204 Big Tasty


01. Batu - Built On Sand
02. Plead Slyngshot Neewt - Studio Pressure
03. Stenny - Stress Test
04. Rhyw - Season of Teeth
05. Identified Patient - Dead Demo
06. Cop Envy - Low Air
07. Gamma Intel - Save Pair of Hands
08. Vector Trancer - Seismic Wave
09. Konduku - Hayal
10. Inga Ramoškaite - Stimuliacija
11. Dj Sotofett & LNS - Reform
12. Mr. Ho - Angel Number 909 (US Breaks mix)
13. Patricia Kokett - Love your Ghost
14. AWB - Decoy (Acronym Remix)
15. BSS - Volta

Šarūnas Šimaitis a.k.a Big Tasty is the key player in the Lithuanian electronic music underground. Having been in the business for more than 10 years, he’s an avid digger and genre-fluid DJ, in for meaningful adventures both behind the decks and off them. What really sets Šarūnas apart, though, is his commitment to developing and uplifting the music scene in Lithuania – he’s the head of the program at Lizdas Club and Audra Festival, two forward-thinking institutions in the city of Kaunas. In his DT podcast, Big Tasty lays down 57 minutes of psychedelic melodies and trippy beats, offering an introspective glimpse into his personality. As you embark on this sonic journey, we invite you to delve into our interview with him, where we explore Šarūnas' musical upbringing, his "no-bullshit" ethos, and his visions for the future.

I know you as a straightforward person who might hold records for telling someone to go fuck themselves (in Lithuanian: eik nx). I'm curious, how often does that happen?

Good question. Usually, it happens once or twice a week that I end up telling an artist or agency "fuck you" out loud. But internally, I'm doing it all day long. Let me clarify that it's not like I'm saying, "fuck you, you are a dickhead." Some people are just too stupid to get your point, even if you repeat it multiple times. Meanwhile, others might label you, slander you, or complain to Pakas and Žilvis (directors of Lizdas Club), so I don't need that kind of bullshit around me. Over the years, I've probably learned the Digital Tsunami guys' technique of saying "Go fuck yourself" in a more subtle manner.

I can imagine the relief. However, after saying that, don't you worry about burning bridges with people?

In this business, saying "Go fuck yourself" is almost equivalent to saying "Have a nice day." Let's be honest, we live in a small village where only three people have control over bookings in big clubs, and I'm one of them. People may hate us, but we are the ones booking the artists and setting the tone. Sometimes you need to remind someone that they're being an idiot and tell them to go fuck themselves, and I don't really regret doing that. Of course, it's different with the older generation, where we have established mutual respect. But you can't simply ignore the stupidity of people who waste your time with nonsense.

Whenever I see you, it seems like you're always trying to radiate positive energy and find sparks in the mundane aspects of daily life. Not to mention your witty banter on social media. What brings you the most happiness these days?

First of all, the public image might give a wrong impression. Nobody posts content of themselves taking a shit or waiting for a trolleybus. While I don't consider myself an artist, I, like many others, also go through my own share of suffering. Today was a beautiful, action-packed sunny day for me—I had radio visits, met sponsors in Vilnius, and taught a DJ lesson. After this interview, there's still a lot to do. Today felt like a renaissance, but who knows what tomorrow holds? Maybe I'll end up telling people to go fuck themselves. I really resonate with the idea expressed by a Lithuanian actor who said, "Life is shit, but we shape it in a way that makes it awesome". With things like the ongoing war in Ukraine, rising Euribor rates, and economic troubles, it's crucial to program your mindset to engage in something meaningful each day and rid yourself of negativity. It can be exhausting, but I'm happy that it sparks new ideas within me.

Let's travel back to the very beginning of your music story. For some people, their first music memories are associated with MTV or Viva channels, while others remember attending concerts. How do you recall your earliest experiences with music?

When I was around 4 or 5 years old, we had a turntable in our kitchen at home. I distinctly remember my mom lighting up a cigarette, putting on a vinyl record by Hiperbolė (a Lithuanian rock band), and just listening. I often wondered why the music resonated with me so much—my parents always had various types of vinyl records playing and the radio on. It's no wonder I developed a firsthand interest in music. During grades 1 to 4, my classmates and I would record mixtapes on a tape player. By the time I reached sixth grade, I was already attending my first dance marathon.

The first of many, I believe. I understand that electronic music quickly became a significant part of your life. What was your initial encounter with it like?

I was 13 years old, and it happened at a school discotheque in my hometown Jonava, at the nightclub Bumsas. I remember Virus J was playing, and he mixed in Depeche Mode's "Only When I Lose Myself" (Lexicon Avenue Remix). That fucking bassline and the dark undertones captivated me. My hand was in the air, and I thought to myself, "What the fuck is happening?". It became a bridge for me to the world of dark and melancholic music. As the internet became more accessible, I began digging deeper. By the age of 14 or 15, I was already attending Gravity Club and drum and bass parties. My first party outside Jonava was a psytrance party. You could say I was a typical 19-year-old—I enjoyed smoking ganja, taking MDMA, and going to clubs. The only difference was that I genuinely connected with the music and the scene.

So, you were fully immersed in the clubbing scene during your teenage years, and then you enrolled in university, where DJing became a gateway for you. How did you approach it?

After moving to Kaunas, everything happened rapidly. There was a guy in my dormitory who had CDJ-1000s and a mixer tucked away behind his bed, collecting dust. So, we borrowed it, set it up in the kitchen with some shitty speakers, cooked food, drank, made some trainwrecks, but we had fun. After some time and practice, my friend and I decided to try our luck at the local bar called Suflerio budelė. We used the bill for drinks and played music on Wednesday nights. If I could go back to those times, I would give myself a good slap for the silly name we gave each other. Mine was Lapė Snapė arba Restoranas, which I later shortened to LSAR. After a few gigs, I met Matas Bernotas (Mountak), and we instantly clicked, leading us to start organizing Tarp Dviejų Aušrų parties, which have continued for 12 years until now.

You mentioned the legendary house collective Tarp Dviejų Aušrų. But according to your biography, your first significant steps in the scene were with Vilnius-based Minimal.lt, which was considered the strongest crew in the country at the time. Could you elaborate on it?

I became involved with both collectives around the same time. It all happened naturally. As a student, I was exploring more music and attending parties in the capital. That's where I met Nerijus (SHN), the head of minimal.lt, and we started hanging out because our interests aligned. I was already familiar with the crew since I had attended the Supynės festival they organized. However, joining minimal.lt was a life-changing moment for me, and I will always remember the night it happened. In the fall of 2012, I was invited to play at quite a respectable Plus Plus Plus party in Vilnius. The set went well, and by the end of it, one of the crew members handed me a note that said, "Welcome to the minimal.lt family." I shed tears of joy and celebrated accordingly. However, the next morning, I received a phone call from my mom telling me that my grandpa had passed away. It was a difficult loss, but it gave me the strength to prove to myself and to my grandpa that my passion for music wasn't just about partying. While that gig and note opened doors for the career I have today.

Being part of an established crew can provide a significant boost. Was that the case when you joined minimal.lt?

Being part of minimal.lt was a privilege. I was able to see the inner workings, build connections, and get involved in the organizational processes up close. I was fully immersed in it. At the same time, it was a tough school. I had great teachers like SHN, Pazemys, Ernestas Sadau, and the lightman Augis, who were always direct and demanding. There was no room for bullshit. Being around these experienced individuals gave me a clear understanding of what to do and what not to do. Although I had a deep love for techno, being part of the crew broadened my horizons to completely different genres of music. DJing became less important as my hunger for knowledge and exploration grew. By the end of my studies, I knew that I wanted to work solely with music.

So, that's where the booking aspect comes into play...

Yes, I had some small jobs doing interviews or other minor tasks. I even learned how to write a letter to book a DJ, despite my broken English at the time. My first real job came in 2014 at Opalocka Club, a place that was despised by many but always packed with people at 5 AM when the headliner would play. Against everyone's curses, I suggested booking Bjarki. The night was a success, and I couldn't believe the number of people waiting to enter. That's when I realized that this would be my path—I would book DJs, organize parties, and embrace the losses, but keep moving forward.

I was obsessed with it, to be honest. On my trolley bus ride home, I would think not about having wild sex with a girl, but about imaginary festivals, their budgets, constructing lineups, and creating stage timetables. I would think about it before falling asleep, during sleep, and as soon as I woke up.

And now it has been 8 years since you became the main booker at Lizdas Club, and you're also directing the program at Audra festival for the second year in a row. It seems like playing the music you love behind the booth and strategizing the program on a larger scale combine to create your dream job. Or is it not?

It's true, and I'm grateful for it. In the beginning, I earned mere cents for my work, but I didn't give a fuck. I was happy to have three parties during the weekend and set up a program. I’m still killing at it, but the obsession has now gone, and I crave something more. I want to build a phenomenon like what’s happening with the Unsound Festival in Krakow. Maybe you won’t be the most successful, but you bring the critical mass and become a visionary. I believe we could become one in Lithuania, but that’s a lot of work. At the moment, it's difficult to bring what you want, you would simply suffer financial losses. Planning concerts would be my alternative venture too.

How often do you find yourself needing to compromise or betray your principles when it comes to bookings?

What I've come to understand is that there are no fixed principles in this business. If you want to stay on top, you don't necessarily need to have them. I've had numerous beefs with artists, but ultimately, it's not about my ego because I know that wouldn't benefit the club. When I ban someone from playing at the club, it's not because I personally dislike them, but because their action can fuck up the party.

I believe that as DJs, we walk a fine line between giving people what they want and giving them what they need. What's your approach to this, and how do you manage to stay authentic?

My goal is to spark people's interest in dance music and its breadth. If I can captivate someone with a simple thing, they may become curious to explore further. I won't deny it; sometimes I play well-known hits that can completely shift the direction of a party. I truly wish we had a situation in Lithuania where we could play exactly what we want, like parties in Europe. Unfortunately, apart from niche events, if you do that here, you might be seen as someone trying to stroke your ego. However, we shouldn't take music too seriously or become snobbish about it. In the past, parties were about having a good time and enjoying ourselves. I'm not talking about TikTok DJs, but there are so many beautiful tracks, even in the pop genre. They can create magical moments, so it's always good to be able to laugh at ourselves and simply have a good time.

When I listen to your DJ sets, I always get the sense that you embody a straightforward and old-school approach. While you incorporate new styles, it feels like you carry some kind of fundamental message from the 2000s.

Access to music was challenging in the years 2000-2005, and even now, I continue to discover incredible tracks from that era. Perhaps at times, I idealize that period, but back then, the industry was more about having fun than chasing money. The music perfectly reflected the atmosphere. We now have many talented artists and high-quality music circulating, but we seem to lack certain elements like eroticism, the flickering of a cigarette, and the magic of the night. It's not because I'm old or turning into a snob; I still feel that spark when I come across it somewhere. Take an example with Dekmantel Selectors where you can feel it in the air. However, what we currently have in our scene feels like a fucking fiction – it's like masturbating after speed when your cock isn't even hard, yet you keep trying to force it.

So, what‘s been worrying you the most about the scene?

What has been concerning me the most about the scene is the lack of genuine passion and curiosity. People have become complacent, just going through the motions. They're no longer hungry for what lies beneath the surface. It's sad to see that the younger generation invests less time in music. It's no longer a fashionable thing to be truly interested in music, although there are exceptions and brief bursts of enthusiasm. Young DJs often come to play with a USB full of tracks but lack knowledge of music in general. The industry has become a money-driven machine, but I believe this state of affairs won't last.

The pandemic has undeniably made its impact. Alongside the release of new quality music and collaborations, we're witnessing a different face of clubbing. High BPM and monotony have become the norm, TikTok techno is at its peak, and music listening has become a peripheral matter. So, how do I envision what should happen next?

I believe we're currently living in a glamorous era, with all the glitz and glam on the dance floors. However, I foresee a return to the roots and anarchy in the future. Dedicated music lovers will start organizing private parties, and will leave the dickheads behind the doors. Clubs may go bankrupt, people will get fed up with raves, and that's when the real hunger will resurface.

Do you have a dream artist you'd love to play back-to-back (b2b) with?

I had a wonderful b2b recently with my friend Job (Identified Patient) at Lizdas. But thinking further, in terms of a more realistic scenario, I would be thrilled to play b2b with Aurora Halal. I have a deep admiration for her music, she’s a beautiful woman, and I’d love to hang out together.

That sounds like a great combination considering both of your orientations toward psychedelic music.

Absolutely. Playing Rondo's Margarita during our set would definitely be a highlight.

You’ve mentioned the b2b with Identified Patient in Lizdas. The two of you played an electrifying set, but I was curious about the USB with the only track in it – Michael Jacksons’ Earth Song, and you’ve played it at the end. What’s the story behind it?

That is the emotional song that embodies our friendship. A long time ago we were in Tbilisi, and laying in the bath, the storm was ravaging outside the window. And we were discussing what would be your last song before dying, and this track came into the mind. We were singing this when in the Audra festival premises when met last year too. So, naturally, embracing the b2b, we decided to end the set with Earth Song.

Now, let's imagine a hypothetical scenario: You're opening a music-listening bar. How would you envision it?

Can I choose PACAI, the hotel in Vilnius center, as the location?

Of course, go ahead!

In that case, I would create a luxurious Japanese-style bar with exceptional cocktails. No fucking food, vinyls would do it. The records would be the essence of the place, and I would curate an essential collection to be played on a sick DIY soundsystem. There would be special evenings dedicated to music listening, where a DJ might not even be necessary, and every guest would be allowed to play their desired records. On occasion, I might invite esteemed diggers like Antal to share their incredible collections, although that wouldn't be the primary focus.

It seems like the idea of a listening bar has been on your mind for a while.

Indeed. I've had discussions with people about opening such a venue, and the process of bringing it to life would be amazing. It comes with a responsibility to collect and choose the highest quality music on Earth, spanning various genres from classical compositions to obscure rock albums that might have only been released in very limited vinyl pressings. No bullshit. Perhaps that will be my next venture, but I'm still acquainting myself with the idea.

You've been collecting vinyl records for quite some time. I'm curious, what was the first vinyl you acquired, and what's the story behind it?

I remember it vividly. It was back in 2008 when I visited Berlin and Tresor for the first time. Everything felt new and unexplored, so I wanted to find a vinyl that would embody that experience. That's when I came across Jeff Mills's LP "Waveform Transmissions Vol 1." Jeff Mills had brought some groundbreaking sounds to the Berlin scene, and his music resonated with me. Even to this day, I still enjoy listening to his work.

And what's the latest vinyl record you've acquired?

The latest vinyl record I acquired is Ryuichi Sakamoto's album "12." Ryuichi Sakamoto is an artist very close to my heart, and it had always been a dream of mine to book him. When he passed away, I felt a deep emotional connection, shedding tears and spending a week immersing myself in his discography. His music holds so much depth. Even though I never knew him personally, his music makes me feel like I have a personal connection to him and his beautiful soul.

Your musical taste spans a wide spectrum, from classical music to techno. Can you summarize your taste in five labels?

Let me think.

  1. Modern Love - an old favorite of mine.

  2. Hyperdub - an iconic label that has made a significant impact.

  3. Time Dance - a witch hunt-like dance music label curated by Batu.

  4. Knekelhuis - a label that offers a great variety of music, from experimental and dance to resurfaced oldschool gems.

  5. Isla to Isla – big respect for our own Lithuanian crew for their attitude and quality music delivered.

You've been playing more under the aliases LSAR and Less Feeling. What do they symbolize for you?

These pseudonyms and names come with really strange and funny stories. I remember a situation when one booker wrote in a promotional event description that “LSAR is the funniest DJ in the scene”. Does this fucking represent you as a DJ and how does it relate to the music you’ve been playing? With LSAR, I primarily played dark techno music. Even though the Tarp Dviejų Aušrų parties were focused on house music, I was the one who played techno and delivered that final blow at the end of the nights. However, as I delved deeper into the realm of house music, I discovered the hidden treasures that awaited me. Around 2013, I dropped LSAR, and I began playing under the name Less Feeling, leaving techno behind and focusing more on house music.

And for the last year, you are performing more as Big Tasty. What message comes with it?

When I perform as Big Tasty, I break free from any restrictions behind the decks. I play exactly what I want, without trying to please anyone else. So, if you book Big Tasty, be fucking prepared for an intense experience.

Does your latest mix recorded for Digital Tsunami capture that essence?

Absolutely. I don't record mixes very often, and I put a lot of thought, planning, and multiple takes into creating this one. I'm genuinely happy with the result, as I believe it's the best mix I've ever made. The mix reflects everything that is close to me, featuring a lot of trippy, breaks-oriented music that I love, as well as tracks from friends and artists I admire. You'll hear music from Identified Patient, Patricia Kokett, Gamma Intel, BSS, Konduku, and even an unreleased track from an experiment my colleague and I worked on some time ago.

What are your plans for the future?

The Lithuanian scene is no longer as intriguing to me, so I want to move forward and secure gigs abroad. I've had offers to play in other countries before, but I want to ensure I choose the right clubs with the right people behind them. I'll continue digging for new music and work on turning my ideas into reality. Watch me. However, my main focus right now is the Audra festival this summer.

Interview: Justas Kontrimas
Published: 24 May 2023
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