Have you ever thought about playing in a band just for fun? Roberts Lanka, a sophomore from Latvia, combines great academic performance, a student leadership position at LCC and his passion for music into his daily life. Sounds like a really busy student life, doesn’t it? Roberts proves that managing studies, community activities, and hobbies is possible!
What did your life look like before moving to Lithuania and starting studies at LCC?
My life before LCC was pretty simple. I went to high school, worked part-time and participated in activities outside of class. An interesting fact: my house is in a different country but it's just an hour away from LCC. A couple of months before graduation I started to look at the possibilities of where I wanted to study. Both my father and my uncle,ans well as a lot of other close family friends had gone to LCC. It was obviously one of the top choices, and that eventually landed me here. So, here I am!
You are in your second year of studies. How does it feel? How do you enjoy studying English Language and Literature so far?
Being a sophomore does have its perks, and of course I really enjoy my major. As a sophomore you have a little bit more freedom when it comes to selecting classes you want to study. It's still similar to freshman year, you still need to learn and take exams. There are also more possibilities to get involved in the community as a sophomore, and I love it!
Apart from your classes at LCC you are an Intercultural student leader this year. Why did you decide to apply for this position? What do you like the most about your responsibilities?
I decided to apply for this student leadership position because I felt it was perfect for me. My family has hosted a lot people from different cultures throughout the years at our house, so the Intercultural Leader seemed natural. Different cultures are not foreign to me and I really like to work with the people from different countries. As an Intercultural team, we are organizing many events on campus. We recently had our first Culture Day where students from Ukraine and Kazakhstan presented their countries. It was awesome!
Your big hobby outside of course work is music. Could you please tell me more about this passion for music? How did your interest in music begin and how did you end up in a band?
I've been playing in a relatively new band. It's called Grupa Harijs. I think it's been two years since we started playing together! Now we've expanded to eight band members. Before my adventures with Grupa Harijs, my interest in music started when I was about 13 and I started to discover 90’s music like Nirvana or Smashing Pumpkins. When I was 14, I got my first guitar and started learning to play, step-by-step, then learned some chords. Later on one of my good friends and classmates, Rudolph, and two more guys decided to start a band so, we did! We had a week of practice and after seven days we had our first live concert on the outskirts of Lepaja in 2018. I think that was essentially the start of our band and since adding four more members we've become a pretty big band. This year in April, we released our first album which you can find on all major streaming platforms including Spotify!
Could you please tell more about your band’s name?
Grupa Harijs. The story is pretty simple. We kind of needed a name but we didn't have it before our first concert. The organizer phoned Rudolph and asked our band name, so they could advertise before the performance. They were in such a hurry, you can’t imagine! Harry is our frontman for the band, so Rudolph just said his name, it was such a random idea but essentially this name stuck with us.
What is your role in the band? What do you like the most about being a musician?
Generally, Harry and I are the songwriters and apart from that, I mostly play guitar. For some songs I play bass and for other songs, I might play trumpet. Most of us play multiple instruments. At practices, we actually switch around and each of us plays the same song but on a different instrument. When it comes to being a musician, I would say that I like the creative process the most. After we released our first album, we started getting more interviews and more recognition from big Latvian radio stations. It's great to see that recognition in from others. I do the band just because it's fun and I enjoy every moment that I dedicate to music.
What are your main topics for band’s songs?
In the first album, the song's topics are kind of all over the place. I don't think we thought much about the lyrics, for example, one song is essentially about what it's like to be a mosquito, which really doesn't make any sense. There are other songs that are more like poetry that don't really have obvious meaning, so it's up to the listener to interpret them. For the second album, which we're planning to release sometime next year, most of the songs feature one theme or another, they're not all over the place like in the first album, but theme-wise, I think it's all you can imagine: love, anger, mosquitoes ... it's essentially everything!
Have you already performed at concerts? How was it?
Oh yes! We've had four concerts this year and could have had more but then covid happened. We've had a concert in January, then a couple concerts over the summer. It's great to play in front of people and it is obviously one of the reasons why I do it. At the end of the day, if you like what you're playing and there are one or two people that also like what you're playing, I think that's it!
Where do you search for inspiration? Do you have a muse?
For me, it generally looks like I have an idea or a theme that I want to write about and then I take the idea and try to make it look good and sound good. Usually it's not about the inspiration, it's just about sitting down and actually spending time doing it. For example, "okay, what rhymes with this word?" and "what do I have to put here?" The inspiration I think is everywhere. The biggest problem is you have to be patient to actually finish the whole thing.
Are you planning to connect your future career with music or something connected to your major of studies?
Like I said, I do the music part for fun so far. It's awesome because we actually make some money from it, which we saved and put towards the video for the second album. If it happens, that'd be great, but to become a musician and do that as a full-time career is hard. So, I'm probably going to stick to something closer to my degree. With that said, you just never know.