SEL: Baltic Hero
Those of you not residing in and around the tiny country of Lithuania may be saying,'who on earth is SEL?', upon reading this headline. However, bear with us. This artist is not only a superstar in his homeland and surrounding countries, but he sold out The Troxy in London last year, and has another show coming in our capital this September, so some of us Brits are getting him, too. Born Egidijus Dragūnas (no, we can't pronounce it either), this charming artist gives us an insight into his musical world. And what a world that is.
We're not so familiar with Lithuanian music here in the UK. Could you tell us a bit about the scene?
[smiles] Lithuania is very small, but it is a country of very talented and musical people. We have so many talented young artists in Lithuania, but little work has been done to make them visible to the rest of the world, as historically Lithuania is a very young country, independent from Russia only a little more than 20 years. Before then, musicians could not create freely; there was neither culture, nor the musical freedom, and it was restricted and censored. Then the new phase began, and Lithuania became free and independent. We began to create by ourselves, and of course, we have been learning from Western Europe and the USA market a lot. The state grew, and the music culture grew as well.
For an artist that's been established for two decades, to still attract 20,000 per show is pretty phenomenal, especially in such a small territory...
Yes, and the market is also attractive because we do not have competitors in Lithuania. There is no other group that can attract an audience like this, and this is not good for a performer seeking to move forward. This is why, when a few years ago we received the first offers from foreign companies for production and management work, I understood that there was no need for any of this. I have a lot of ideas, and I want to implement them; I am very happy that we still receive such offers, as it inspires me as an artist, but today we have concerts in America and Europe, and although not on that scale, they're always successful, and I am very happy about it. I cannot tell you why we are not only still in the market, but actually still growing – it's incredible. I never had a business plan on how to take over the music world; every day I just did what I like most in life, music.
How important is social media to SEL, and do you use it to interact with your international fanbase?
I personally supervise my Facebook and Instagram accounts, and I love the speed to access information. If I come up with an idea, or have a strong emotion, or I want to criticise someone [laughs], I can do it in an instant! I like to personally interact with the fans; I wonder how they live, what they think, what they liked about the concert, and they also express our weaknesses. Lithuanians are quite restrained people, but our social media is really active. Each post on Facebook is viewed by 100,000 people, and in Lithuania, this is about one-fifth the population of our capital city, Vilnius. SEL has 183,000 Facebook fans, and 50,000 on Instagram.
So what's next for SEL?
Well, we are constantly looking for innovation... Sometimes I feel like an inventor, because I think that may we should try something completely different. I do not like templates, and I don't understand the word impossible. Our team spends a lot of time in the recording studio, and this is a wonderful time where a lot of good ideas are born. We now are recording the first English-language music, which will be presented to Europe, and we will wait for an evaluation [smiles].