Last weekend, having worked with the collective for almost six months, I journeyed to Vilnius, Lithuania for my first time in the country to experience (and subsequently document) Soundboys in all their glory…
Having spent the night in a (surprisingly comfortable) £40 room at the Easy Hotel in Luton, I arrived at the airport on Friday morning. Having gone through the normal rigmarole of a pat-down search at airport security (alongside having my laptop taken away and scanned etc.), I went through to departures where I met a rather chipper Toast.
Toast, along with LX One, Darkside, Bayfield and a few others, had for some reason decided to undergo the Hot Wings Challenge the night before – but was pretty on the ball for having munched 3.5 Naga Viper chilis (apparently his winning secret is Gaviscon – you heard it here first). We had the customary airport beer and departed for Vilnuis aboard a rather hot and cramped Wizz Air flight…
Having linked Sibla (and the lovely Ms. Sibla, Alina) on the plane, we were greeted at Vilnius airport by Soundboys head honcho Nikita. Having co-founded the collective a few years back, Nikita has friends in many places across Vilnius – including the guys in the city’s Sixt office. Nikita rolled up to the airport in a brand new Soundboys-stickered Audio A6 (having greeted the M.U.D guys in a Jaguar a few weeks prior) which was to be our transportation for the weekend.
From the airport, we drove a few miles into Vilnius itself to bag drop at the Comfort Hotel. The hotel is home to an award-winning restaurant (which lived up to expectations) and is one I’d definitely recommend to any visitors to the city. From the hotel, we went on into the Old Town to meet The Mine’s Duku and another (equally lovely) Alina and try the stodgy-but-delicious traditional Lithuanian cuisine (it’s a bit odd but, if you can, make sure you try Cepelinai). Once we’d washed the food down with some local wheat beer, we went for a drive to the outskirts of the city to see the views. Which were pretty spectacular!
The view from outside Vilnius
Once we’d got a bit of culture out of the way, we did a bit more drinking (and then a bit more) and saw in midnight – which brought with it Nikita’s birthday. We sang happy birthday, did a bit more drinking and headed out to a few bars around Vilnius. We ended up in Plum Bum Bar, where we met Victor – LOFTAS’ manager – and a few other friendly faces. I lost track of time some 24 hours into the day so headed back to the hotel for some much-needed rest.
Saturday morning/ afternoon brought with it another trip to see the sights of Lithuania. Having met Ijo, a Lithuanian producer who strikes me as a LT version of Goth-Trad (more on that comparison later), we all jumped in the A6, stuck LTJ Buckem and Conrad on the stereo and drove on through the fog. We ended up at Trakai – an amazing castle on an island in the middle of a huge lake. Which happened to be frozen. So we walked across it…
Trakai castle & island
It was slightly sketchy but we got across to the island eventually (without anyone falling over or falling into the lake). Apparently there are occasionally events in the castle – and I can’t think of a better venue for them. An amazing place! We drove back in to the centre of town for soundcheck at LOFTAS, where The Mine guys and Gnista tested the astonishing rig with some fresh dubs. LOFTAS, for those of you who haven’t been, is an empty 1,500 capacity industrial warehouse just off one of the main roads in the city. An empty warehouse full of subs – one of the best venues I’ve been fortunate enough to visit…
10pm rolled around for doors and we all walked the five minute walk from hotel to venue as the temperature started to drop. What followed was masterclass after masterclass of how bass music should be…
00.00-00.45 TOAST MC dj set
01.45-03.00 GOTH-TRAD live
03.00-04.00 IJO live
04.00-04.45 TOAST MC dj set
Every single DJ stepped up and destroyed the dance. E-Roott warmed the venue up with dub/ reggae and a bit of dubstep and then Sibla straight smashed it with a wall-to-wall all-vinyl madness. Toast, although a world-renowned dubstep host/ MC, is a fairly accomplished DJ and brought his dubplates to the dance – including personal favourite Illusions (his collab with Kaiju).
Gnista was up next and got straight into my good books with TMSV‘s Dem A Talk refix (another personal favourite of mine). His hour set got the crowd on a proper vibe before Goth-Trad arrived and absolutely levelled the venue and its 600-strong crowd. Coming towards the end of his European tour, the Japanese producer went all in during his live set, playing a few new tunes (and a few old ones) in a way few other DJs can match – or better. If you have yet to see this maestro live, shame on you. You’re missing out!
Lithuanian Goth-Trad Ijo followed with his own blend of live music, similar to GT’s but slightly less intense (which I think everyone needed post-GT). If you haven’t heard of the producer before, check him out. He’s a producer I’ll be following with interest. Toast’s second set of the night saw him up the tempo with some truly awesome DnB – which got the remainders of the dancefloor jumping all over the place. Last but not least, Duku closed the night with another hour of the deep, dark and minimal sounds on the 1210s – with another stellar vinyl-only set (look out for a forthcoming FKOF mix from Sibla and Duku, two DJs worth watching).
5.30/ 6am rolled around and I started making my way back to the much needed comfort of the hotel…
Toast & Gnista
Goth-Trad & Toast
Nikita receiving his birthday present from Goth-Trad
Sunday morning, although fairly painful, brought with it a trip to the Soundboys studio (one they share with the music students at Vilnius Music Academy) and lunch at the Japanese/ Korean restaurant Labuki. Sushi, eaten with a hangover and three or four days of sleep deprivation, has never tasted so good! Post-lunch (and yet more beers) saw Goth-Trad interviewed by local press/ bloggers (if you can speak/ read Lithuanian, head here for the result) before we all headed back to the hotel and then on to the airport…
Soundboys – Nikita, Ijo, Toast, Alina, Duku, Sibla, Goth-Trad, me, Alina
With all this talk of dubstep dying, with producers leaving the sound to pastures new, it’s hugely refreshing to travel to the depths of Eastern Europe (of all places!) and meet those sharing similar passions for bass music. With people like Nikita, Albis, Andrej (and everyone else involved in Soundboys and LOFTAS) booking producers and DJs from across the world, supporting the sound and its followers the way they do, dubstep is in some very safe hands.
If you’re fortunate enough to be able to travel to these places, or similar promoters across Europe and America: I urge you – please do. These are the people putting time, money and effort into supporting the sound. Without them it simply won’t last.
Thanks to everyone who made my stay in Vilnius such an amazing experience. Nikita, Sibla, Alina, Duku, Alina, Niklas, Victor, Toast, Kev, Goth-Trad, Dovi, Alina, the Comfort hotel, the guys at Sixt LT – and everyone who attended Soundboys, had a chat with me and otherwise made the weekend what it was. I hope to be back soon in Vilnius soon!
Photographs by me, Alina Linnas and Photography Vataitas
You can see all of the photos from 22/02/14 on Facebook here
To the idiots who threw a (thankfully plastic) glass at the equipment and Toast during Goth-Trad’s set, and then had the cheek to moan about the event after it had happened, you have no place in our sound.
Click to DOWNLOAD
- Goth-Trad – Amazon [dub]
- Goth-Trad – Locomotive [dub]
- Goth-Trad – One Drop [dub]
- Danny Scrilla – Fallout (Goth-Trad remix) [Civil Music]
- Goth-Trad – Metropolis [dub]
- Lea Lea – Black Or White (Goth-Trad remix) [Wah Wah 45s]
Peace, love and respect.