Interviewer: Goda Raibytė | DIENA.lt
Translation: Nida Šereikaitė
The first performance, where was that? What was the feeling? What was expected from the debut and what did You gain from it?
Back in those days AVaspo was not a band, it was a project in Gabrielė‘s mind. By uniting different sound (Aivaras Ruzgas, Antanas Dombrovskis, Vladas Dieninis) and video artists (Aurelija Maknytė, Virginija Apšegaitė, Virginijus Malčius), I imagined this project only as a non-recurring event with the goal of expressing poetry through a new symbiosis of sound and visual. Speaking otherwise, I wanted to publish Nėra okeano (No Ocean) as poetry CD/DVD instead of the usual book format. With the sponsorship of Lithuanian Ministry of Culture and together with the publisher Kitos knygos it was possible to slowly make it all a reality – by uniting different workgroups, recording and perfecting the separate tracks, filming, editing and etc. At that time we were joined by guitarist Pavelas Kostiukovas, who stayed with us for quite some time even after. Because even the printed cover art for Nėra okeano was assembled by hand, the whole production lasted about a year.
The first album, the ups and downs of it. Was it your first tour there and then? Share some interesting stories from your tour. What it feels like to perform for a foreign audience?
After a long preparation process finally in 2009 04 04 we were able to introduce the album and become more widely recognized. The first tour abroad was the trip to the prestigious alternative music festival SKIF in Saint Petersburg, Sergej Kuriochin Art centre. We were on the main stage together with Burnt Friedman, Sir Alice, Geni Geva, Deerhoof, Pivot and others. For a band, which had only a few performances back in Lithuania, this was a fantastic start. We made some footage of festival’s headliners and passed it to Lithuania’s national television, constantly paid fines to the Russian militia (local police) for having Lithuanian number plates on a car and lived in the guest house of Lithuanian consulate. Back in those days Myspace was still almighty and powerful and, discovered there, we were invited to perform in various strange and interesting events. We did not have an agent or our own sound manager, new songs were recorded only with the help of Alius Bareckas.
That period was also very special because together with a band member Vladas Dieninis we started working in Lithuanian Music and Theatre academy, his work concerned contemporary dance and I started teaching dramaturgy to future actors and directors. Perhaps then I became especially interested in performative execution and that influenced the collaborations in silent movie dubbing projects and etc.
The second album. How could you summarize that year? What changed?
After realizing the obvious that we are not a temporary project, but actually a band, which, as an exclusive spice, was invited not only to contemporary art, but as well to musical festivals, we decided to complete our company with Rytis Koreniukas. So it was Vladas by the electronic and acoustic drums, Pavelas – electric guitar, Aivaras – midi and computer sounds, Rytis – harmonica and synthesizer and my responsibility was the lyrics and their performance.
Progressively, we moved from electronics to psychedelic rock and cosmic baroque and produced, together with the book store Eureka!, our second album Niagara. Despite the contextual similarities, musically it was a completely different sound and poetry expression form. The first, oceanic, album was meditative, but the second, as the falls of Niagara, was raging, splashing with spatter of electronic guitar, pulsing with the beats of acoustic and electronic drums.
In 2010 we filmed three videos: Žinios (‘News’), Niagara, Esu įlektrinta (‘I’m electrified’), landed in the band lists of many Lithuanian music festivals and reached the private record collections. It was a very interesting time, especially because we were becoming more and more systematic and professional – we already had a sound manager Tomas Verbaitis and an agent Donata Rutkauskaitė Raugala. It might have been the reason why our previous critics – the listeners of radio station Opus 3 – started constantly swearing when they turned on the radio: “Not AVaspo again!”
Radical changes – only two band members remained. What was the story behind that?
It seems that only now, while answering these question I’m starting to understand how different all those years were. During 2011 we were joined by culture manager Agnė Samulytė and our public relations were more and more handled by Edvinas Grinevičius. Speaking about musical and performace side that was a peak of our band – musicians and artists, coming from different cultural and musical backgrounds, created an alchemy of splendid sound and, also, creative misunderstandings. Finally we recruited a VJ Simonas Gineika, who is still with us today and complements our performances with visuals.
It seems that AVaspo was on pins and needles and started performing two programs at the same time – the poetical and as well the instrumental one, which was created a year ago. But after coming back from a tour through Germany, Croatia, Austria and Czech Republic and landing, in my opinion, one of the most technically satisfying concerts in Art Printing House in Vilnius, we decided to change the way we sound and our inner strategy. That was how we split up and only me and Vladas remained. It might sound like a paradox, but it was possibly the best time to split up, because we were in the very peak of our chemistry together. Still, a lot of fans are asking: ‘When are you going to sound like you used to in ‘Niagara”?
Travels in Iceland, new videos, a completely new program. You became more socially active – even the fact that you are playing in a gay club SOHO. What does that mean to you?
We started to rehearse again and invited Gediminas Žygus to join us with his computer powered chemical reactions. The sound changed again, so did our audience. Although we still have our valued fan base, the listeners, who do not frame themselves just in one style and know, that for AVaspo the process and search for forms of expression for poetry is the key thing and thus allows us not to be labeled within a particular style.
In the year 2012 we were joined by the soul of culture life in Kaunas – Dovilė Butnoriūtė – and as well the electronic sound director Pranas Gudaitis, also we still continue our musical and business collaborations with former comrades. This year we had a unique opportunity to perform in Iceland, in the culture night of Reykjavik and for that we are very grateful to Music information centre.
Talking from a creative point of view, I would say that this year we shifted towards the radical – in the video, created together with Vibe Fabrik we declared the death of the lead singer – the dolled – up female singer prototype was replaced by a sexless creature, singing in a manly sounding voice. At this moment, performing in a club SOHO, which advocates sexual diversity, we are trying to represent ourselves as a diverse phenomena and to invite the audience to experiment, discover themselves and stay clear of all kinds of social limitations.