Manfredas – The Ransom Note Mix
God bless you Manfredas. You are a man of true intrigue, interest and purveyor of fine aural delights. Your music extends far beyond your Lithuanian base, Vilnius and your club-night Smala at Opium Club. You have already blessed our ears with fine excursions on Ivan Smagghe's Le Disques De La Mort. You have also remixed the likes of Jaakko Eino Kalevi and given us a free download of it. You've been out on the ice making videos for your records and your Pink Industry outpouring has even been PIMPED. You've even been in the national Lithuanian charts with a cover version of "Vamos ala playa" and hit number 19. Luckily nobody knows it was you.
Now you have taken the time to put us together a fine hour long mix of music from the outer reaches of your mind. You are a kind man. You are also a man of great taste.
So with that in our ears let's find out…
Who are you?
I am Manfredas. A music lover and producer. I release my stuff on Les Disques De La Mort. Also, I run a club night with my friends called "Smala" where you should go one day.
Where are you?
I'm at my brand new studio in Vilnius, Lithuania, which still smells really good. You are not allowed to wear your shoes here.
What are you?
Confusion (in ELO’s vocoder).
What was the first electronic record you heard and how did it make you feel?
Of course not the first and maybe not so very electronic, but it was the first record that turned me into electronics from hip hop, opened up a new world for me. Still one of the most moving music pieces for me and still makes me feel the same. I think I wanna cry. Another one that comes to my head instantly is “Timber” by Coldcut.
What's your musical heritage? Who inspired (and still inspires) you to make music?
I come from radio and I am so glad I had chance to hear all of the nice popular music made in the 80’s and in the 90’s and then being into hip hop, learning the sampling first, which is still big part of the process for me today, and then everything else bit by bit. I never had a job which was not related to the music. Since being a kid I worked in radio, I worked in MTV, I worked in clubs and recording studios. It’s great I had a chance to work on so much different music, not necessarily made for clubs. Music for television, ads, movies, making up fake pop bands and going on national charts. You learn everywhere. I worked and I still work with super-talented friends.
And inspiration can hit you anywhere. I was having a beer in a heavy metal bar the other day where I heard this awful trance-metal track. It had horrible sounds but also had an amazing mood in it so I wrote down the name of it off their Winamp and now I want to make some kind of cover version of it.
I’m not a big gear geek and I don’t buy much stuff, but when you get something new it brings some inspiration too. Just got myself a present, this old Korg synth, so I’ve been torturing it for a couple of days now.
When did you decide that music was the life for you and what's your favourite thing about making music?
I guess when I was kicked out of school because I was spending way more time in the city radio than taking maths. I was 13. The radio was shit itself but it had an incredible collection of music, also the internet which I did not know existed at all and the recording studio with a computer! I was like “alright, fuck basketball”. Of couse, I did go back to school, but it was just noise.
How does your brain work when making music? How does it work when you aren’t?
I think it is pretty much always making music. And it's never concentrated, always jumping between thousands of layers, looking for the right signals and inspirations.
How would you describe your sound?
I hate that, but here you go – heavy blooded cold funk with extra hiss.
Why do birds suddenly appear?
Well, they appear for the lard where I live. Not sure if birds eat pork in other countries too?
Who do you listen to in your spare time? Do you spend this time sitting around the house in a comfortable chair listening to music? If so, which chair is your favourite?
I don’t listen to music at home at all. I don’t have internet and my laptop just broke and I’m not getting a new one so I’ve lost the last source of music at home. My turntables are unplugged and they are going to the basement. Sometimes I turn my little radio in the kitchen on but I’d rather choose a broadcast from the church than music stations.
Usually I spend like 16 hours a day in the studio where I listen to music and make music. It’s hard to draw the line between these two. I just go through a lot of things and sometimes nothing happens and sometimes I get an idea and start building a track around it and when I’m making a track, I go back to my records looking for a snare to sample but I finish up not going back to the track and discovering something new. Usually it is not dance music I am after.
What was the thought process behind your Pink Industry latest release?
Really did not have any idea of making a certain record that somebody would necessary like or play, but when I finished a couple of tracks I felt that Ivan would like them and I really did not want anyone else to put them out. I knew that it would be the best way for this music to work. Being on LDDLM now feels like home. And if you’re asking what was the process behind making it, I don’t want to go into the details that much. It just ruins all the romantique. It’s nice to listen to the music and wonder how it is made. I just wanted it to be not attached to something that is going on in the club at the very present time cause usually that sucks.
If you could be on all the screens around the world at once for 30 seconds what would you say? Would you drop the F-bomb?
You mean this?
Who is your least favourite cartoon character?
I spent my childhood playing sports and stealing fruits from markets so I never really watched any TV and cartoons. Maybe I watched a bit of Speed Racer so whoever the bad dude was. But I can give you my favourite one for sure – Xavier Renegade Angel.
What would be the ideal setting to listen to the mix?
Your mate, a bottle of vodka, some pickles. You can do it in the sauna too, swinging your towel above your head. Or simply the way I enjoyed all this music just sitting in the chair with your headphones and a table lamp on, making squares with your mouse or moving folders around.
What should we be wearing?
Your speedos, if you choose the sauna.
What would be your dream setting to record a mix: Location/system/format?
I'm not a hi-tech hi-fi guy who cares about custom made DJ mixers and stuff like that. I love to play with it and I love when stuff sounds amazing, but usually I really don’t care. I'm not nerdy at this point at all. I just love songs. And the places where these songs are being played of course. Playing at kitchens all through Saturday has to be my fave. Playing in dunes is amazing too. For the club mix i just need a nice booth. Played in Rex Club not long ago, booth is best there. I could record a nice mix there.
Which track in the mix is your current favourite?
Yellow Magic Orchestra – Gradated Grey. It’s not a current fave, but it’s the best track in the mix. One of my all time faves. Was saving it for a very special podcast, of course.
What’s your favourite recorded mix of all time?
I doubt I ever listened to the same mix twice. I don’t listen to the dance mixes at all. I enjoy listening to selections of different music, radio shows. Ivan and Nathan’s show is cool, Optimo on the radio are always a pleasure. I used to listen to Peel too. Also now Red Axes mixes. They are my dear friends and we share tastes a lot so I’m always curious for new Niv’s finds. You should also follow DJ Sundae from Paris. Moscoman’s mix for Comeme, I think, with Israeli music only was a lot of discovery too.
If you could go back to back with any DJ from throughout history, who would it be and why?
DJ Premier or Pete Rock would be ok. I almost stopped listening to hip hop after the nineties, but it is my spine at it will always be.
What was your first DJ set up at home and what is it now?
I don’t think I ever owned a proper DJ set up. When I started DJ’ing I was playing with home tape players and the record players were also the ones we had taken from our houses with no pitch or anything like that. And later I almost lived in this small bar called “Stereo 45”. It was our mecca for italo disco, post punk, all the wave stuff, techno and electroclash too. So I used to play 15 hour long sets like always with these pioneer 100’s. That's probably the only piece of equipment in the world I feel I have a spiritual relationship with. And now I do have 1200’s unplugged at home and another one in the studio to rip the records I buy so I can play them of my usb key with Pioneer 2000’s.
What’s more important, the track you start on or the track you end on?
Really depends on the time you play. If there's a “super” DJ playing after you who will mix your track out in the second minute it does not make much sense but if you have a chance to finish the night, nothing beats playing “All Tomorrow’s Parties” in the end.
What were the first and last records you bought?
There were no records here unless you were into Italian pop which is kinda funny, but impossible to enjoy when you are a kid and you like skateboarding. I come from the universe of tapes, we had a huge scene of pirate tapes. First one I bought was Metallica “Master of Puppets”. My first 12" I bought was “Music Evolution” by Buckshot Le Funk. And the last one I just bought @ Oye Records was Montezuma’s Rache “Wu du du”. I ripped it for this mix but in the end it all just went totally into a different direction trance. So next time.
If this mix was an edible thing, what would it taste like?
Hmm… maybe a gumshoe? Romain Gary did actually eat a gumshoe in Vilnius. I walked by his statue today. It’s holding a gumshoe.
One record in your collection that is impossible to mix into anything?
There are hundreds. I used to do a little edits to make them more mix friendly but I don’t care now, I just play the track how it goes. Of course I would not do that in the big club.
Upcoming in the world of Manfredas?
Wood knocking: finished remixes for Relish and Multi Culti records, Second EP on LDDLM with Richard Norris remix of “Pink Industry” and very beautiful track with Chloe – C.A.R, playing in Paris, Marseille, London and Berlin, surviving the Xmas/New Years party-marathon and then working on my album only next year. My goal is to make it at least a bit faster than It’s A Fine Line did.
Are you a kick drum, hi hat or a snare? And why?
I’m a snare man for sure. I spend ages looking for snares. If I hear somebody use a nice snare it's like looking at somebody with nice leather boots. You get jealous. And then you steal it. Snare, not the boots.
What are you obsessed with at the moment?
I think I’m at at the point where I’m trying to get rid of the obsessions. Fighting the windmills, you know? Obsessed with fighting the windmills.
What's your answer to everything?
"So it goes”. But you know it's not mine.
Anything else we need to discuss?
Interstellar? New Roy Andersson? Best Michael Jordan plays?
More Manfredas here. What a great man.