If you’ve heard an accordion play an intriguing version of Lady Gaga’s chart-topping “Telephone”, you’ve heard Martynas Levickis.

The first accordionist to have a number one in the UK classical charts, Levickis is also the winner of Lithuania’s Got Talent  in 2011.

At 3, he banged his hands on the table in imitation after watching piano performances on TV. His parents couldn’t afford the instrument, but his uncle bought him a 12 bass accordion – small enough not to topple the toddler.

20 years later, armed with a different accordion, he’s trotting across the globe, a musical sensation.

How did he win Lithuania’s Got Talent 2011 against other more popular acts like pop singers, bands, pianists and gymnasts?

The London Royal Academy of Music graduate knew that to stand a chance in the competition, he had to perform with an instrument unfamiliar to the masses, and in a way that they could appreciate.

“So how do I do this? I can’t really play classical, because it is already quite far away from young people. Making the connection, I decided that I should play some pop arrangement, connecting them with the accordion,” Levickis told UrbanWire at Shangri-La Hotel on Oct 21.

True enough, his arrangement of “Telephone” got the attention of the fickle international media, and it’s the second most viewed video on his YouTube channel.

It didn’t hurt that he caught the eye of Rick Blaskey, who mentors crossover violinist David Garett and has worked with other pop-classical sensations like Katherine Jenkins. Blaskey, who watched a clip of his performance at Lithuania’s Got Talent, was convinced that he wanted to manage Levickis’s musical career.

In spite of his relatively young age, this accordionist exudes self-confidence when he spoke to UrbanWire, with a quiet assurance that probably comes from knowing he’s found his true calling in life.

Prior to his education in the London Royal Academy of Music, he spent a decade at a music school learning how to playing an accordion properly. This meant having to un-learn some of methods he taught himself as a child. Initially accustomed to merely playing with 2 fingers, Levickis had to break that habit and begin learning how to use all his digits.

If that isn’t enough proof of his single-minded dedication to being an accordion maestro, Levickis admitted that he doesn’t play other instruments. “Aside from other people’s nerves? No,” he joked before revealing that he can play a little bit of the piano, and 2 chords on the guitar.

Of course, his road to being the antithesis of “Jack of all trades and master of none” was summarized when he explained why he couldn’t play other instruments as well as he can the accordion.

“I enjoy playing piano whenever I’m inspired to improvise. I was never happy to play something of music on the piano, it just doesn’t work for me.”

However, this Lithuanian isn’t as uncompromising as he appears to be. Describing himself as someone who’s adventurous, he retold the tale of his attempt to run away from home – at merely 7 years old – on his bicycle.

“I went on my bicycle and left the town and my house when my mother was at work … to see some girl in the country. “ He recounted, with a laugh, “I actually stopped by my mother’s work and said ‘Mother, I’m leaving’. And she was like, ‘Don’t be crazy, come back home,’ and I said ‘Okay, I will.’”

We all know what happens when 7-year-olds say that they’re going to do exactly what you told them to do.

So Levickis ended up going to the countryside, which was a long journey seeing that he wasn’t only really young, but riding a tiny bicycle. His mother and cousin had to drive out to bring the crying boy back home.

The blue-eyed youth was quick to point out, after sharing this anecdote with UrbanWire, that he has become considerably saner over the years.

Despite musicians being known for being very disciplined and ordered, there’s 1 thing Levickis is no fan of – routine. Sharing about his distaste for schedule and sticking to plans, he admits to enjoying being on tour, which usually results in last-minute changes and different schedules for different days. The unpredictability makes him extremely satisfied.

The only downside to touring, in his opinion, is the lack of time to go back home. Only having gone home once this month, and probably for a week in November, the up-and-coming performer will be spending the rest of his time going around the globe, performing his classical-meet-popular-culture tunes to the masses.

“But that’s the life I want to lead, so I should be happy, and I am happy,” Levicki says, with a smile on his face.

Photos courtesy of Fatin Ariffin