There's not a vibrant music industry in Latvia, though it's more
developed than you probably think. Cultural exchanges are now more
common in Latvia. Maybe they are happening because of rapid social
changes. It is adaptation time. Many talented musicians are making
their own music in Latvia, but they are known only here. The same can
be said about Latvian literature, which is of a very high standard,
but very little has been translated into other languages.
Just before Christmas, something happened in musicians' circles that
had not happened before in Latvia. A Latvian and a Scot, two bright
and individualistic personalities, Ainars Mie-lavs and Mike Scott,
united forces in a song "On My Way To The Big Light."
It's the first time that a Latvian rock musician has collaborated
with such a prominent Western musician. There is no need to tell
Latvians about Mielavs, because his music is an acknowledged vital
force known throughout Latvia. His music is simple but expressive.
Mielavs band "New Moon," in Latvian Jauns Meness, formed in 1987 and
has released the most albums in recent times. To describe the musical
style of the band, some rock critics once called it "impressive,
alluding to similarities with world famous Celtic rock."
Mike Scott, born in Edinburgh, started his music career in 1983 with
a pioneering Scottish band The Waterboys, who introduced Celtic
influences and existed 10 years. Five years ago, Scott started his
solo career. His music is rich with words and amazing lyrics.
The creative process in making the song "The Big Light" was a long
one. It took one year and in the end was recorded in Sigulda's studio
in two days with words by Mike Scott and lyrics by Ainars Mielavs.
The following interview with Ainars Mielavs took place when Scott had
already returned home
- How did you meet Mike?
I had an opportunity to interview Mike. At the time he was in Norway
giving several concerts. We met and I gave him my LP.
He is the most real person with whom I can imagine working. I could
not work with someone who doesn't mean anything to me, for example a
person who only sings. I could never sing together with Joe Cocker,
even though people love him. To my ears he is only a singer but not a
song writer. Mike is a song writer, and I can say that I am a song
writer too. We write songs about very similar themes and the genre is
It's obvious that people who relate mentally attract one another. And
so I chose Mike. It was my idea and I wrote to him.
Here in Latvia I am ill-famed with my skeptical attitude against
Latvian rock'n' roll artists trying to become famous. I think this
is not possible for the next five years, because all this is only
possible when there is money. It doesn't matter how talented or less
talented artists are, how charismatic or completely opposite.
My aim was to make my musical and creative life interesting.
Otherwise it is boring; concert after concert, in one and the same
places, the same studio, the same system - same working days, same
holidays. I am not the kind of person for whom it is enough to be
happy and go somewhere like a tourist. Of course, it is pleasant to
do this with friends or family. But for me, it is much more important
that a particular event is connected with some emotional experience.
Something that concerns overall who I am, what I want, and what I
want to become. In this case Mike's arriving and our joint song
composition and recording superceded all my hopes. I am still in a
light euphoria. And it seems that Mike is too. He sent me a letter
where he attested that he is happy about our collaboration and says
that "Big Light" will be a "big hit"
- Who was the main generator in your working process?
In the end the main generator was Mike. All the real final decisions
came from him. I could just watch, and wonder with an open mouth at
what he was doing. That was immensely fulfilling. Alhough I had never
recognized that professional qualifications in rock'n roll could be
a main parameter, Mike completely proved to me what it means if one
can do what he wants to do, what he really likes - that he is able
to be a total musician and not be thinking about other things. The
generation of ideas and how he works is so effective. In Latvia
musicians' cerebral functions are busy dealing with troubles, at the
same time doing creative work.
- How possible is it to hear Latvian music in the West?
Not at all, except those Latvian artists whose career has connected
with some Western publishing company more or less. Here I can mention
the only known Latvian musician and composer in the world, Peteris
Vaskis, whose works are known only through German publishing company
Schott International. Of course, Vaskis is a genius, but there are
many other talented musicians such as Maija Enfelde and she is hardly
known at all. For to hear Latvian music and musicians in the wider
world, there needs to be long, hard scrupulous methodology and
financial investment. Money is needed, but Latvia doesn't have this
money, and the world doesn't offer such case histories where some
Western company would invest in some other country's musicians. The
only band that I know this has happened to is The Sugar Cubes
(Iceland) later known as Bjork.
- What is the song about?
I don't like to characterize songs. I'm not the kind of artist you'd
ask what is your painting about? What is this song about? What do the
words mean? They are what they are. You can hear them, listen to
them and make your own interpretation. Then you can compare opinions.