods, tempos and directions. How would you distinguish one from the other?

M: The first one is vocal and the second one is fully instrumental. The first one is more suitable for listening, the second one is more suitable for dancing. The first CD is more Mario and the second one is more Vidis.

V: Those two discs showcase our different personalities and even different sides of us. One day we feel kinda blue and want to put down one more melancholic song. And another day we feel like banging it out with a dance floor destroyer. I wouldn’t say the moods are drastically different though – we fit most of this diverse material quite easily into the sets we play. You just have to know how to do transitions. Then you can move quite easily and convincingly from electronic ballads to dance floor bangers. Electronic music is very much an art of context.

Talk us to about some of the vocalists you had on the album. How did the collabs come about? I’m especially interested to hear/learn more about Giedre.

M: Vidis could you please take on this one…

V: Jazzu is a good old friend of ours, Kathy Diamond became our friend during her gig here in Vilnius at one of my events, and we got in touch with Ernesto with the help of the internet when we wanted to do our first track featuring a male vocalist. Giedre is a local legend. She’s a lead vocalist of a band called Empti. They were the ground breaking Lithuanian act at the end of the 90s, fusing electronica, indie and pop in their own way. We felt like inviting her for a variety of the vocals on the CD and for the respect we have for her, she felt like joining us. Now everyone’s happy with results.

What’s the thing that surprised you the most recording the album?

M: Hm. Maybe realizing how much time and energy it really takes, especially the technical work, the final mixing and mastering.

V: Me too. On the one hand I was surprisedbut of course proud at the same time that we managed to come up with a double album – we had enough of material! On the other hand yeah, we didn’t think it will be consuming so much of the time, we were saying this is our first and last double album haha…

What’s the one most important thing you learned whilst recording the album?

M: We learned new things about each other, we learned new things about music styles, we learned to sit down and review our tracks to make sure they would fit onto the album, and would last longer than a usual dance floor material or DJ tool. We learned to express ourselves and present our sound. We’ve learned about working with tube compressors and limiters because that was a new hardware which arrived around the time of the album recording. We learned a lot.

V: We learned to accept changes. That’s the idea behind the album and it’s title. We re-arranged, re-edited, and re-adopted absolutely all the tracks. Even the ones which were produced 3 years ago. It’s all about re-thinking your ideas, attitudes and values all the time. It’s a never ending process. ‘Changed’ was changed one more time even after it’s release. We released the CD for the Lithuanian territory at the very end of 2010. During 2011 some of the tracks were signed by a few international dance labels and released as singles or EPs with a bunch of remixes added to them. Then we changed the artwork slightly, changed our artist name – shortened it a little bit, and are releasing it for worldwide audience.

We learned to accept changes. That’s the idea behind the album and its title. We re-arranged, re-edited, and re-adopted absolutely all the tracks.

What would you say your top three LPs of the year were so far?

M: MCDE DJ Kicks compilation, John Tejada‘s album, Jamie Woon‘s Mirrorwriting.

V: Oh. I hate this kind of questions. Three is never enough. How can you put the whole year into three albums? Let’s talk about last three months maybe? Then it would be Joakim ‘Nothing Gold’, Little Dragon ‘Ritual Union’, Bon Iver ‘Bon Iver’.

Can you talk to us a little about your hometown? What’s your neighborhood like? what’s the nightlife like? which clubs/parties do you go to? Any shops you recommend?

M: I don’t go out that much so it’s a question for Vidis.

V: For good parties you should check Opium, Soul Box, Gorky, for live concerts Loftas. You’ll always find good stuff at Zoe’s, Briusly, La Boheme, and Kitchen. For up to date art the definite place is Contemporary Art Centre. For all kinds of designer items you should go to Daiktu viesbutis. And just for a nice walk around you should go to Uzupis, check out theriver side, and the old town of course. Come visit us!

Who would you book for your last ever party?

M: Nuyorican Soul.

V: Freddie Mercury would be nice. But he’s unavailable for gigs right now. Beastie Boys then. Sa-sa-satisfaction guaranteed. Maybe Grace Jones too.

What three websites do you religiously check everyday?

M: Facebook, Xhamster, Swedbank – my bank account.

V: Facebook, Google Calendar, racas.lt – a blog of one local wise guy.

What is next for you, as a band but as individual musicians?

M: Two original releases – ‘We Are Child Of Love’ and ‘Jeremy Glenn’ which doesn’t have a name yet. And remixes for Jay West ‘Smile’, Crazy P ‘Changes’, Bradka ‘Fine Fine’, Metronomy ‘Corrine’, The Mecanism ‘Can’t Believe’.

V: I’m planning my first international mix album for the new year to show everyone where I’m coming from. I also wanna give some exposure to local talent – we’ve got a small but really vibrant scene these days.

Are you guys on Facebook?

V: Yes we are – follow us on Facebook here.

Changed was released on Future Classic in May 2011