ViK grew up in a post-soviet city of Lithuania – Vilnius (the capital of Lithuania), where he had not only studied at a local music school, playing trumpet, but had developed his unique music image from scratch, consequently rocketing at the Russian music radio stations Europe, Russia and even Kazakhstan.
Victor Alyashevich (Lithuanian: Viktoras Aliaševičius) born in the mid-1980‘s in Lithuaniaand been raised in the capital city Vilnius. In other words, a tiny little city in a tiny Baltic state. At the time he started school, Lithuania was only starting to position itself as an independent country after so many years being a part of the Soviet Union. He started playing trumpet at the age of 10, while his mother wanted him to play saxophone. Later on with school mates, at the age of 15, they’ve started a band, where ViK played drums and sometimes guitars. However, it didn’t last long. After finishing school and entering “Vilnius Conservatory” to master the trumpet, ViK has left their school-band. Two years later, doctors declared his constant lip nerve problems as a “mission-impossible to heal” situation, which had to stop his music career. He returned back to music only after couple of years, in 2005, when he started composing and playing different instruments again.
ViK began to break into the mainstream of Lithuanian and Russian pop music market following his bands’s GRINGO radio breakthrough in 2009, when their first single “It is impossible to forget you” (Russian: “Тебя забыть невозможно”) went huge on one of the most popular Russian radio stations in Baltic states – “Russkoye Radio Baltiya” (Russian: “Русское Радио Балтия”). In the beginning of 2010 the band got their first award for the song “It is impossible to forget you” as one of the most played songs on “Russkoye Radio Baltiya” in 2009. Thereafter, all songs of the band started to gain international popularity among Russian language speakers in Eastern Europe, giving the band an opportunity to widen their target audience and enter the unresponsive, at the time, music market of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. Music collaborations with popular Lithuanian singers (Soliaris, Funky, DJ INLITE) and live show collaborations with well-known Russia’s pop bands made GRINGO closer to their ultimate goal. However, in the beginning of 2011, band members (ViK, MC Skrip, DRIU MC, Dinara) had decided to go on an indefinite hiatus, which lasted for 4 years. In the end of 2015 they got back together, however ViK refused to re-join the band and continued his music journey as an independent music artist.In the following years he released a number of tracks that were picked up by radio stations in Lithuania, Russia, Estonia and Kazakhstan.
We spoke to ViK about how it all started and getting through “against all odds”, about life changes and a multi-language music advantage.
Tell us a little bit about your story. Where and howit all started?
ViK : I was born in Vilnius, have you ever heard about it? I guess, now we have around 600 000 people living here, it’s the biggest city in my country. I grew up in a so-called poor part of the city (Naujininkai district), where we had to fight physically and emotionally for our well-being. I remember being bullied a lot at school. I think there are lots of famous public figures who started the same way. Being a young kid all I wanted was to grow up fast and become an ultimate manager of my life. This was probably one of the biggest thoughts I dreamed of going to and coming back from school. Later on I started playing trumpet and apparently it changed it all. The more I was mastering music skills, the more I was into it. The so-called breakthrough moment for me was when we started out our first band (INTRO) back in 1999. I started playing drums and guitars. For a shy kid like me it was really exciting. And finally I had a chance to prove my friend and classmates that I’m so much worth of being respected. This period of my life I felt that I am becoming somebody. A true somebody.A year later it all started to feel really busy. I mean, I’ve decided to go on mastering my trumpet skills at Vilnius Conservatory. Moreover, at that time I was playing the trumpet in different dixie bands and orchestras. We were touring Europe participating at the global music fests and events. It was fun, I really enjoyed it. But I didn’t know my life will turn completely around very soon. And that time came even quicker than I thought it would. I had problems with my lip nerve. Doctors said it couldn’t be fixed and convinced me to change my profession or to continue playing music on a different instrument. There was no time to think much about it, I had to make decision fast. So this was it. After re-considering my life priorities, I started looking for opportunities to study at the university and later on I had entered “The ISM University of Management and Economics”. This was the start of a new life.Music career was over for me. At least that’s what I thought.
Who or what inspired you to turn back to music?
ViK : I wouldn’t call it an inspiration or something. My mother wanted me to become a musician, because she had her own unfulfilled dream being a singer as she was a teenager. So she kind of showed me the direction I needed to go. That’s where it all started. But I guess I should talk about inspiration from a bit different angle. Times, when I felt I was so deeply involved with music, came later. And that’s when I started having this feeling that I am on my way to something big and exciting. That’s how it felt.
You mentioned your first indefinite hiatus ina music career. How did it feel back then?
ViK : Honestly, it was terrible. I invested so much energy and time into learning and practicing the skill, but at the end I felt so miserable. I was broken and angry at the same time. You know, the way a person feels when love of his/her is dumping him. Being a musician was not only my primary goal but my passion too. Literally I had to change everything and go on a completely different path.
So, if looking at these changes from today’s point-of-view, after you’ve graduated from a business university and, I guess, after having a long career in a totally different professional area, what would you say? Was it worth it? I mean completely changing the vector of life.
ViK : Life’s is changing all the time. And that’s one of the main lessons I’ve learned so far. When I was younger, I had this rather unmeasurable distance from “I must leave music” to “I am ready to come back”. I would even say, I felt this was not a distance, but a one-way ticket if you will. And you know what? Now I am so happy, that I was wrong.Doing other stuff in life gave me not only much more self-confidence, but made me realize that there are lots of things you can do except music.
In a band GRINGO you had a role of a musician, not a singer or lyricist. Why?
ViK : At that time,I couldn’t imagine being a singer or even a lyricist. I liked being a vital part of music creation process and playing guitar or piano. Moreover, I was passionate about getting band’s songs further, something like a promoter or a PR agent. And it felt right back then.
Have you ever considered yourself as a solo artist?
ViK : Well,I guess I didn’t have much time to think about that. We had a lot to do with GRINGO. Moreover, my full-time job wouldn’t let me concentrate on one more music project.
I am wondering, is it ok to call you a “music warrior”?
ViK : I would rather call myself a life warrior instead.
When you switched to your solo project, was it easy to start it alone, knowing that not long time ago you were a part of a music team?
ViK : That’s a tricky part. I’ve left the band because you could hardly call it a team anymore. It felt like we became total strangers to each other. This was the start of an end. And that’s where I thought I could do it alone and rely only on myself. And you know – that was the right thing to do.
You’ve started your thing in 2013. You’ve been an independent solo artist for almost 4 years now. How does it feel and what are the main “milestones” you would pick out from this period?
ViK : When I went on a free climb, meaning that I had no particular rules for my own songs, I realized that it’s ok to experiment with the sound and to do whatever I’m interested in. That’s what I did. In the early 2014, my first single written in Lithuanian language hit mainstream with the help of Lithuanian radio stations. Afterwards I’ve released another single in Russian language that was picked up by “Russkoye Radio Baltiya”. I think this fast rise of me as a solo music artist was earned, because I worked really hard not only on a sound of these tracks but on a musical value as a whole. And it worked out very well I guess.
Would you consider yourself a multi-language and multi-style music artist?
ViK : Something like that. You see, each one of my tracks is different from the previous one. And by saying different I mean completely different. Because that’s the way each song can have its’ own unique emotions. This is where the magic part stands out. I do not really care if my voice sounds differently in each one of my songs, or that my rap flow, let’s say, isn’t as fancy as other rappers may have. All that matters to me is emotion. As long as the listener feels me, I’m good. The same is with picking a language for a song. I have an ability to write lyrics in two languages, why not doing this? It’s interesting and gets you to a wider audience.
Do you care what other artists or music critics say about you?
ViK : I care what listeners have to tell about my art, not me as a person. Even if a listener is a musician, it all matters to me the same way.