br/> We interviewed Lithuanian vocalist SIMONA SMIRNOVA ahead of her Vortex gig on Sunday August 26th:
LondonJazz: Simona, where are you from, and what led you to music?
Simona Smirnova : I am from the small Baltic country of Lithuania. Even as a young elementary school student, I was full of new and crazy ideas – ones which were unusual for the people in my village back then: I organized rock festivals, theater performances, I played in a rock band and at the same time I played a Lithuanian traditional stringed instrument (kanklės).
Music and art has been my life from the very beginning. But rock and folk music were not enough. I was seeking something that would contain improvisation, a strong harmonic system, and unlimited music language. So, I decided to study jazz. I recently graduated from the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theater with the bachelors degree in jazz vocals.
LJ: And what brought you to London?
SS:After my studies was invited to take over the job as a teacher in a Lithuanian school in London.
LJ: And you enjoy teaching?
SS: Yes, I have always loved educational work – it enhances my performance as an artist and enriches the way I look at my audience. In music, I always look for the connecting moment and points of contact with the audience.
LJ: So you‘re not the solitary artist?
SS: That‘s right. I believe strongly that art should reflect the social and moral issues and the spirit of the time. I would like to compare this approach to art with the moonlight – the moon does not shine itself, it only reflects the sunlight. As an artist I feel I‘m reflecting back the thoughts the life experiences of the audience back to them.
LJ: How do you find being in London?
SS: London inspires me with its buzz and gives me more strength. This environment and the Olympic excitement is stimulating my creativity in a wonderful way and gives me even more social context for my creative work. My musical vision is to perceive the audience and to reflect it. Probably there is no better place for me to warm up before my studies in the USA.
LJ: And what happens next?
SS: After this short life stop in London, I’m going further to continue my jazz vocal studies in Berklee College of Music. I‘m looking forward to Boston. People tell me that they have found colleagues for life while studying there. It’s probably the biggest challenge and mission for an artist to find suitable people with the same vision for a long term cooperation. It is my main goal and vision. I think a lot of musicians and artists in this world are searching for these things.
LJ: But before you leave, London audiences will get a chance to hear you and meet you?
Simona Smirnova : Right before leaving to the USA I am going to play at the Vortex Jazz Clubon 26th August, at 8 o’clock. At this concert, I will play with my friend and study mate Živile Kazlauskaite and with a new colleague from Poland Tomasz Bura. We’ll play my own compositions and arrangements. This concert means a lot to me. Before I leave London and arrive in Boston, I feel at an important moment in my life, between the search and the discovery of the vision.
LondonJazz: All the very best for the gig and for your time at Berklee