Despite a rich history of music, reporting on Hungarian music remains incredibly lacking. For the most part, there tends to be a habit of reducing the Hungarian contribution to music to simply the works of Béla Bartók. This despite the fact that he has been dead since 1945. Such is the logic when it comes to non-English speaking music for most of the world, but this is verging on the absurd.
However, with the foundation of Easterndaze, greater attention is finally being paid to contemporary Hungarian music. Easterndaze essentially specializes in searching out and promoting up-and-coming Hungarian – as well as other Central and Eastern European – artists that challenge the limits of music and strive to assert their position within the global musical conversation. In doing so, they offer up an ideal platform to showcase the rich and diverse array of talent currently in Hungary and surrounding countries.
We reached out to Lucia Udvardyova at Easterndaze to provide us with an introduction to the underground music scene in Hungary. Speaking about the different artists she selected, she admitted that none fit into an exact sound nor do they have a reoccurring narrative. In many ways, attempting to segment these artists into narrow boxes based on nationality is cheap and quasi-colonial. What is evident from this list is that Hungary has plenty of talent to go around.
When I met Martin Mikolai back in 2012, he was still a fresh-faced student studying electronic music at university in southern Hungary. He and his friend Bálint Zalkai, aka Alpár, were about to launch their internationally-acclaimed label Farbwechsel. Inaugurated by Mikolai’s stellar album The Last Act of Dorothy Stratten (arguably his best), Farbwechsel has put a spotlight on the thriving Budapest electronic scene, largely releasing albums by friends and acquaintances (such as Norwell, Aiwa, Imre Kiss, Wedding Acid Group, etc).
Gábor Kovács is an idiosyncratic figure within the Budapest music scene. He works 12 hours a day in a sex shop, and still manages to craft raw and physical sonics, best witnessed during his buoyant live shows. Aside from his solo project, Új Bála, with releases on Altered State Tapes, Czaszka and Baba Vanga under his belt, as well as gigs in Rio de Janeiro, he also vents his rage in the noise-rock duo Céh.
With his 5+ years of active music-making and performing, Máté Janky, aka Alley Catss, might seem like a relatively seasoned producer, yet he’s only about to finish high school. His music has evolved through dreamy lo-fi to high-tech post-club deconstructed bass music, with references to jungle and gabber. He also runs a global, internet-mediated label called Daddypower.
Pándi is something of a noise royalty in Budapest. He’s worked with anyone who’s anyone in underground music, be it Japanese noiseniks Keiji Haino and Merzbow, or Thurston Moore. Aside from the high-profile collabs, where he unleashes his sharp drumming skills, he also has a solo career to boot. Not sure how he manages to do so considering his hectic touring schedule, but he also works as a journalist in one of the biggest Hungarian online news portals.
The solo project of Erika Szurcsik is a visceral, stripped to the bone emotional roller-coaster. On stage, it’s just her voice, the guitar and effects. Similarly to Grouper, Erika’s stage presence is fragile yet powerful, direct yet ethereal. Renowned as a graphic designer and tattoo artist, Erika also sings in the punk/rock band Gustave Tiger.
Easterndaze – http://easterndaze.net/