The elusive figure, responsible for releases on Cin Cin, Correspondant and Nautilus Rising, talks about his re-birth as V, operating as the head of programming at Opium Club, whilst living in another country, being inspired by fatherhood and having extended dinners with Jennifer Cardini, together with supplying an otherworldly DJ mix to accompany the read.

V, the Brussels-based, multi-talented artist who has been flying under the radar for some time now, creates a peculiar form of organized chaos when debuting on Fort Romeau’s Cin Cin imprint, mid-2016, and sends his sonic waves through the global underground music community in an anonymous cloud of smoke. The release in question, a split EP alongside Swiss artist and veteran producer Ripperton, announces the arrival of a man on a mission to unburden himself from set expectations and revitalize the process of music making – as is the case with many monikers flying the anonymous banner.

That being said, rarely do they make such a flamboyant and convincing entrance as V did with his “La Nouvelle Epoque” / “Mon Vieil Amour” combo on Cin Cin. His “La Nouvelle Epoque” became a widely known anthem as soon as the promo hit the inboxes, and, most would agree, somewhat defined the summer of 2016. As the mystery surrounding the project has been lifted, following his 2016 Boiler Room debut, we can tell you that the man in question is non other than Vidmantas Cepkauskas, who has been a well know contributor to the electronic music scene for nearly two decades.

His collection of sounds, traveling between a rich EBM heritage, New Wave influences and certain Post Punk synth Pop appeal, have been embraced by esteemed record labels, such as Jennifer Cardini’s Correspondant imprint and Nautilus Rising – the young record label from the legendary SubClub in Glasgow. Call it what you will, it’s always highly danceable, endlessly refreshing and doesn’t lack its fair share of creativity. As the head of programming at Opium Club, Vilnius, V puts in the work behind the scenes as well, and is responsible for bringing high quality house and techno talent to the Baltics.

With new material scheduled for release on Correspondant and Nautilus Rising, to name a few, their is much more to be expected from this seasoned contributor. It’s with great pleasure we welcome Vidmantas Cepkauskas to our Straight Forward series, and fired some questions across the board to learn more about his re-birth as V, the Lithuania’s club scene and things to come. To accompany the read, V compiled an otherworldly selection of tracks, including some of his upcoming material. Precise, thoughtful, carefully crafted and its fair share of atmospheric arches. Dive in below!

© Tautvydas Stukas photography

© Tautvydas Stukas photography

Welcome V, first off the usual icebreaker. How have you been and what did your day look like today?

Salut! I’m on the train to Frankfurt. Sitting in a restaurant carriage, eating Großer Salat “Lachs” with smoked salmon, feeling happy I didn’t choose Curywurst mit Brötchen, being maltreated by middle aged German waitress but not minding that, drinking Latte Macchiato, listening to Satoshi & Makoto’s Sounds & Sequences, answering your questions and therefore not reading Grace Jones’ memoirs which I was planning to crack during this journey.

So we’ve been told that you’re ready to lift the cloak of your elusive V moniker. The answers where already out there for anyone who did a little digging – especially after your Boiler Room performance past April. What was the reason for starting the project in the first place?

Three years ago I moved the country. Everything changed – scenery, language, people, rhythm of life. It felt like a new beginning and it seemed only natural to start something new music wise too. And since I wanted it to be a completely new musical affair with no strings attached and comparisons being made, I started it in relative anonymity. Relative because people behind record labels knew me. And I’ve never had a plan for Burial or Redshape kind of business anyway. All I wanted was a fresh start. I knew I’d uncover the identity sooner than later. Boiler Room Vilnius offer came along and I said, OK, so let it be the V comes out moment, because playing your own club with some kind of mask would be utterly ridiculous.

You made one hell of a first appearance with your split EP on Cin Cin. The title of the leading track – “La Nouvelle Epoque” – strikes me as a title with a lot of underlying significance. What’s the story there?

It’s a track with obvious New Wave influences and a certain pop appeal. It’s working title was Waveradiohit. It was the first track of the new musical project too. And since I moved into French speaking city, language became the part of the new identity game, that’s how ‘La Nouvelle Epoque’ dawned with all of its underlying significance real and imagined.

Same goes for the second track on their – “Mon Vieil Amour”. Anyone or anything in particular you’re referring to? And if so, why?

Since the tracks usually start as funnily and randomly named demos, actual titles are given upon completion. And then I like to fool around a little bit, often using logical inversions, antonyms or simple play on words. The Epoque was new so Amour had to be old. Simple as that.

The tracks are unmistakably drenched with New Wave / Proto / EBM influences. Where do these influences originate from and what did your first encounter with electronic music look like?

The new sound and influences come from ongoing interest in electronic music as well as recently increased access to wider array of “classic” studio machines. “New Wave / Proto / EBM heritage” is a little bit of Cin Cin’s PR invention. They had to put something into record description. I know the Belgian track Moodymann sampled on Dem Young Sconies. But I couldn’t make a 33RPM New Beat mix of classics. My biggest early influences are Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works and Orbital’s Brown Album.

So new name, new sound. How did you end up sining your first work to such highly esteemed labels, like Cin Cin, Correspondant and Nautilus Rising?

I’ve been around for 15 odd years. If considering humble beginnings, that would make 20 plus. Have hosted quite a few artists, visited quite a few countries and met quite a few people in the meantime. Have been baby sitting Phillip Lauer’s son on the beach, having extended dinners with Jennifer Cardini and sharing a sofa with Dixon for one night. It might be a new name and sound but reputation is solid and contact book is wide.

The latter sining resulted in the release of your first solo EP, titled “Faux Pas”. Tell us a little about the idea behind the music video for the EP’s title track?

The thing is I’ve never met the crew behind the video. Not yet. It was Nautilus Rising guys who arranged all of this. It’s all Scottish up and coming talent behind the video. They were briefing me on the artistic idea, showing test shots, etc. And I was giving approval, some comments and advices on a couple of occasions. That’s all I did. It revolves around Stasis contemporary dance crew and their play on the cliches of girly fun and male voyeurism in dark alleys of modern day cities and minds. I’m really happy with the result. Hope we do more all together.

Is visual and contemporary art something you’re particularly into?

I have a degree in art history. I also hold a diploma of children art school. But all of this was ages ago. These days it’s more about grabbing a copy of Dazed and Confused or i-D occasionally and stopping by FB posts of curator and artist friends to wonder and get inspired. Being around creative types is always an inspiration.

What kind of things have been inspiring you lately?

I’m a father of two little kids, so nothing is more inspiring these days than a day on my own, when I can hear my thoughts and maybe read my book again. Travelling is always an inspiration. And it doesn’t have to be around-the-world type of adventure. Watching the scenery change behind the window of the speeding train or walking map-less the streets of an unknown city can be really inspirational. Good food too. 

The remix EP of your track “La Nouvelle Epoque” just hit the selves via Le Temps Perdu, featuring some amazing reworks by Autarkic, Jamie Paton and Fred und Luna. Tell us a little about your connection to these artists and their work.

All of them are artists I follow and admire. Autarkic is the part of Opium family and plays the club regularly. Got acquainted with him last year. I’ve been a fan of Jamie Paton for quite a while now. First of Cage & Avery then of him. Mad Obsession and Bizarre Feeling are among all time favourites I dare say. Rainer Buchmüller aka Fred und Luna is a recent discovery. He’s bringing a very peculiar version of 2017 Kraut to the table. Also he’s a little bit of a role model for me, I hope to reach the height of my artistic journey some time in my 40-ies, late 40-ies preferably, when kids grow up a little bit.

If you could add one more producer to the “La Nouvelle Epoque” remix list, who would it be, and why?

Since the remix package is completed and released, I take this as a “dream remixer” question. I’d like Vince Clarke and Alison Moyet  to come up with their interpretation, Yazoo Remix if you please, with lyrics and singing added for a good measure. I think it could be a great vocal remix.

You’re stationed in Brussels now, but originally from Lithuania. As someone who hasn’t been to Lithuania before, what can you tell me about the club culture there?

Lithuania is a small place. Vilnius is a small city. More town than a city really. The scene is small and the clubs and events are small too. But that creates perfect conditions for really intense and intimate experiences. Kablys, and Lizdas in Kaunas are doing a good work, Discotag is the only record shop, listen to whypeopledance podcasts and premieres since they feature quite a lot of local talent.

Although you’re living in Brussels, you’re head of programming at the Opium Club in Lithuania. How do you manage to combine the two?

To be honest, neither me, nor owners of the club were sure it would work when I made a move. But we said let’s wait and see. And what we see is a club at the peak of it’s powers and still progressing. I think it’s got to do with the fact that I was living and promoting there for 15 years before. I know the microcosm of the scene. How it works and why it doesn’t sometimes. I even have my own special ways of gathering intelligence – having short conversations with the crew, promoters, DJs, visiting artists, even devoted dancers and trouble makers after each and every weekend. It’s a club in my head which also has a certain projection in reality. Might sound a little bit far fetched but I really think the part of Opium’s magic is this clash of phantasy and reality.

What does the perfect night at the Opium Club look like?

Optimo had their first gig at Opium in October. I met them in ADE a week later. Jonnie Wilkes told me, “If someone asked him, where you’d like to play next weekend, Opium Vilnius or Panorama Bar Berlin, I would choose Opium without a second of hesitation.” He admitted immediately it’s a lame comparison. But even lame comparisons give a perspective and a clue – perfect nights at Opium are legends in their own right.

Tell us a little about the mix you’ve made for us – favourite tracks, atmosphere, etc.?

I haven’t made a “dancey” mix in a while. I’m one of those people who find it hard to record something dance floor oriented without facing the crowd. So I started with this idea in my head but I’m afraid I ended up doing something not banging enough again… Check it out and decide for yourself.

What’s there to expect from V in the near future?

First ever Opium compilation conceived and compiled by me is about to drop in February. It features 13 exclusive tracks by the extended Opium family including one original track and one remix from V. Three track EP on Correspondant accompanied with Fabrizio Mammarella remix should hit the shelves some time early 2018. Another 3 track EP on Nautilus Rising is ready and should see the light of day late spring/ early summer. The collaboration with Domenique Dumont is in process and I feel quite excited about it. Have just finished the remixes for Jack Pattern on Cosmic Pint Glass and for Die Orangen on Malka Tuti. Both are featured in the mix. Fascinating plans for the club and interesting signings for the label. And family commitments always count too.

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