Fingalick aka Tomas Narkevicius is a Lithuanian electronic music artist, who is no stranger to the Estonian music scene. We’ve seen him on numerous accounts, performing at Tallinn Music Week, Fine Art Electric ball and many other instances. Now, he is back in Estonia, participating in a creative camp in the midsts of Estonian nature, creating new music with different collaborators. He is also performing two nights with a live-act of his new EP and a more uncommon performance nowadays – a DJ-set. We captured him in his busy schedule and dug up some answers about his music, creativity overall and life as an artist. Have fun discovering the corners of this creative mind.
Welcome back! So, you are no stranger to estonian music lovers – how have you been since last time you were here?
I’m so glad to be coming back here! In the last year I’ve moved out to Berlin, finished an album, gained some knowledge and came back to Vilnius. Also started digging deeper into what an artist/performer is, so the visual part has become more important to me. I started filming and directed a video for a song of mine. Overall I’m enjoying life much more than I was couple of years ago.
You’re here right now because of a creative camp. Talk about what are you doing there.
Hopefully writing some cool music for Zoe Ellying / State of Zoe, the first day showed me that Vaiper-Fingalick producer duo works very well in the Estonian forest with Zoe’s voice. I strive to be a good songwriter, so writing for other people is a huge exercise.
We have lots of things we want to ask you and i’m sure people are eager to know the depths about your work, so let’s not sweat the small stuff. In previous interviews you’ve talked about how your musical career started at a very early age – being musical since the age of 3. From that time until now, can you mark the breaking-points in your music-life – the stages you went trough and can you give them names? When was your musical renaissance or are you still waiting on it?
The pop-child period lasted until I was about 15, when I started feeling rebellious and anxious. Couple of years later I started getting into electronic music, starting from nu-jazz, broken beat and beats. At 18 I wrote a couple of compositions and started posting online – at the same time Lithuanian youngsters were forming a fresh new electronic music scene. It was a magical moment for me – festivals, going abroad, international attention. Joined Without Letters – a band making electronic guitar music. Then I fell off – but started exploring and most importantly – writing songs instead of just producing instrumentals.
That was a long learning process, and I’m still in it, but finally a new identity started forming and I put it into the EGO album. I’m really happy about where I am now and where it’s going, finishing a lot of different music and growing more relaxed about what it is to be a creator.
I’m sure that this kind of a career doesn’t just happen thanks to only one man. As we’ve seen from your work, you always have people around you. Can you talk a little bit about the importance of collaboration and how important is it to share your workflow and raw ideas, to grow as an artist?
You’re right – bouncing ideas off of friends is an amazing way to learn, especially if other people learn to be constructive. My friend and colleague Vaiper (Vaiper Despotin) has been one of those people since day 1 and has heard my best and worst. It’s a learning process – showing others unfinished music, learning to bend your ego. I have more collaborations coming now that I’ve ever had and that’s thrilling.
In a sense people seem to believe that in art, there is no original idea left. Drawing inspiration is definitely a given to any artist. Where do you draw your inspiration from. And do you get inspired by non-musical things – e.g. architecture, visual art, nature?
Most of my music comes from the debris of life – misheard sentences, conversations during parties, other songs. I reference a lot of art that’s already done – name dropping in the lyrics, even using concepts or phrases like I did with Wamdue Projects’ song in Katy’s Theme. It’s all very fluent, but I support the idea that other art is like building blocks and it’s OK to use everything at your disposal.
In creating good art, there is always a big part in natural creativity or born talent. Do you think, that people can learn to be creative or learn how to have a talent to the point it’s almost like they’re born with it?
I would contradict myself – even though I believe creativity is definitely learnable and parents should install it at a very young age, but some people can practice less and be geniuses by their ideas. I want to be a more hardworking artist and learn new skills everyday, so battling procrastination and short attention span is my daily activity.
Are you familiar with the 10 000 hour theory – to master an art, you have to practise precisely that amount of time. At what hour are you now in?
I haven’t read about the theory and I guess that goal is still far for me – mostly because I do everything on my own so every new skill – like lyrics writing and vocal – starts a new curve.
But nevertheless, to the people who are at the very first hour – what advice would you give them about creating music and what advice would you give them stepping in to the industry for the first time?
If you feel like music’s becoming a job and you’re starting to avoid creating – take a break! I think I had lost the fun for a couple of years and that lead to nasty things – overthinking, self pity and inactivity.
Remember to have fun. I found out that overthinking leads nowhere. Also, control your ego – collaborating with other people needs ego management, sharing ideas and constructive criticism.
Being connected to music for so long, have you had times, when you thought you wanted to stop?
I think I never said “Aight, I’m ending this music nonsense”, and would never do that, especially now, when I finally realized I don’t have to be a musician. If I feel drained and out of ideas, I just go do something else. I’m too connected to creating to ever stop, but also don’t want to put myself into a position where it’s the only thing I do. I often have dark and self-critical thoughts at night but I can’t afford to listen to them.
So in those drained moments, how do you unwind? Where do you go or what do you do when you want to connect with your real self again?
I associate my creativity with introvert behaviour, so I unwind by going socializing and throwing myself into chaos. Also physical activities, especially football, are important for me. I’m also a gamer so when I have a chance I take out my Playstation to clear my mind.
Do you have a studio-ritual? What do you do to get going or start working?
Breaking the routine works for me – there was a period in Berlin when I started doing nocturnal studio sessions and would feel much more relaxed when recording. I think it’s also important to learn patience to stay on an idea when your attention goes away, because often best things come from getting into a trance, and that requires sitting on an idea until it’s in tune with your mind.
Being a multi-talent, what is the part in music you enjoy the most – being it an instrument, a time in the creative process or something entirely else?
I love when I hide something, like a sound or a piece of lyric in the song and someone cracks it or takes notice – that’s like meeting someone that you left a message in the bottle for.
Also love when you’re sitting there kind of lost and then one sound or youtube sample just brings everything together in this Eureka moment.
What about the non-creative stuff? How much of being a professional artist is not actually creating? What is your philosophy in coping with the music business and working with other artists and people in the industry?
To be honest, one of the things I felt our movement was always lacking was proper representation and learning how to monetize yourself in general. I used to be a really bad deal maker – if I told you some details about successful collaborations but very bad deals you wouldn’t believe me. Right now I’m pushing it on my own and learning how to sell the ideas better. It’s also a matter of having a well thought out plan in your head with a couple of steps ahead, so you know every little detail and can help other people understand it better. I think if you believe in it enough, plan out every aspect of it, because it’s the age of multitasking and you can’t afford to have a team of 10 people. BTW, if you’re a manager with passion, holla at me!
How much and how do you connect with fans and reach out to them?
At the moment I don’t know who my fan is – it’s an unfortunate effect of being in the scene for too long and changing my musical direction numerous times. I always went where I wanted to, and it lost me couple of good opportunities, like releasing on Soulection 5 years ago when it was still hot, but I had just started writing sad songs and they wanted the positive, housey Fingalick.
I love people who stayed with me for all this time, but there’s only a couple of them left now – I hope new music will bring in new people.
EGO, your latest EP is the first piece you published under the Hyperboloid records. In the state the music business is right now, it’s easy to independently publish materials – why did you choose to go under a label & how’s it going?
With EGO I felt lost – it was dear to me and I felt it’s good music, but couldn’t find support, especially abroad. Hyperboloid was very supportive from couple of years ago when we all met in Tallinn Music Week. Since then we went to Moscow and linked up for EGO. I commend them for the courage to release a vocal album which is unorthodox for the label – and the numbers show that it wasn’t a very successful experiment, but I’m moving on happily because that gave me new understanding what Fingalick is and how it should sound.
Talking about EGO EP, it seems to have a very meaningful name. What’s the story behind it & what’s the role of ego in your creative work?
The name EGO stands for various different forms of ego – from the egoistic, to egocentric, to the concept of the Self by Freud.
I was in a deep hole psychologically and started figuring out that I am lacking a strong sense of Self, a character. So the release kind of marks end of a phase and letting go, becoming something new and stronger.
How would you describe the Baltic music scene right now, compared to the time you started making music professionally?
Sadly, stale. I miss a sense of community, collaborating not only with people from your own country but also Latvian and Estonian neighbors. For a couple of years the scenes had become very boring, ridden with techno and house. I crave for more weirdness and underground, especially from the “urban” music side. Happily, I feel like creative people are starting to come back home and the talent pool is growing with interesting music and new trends. I wanna see where this leads and be in the forefront of our local scene.
What’s the main difference in Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian music-scenes?
For a long time Lithuania and Latvia were similar in their beats and rap scenes, which was really fun and collaborative. Estonians were more into professional pop music. Right now I’m not too familiar with neighboring scenes to be analytical, but I also don’t know what the Lithuanian scene is like – it’s in a limbo, feels like something new and cool will soon be born.
Who are the 5 up and coming baltic artist we should keep our eye and ear on?
DJ JM is my friend, but also one of the hottest European club music producers at the moment. Under the flag of Hard Drum he makes repetitive percussive music that’s genius in its simplicity. (DJ JM is playing in Estonia with Fingalick this weekend, friday at Piidivabrik & saturday at Kopli2.)
Not exactly a Baltic artist, but someone who spent a lot of time in Latvia during his formative years – Ashnikko, a rapper who’s blowing up in the UK right now and makes really cool music. Jacques Gaspard Biberkopf is a reclusive and very important artist to electronic music, recently released on Aisha Devi’s label. Keanu Blunt & Free Finga – naming yourself is not fair, but I’m so excited that a duo effort is happening and we’re dropping a new school rap/r&b mixtape in June. Definitely going to be the hottest r&b act in the Baltics.
What is the most underrated thing in music?
The strong emotional connection to emotions and memory – how a song can remind you of a smell, a person, an image. And all other physical sensations, like goosebumps and mood swings. Like, how cool is that something artificial can affect our bodies so much.
One more question, to end on a high note – if you’d create a dream-band from any artist alive or dead, who would you take on stage and on what instruments you’d put them on?
Prince would play the guitar, Thundercat on the bass, Neptunes on the beat. Suzzane Ciani on the Buchla. Migos as a back vocal trio. Kelela would sing the verses and Serj Tankian would drop from the helicopter and shout into the mic.
That’ll definitely be something to hear. A massive thanks to Finga, that he took the time to answer some burning questions. We can’t wait to see him in action and we don’t have to – this weekend on the 8th of June at Piidivabrik, Orissaare – event here. And live-performing his newest EP EGO in Tallinn at Kopli 2 on Saturday, 9th of June. More info about the event here. Go party & buy EGO!
Interview: Girti Suun
Photos: Sarunas Jaskutelis