Which one is more important when it comes to songs: lyrics or music? While pondering this unresolved (unresolvable?) question we approach Lithuanian singer and songwriter Jurga ahead of her Dusk Dawn Club (DDC) show on Mar 10.
After 15 years of singing mostly in Lithuanian, she recently turned the corner and released an album Not Perfect (2017) with mainly English lyrics. However, Jurga claims that feeling the music does not necessarily come from understanding the words in the songs.
Jurga’s songs are in sync with her persona – calm and collected, often accompanied by a subtle smile in an overall melancholic setting. The singer claims she was a shy child and had to consciously make a decision to act confidently, and strengthen her voice, literally and figuratively.
Yet even with the melancholic sound of Jurga’s music, there will be dancing. Relatively recent additions of electro and dream-pop waves bring out a passionate side of her music. We chat about composing, childhood, and touring in China.
You have been in the industry for almost 15 years. How did you get into music?
My father was an organist, and my mother was the director of a choir. I was raised with classical music and everyone knew I would have to study music.
Because of my father’s work, we traveled a lot, so I got to know the differences between landscapes and people from different countries. I learned to appreciate the beauty of our forests and plains, dunes and the Baltic sea. These images appeared in my first songs, but not many people knew about them since I was a very shy and frightened child. My voice was so quiet that I would be asked to repeat my answers twice.
What do you do besides singing?
I now work as a composer, writer, and animation director. It’s all quite wide but has to do with harmony, music, and notes.
Do you enjoy performing songs by other artists, and how is that different from singing your own pieces?
There was a time when I was only singing my own songs. Then one of my friends said that I was missing a great opportunity to try and understand how others see the world. So I started learning various folk songs. Now, I have had a chance to sing in 10 different languages and it changed my worldview quite drastically. I believe the best way to know a country or culture is through its music.
Your music is labeled as pop or rock, but it is far from being easy-listening and turns a more artsy corner. How do you usually write and what triggers it?
It may not be easy listening but I call it “easy feeling”. Last time I was in China my music was called “sophisticated pop”. I work a lot on lyrics and look for simple words to talk about things that are complex.
Some of your music has also been used as soundtracks on screen. Is writing for movies different from performing on stage?
Yes and no. When I write songs I like to polish and develop them more. Screen or theatre, on the other hand, always calls for a minimalistic approach.
This is not your first time in China. Any memorable moments from your last tour in 2017?
Last time I was surprised by how the Chinese audience reacted to the Lithuanian songs. They caught the exact emotion and didn’t need the translation. Seems like we are all the same around the world.
I am loyal to my tradition of singing in a local language, so this time I prepared a Chinese song that is quite well known. Can’t wait to see you all at the concerts!