Interviewing Aistè: ‘Fu** Rules and Expectations. Do What Feels Right’

Featured Image: Julijus Nosovas

Currently, based in London, Aistè is a positive force to be reckoned with. She explores her identity as both an artist in the music industry and as a person with roots across different countries- after growing up in Lithuania and Norway. Her unique sound is formed by an eclectic mix of modern pop, 90’s R&B and future-bass. In combining a punk attitude with pop princess sensibilities, this makes her a refreshingly ingenious artist in our world today.

She burst onto the scene with her first single release ‘Say When’ in 2018, which coincided with her graduation from the London School of Economics. Boasting a smooth groove and showing off her clear vocal prowess, it was her first taste of success and the next chapter of her life. Aistè has constantly overcome obstacles, while always focusing on her passion for music. She has become known for discussing real-world issues- from money in ‘Money Is Life’ (2019) to bullying at school in ‘Give Me Hope’, which was released earlier this year. Her latest track ‘Mojo’ is her most ambitious yet, a cinematic track with a high bass to heighten the impact. The accompanying music video, which was written, directed and produced by Aistè, is a tribute to how hardworking this rising artist is too. Creativity in all areas of her vision is paramount. Her well-thought-out video for ‘Money Is Life’, even earned a 2020 KlipVid Award nomination.

We were lucky enough to interview Aistè over email, to find out more about the process behind her latest track ‘Mojo’, overcoming self-doubt and her advice for others.

Aistè’s sharp vision and unapologetic, magnetic talent hit somewhere between Kate Bush and Killing Eve’s Villanelle. Growing up between Vilnius, Lithuania, and later Bergen, Norway, Aistè inhabits the space between Post-Soviet Eastern Europe and the IDEALISED American Dream. She’s made it her own very early on: “Being born in the newly independent state, I grew up as a free spirit,” she says. “Something seemingly impossible happened, so from then on, everything seemed possible. It was this feeling of freedom, which at the time, seemed to have no bounds.” Now based in London and working completely independently to write, produce and release her own music, she embodies that same fresh and rebellious spirit in everything she does and shows no sign of slowing down. With powerful soulful vocals, a sound that embraces modern pop, 90s R&B, and even epic future- bass as well as a signature punk attitude, she has the face of a pop princess but is the furthest thing from a cliché stereotype. Blending Baltic coolness, Scandi pop, and HYPE-BEAST East London vibes so seamlessly that you’d be forgiven for thinking she’s been doing this her whole life, she’s released six independent tracks since 2018, has built an excited following online, and is getting ready for an explosive year. Aistè’s steadfast sense of self and rebellious side, coupled with a prolific creative output, place her among a generation of young powerhouses who have every intent of taking over the industry. Looking up to icons like Freddie Mercury, Kanye West, Kate Bush and Lee Hazlewood, her ambition embraces every corner of different genres, the result a beautiful study of everything that is universal as well as personal, the status quo and the challenging of it: an euphoric battle cry of uniqueness. A true maker of her own destiny, she follows the beat of her own drum rather than societal pressures to adhere to trends or styles. “The way music has guided me through life and the way it touches me is unprecedented... very few things can do that, can make you the person you are today. Making my own music allows me to create new worlds, which other people can inhabit with me. It allows me to expand on what is real -it helps me notice things I didn’t think were there, almost altering reality, or changing a person from within. It opens doors to endless possibilities. It always carries hope with it, as long as your curiosity keeps you knocking.” An authentic product of her time, she has a very personal vision of her creative expression, and works to translate it into art with the aid of the fire she carries in her heart: that of someone who is not a stranger to suffering or sacrifices, but has all the right cards to work hard and leave her mark. Faced with unsympathetic peers and even bullying at school, she was quick to grow a thick skin and throw herself in her studies as well as her creative outlets. Music was a lifeline she clung to through periods of struggling and hard partying, which reached a breaking point when she got a job as an analyst at Barclays Bank and got a taste of mindless, passion-less corporate life. She quickly realized it just wasn’t for her. Desperate for a way out, and dreaming of a different path for her life, Aistè swapped partying for going back to studying hard, moving to London and obtaining an Anthropology degree from the London School of Economics and Political Sciences. “I knew that I’d be doing this as soon as I could talk,” Aistè explains. “But I couldn’t just follow my dream because no Lithuanian has ever ‘made it’, and my family didn’t want me to pursue this. So I had to keep it as a hobby. Once I graduated from uni, I gained my freedom and to some extent my family’s support in my choices... that’s why my first track came out as soon as I graduated!” After testing the waters with previous tracks ‘My Only Friend’, ‘Say When’, and ‘This Will Happen’, as well as the bewitching ‘Blue Dawn’, Aistè’s unique voice as a writer is perhaps best exemplified by recent single ‘Money is life’, the video for which has been nominated in the Best Direct category at the 2020 KlipVid Awards: the empowering anti-capitalistic lyrics, sarcastic tone and girl-power stance bring voice to the notion of freedom, the idiosyncrasies of modern life, and the question at the forefront of both: "Is this what our dreams are made of?". She personally knows the struggle all too well: working bar jobs to make ends meet, establishing herself as a woman in the music industry, living in a state of rootlessness as both someone who left Eastern Europe but also someone who still doesn’t feel British enough. Expressing these many different identities in her music is the only choice: creating new worlds, exploring new possibilities of being. Looking for the world where she could fit in just right. This artistic escapism mirrors our times, and as it reflects in her music it resonates with a young generation, that is similarly in search for its own place in the world. Aistè’s sharp and hard hitting melodies offer them a home. Aistè breathes a new creative fire these days: she’s completely in control, and she’s ready to let her voice be heard.
Image Credit: Julijus Nosovas

Who/what influenced your interest in music?

“Ever since I can remember myself, music always had some sort of mystical, psychic effect on me. I remember having to go ‘dry’ for at least a week before any important test or exam at school. Otherwise, I’d be overwhelmed by the new worlds it would bestow upon me. Certainly, these days my approach is less romantic but the foundation of pure love of music is still there. I remember once, during a break at school, being in a sombre mood. I was listening to music and scribbled into my notebook, ‘thank God for Jimi Hendrix.’ Repeating that same line for a few hundred times. Looking in the hindsight, I think music has always offered me an alternate reality to inhabit. In regards to the influences, they came from the musical legends such as Nina Simone, Aretha Franklin, Air, The Doors, Kanye West, Queen and many more.” 

Since your first track in 2018, have you found your creative process change?

“Certainly. I believe I got so much better at writing songs and producing them. Creatively, I am always challenging myself. Quality of what I do is paramount. Some people calculate in producing their songs because of the need to fit into the commercial spectrum. I tend to follow my ‘gut feeling’ in the process. Being like a mad scientist, trying to evoke feelings that got numbed in today’s overstimulated world. But, don’t get me wrong, I love POP. I am thinking of making more in that genre pretty soon.” 

How have you found discovering your sound with its distinct blend of genres?

“I am really enjoying the experience of having the chance to inhabit these different realms. All of the genres I perform in, in all honesty, are equally close to my heart. They act almost like different remedies a listener can take when there is a want to feel alive, powerful, confident, capable, or simply, to be lifted. It ain’t a joke when people say that music is a drug haha. I am offering the entire pharmacy!”

What was the writing process behind your latest track ‘Mojo’?

“Overwhelming energy trickled down my body, the first time I played the chord sequence of the song’s introduction. It was almost like I’ve finally found the vessel, that could carry the exact feelings I’ve been boiling up inside me. The word ‘MOJO’ kept haunting me from then on. Everything came out very organically. Almost like it wasn’t me writing it.” 

How have you found the different music scenes of London, Lithuania and Norway and how have they influenced your music?

“Each of them has its own charm. London taught me about live performance. I saw many wonderful gigs that didn’t have much money being invested in them yet they still took me aback. I was particularly blown away by Kojey Radical and his hypnotising energy. Norway taught me the mystic in music with its artist Aurora. The Lithuanian scene injected into me the never-fading spirit of rock ’n’ roll with the band called ‘The Independent’. Sleeping in vans, lots of booze and electric guitar sounds in the background lingering.” 

What was the inspiration behind the anti-capitalist anthem ‘Money Is Life’?

“I wrote this song after coming back from work once again very late, around 4 AM. That night, after closing the bar, me and my co-worker, a 24-year-old Italian female rapper, were moving around kegs, taking out the trash and doing other physically demanding tasks. Our team spirit and seemingly endless energy inspired me. Having a background in Sociology from LSE, I’ve developed this habit to constantly reevaluate my life situations in relation to the macro (society). In the newspapers, I have read quite a few articles on how lazy millennials are and how they want everything quick and easy. And, there I was. Laying in my bed with back pain and a nagging thought, that I will be doing this again for four more days- also, that this could extend to weeks, months or even years. Obviously, these thoughts wouldn’t let me sleep. So I woke up and wrote about it all. This seemingly never-ending circle of work for survival is expressed in the lines ‘We work and die/And work/And die again’. Hence, when the chorus comes in with ‘Mooooneeeey Is Life’, it isn’t some gangsta reference or my attempt to be ‘swag’. I am just stating the fact. It is ironic but, funnily enough, it is also so damn true.” 

How did you find writing, directing and producing your music video for ‘Mojo’?

“I LOVED IT. I cannot wait to make more money to produce even more! I honestly feel like a fish in water, when I need to write or direct things like this. It is other things in life that I struggle with much more. Once I had the song, the vision was very clear. The song itself commanded how the video should be scripted.” 

You’ve been candid on your struggles with self-doubt, what is your advice for others in the same situation?

“Self-doubt and ‘existential anxiety’ seem to be essential prerequisites for being a modern human. Every single person, no matter how successful, raises these questions. This indicates that even after achieving one’s initial goals, the emancipation from that heavy load of thinking is not guaranteed. I don’t want to sound cliché but meditation and journaling help me a lot. Meditation is great to gain a perspective, while journaling allows me to get my thoughts in order, as well as to learn gratefulness for what I already have.” 

 On your Instagram, you’ve previously said that you ‘will always work your ass off to bring the most value to the table’. How have you found being a woman in the music industry?

“I don’t know if it is my vibe but people that I work with treat me equally. I wouldn’t let anyone treat me any other way. Obviously, objectification is REAL. Sometimes it begins to seems that the image stands before the music itself. However, I believe, it applies to all artists regardless of their gender identity. Especially in the age of Instagram. Ass still phenomenally captures people’s attention. Maybe, if we are lucky, at some point people will have seen enough of it, and we will be able to move on beyond that.” 

Aside from music, what are you most looking forward to doing, now that the world is starting to open up again?

“Go back to work and earn that precious shmoney. “

What advice would you give to others wanting to follow in your footsteps?

“Always nurture your vision and work on it. Perfect it ’til it is all you think about day and night. People message me on Instagram with various questions related to recording, creativity and so on. I ALWAYS reply and try my best to help. Don’t be shy to contact me. “

Do you have any more releases planned for this year?

“Oh yeah. Another one is coming in about two months time. I am currently working on it. So excited. It is gonna be MAD.”

What are your goals for the future?

“Make money. I want to feel financially stable so that I could keep pumping out more and more music. Then, I could employ as many talented people as possible and totally give in. I also want to help others to make their visions come alive.” 

What would you like listeners to take away from your music?

“Fu** rules and expectations. Do what feels right. If you choose to do this, then do it only with a full heart and DON’T look back. I’d love for my listeners to give in and experience my music beyond rational thought ’cause it, certainly, wasn’t created by one.” 

Aistè’s latest track, ‘Mojo’, is available on all major streaming services.

Be sure to keep up with Aistè:

Spotify | Youtube | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter

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