Vidmantas Čepkauskas

VMU Bachelor’s degree in Art History and Criticism

When you talk to people, you notice the depth and width of their knowledge very quickly

Vidmantas Čepkauskas (a.k.a. Vidis) – is one of the most popular and fascinating DJs in Lithuania. He is a member of the Silence Family and a VMU alumnus. If you still haven’t heard any of Vidis’ songs, we recommend taking a listen to I’ll Be Gone, Who Shot the Silence, and Changed. We believe that you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

We asked Vidis some questions during the VMU AudioTeorija party.

How and when did you launch your musical career?

I started playing more seriously and professionally 10 years ago, after 9th grade. Like many others, my ‘initiation’ was at summer camps and discos. At the time, there were many things I didn’t know, such as regulated speeds or vinyls, etc. I just played tapes, cassettes and everything else I had in my music library.

Why did you choose studies of art history and criticism?

When I was in high school, I went to an art school as well. I was interested in everything related to arts: from art history, aesthetics and philosophy to the more practical things I had encountered myself. I’ve always believed – I did then and I do now – in the specialties of the humanities, even though today we live in the society of specialists, where it’s harder for people with a wide point of view and a wider education to find their place. When I meet a stranger, I can always tell if his specialty is related to the humanities. You can talk about everything with these people: from art to politics or legislation.

Did you want to study at the Music Academy?

I didn’t dare  to apply for studies there: I had no musical education, not even minimal. I saw myself simply as a very devoted music fan. When I was still a child, there were considerations whether to send me to an art school or a music school. I probably chose drawing myself, though I used to play drums on kitchenware.

When I was studying at Vytautas Magnus University, I had my eye on drumming courses at the Composers’ Trade Union, because I’ve always wanted to become a drmmer. But, again, I didn’t pluck up the courage. Now I use music made by others to express myself and take part in the process of production of other people’s music: the latter is no less beneficial or interesting as a means of self-expression.

Your music style is exceptional and easy to recognise, especially in the context of Lithuanian music. How do you develop it?

Musical taste, unique style and understanding of aesthetics lead to recognition. Probably all artists or authors have a certain individual style. As for me, I filter through things until I find something I like and add it to my work.

You played music when you were studying at the university. Did studies interfere with music, or vice versa?

When I was studying in Kaunas, I didn’t play much. At the time, I was more involved with collecting music, reading, following things. I’d already started buying vinyls, though I didn’t have a turntable. I would call my life in Kaunas a kind of preparation period: soon after moving to Vilnius, I started playing intensely. Kaunas was never my city due to its sense of mass music. Loud and energetic electronics has always been much more popular here, whereas my music has a deep sound. So I needed to find my audience.

Is it possible now, some years after you’ve graduated from the university, to still feel the influence of art history studies in your music?

It is hard to tell what exactly has been taken from that stage to today. But, in my opinion, every person is like a tree, and if you cut it you’d see very many tree-rings. You can’t erase the years spent at VMU. Those tree-rings exist, though they’re not obviously noticeable. On the whole, when you talk to people, you can notice the depth and width of their knowledge very quickly: all the baggage they’ve accumulated in life. Finally, if you have nothing to contribute to music or something else you make, it seems emptier. And vice versa, when you have a lot of ideas, feelings and knowledge to wrap your work around, it doesn’t just look different, it sounds completely different: deeper and more true.

What do you remember the most from your time at the university?

I studied at VMU from 1997 to 2001. At the time, Kaunas Jazz festivals were especially good, and I couldn’t say the same about the current ones. Now it looks like a shadow of its former self. In those years, Kaunas Jazz was a relevant and lively festival, and a very strong school. The festival introduced me to the new Norwegian jazz, artists like Nils Petter Molvær and Bugge Wesseltoft. The organisers didn’t shy away from bringing artists who didn’t play jazz in the true sense of the word. Jimi Tenor and Courtney Pine visited Kaunas. The latter had his own underground program then. So, I think that I witnessed the golden age of Kaunas Jazz when I lived in Kaunas, and it gave a lot to my musical education. So this memory from the period of my studies is the clearest to me. I don’t want to be a false prophet, but I don’t know if the program this spring will include anything that will make me want to come.