While proposing and producing melancholic and depressing, often distorted and aggressive, music built for the most part through frigid machines, the London-based Lithuanian musician, composer and producer Egzotikka, in an increasingly virtual, greedy and impersonal era, still represents a certain breed of old-school organic DIY ethic, at least for some of us seemed so, where passion still prevails over convenience, spontaneity over calculations and substance over form.
Even his Coldwave/Post-punk debut EP, certainly for me one of the best of the year of its kind, follows this organic and minimalistic path, not to mention the electronic cassette label META MOTO he co-runs, the weekly radio show and podcast, where it’s always possible to get acquainted with unpredictable new artists and sound suggestions, consistently giving us nostalgic and somber earnest emotions, yet enshrouded in a natural world sprinkled with colours and hope.
Thanks so much for the interview. Can you please introduce yourself and let us know about your early artistic and musical experiences, influences and inspirations?
My name is Osvaldas Bertasius and my artist name is Egzotikka. I was born in Lithuania back in the ‘80s. My inspiration was Lithuanian New Wave and Post-Punk bands like Kino and Foje. My music journey started at the age of 11 when I got my first guitar. At the age of 15, I started studying classical guitar in the music conservatoire and continued my studies at university where I studied jazz bass guitar. While I was studying bass guitar I was also working as a private guitar teacher in a school and DJing in different cities in Lithuania.
When and how did your attraction and passion for leftfield electronica and also post-punk come about?
7 years ago I decided to come and live in the UK. Slowly but steadily I started to buy synthesizers and drum machines. Most of my free time I spent experimenting and playing with the equipment that was slowly taking up most of the space at my apartment. I have been producing electronic music for some time, mostly EBM. Then one day I thought that instead of using a synth arpeggiator I should use a real bass guitar, an instrument that I played and studied since I was a kid. Within the years devoted to music, I have released 10 tracks in various compilations across the globe, delivering intensively dark electronic sound. However, since the bass guitar got involved in music production, the sound of purely electronic music has grown into a cold wave & post-punk genre.
What have been the records, the gigs or the DJ sets that have changed somehow radically your perception of music?
4 years ago I came across this track called “We Operate On Each Other” by Years of Denial which was a split record from a label called Death & Leisure. This track has somehow influenced my EBM production journey a lot. Another thing that pops into my mind is the Molchat Doma gig in Brixton that encouraged me to propose my first EP release to Detriti Records, a label through which Molchat Doma released their controversial album called “Etazhi.”
I lived in London a long time ago, but at first, I ended up, like many Italians, in the Southern districts. What brought you to London? How did you settle in? Are you somehow fit into the music scene around gigs, clubs, DJ sets and so on? What’s your take on the London music/club scene?
The main reason why I decided to come to London was the urge to upgrade my studio from laptop only to analog gear. The first year was kind of rough but everything gradually became better. In the beginning, I was working as a gardener but then I got an awesome opportunity to work as an electronics engineer in South London and that allowed me to earn enough money to build a studio that I have always dreamed of. Talking about the London scene, my energy and time are dedicated to the music production in my studio, running my label called META MOTO, and of course my 9 to 5 job that gives me all resources for fulfilling my creative ideas and projects in music.
Which have been your fondest moments/memories so far in London as a musician /DJ or even simply a listener?
The things that I enjoy the most, whilst living in London, are my favorite record shops where I spend quite a lot of time and money. The records that I buy and collect inspire me deeply to create the music that I create. For some reason, I remember very well this one party in one of the London warehouses where Ron Morelli from label L.I.E.S played an excellent set on the custom-built PA system.
You are also a DJ, how important is it to you and what do you get from it on a personal level as opposed to studio work? Are you still linked and constantly keeping an eye on the Lithuanian electronic scene, apparently very healthy and creative lately?
In the present moment, I put myself more as a producer rather than a DJ. However, DJing takes a massive part of my heart. I’m still delivering mixes for my favorite platforms and have social Sundays with my close friends in London, where we share the newest finds. Talking about Lithuania, I still have friends there who constantly rock the scene, one of them is a post-rock band called BA. In my music production, I still use lyrics written in Lithuanian language just to keep the underground Lithuanian scene alive.
How did you come up with the idea of starting a label? Did you have any current or past DIY label as a model or inspiration?
A good friend of mine Sergej Karmanov aka Bell Riots came back to our home city from Denmark and during the first of our meetings, we were jamming in his studio and produced a track called ‘PTSD’. Both of us were unsure where to release our track. Therefore, on the same evening, we came up with the idea to establish our label where we could release our production and also involve other underground artists that were close to us. This is a track of mine from a 1st META MOTO compilation:
Since 2018, the META MOTO catalogue consists of little more than a cassette compilation each year. Why is this sparing policy exclusively based on tape compilations?
The most important thing is to share premium bedroom producers on the tape instead of making the money on Spotify. Tape is a very durable concept to release our music. However, in the future, I have plans to release vinyl as well.
Your label features a lo-fi, hypnotic and dark electronic sound, spanning a wide eclectic, leftfield and experimental range of related genres and international artists, which is your method of selection? Which have been your label key moments so far?
Alchemy was always a big influence on our label and the formula has no big names. It’s not crucial to have a big crowd, it is crucial to have a good sound. All tapes are spoken as stand-alone stories. Every track on the tape is unique and connected, creating one art piece to enjoy the story, sound and design.
From the early sparse sketches to the latest Detriti tape, your post-punk project seems to have finally reached a certain cohesion and consistency. Can you talk about how it was born, its development, possible ups & down, your approach to composition and the creative process.
I never thought I could write a full text with a deep meaning, not like standard EBM shouts. Most of my lyrics are written about love, hate and my emotional baggage. The most important thing is to keep consistency. I devote my time to creating every single day. That is the key to any creative or non-creative process. This is the result:
Could you talk about your unintelligible semi-spoken vocals?
The main reason is not putting the vocal as the main element in my tracks but treating it as an instrument. On the other hand, the lyrics are still delivering the message to a listener.
Tell us about the enchanting partnership with the fresh London denizen, Swiss dream wave artist Blanche Biau
I was digging new music and one evening on my newsfeed found an album by Blanche Biau. It sounded so dreamy, I really liked it. Therefore I found her on Instagram and followed her. On her Instagram stories, I found that she is seeking to borrow a guitar in London, so I lent her one and it happened that she came over to my studio and we decided to record a song together.
Let’s talk about your conceptual label podcast at its 96th episode and your Radio show on Start FM 94.2 at its 2nd season instead…
I always dreamed of having a radio show. When I was a boy I used to record my made-up radio shows on the tape recorder. And when I turned 30 I did this for real. The podcast series was created to promote our artists not only as producers but as DJs as well. And little by little I started to release names such as Alessandro Andriani, Jana Woodstock, Qual and many more.
Besides the music you represent through the label, are you fond of other genres that could surprise us?
META MOTO is a very open platform where you can hear loads of genres, from ritualic sounds to electro and EBM. And one day you might get a proper Tech-House EP from me (lol).
Which artists/producers do you feel closest to?
I don’t want to highlight one specific artist but I have a few close ones such as Asymmetrical who runs the Raw Culture label, Australian mate LBEEZE who runs a label called UP NORTH RECORDS and also my recent Lithuanian partner in crime Shaknis.
- Do you have any wish, or dream that you never got to fulfil, but you’d strongly like to accomplish in some way in the future?
Back in Lithuania, I had a band. No spoiler alert, we are planning to get back together and perform live sometime shortly.
Are you a full-time musician and producer? What is or would be your job otherwise? What are your other passions and hobbies in addition to music? I guess BMX is one…
Music and production are only my free time hobby from my main full-time job as an electronics engineer. I used to be a full-time musician back in Lithuania, but I wasn’t really happy. I want to enjoy my passion and not make my music into bread and butter. Once the hobby turns into a money-making machine it loses the magic.
What records are you most intrigued by and do you listen to the most lately?
It’s very hard to highlight one of them. However, I do have my favorite producers that I love such as L.F.T, Sophie Du Palais and bands like Shame, Lebanon Hanover and the Agnes Circle.
- Thanks for being our welcome guest, I just ask you the last question about your plans for the future, if any.
My recent collaboration with Shaknis will be released on vinyl. I also have plans to do live gigs and continue to work on the META MOTO label, radio show and my songs. Thank you for inviting me.
Keep up with Egzotikka / Meta Moto Label: