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András G. Varga on Hungarian underground music 12/13

Published January, 2013
by Easterndaze


1. What’s the highlight for you in Hungary’s music scene?

Budapest had an eventful year in 2012. If lo-fi was what pervaded throughout 2011 then the focus in 2012 evidently shifted to the electronic fields of Hungary’s leftfield underground music. While the local media intended to carefully cover entire cross-sectional view of the local scenes we better go for a recap of our best memories and contextualize them as part of the big picture of 2k12.gif. Yes, it was a moving picture which came out of the URL world of tumblr communities and was making waves in the IRL reality. The renowned Ultrahang Festival aka UH Fest came back this year to introduce local bedroom producers, appearing digital only so far, in front of live audience. Their new project UH Lokal showcased local artists definitely worth to watch (including amongst others 12z, Jacques Beurlet Électronique Bande, Gábor Lázár etc.), but they didn’t stop at the Hungarian borders, UH Fest organizers successfully exported their best of selection to prestigious festivals like ICAS Suite in Berlin, Next in Bratislava and to clubs like Fluc in Vienna. Last but not least UH Fest had a two-day event with CEE experimental music project Sound Exchange.

In May, Easterndaze presented The Judgment Day, the second compilation of the most interesting sounds of Eastern Europe’s, including the live debut of Budapest’s one-to-watch synthpop-house knight Route 8 alongside other artists like Poland’s Ebola Ape, Romania’s Hipdiebattery, Stant and Gazsi Rap Show.

Beside the aforementioned projects the beatmaker as well as the synth-house circles gained most of our attention this year, including the debut release of the hip-hop rooted record label 8ounce, the Post Apocalyptic Codex X EP by Yvein Monq, fitting nicely into a general mood caused by the Mayan world-end prophecy.  While Bounce became a significant part of the circle another label saw the light, Farbwechsel oriented at house but focusing on local quality music as their first cassette record, Silf’s self-titled debut, has demonstrated.

Apart from these two labels Golf Team Records made an effort to institutionalize the electronica based lo-fi scene with a podcast featuring young artists like Belle Belle and Fatime. And Panel Trax’s sub-label, B4CK6ROUNDNO1SE released EPs by experimental and minimal techno producer Synus0006.

My best live moments that I’d highlight were the UH Fest Lokal in Akvárium Klub, the Bestial Mouths concert in Roham Bar presented by Küss Mich and Volkova Sisters at Artplacc, an art festival with underground music on their line-up and an exquisite view of the lake Balaton from the Tihany’s strand. But the scene has seen many cool concerts and parties thanks to the high activity of niche music promoters.

Beyond Easterndaze’s sonic landscape it’s worth to mention that while producers like DJ Madd, Matt-U and Slap In The Bass rocketed to international level, Budapest duo Headshotboyz, Berlin-based Hungarian Dnte and Polyklinik from Svetlana Records have just occasionally caught the attention of the international media. I hope 2013 will see one of them break through.

2. What is the low point for you in Hungary’s music scene in 2012?

While the government is constantly attempting to squeeze out the nightlife from the city by their insane prohibitive regulations like no alcohol sale in stores after 10pm and forced midnight closures of bars after midnight in order to reduce noise pollution in the area, despite of these difficulties there have been many small niche events, with relevant international guests throughout the year, especially thanks to the devoted niche music promoters like UH Fest, Küss Mich, Holalo, Bounce, Designer Drums, NVC and Soundkitchen.

Budapest still lacks in proper clubs, where quality music and sound system are not just additions but priority. Funnily one of the few clubs, A38 ship floating on Danube, won a prestigious prize in a bar category not in club category. In Budapest’s heart, ruin bars took over the nightlife in the last years. This low-investment-high-return phenomenon reached its climax but ruin bars don’t intend to prefer music and culture to selling alcohol yet. Except for few ones and we are anxiously awaiting the strategies of the newly opened bars and the change in 2013.

3. Discovery-new artist of the year?

The best discovery was without a doubt Yvein Monq for me. Co-founder of Farbwechsel Stephan Olbricht was the other discovery with his new album The Last Act Of Dorothy Stratten released on his own label. All the other discoveries were already mentioned above.

4. Personal tips and wishes and plans for 2013?

2013 will see many many records by DIY labels and we can’t wait to see and listen to them. I’m definitely curious about some producers and records: Budapest-based producer Norwell as well as Alley Catss, the experimental label Last Foundation and the debut album from Route 8. I wish these above mentioned producers and labels can  break through and appear on the international music horizon as well as create a strong local scene with participation of devoted promoters, active music fans and forward-thinking new clubs being not afraid to support the local music.

<a href=“” data-mce-href=“”>Drn Kh K Ssh (Original Mix) by Alley Catss & Elijaah</a>

by András G Varga, Easterndaze and Electronic Beats Budapest collaborator, you can find him on Twitter here.