The place where Mindaugas Lapinskis is taking us with his music undeniably feels divine. Going solo from Lithuanian indie-dance formation Downtown Party Network, Mindaugas chose mysterious alias Gardens of God and debuted with tech house release Ys on Ellum, an imprint of Maceo Plex. Our first encounter was about a year ago at Ellum Showcase hosted by Straf_Werk in Amsterdam. This year Gardens of God kicked off the festival season with DGTL and earned DJ Mag's 'title' as Future Headliner; we were there and could not agree more.
Anna: For most of the artists there was always that AHA moment, the sudden realisation that music was something worth exploring...
Mindaugas: I've been around music since I can remember myself. My brother studied music too, so it seems like our parents had that AHA moment and made us believe that music was something worth exploring. I remember the days when all I wanted was to ride a bike with friends, but I had to play piano... And then there were performances and concerts when everyone would give you applause. I loved both music and applause, already then I thought hmmm... it is like a delicious fruit you enjoy its taste, but you need to work hard to grow it first.
You are a father of two, is that also your lesson to pass on?
Absolutely. My daughter, Migle, is almost six and she is taking piano lessons. I guess life lessons come with it too. Sometimes she is like: "I don't want to go to music school today". And then we talk: "Now you don’t want to go. But do you want to learn music? Do you like it?" She says: "Yes!" Then I explain to her that sometimes we all just have to do our work, like daddy has to fly other places to DJ during weekends... She thinks for a moment and says: "OK, I will go..."
I have a four-years old son Povilas. He's a big fan of Michael Jackson and Kanye West. He is watching YouTube and doing moves like Michael. They are also singing together, even if they don't speak English. When you see children being this expressive, you should let them explore music and arts.
Once to cheer me up from another romantic disaster, you told me your love story… you and your wife are high school sweethearts!
We started dating at high school, that is true. After graduation I moved to Vilnius and a bit later Egle followed me and we started living together. Though one year was all we could manage, so we split up.. and for quite a while. After four years we came back with a big bang — our daughter, who was followed shortly by another big bang — our son.
The big bang theory! How is your wife taking your DJ career now? You travel a lot, there are always ladies around?
That's exactly what she says, but then there are not only ladies around, also guys. But she only cares about the ladies... [laughs] I can understand. When you travel a lot, you meet a lot of people, mostly same-minded, but also you meet strange characters. And the party environment suggests fun times, when it is more than fun — it is a way of socialising when music creates a common ground and connects with the attitudes of the scene.
Gardens of God is a new name on the scene. However, your sound speaks volumes, literally. When you hear it, you know there is a mature producer behind, who has a story to tell.
It is not even 2 years since I produce my tracks as Gardens of God. But actually I've never had any other jobs besides working in the studio. It all started when I was still getting my Bachelor's in composition at Vilnius conservatory; there was a recording studio nearby where I started producing for Lithuanian pop artists. Later in 2008, I teamed up with Algirdas Miescionaitis and started releasing as Downtown Party Network. We were going strong till 2013, when I decided it was time to start my solo career.
And that's when it all happened. Your debut EP Ys was released on Ellum, an imprint of Maceo Plex. International gigs started to follow...
"How did it happen" — many people ask, "Were you friends with Eric?" No. I met Eric, Eric Estornel aka Maceo Plex, in person the first time when the EP was out; it was my first first gig as Gardens of God at Ellum Showcase in London. Then there was another Ellum Showcase in Amsterdam...
... where you and I met... I know, undeniably significant event. But seriously, how did it happen?
I started producing solo and showed tracks to a few friends from the scene, one of them, Sean Brosnan, was very interested and offered his own label Needwant. I kept on producing and sending him more tracks, till he said: "OK, my label is too small for your tracks. I will help you find a good home." Not selfish at all, right? And he managed to find me more than a label — Ellum is like my big Spanish family. All the artists are good friends; Danny Daze, Shall Ocin and Maceo Plex are down-to-earth personalities, far from arrogance and drama.
And we go back to family again. It is like a common thread to everything we discuss. It is not necessarily the network connections, but actual relationships that matter.
It all comes down to time — take time to get to know yourself and one another, take time to develop relationships. Sometimes you have to wait for your time. Nothing happens now, you have to work for it. There are exceptions in pop and edm scenes, artists become instantly popular, but then go insane trying to stay on top. For the rest, whether you are a genius or not, you need to work hard, work on yourself, on your skill and be ambitious, think at least 5 years ahead.
FACT Music Pool Series, Barcelona (SP) 17.06
Urban ART Forms Festival, Wiesen (AT) 18.06
Avant Garde, London (GB) 27.06
YUCA, Cologne (DE) 04.07
RUSH, Turin (IT) 24.07
RSVP to Pleinvrees Heroes Festival, Amsterdam (NL) 05.09
Photography by Visvaldas Morkevicius