As we look ahead to the second heat of Pabandom iš naujo, we were fortunate enough to interview Justė Kraujelytė ahead of her performance in the national final. Together we talked about her career, her debut album, and her excitement about Eurovision. Check it out!
Hello Justė! Thank you for taking some time out of your day to speak with me! For those who are encountering you and your music for the first time, why don‘t you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m a lihuanian music artist, I live in Vilnius and work with a lot of different music projects, bands, I am a singing teacher as well. I started singing when I was 8 years old and till this day I never actually quit singing despite a short period of time when I was studying law in the University of Vilnius. After a lot of years of practice with various artists in Lithuania as a group member, back vocalist, participation in TV shows and trying to create and perform in so many music styles from funk, jazz to rock, electronic and even folk music, on 2020 I decided to start my solo career and I released my debut alternative pop album ‘’Therapy’’.
I found my inspiration in psychology and it is the main topic I want to speak about with my music. This year I’m planning to release my second album about anxiety. My PiN song ‘’How to get my life back’’ is one of the songs that will take place in it.
If you had to, who or what would you identify as the biggest musical inspirations for your music outside of psychology?
Definitely the inner world, dreams and connections between emotions, expectations and all the experience that I had. I was never afraid to speak about depression, hard emotions, failure and difficult periods of my life when I wanted to move on and create something but I really couldn’t cope with anxiety and fears. I had a lot of them. It was too hard to decide what I wanted to speak about and finally after a lot of years of searching for inspiration and ‘’my THEME’’ I found out that all of this was a THEME that I wanted to speak about. It felt so right.
At this moment I find a lot of inspiration studying and reading and discussing a lot (mostly in topics of psychology), I have a strange scientific method to get to my texts, music, melodies and it really comes from thinking about the things that feel worth speaking for me, that I find relevant and important in this time not only to me but to a lot of people that are still suffering today and simply can not find or even search for help. I feel that I have to encourage them to do that. My real therapy was an inspiration for me, after that at this moment I’m trying to dig deeper.
And as you mentioned you released your first major album “Therapy” during the pandemic in 2020, did you learn anything about yourself as an artist and songwriter during this creative process?
Of course, I did. Firstly, it was so fantastic to know that I can create on my own that I can express my ideas to music producers and somehow get from the stage of a chaotic idea to a real song. I also found out that I have my opinion and taste that I can strongly stand for and, of course, that people can react to the songs that I create really warmly.
The main thing that I learnt from it is that when you stay true to yourself and strongly feel and know the things that you are talking, singing, creating about, everything is easy, it is so easy to come to the stage and perform your songs because you strongly believe in them. And that feeling is miraculous. I think that finally I grew up in this process and that album let me understand who I really am as a performer, singer, artist, what are my values and what is important for me, even understand my purpose in life, ideas that I want to stand for.
And according to my research, this is your first time participating in the Lithuanian pre-selection. What made you decide to submit an entry to the national final this year?
I think that the time has come. I felt ready and created a song which was in my mind for a long time, when I heard it, it just felt right. All the ideas of the performance and how it should look came as a flow, I feel that I know what, how and why I am doing this. I can’t lie – participating in ESC was one of my biggest dreams from early childhood. The dream came true in 2015 when I went to Austria as a back vocalist and a member of lithuanian team with Vaidas and Monika (song ,,This time’’) but I knew that one day I will do this with my own song.
Your song for Pabandom iš naujo is titled “How to Get My Life Back”. Can you help us understand the message or story behind your entry?
It’s not an easy story and there are a lot of thoughts and questions to discuss. As an artist I can not simply close my eyes and all the nowadays events and pandemic years really affects me. Postmodern culture and our crucial individualism led us to the crisis where there is no one truth to believe in and it seems that you always have to pick a side, take an opinion or stand for something that you’re not so sure about. Social media, fake news, algorithms make us believe that the world is exactly what is shown to us but it is not that simple. In the middle of this with everyday growing uncertainty there is so much anxiety and social anxiety as well, like we have been seen all the time, like the eyes of all the other people are always on us.
All of the pressure to “be better”, “do more”, “never give up” finally makes us so weak because we simply can’t stay in this situation and there in an inner voice telling “I just want everything to be how it was. I want to get my life back. I want to be certain about things” but there is no way back to that and sometimes you just miss the moment when a circle becomes square because you were made to believe that it was so…I’m not sure if I express myself clearly but these are the thoughts always circling in my head. The song has a sense of irony, a bit of horror and hope, of course, that maybe we can wake up, open our eyes widely and do something until history repeats in one of the worst ways.
And let’s talk about the preparation process for the Pabandom iš Naujo semi-finals, because I know you‘ve been very involved in the production process for your music videos. How involved have you been in the staging process? Are there any details you can give us about the staging?
Me and my team are very involved in the staging process, we have a lot of rehearsals, discussing every little detail from the colour of lights to the model of dancers’ shoes. I really care about the visual part of my performance as I do when I am creating music videos with my team. Every single second should be counted and decided, every line of a song should send something and mean something because you have only 3 minutes to show all of the story to people, make them understand, feel the energy and engage with your song. It is not an easy task.
I am very happy and proud of my team members, those young people are full of creative ideas and really care about it, we are going to have a full performance with a reference to the film “The Matrix” because the ideas and philosophical point of view of this film is very close to my song and it was a real inspiration that came after first visual sketches related to the song. In my creating process I usually see how the song should look like, mood, colours, etc., “how to get my life back” wasn’t an exception. I’m very glad that we saw and felt it the same way with a whole team, it was very easy to fulfill the idea in a way that I wanted to, it has symbols of all the thoughts that I used to express what the song is about and you will see them in the performance.
As you know the winner of Pabandom iš naujo will go on to Turin this coming May. What would it mean to represent Lithuania at the Eurovision Song Contest this year?
I’m not going to lie, despite all the pride and happiness, that would mean to me a lot of hard work and preparation. It is a huge step in every musician’s career. I am planning to release my second album so that would be a huge possibility and entrance to the big european wide or even worldwide music industry and audience. That would be a fantastic opportunity to talk about the things I care about with a lot of people and create a performance in one of the most professional stages of the world.
For those who want to connect with you ahead of or after the selection– where can they find you and your music?
All of my released songs are on Spotify, Deezer and other music platforms, there are several music videos on Youtube, we can always communicate using Instagram – there are some sneak peaks and most of the information about what I am doing, planning or releasing. I really enjoy talking with my fans about different topics related to anxiety in everyday life and sharing my thoughts.
Last question – is there any message you’d want to share with the ESCUnited readers?
I sincerely advise you – never give up and search for your theme, an idea that you strongly believe in. One day that will lead you where you should be. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and don’t forget that the most important, interesting person that you should meet is YOU. Go on a journey! It is never easy but so full of surprise and wisdom. I tried. It works!
Well Justė, thank you so much for taking some time for us and we wish you the best of luck during Pabandom iš naujo!