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Trying to Catch Shadows of the Unknown: An Interview with Povilas Vaitkevičius of Vilkduja and Oorchach

by Suweln Dangvn

In my honest opinion, Povilas Vaitkevičius is one of the best musicians in Lithuania. He has been making music for about 18 years with several different projects. Currently, his two main projects are Vilkduja and Oorchach. One is in the trip-hop, neo-cabaret field and the other explores archaic industrial depths. Both are very interesting and honest. At the end of 2017, Oorchach released its last album titled Ontologia (on Terror Records) and Vilkduja has just released its last album Cosmogonia (on Suru records). So this is the perfect time to talk to Povilas about his cosmic journey through the unknown, his musical past and present, about stars and animals, hangovers, music and extraordinary conditions – about everything that is important.

HH: Please, tell me about your musical projects. How they started, what their concepts and meanings are. What ideas do they translate?

Povilas Vaitkevičius: Well, they are their own concept and meaning. Quite of a paradox, but the phenomena of the paradox is also related to my projects’ attitudes. I could say, that there is no overarching direction except trying to express a suspicion (backed by various experiences) that there is Something More. As for how they started – everything was quite simple, a wish to play the music ignited this.

HH: The sound of Vilkduja changed over the years. First album Vakar Duona (Yesterday‘s Bread) was more experimental and harsh in comparison to Viduje(Inside) which was more lyrical and neofolk-ish. What happened that you decided to make these changes?

PV: I think it’s a natural process and it’s healthy for the music itself – standing water begins to stink after a while. There was no specific plan when choosing “sound” direction, just trying to find something interesting and putting this into the result. Vakar Duona was much less rational when comes about sound construction – it was made with a simple “I like it, I’ll use it” attitude, whereas “Viduje” involved a more exacting approach. I’ve already moved past those albums, although that doesn’t mean they’re abjured. But when I play pieces from these albums live, I modify them to bring them to next level and to make them more fun.

 

HH: I just heard about new Vilkduja album called Cosmogonia. Tell me about this album: Why you created it, whether it differs from previous albums or is a natural extension of what’s come before. What can we expect from it? Which past Vilkduja album is the most similar to it? Or maybe it‘s different from everything you created up to this point? And why vinyl and not CD?

PV: There are no similar past albums, although this is the same Vilkduja. It is challenging and interesting to travel through various sound forms, but the content itself never should be forgotten. It’s like a projection of a person, slipping through time – it seems to be the same man, but he’s actually changing. Well, there are some things that don’t change, hehe, but that is none of my business. The vinyl option, offered by the label was a good opportunity. Besides, it’s an aesthetically pleasant and beautiful format – so here we have it.

HH: Let‘s talk about your other industrial/tribal/ambient project Oorchach. The Lithuanian label Terror just released Oorchach‘s fourth album Ontologia. What is the meaning behind this album? I also noticed that the sound of Ontologia is different from first Oorchach albums. Does the different sound signify different ideas?

PV: Again, the meaning is encoded in the name. In a vague way, this could be considered a sonic expression of experiencing the nature of being/ becoming/ existence and strange flashes of wordless understandings. This theme is always somewhere nearby when speaking about Oorchach’s music. Of course, the sound is different – as I’ve said before, this is a natural process and it is interesting to explore different sonic possibilities. But the core is still the same.

HH: There are a lot of animals mentioned in your song names. Why do you choose to name your songs like that? What do animals mean to you? Which animals do you love the most? Cats?

PV: Well, it is true – quite often animals are mentioned in my lyrics and in some of my songs’ names. I mean this as a reference to atavistic feelings, a non-human state of mind, where perception is different and non-verbal communications are experienced; something, that’s hidden in our own depths. Also, this is some kind of freedom from our “typical” human condition. And yeah, I like cats, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t like other animals.

HH: Can you tell more about the „twilight occasions“ during which you record music for Vilkduja? I find some songs of Vilkduja ultra scary when I have a heavy hangover, especially, listening to „Vakar Duona“. Can you tell me how this album was born?

PV: This is a poetic label for recording/sound creating sessions – mostly for these ones when decision and inspiration go hand-in-hand. It describes the feeling that thrives within when the process moves smoothly. As for hangovers, those can make a lot of things scary, especially when this shit hits heavier :). I cannot read your mind, but maybe these are the moments, where Vilkduja’s music tries to reach the limits of the unexplainable, tries to catch some shadows from these unknown areas. Quite often the unknown is a scary thing. It is interesting to hear, that “Vakar Duona” has this effect because it’s in later recordings that there’s a more deliberate effort to bring out these elements.

HH: Can you tell me how you create your sounds? I am interested in the whole process of it – from the first idea in your mind to the recording process to the final mastering. How long does it take you to make a proper song? Is it a frustrating or relaxing experience? What is your most interesting and memorable experience?

PV: I don’t think that there is anything technically different in the way I create music. I make a lot of decisions about what tools or gear are used in the moment. If it feels good to grab a bass guitar and try to make use of it – ok; if it feels that I would like to use contact microphone – this is ok too. As for time, I find that if I spend too long focused on the sound of one track, I end up doing nothing. I need some concentration to “catch” the result, and sometimes post-production can get a little boring, but you know that you must do it otherwise there will be no song.

HH: What is your opinion about Lithuanian underground electronic scene today? Has their been some sort of progression? What tendencies do you see in it? Is it better or worse today than 20 years ago?

PV: I think that the core of the scene is made up of people who’ve been active for quite a while. A lot of them used to be more associated with metal but experimental music has always been there. New people have appeared but they have ended up becoming part of the group. It’s a little difficult to talk about any “scene” though because there are so many different aesthetics in play. I don’t consider the dark techno movement to be part of the same scene but it’s not uncommon to hear people saying “techno wants to be an industrial”. That doesn’t mean I’m against techno, I just don’t like the contemporary tendency to mix forms without caring about the content itself. But I am not any kind of guru to summarize what is good or bad – some things I like, some I don’t, so maybe it means, that everything goes as it should be?

 

 

HH: I really like your old neo-folk/industrial project Lauxna Lauksna, which you did together with Vytautas from Spanxti. What can you tell about this project? Will we hear something from it in the future?

PV: We don’t have any plans to revive it at the moment but that doesn’t mean it will never happen. For the moment, we are each following our own paths. It was quite a raw, primitive, beat-driven sonic experiment that was ok for the time but now I would like to operate in a wider area. And, well, this is what I am doing. 

HH: Seeing your album artwork and listening to your lyrics I get the feeling that you are a little bit obsessed with cosmos, stars, moon, etc. The name of the new album by Vilkduja called „Cosmogonia“ aligns with that. What do these symbols mean to you? Do they inspire you to create music? Or are there other elements that inspire you to create?

PV: The Moon itself is within a logo of Vilkduja, so it’s natural to see this symbol near the name of the project. And it is a celestial object, so the cosmic context also fits here. The album name “Cosmogonia” is nothing new to Vilkduja, maybe, in this case, it’s a bit more straightforward. All these things are related – from alchemy (understood in the broadest possible way), existential feelings or just the pure beauty of certain aesthetics. Inspiration comes in unexpected ways, from all spheres.

HH: In your opinion, what value is the most important for a good musician?

PV: I could think a few of them, but if you’re asking about the one, I would say sincerity.

Oorchach | Vilkduja

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