Ten Walls Explores His Reprehensible Reputation in Vulnerable Q&A

Image credit: Pijus Vėberis

“To err is human, to forgive divine” – Alexander Pope

Marijus Adomaitis is a Lithuanian music producer, composer, and DJ whose life is shrouded in controversy. After nearly ten years in exile from the public domain and much of the music industry following his infamous 2015 Facebook post, the elusive musical maestro is here not only to set the record straight, but to initiate constructive conversation in an attempt to step back into the spotlight with renewed humility.

For those who are unfamiliar with his scintillating sonic roster, Marijus mainly creates electronica, experimental, house, and disco music, performing with two different projects: Ten Walls, and Mario Basanov. His classically-trained violinist father taught him to play music from a young age and he began singing and creating music with his older brother. As a teenager, he started composing his own music, as well as collaborating with and producing for other artists at the same time. Influenced by legends like John Hopkins, Dj Koze, David August, John Tejada, Atjazz, André Lodemann, Robag Wruhme and  Frank Wiedemann, Marijus’ music has been compared to the likes of Maceo Plex, Mano Le Tough, David August, andhim, Adana Twins, Agoria, Kölsch and Kollektiv Turmstrasse.

In September 2014, Ten Walls smashed billboards and became a household name with the release of ‘Walking with Elephants’, which topped the UK Singles Chart. At the height of his career, he was headlining festivals worldwide with multiple genre-bending releases alongside a plethora of both international and Lithuanian artists. It seemed like his meteoric rise to success could not be stopped in his tracks – however, everything changed after one fateful incident. 

While his musical career did not grind to a complete halt, it has been obscured by the shadow of a scandal in 2015. In June of that year, he made a post on his personal Facebook page that sparked viral controversy and disgraced his image in the public sphere. With the original text being in Lithuanian, the direct Google translation reads as follows:

XLR8R recounted the story: “Within the rant, Marijus had railed against modern day tolerance, talked about people of a “different breed” who, via way of the second video, he suggested should be “fixed” using violence. He recounted a discussion with a friend where he’d asked, using gross and graphic language, how the friend would feel to learn his 16-year-old son had been on the receiving end of gay anal sex. He also recalled witnessing a public remembrance of paedophilia victims while on tour in Ireland. To many the inference was clear; he was linking paedophilia with gay sex and therefore with homosexuality and that is how it would go on to be reported.” The original post disappeared within an hour. Many concerned and outraged people called for clarification, an explanation or apology. No reply came, and the translation went viral. The response was overwhelmingly outraged, negative and condemning – the mask had slipped and Marijus had revealed himself to be a homophobe, or at least to have made hateful, homophobic comments.  

As a result of the backlash, he faced significant scrutiny, condemnation and consequences from the music community. Several music festivals and events canceled his performances, DJs such as A-Trak, Tiga, Knife Party and Optimo took to social media to condemn his comments, while Fort Romeau cancelled a forthcoming appearance alongside him. His booking agency, Coda, dropped him. Even the Lithuanian president, Dalia Grybauskaitė, said the resulting discussions would benefit the country, acknowledging their difficulties with being insular, stating, “the sooner Lithuania becomes more open and more tolerant, the better it will be for the country.”Ten Walls later apologised for his comments, acknowledging that they were offensive and wrong. However, the apology was regarded as sparse and insincere.

It took until September for Marijus to deliver a more comprehensive apology, in which he expressed shame, regret and took full responsibility for his actions. He insisted his initial post had been out of character and that he’d never been a homophobe. The post also announced that his upcoming project, an electronic version of the opera Carmen, would have a strong message of LGBT support, acceptance and tolerance within it. However, this was met with widespread incredulity – the damage was done. The incident had a lastingly destructive impact on his career, leading to a period of public scrutiny and diminished opportunities within the music industry. 

“…this wasn’t a once off mistake or an error of judgement. This was an individual openly expressing their views on a certain percentage of people in society; people we all co-exist with, in fact people that we in large part have to thank for the success of electronic music worldwide, and he used his platform, obtained via success within electronic music, to condemn them for their sexual orientation… Booking him for shows, supporting his productions and attending his gigs only serves to spread a message that it’s OK to spread hate as long as you apologise afterwards and ‘do your time’.”

Four Four Mag

“It’s like he stepped away from the twitching body of his reputation, stared down at it sadly, made up his mind and whacked it in the head repeatedly with a shovel. It takes guts to kill something you love, and Ten Walls has done it.”

Vice News

While he has continuously been working on projects since 2015, including collaborations with LGBTQ artists, Ten Walls has by and large retreated from the scathing glare of the public eye. He is arguably a disgraced human being; a cautionary tale that serves as an example of how public figures can face consequences for expressing discriminatory views, highlighting the importance of accountability and responsibility in the public domain. 

Sean Majors, Q Nightclub’s creative director and prominent equal rights advocate, speculated:

“As soon as the rage subsides, I think it’s important to think about what we want to do with someone like Ten Walls. Do we cut him off entirely from this culture or do we create a path for him to have a career in this industry? I hope there’s a way he can be used as an example of rehabilitation and change. It’s tough though. What he said is awful and I don’t see a path for this culture forgiving him at this time.”

Ten Walls is indeed returning to the public sphere in 2024, and hopes to spotlight his own humanity. Seeking to convey that he is not homophobic or discriminatory in any way, Marijus wants the world to see that while he regrets the way that he and his PR team handled the situation, his 2015 post was mistranslated and taken out of context. 

Furthermore, Marijus wishes to establish contact with the public again, and foster discussions that will illuminate the complexities of his side of the story. He is ready to talk about his state of mind at the time of posting, his reasons behind his delayed apology and return, why he allowed his PR team at the time to steer him in an evasive direction, why he has decided to come back now, how justified he feels the anger towards him has been, LGBTQ rights and collaborations, the impact this ordeal has had on him as a person – and so much more.

Across the globe, the electronic music scene has historically been a haven for social equality, with marginalised people creating and fostering spaces of tolerance for many who could not find it elsewhere. Queer people have played a huge role in this continuous endeavour, and as such, discriminatory behaviour or rhetoric from members of the electronic music community do not only compromise the ethos of the spaces, but also hypocritically ignore and dishonour the history that built the scene into what it is today. Ten Walls has been found guilty of this.

As ever in our pursuit of a just world, it is important to meditate on what is fair.  

Looking forward, questions arise – while nobody can argue that what he posted was not careless and/or inferring blatant homophobia, how should we measure the sincerity of his apology? Does he deserve to be believed when he asserts that he categorically does not discriminate against anybody based on their race, religion or sexuality, and that he does not believe that gay people are paedophiles? That his sentiments were misconstrued and lost in translation? Is it charitable, careless, or wrong to give him a chance to redeem himself all of these years later? 

As Ten Walls re-emerges, let us move through these questions with careful consideration and curiosity.

A number of questions were put forward to Ten Walls about the controversy, its consequences, and himself. Read the full interview with him below:

From what we understand, you are saying that you are innocent of alleged accusations and that your post was mistranslated and taken out of context.

Do you discriminate against queer members within the dance music industry?

I have never in my life discriminated against queer members, nor in the music industry or my life in general. I don’t actually discriminate against anyone for their race, or religion, or sexuality. 

Why did you not clarify that your post from 2015 was not directed towards homosexuals? 

In all the heat – nobody cared to listen to my explanation or ask objective questions that could provide some space for my narrative in all the situations. Also at that time we hired a PR team to help me navigate this situation and their advice was that I shouldn’t explain or analyse the post. I would like people to understand that my first reaction was a huge shock, because it was never towards homosexuals at all and for me it was so clear, considering also that in my original post I included 3 videos to show what I was speaking about,  and nobody seemed to care even to open those videos. Nowadays the videos are not available anymore on youtube, but in those videos there was a Russian TV show, where some actor was speaking about him not just having sexual interaction with men, but how he is watching and enjoying animal porn and how he is walking around naked in front of her daughter that is at very young age. In my post I asked – “Where is the line we draw between pedofiles and this kind of behaviour and people?” and yes – I used the words “different breed”, which was targeted towards such people as in the videos… who even didn’t have shame to speak about it in public, on TV Shows, and promote it. 

What did you mean when you used the term ‘different breed’?

This is exactly as I explained. I never connected homosexual people to paedophiles or called different breeds. Another breed is what I called the person in the video, watching animal porn, walking around naked in the eyes of a young growing little daughter, that was the main point of the post, of where is the line that is crossed. 

What was your state of mind at the time of the post and the public response?

I wrote this post when I was in London staying between shows. It’s hard to describe  how exhausted I was, as the period was very tight with shows and flights and non stop travelling. I was having panic attacks during it and this is the reason why the post was so messy and hard to understand. That evening, I was accidentally browsing Youtube, and got to the channel which was somehow called like “Occupy paedophiles” in Russian language. Just randomly clicked and saw a few episodes on how people are trying to catch paedophiles and this is how I got those three Youtube links to the post. 

This topic has always been very sensitive for me, because my best friend from my childhood was kidnapped at age of 7 and raped multiple time while being a hostage. This was all over the Lithuanian press and media, and kidnappers were asking for a big amount from his parents to return him. And it took time for him to be rescued. So when I saw those videos on Youtube, where one of the video that I also included in my post was about how parents were setting up some traps for paedophiles, to protect their children, it immediately triggered this childhood traumatic experience and topic and I felt not just anger, disgust and sadness, but also an urge to speak about it publicly. 

Why did you not make more of an effort to clear your name in light of the ‘misunderstanding’?

I followed the instructions that I received from my  PR  –  not to speak, not to try to explain. I am a musician and a very sensitive person. At that moment when I was experiencing huge shock and panic attacks because of how my post was translated and understood by people. I wasn’t able to cope with it at that point and I didn’t know how to navigate it, so I blindly trusted the PR team, who also suggested that I disappear from social media after this happened. 

All of this situation had massive impact on my mental health, it was so badly that for many months I couldn’t even speak with nobody or eat normally, I was in agony, and most of people who were around me, also working with me at the time – turned away and left me in this state and situation. 

Why did you allow your old PR representation to steer you in that direction?

This post was unexpected and not natural behaviour from my end in general. I never write posts, or use social media for any kind of strong opinion expression or anything that’s not music related. It all happened very fast and because nobody, including me, didn’t know how to handle the situation, the only recommendation that we got was to hire a PR team and just follow their instructions. To be honest – I didn’t feel like I had a choice, and we also have to remember that those were very different times than what we are experiencing now. Currently we all have much more understanding of social media, PR and topics such as mental health, cancel culture, different sexualities etc. At that point those were never the topics and we also didn’t have where to take any example of how to handle this type of situation, so we did, what then felt like the only option.

If they are to blame, how much are they to blame for the response?

I don’t want to point any fingers, but I also believe that everyone has to take responsibility for their mistakes. Even if they were not intended, the result of poor PR execution in this case is quite dramatic. First I have to mention – that the translation from Lithuanian to English was very poor and the whole context was completely lost in translation. What still blows my mind is that nobody even questioned it, researched it or had any other interpretation of this post. For me it seems odd, that in the world where every celebrity’s sentence has been analysed, turned around from different angles etc, nobody even spent a few minutes to find the original post, nor the source, nor the translation, nor the fact that I have always been working with homosexual people, for example. 

I do take full responsibility for the fact that I even wrote the post, even if the meaning of it was something completely different, it was still a post where I expressed anger, and it didn’t come from a positive mindset. But show me one person who never felt triggered by a topic and wanted to express it to a wider public, raise awareness of the topic, give an opinion or maybe just have a moment of “getting it out of the system”. Maybe it isn’t always our place to speak about something that is a sensitive topic to ourselves or give our opinions, as a public person you have to beespecially careful with your words and opinions, but again – it’s a very common human quality to have those moments where you just can’t find the balance in yourself and keep your mouth shut. 

Nowadays, when i’m raising my own son, it crosses my mind even more – what I can tell to him, what I have learned from this situation… and the sad truth is that all I want to tell him is that my lesson here is that it’s better to not speak your mind, because while your intentions might be good or innocent, you have no control over how the world will perceive it or “translate” it. And if you do end up in a situation that you don’t know how to navigate and ask for help – there is still a big chance that by trusting that “help” will ruin it even more. It’s very confusing and difficult advice to give. 

Why did you disappear from the public eye for so long?

I never disappeared. I was always into music, and only that, nothing more. Of course, after that post, no other label wanted to release it, so I had to create my own label, Runemark, to be able to release my music.. For example, ‘Italo’, one of my most popular tracks, released on my own label, still became a hit regardless of what was happening around my name.

When I finally decided to get help from a psychologist, the advice I got was basically “ take it as a lesson and move on.” I think this is a great example that there was very little knowledge even for psychologists how to deal with such a situation. At least from where I come from. And again – the topic of mental health, equality etc – was not a topic years ago, so the only way people “handled” it was to just “move on”, but this is my life that was completely turned upside down in one minute, from one post. It wasn’t just one unfortunate situation, it changed everything and “move on” is not what you need to hear when going through something this heavy. 

For me it wasn’t only about my name or my personal life that completely got ruined, it was situations like – labels removing my music, even 3 years after the post, my first ever hit ‘Gotham’ was deleted, just like that, like it meant nothing. Even the labels that released my music after the whole drama, later deleted my tracks from the system. I never could imagine that someone would actually delete my music. You cancel a person, which is not acceptable in the first place, but beyond that – you cancel someone’s work?? You cancel music? In what world are we living? 

Artists were cancelling their shows if I was listed on a line up, everywhere I went to play – there was at least one person speaking about the post, it wasn’t always negative – I also got support from a lot of artists, who seemed like understanding the truth, but the topic was there, EVERY TIME! 

Getting answers from big labels, from artists that always supported my music, such as: your music is great, but we are afraid to release it, support it or play it, because of a negative reaction we might get. 

You know – someone going to a prison, for committing an actual crime, serving 10 years behind the bars – is free after those 10 years.. People tend to say – we have to give these people a second chance, they made a mistake… After almost 10 years since I made this post, I still haven’t gotten a second chance. How come?

Why has it taken nearly ten years since you were ‘cancelled’ to come back?

I guess everything has its own time. I mentioned before that I was dealing with a lot of mental health issues in those times, I also got divorced, and my whole life – from professional to personal – changed. 

I never stopped creating music, but I also wanted to make sure that I have the right people around me and I am myself in a better place emotionally and mentally, once the time comes when I’m ready to explain and give a full story on this topic. Every person deals with things differently, and it takes different amounts of time for people to find their way out of something. My timing is this, and this feels right to do it exactly now when I mark 10 years since becoming Ten Walls and also 10 years since the release of my biggest hit ‘Walking With Elephants’

I have done a lot of very important projects, such as creating music for E-Carmen Opera, directed by Dalia Ibelhauptaite. I created my own ‘Symphony’ show, with 75 orchestra members, and showcased this show at the Dubai Expo in 2020, not just in Lithuania. I also released this project on vinyl. Besides that, I have released 6 albums, 35 remixes, many EPs and tracks in these years. Music is the only thing I’m sure about and has been the only thing that I have been able to hold onto, and I believe it has also helped me to heal, or at least express some of my emotions in the best way I know how .. by creating music and sharing it with others. 

Why have you decided to come back now?

I’m not sure if “coming back” is the right way to shape this. I think it’s more that I am very tired of having this topic mentioned everywhere I go, and in each interview I still have nowadays there are at least some questions about this topic, and even if they are not harmful, I am tired of constantly being reminded of this topic and looking for the answers to this questions, knowing that it is not possible to give a clear answer without telling the full story. So I just feel ready to tell the full story and I truly trust that I will reach those who have to hear it. Besides being in a better mental space, I am very ready to close this topic (hopefully) once and for all, to give people the clarity and possibly even the closure they also deserve from my side. I don’t want to fight it anymore. And again – everything has its own timing, this is mine, that also happened to be the 10 years anniversary of me being Ten Walls. 

Did you ever think queer members of society are the same as paedophiles?

As explained before, I never connected queer society with paedophiles. I was only talking about the guy in the video, and was speaking about where the line is between paedophilia and this kind of behaviour. 

Can you sympathise that homosexual people felt that you had marked them as paedophiles?

I sympathise with those who genuinely felt attacked, of course. However – it’s very hard to take blame for someone’s pain when you clearly know that it’s not what you said or meant, and I just hope that those who actually did this translation and translated my post in such a misleading way, causing so much pain, can also sympathise with what homosexual people felt. I never said or thought about it in my life that homosexual people are a different breed or that they and paedophiles are somehow equal. 

What did you actually mean there and who were you referring to? Considering that the public response was so unified and vocal.

I believe I explained this in the previous questions.

Since people attributed your comments to homophobic views, why is it that you work with queer artists?

This is a question for everyone. Obviously, this means that I am not homophobic person at all. And I have been working with queer artists long before the scandal, so for those that think that I only did it later on to clear my PR, you should dig a bit deeper in their research. I never cared for someone’s sexual orientation, race, gender, religion or beliefs, I always cared only about music or beautiful things that we can create together. 

How do you go about selecting your collaborating artists?

I think usually I find a connection in the language of music. And people that are working with it and engaging a lot in a personal way, feeling the music, and it is easy to work with, so the selection all the time comes very naturally.

Who have you been collaborating with recently? And why did you work with them specifically?

Ivan Dorn, Daddy Was a Milkman, Jazzu,Jonatan Bäckelie, Wisdom, Jazzu, and many others.\

What is the thing that makes you feel most comfortable within the music industry?

When I am playing for people. I can share my energy, what I created, because in the whole music creation process you deduct yourself to the process, and after, when you can share with the people, and see their reaction, you can get that feedback, and the actual feeling of joy. 

What is your favourite thing about your fans?

That they have good taste and are consistent. I always love to read comments about fans that listen to and analyse every single instrument in the track, it’s very pleasant. 

Which past artists have inspired your current and past work?

John Hopkins, David August, Atjazz, and Black Coffee

Do you think cancel culture has any positive effects for modern society?

How can it even have any positive effects? It is nothing but a  brutal way of destroying not even just a person itself, but apparently also all intellectual property, that usually everyone would appreciate, but they can’t, because this cancel culture is stronger than even art. It’s crazy to think that there is such a thing even, someone just cancel another being? And then others follow that and decide someone’s fate?  

Do you acknowledge that you have had, and/or currently do have cultural ‘blindspots’?

No, for me all people – regardless of race, sexuality, gender, religion, nation – are equal. But it doesn’t mean that I support killing, raping, paedophilia or any other wrongdoing if it has been done as part of “culture”, in a name of “religion” etc. 

As an internationally-renowned artist, what do you use your platform for?

Music and music only. I have so much to share about my music world, that I don’t need to entertain my fans and viewers with my personal life. 

Where do you think the accountability lies for what happened to you RE: cancel culture?

Ultimately in the same cancel culture, and possibly not enough education about how each action and word can impact someone’s life and mental health. I take responsibility for not navigating the situation afterwards in the best way possible, but there is also an accountability that has to go to the team I was working at that time, and PR team as well. Ultimately, every person who didn’t research or even question this matter has to check in with themselves and take some part of accountability for feeding the cancel culture or even hate. 

Do you believe that the angry tweets/responses to your social post in 2015 were justified?

My first response and how I feel is – no, I can’t justify any hate, especially when it’s coming from lack of knowledge, research or bad translation. But with that being said, I also understand that it was how it was presented to them, so I can empathise to a certain level for people feeling hurt. 

Should there have been a different response to your social media post?

From my side? Yes, I should have told the truth and explained it straight away, I definitely shouldn’t have followed PR instructions and kept it quiet and later apologised for something I hadn’t said in the first place. 

From people – yes and no. From one side, this is how the post was given to them, so they had all the right to feel hurt, from another side – I feel like it was way too harsh, especially because it never ended completely even after all these years. And one thing is sending hateful messages on social media, another thing is to threaten someone, to throw eggs and items at someone and to invest so much energy and time to take someone down, but not giving a few minutes to explore the other side. 

Which artists do you admire most in 2023?

Dj Koze, Moderat, Bonobo, FKA Mash, and Keinemusic

What do you think of LGBQT rights in Lithuania?

There has been a lot of improvement, definitely, but we still have to improve and I hope that soon also in Lithuania all LGBTQ members will have the same rights and support as everyone. I think it’s silly that people don’t have equal rights in general. 

Is there a part of this episode of your life that still haunts you? If so, what is it?

There are many smaller ones, but they all are linked to this unfortunate post I made and that wasn’t handled right… It is my biggest trauma, there is no doubt about that. 

Have to become the person you want to see in the world?

As cliché as it sounds – be yourself, fully. I don’t believe that anyone is born a bad person, even if they later do bad things. This world  shapes us constantly, and while it is needed to change and be flexible and let go of different beliefs over time and find new perspectives etc, I think the ultimate “coming back to the core” is what this all is about, and in the core we are all equal, we are all loving and we are all learning. When we can remember who we are in the core, those are the moments when we are united and ourselves. Unfortunately in this society we are constantly pushed out of our core, and that’s okay, the secret is to be aware of it and find a way back, no matter how many times it takes. 

What are some of your tips for remaining true to yourself, keeping your peace and not getting triggered by past experiences?

I still can’t give advice on how to not be triggered by past experiences, but what I can say is that there is a difference between being triggered and actually acting out of that trigger. And that action that comes out of the trigger is what we need to learn to be more aware of to avoid causing pain to others, being triggered yet not acting from that place – it’s what I try to achieve before I can also find a way to not be triggered in general. How to keep your peace and remain true to yourself –  there can be books written about this topic, but in short, check your environment. People around you are very important for you to thrive and feel supported, but also make sure you find safety in yourself and build trust towards yourself first. 

What was your favourite thing about your collaboration with transgender singer Alex Radford?

Radford is a good friend of mine and it felt right to create something together, already as Mario Basanov, before I created Ten Walls. Firstly I always loved Radford’s vocal tone, and also his lyrics were something that spoke with me and on top of everything – it was just so easy to work with him, and the process felt very natural and had an easy flow. 

What changed in your career since 2013 and which parts of yourself do you feel you kept and let go of in order to evolve?

Everything changed, absolutely everything. Not just my name got neglected and cancelled, but also my music… I started to receive a tremendous amount of hate via social media, and also in live shows. The bookings went down, my price overall as a producer and DJ went down, labels deleted my music, even years after the post. There is not a single thing that stayed the same. 

There are definitely still parts that I’m only able to work on and heal now, because first it was just survival, and I had no energy or understanding how to heal, where to even start or what to do. What I truly did let go is any tolerance towards any drama, I became much more selective with who is around me and the circle of people I trust became much smaller. 

Follow Ten Walls:


More Stories
Live Electronic Producers KIDSØ Radiate With Song ‘Sparkle’