Posts tagged all places
Meet Hungary's Pop Idols: Margaret Island
 

Four years ago when Kristóf (bass) and Bálint (guitar) heard Viki sing for the first time, they fell in love with her voice. Soon after, the three founded Margret Island.  Today the band of six is one of Hungary's most famous pop-acts, selling out Budapest's largest venues. We met Kristóf and Bálint at Csendes Bar in Budapest to learn more about the Hungarian language, the music scene in Budapest, and their creative process.

 
Photo by Peter Hencz

Photo by Peter Hencz

We've noticed that some bands in Budapest choose to sing in English. How did you decide to use the Hungarian language?

"It's interesting because our first two songs were in English but we felt the need to relate to Hungarian people more. In Hungary, people don't speak English as well and even if they understand the words, it doesn't affect you as emotionally as it could. Our first Hungarian lyrics were written by Janos Brody, a legend in Hungary in the 60s and 70s. He is a real songwriting master. He created the pop and beat music in Hungarian language and we had the pleasure to work with him.

Margaret Island Water

We Jumped In!

"There's a festival called Fishing on Orfű festival, and there was a stage in the lake! The festival is in the middle of June, so we were sweating and at the end of the gig we jumped in...it was so refreshing! We didn't have any other clothes, so we walked around wet for the rest of the day."

The Hungarian language is very difficult to sing. The way you pronounce the words is hard and it's tricky to find the fit. There are some bands that use Hungarian language in a really intense and nice way. I wouldn't even be able to translate those lyrics, because it's so complex and beautiful."

Can you tell us about the music scene in Budapest?

"Budapest is really lucky with so many concerts and clubs, the musical life here is really rich. You have concerts every day and with all these festivals, there are a lot of opportunities. We also have a big open-air venue called Budapest Park, the capacity is 10,000 and it's in the city. The space is special for all bands because they can hold their own headliner concert and it's totally different than playing at the festival because here it's just for your own. It's like a club concert at a festival stage. We've played there three times and it’s been amazing!"

“We had a pop-up show last summer on Liberty Bridge. People were picnicking and having fun on the bridge and we just started playing. Its was a really great moment!"

Do you get nervous before a show with that large of an audience?

"Absolutely! We have these little methods to transform ourselves into the stage shape. Here's what we do. First, we have to bounce up and down ten times and then we jump and we raise our hands and we just count to three and shout 'ENERGY' into the air. That's when we know it's time to begin!"

What is your process for coming up with a new song?

"Four years ago when Kristóf (bass) and Bálint (guitar) heard Viki sing for the first time, they fell in love with her voice. Soon after, the three founded Margaret Island.  Today the band of six are one of Hungary's most famous pop-acts, selling out Budapest's largest venues. We met Kristóf and Bálint at Csendes Bar in Budapest to hear their story!"

What's up next for Margaret Island?

Their next album will release this fall, and we expect a new sound for the band and a theme to believe in yourself.  Listen to their latest single, Hóvirág (i.e. snowdrop) - music video below and available where ever you listen to music!


you might also enjoy...

Welcome to Daijiro's Monochromatic World
Daijiro Smiling

My university professor once described creative power as the ability to comfortably hold two opposing ideas at the same time. By this definition, contemporary artist, Daijiro Hama, has supernatural creative power. Throughout our conversation, every point he made had a counterpoint. He explains, “there's always something good and there's always something bad. That is actually the reason why I started painting monochrome."

Painting in only two colors is liberating for Daijiro. Before he began painting in just black and white he tells us, “color started to feel like too much information. With color I started to think instead of paint. I wanted to be more pure or natural.” Self-reflection and conveying his most true self is an important part of Daijiro’s work. As he describes, his art helps him, “see the truth.”

Daijiro begins every day at his study by painting one small sketch and taping it to the wall

Daijiro begins every day at his study by painting one small sketch and taping it to the wall

Daijiro was born in Japan, but he never felt like he fit in. ”I always felt really uncomfortable in Japan, always kind of doubting the Japanese system or some general Japanese mindset,” he explains. So, when he turned 20, he left for Canada to try the vintage fashion business - a line of work he thought would be inspiring, creative and really fun.

IMG-2234.jpg

He quickly found that discovering vintage goods did not fulfill his creative drive, and spent his afternoons drawing and painting in cafes - so much so that other regulars started to notice his work. Daijiro credits the people he met during this time for his artistic career. A group of friends in Toronto opened him up to the world of art. He says, “they started to take me to openings and galleries. I'm from the countryside so I didn't know about galleries or even that there are people out there who buy painting.”

outside Daijiro's Studio

Today, Daijiro lives in Kyoto. He returned to Japan six years ago, and feels comfortable here now. He is inspired by the quiet rhythm of the city (though he worries there might not be enough tension to push his work forward...remember: there is a good and a bad side of everything). He explains, “in Kyoto it’s easy to get bored in a good way. The best spot for this is Kamo River, you just go there by yourself and just don't think about anything. Just keep walking and you get an answer.” He starts every morning with a run along the river, seeking inspiration and peace in this daily routine.

To see more of Daijiro Hama’s work, visit his website: http://www.daijirohama.com and find him on Instagram


You Might Also Enjoy

Kilomet109 seamlessly blends traditional techniques with contemporary fashion.

You likely own clothing that was made in Vietnam (brands like Target, H&M, Gap, and Zara all manufacture clothing here). But there’s more than fast fashion coming out of this country. Fashion label Kilomet109 is leading the charge with traditional artisan techniques adapted for contemporary design. Bigger than a trend, they are setting the stage for a new, sustainable fashion movement across Vietnam.


After winding through narrow streets in a quiet northern section of Hanoi, we knocked on an unmarked door and hoped for the best. Taking off our shoes as we entered, we were greeted by people sitting at sewing machines and arranging textiles. Relieved, we knew we were in the right place.

IMG_1750.jpg

We carried on upstairs to where designer, Vu Thao, and her family live. Sitting at the table with Thao and her husband, we drank a cup of tea, ate Mung Bean Cakes, and chatted for hours. Later on, we toured her museum-like racks of traditional clothing and her label, Kilomet109’s previous collections.

About six years ago, Thao decided to take the leap and started her own fashion label, Kilomet109. After two years of intense research Thao launched her first collection in 2012. Like every collection since, each piece preserved traditional artisan techniques while blending contemporary, functional, and attractive design. Her 2014 collection, SEEDS, marked her first hand woven “100% sustainable collection, [using] home grown fibers and natural dies. A – Z made by us from planning through the end.”

Early Days: There Was No Word For Design

“In Vietnam during the 80s and 90s we had few choices. We had to make our own clothes. Everybody developed self-made skills from parents and grandparents and others in the community. I grew up with that.” Despite “always having a really strong connection with textile,” the thought of becoming a designer never entered her mind. “Design wasn’t a viable career. You could make something, but you were a laborer or tailor. It was more about making, not about the idea generating of design. We actually didn’t have a word for that at all.”

IMG_1708.jpg

A major turning point for Thao came in 2000, who was working at a magazine at the time. When “open policies in Vietnam were passed, it changed the whole scope of how Vietnamese dressed. Society was changing a lot and people started to pay attention to appearance [as a way to] express yourself.”  It was then that she decided to return to school for fashion design. After graduating, she worked for other designers and also taught at a fashion school. Teaching her students about sustainable design inspired Thao to do it herself. “I knew Vietnam could be a leader of this movement [of sustainable design], and that I should be one of them.”

Named in homage to Thao’s hometown, situated 109 kilometers from Hanoi, Kilotmet109’s designs appear to be effortless, simple, and high quality. To be clear, simple does not imply boring or thoughtless—quite the contrary. Each button, color, and thread is a thoughtful decision; every decision is a negotiation between design, functionality, and traditional craft.

The art of Thao’s work is in naturally “weaving together the message of protecting local [craft] in a contemporary form.” She hopes her work will help Vietnamese people realize “we can use what we’ve got and transform it in a modern version. It’s not the fashion from the past, it’s the now fashion. It’s the future.”

Blending contemporary design with traditional artistry comes with its fair set of challenges. But, by forging strong relationships with the artisans themselves and working through issues of communication and process, Kilomet109 has not only gained global recognition, but has set the standard for integrity, quality, and collaboration between old and new.

The Design Process: Experiments, Shifting Mindsets, and Play

Thao is the sole designer at Kilomet109, but she works closely with artisans in nearby villages who have passed down their craft for generations. Collaboration, particularly with a language barrier (each of the villages near Hanoi has a different language), is a delicate art. “In the beginning [when I suggested new designs] they were quick to say no, it won’t work. They would do it, but without believing in it.”


The process of adapting the Batik technique to new designs     “Batik is a technique that I applied in our latest collection. I spent two weeks with the group of Blue Hmong observing six women sit around like we are, in the kitchen. They make designs of flowers and animals by looking at each other and doing the same thing. It takes so long to make one piece and they use five to ten tools for each one.    [At the end of our time there] I asked them to use only one tool, whichever one they liked. I gave them a simple sketch of geometry, lines and dots, and told them to play around with it. The young girls were okay trying that, and the older ladies just laughed. All of them thought this [exercise] was only for the moment, not to make to a design.    Later when I came back with the design for the collection, they couldn’t believe I used this work. They were shocked and thought ‘is this design from that day?’

The process of adapting the Batik technique to new designs

“Batik is a technique that I applied in our latest collection. I spent two weeks with the group of Blue Hmong observing six women sit around like we are, in the kitchen. They make designs of flowers and animals by looking at each other and doing the same thing. It takes so long to make one piece and they use five to ten tools for each one.

[At the end of our time there] I asked them to use only one tool, whichever one they liked. I gave them a simple sketch of geometry, lines and dots, and told them to play around with it. The young girls were okay trying that, and the older ladies just laughed. All of them thought this [exercise] was only for the moment, not to make to a design.

Later when I came back with the design for the collection, they couldn’t believe I used this work. They were shocked and thought ‘is this design from that day?’

To try and overcome this challenge, Thao spent more time in the village in order to better understand the subtleties of process and tradition. Quickly, collaboration improved. “When you are willing to spend time with people, the relationships are so much easier on both sides…they know I make an effort to work with their tradition…now, we really inspire each other. Sometimes I have ideas that are too ‘out there’. I can make experiments in the studio, but when it comes to cost and production, their input is really valuable.”

The biggest shift Thao observes is that “[the local artisans] are not saying no when I have designs. They ask for it! ‘What do you have next, what’s the next?’ Before it was [resistance] but now they talk about next idea, next collection, next project. It’s really nice to see.

Hanoi: A Village within a City


When a young woman noticed a glass button on Thao’s dress, she invited Thao back to her house in search of buttons handmade by her late father years ago. After hours of searching in a dark room, they found and admired the stunning collection. At the young woman’s request, Thao took home the buttons. “She said her father wanted the buttons to go to someone who loves them. Hanoi has these kind of surprises. Even for someone like me who’s lived here so long, you always find something that wows you.”

“There are so many hidden places where people are making things. It’s very helpful for my design. Whether it’s simple silk thread or hand make glass buttons, we can make them ourselves here. It’s a really wonderful thing that we still have here. It is like a village that exists within a city.

 I’m so fortunate to live here and work in the countryside. Hanoi provides a great balance for my personal life and design. I love the speed of Hanoi and how it’s always moving.

When you live in the city you have to consider so many things – traffic, air, movement. So my design considers that. When I make a jacket, I have to think about how to get on a motorbike without the material bunching up. The city is so many things at once. Even the colors of Hanoi are really inspiring. It’s endless visually.”

We’re excited to watch as Kilomet109 continues to pave the way for fashion design in Vietnam. Shop their past collections here: http://kilomet109.com/shop/


You might also enjoy...

Meet Gussie of Mermaidens, the band taking Wellington by storm.

Wellington, New Zeland

The alt-rocker discusses the band’s upcoming album, the Wellington music scene, and why you should never tell a band to smile on-stage.

It was easy to spot Gussie as she hopped off her bicycle in a brightly striped shirt, blonde pigtails, and a big smile. Straight off a rejuvenating holiday in the far north, this Wellington native welcomed us to her windy city over a flat white in a local café.

Gussie: Mermaidens Guitar/Vocals

Gussie: Mermaidens Guitar/Vocals

Mermaidens includes Gussie (Guitar/Vocals), Lily (Bass/Vocals) and Abe (Drums). They’ve been hard at work since their days jamming as high school friends. They released their sophomore full-length album, Perfect Body, in 2017 and are already in the process of recording their third full-length effort.

Their intricate tunes weave complex swirling guitar soundscapes, pulsing bass lines, and haunting vocals reminiscent of their art rock heroes, Warpaint. Gussie has a warm and welcoming presence, but behind the chipper exterior is a relentless drive and work ethic to make her mark both on the Wellington and global music scene. With sold out shows in her hometown, a unique sound, and dedicated fan-base, we’d say Mermaidens are well on their way. 

Be on the look out for their third full-length album coming out later this year!


The sound of Wellington

 [Wellington] is so small we don’t have the room to follow bands or trends. The result is all these really unique bands like The All Seeing Hand and Orchestra of Spheres.

The music scene in Wellington

Everyone is really friendly, and really supportive! People in Wellington, at least in my little bubble, want to support their local bands and buy their merch and go to their gigs. It would be good if even more people did that and understood that if you go to a gig, and pay $10 - $20 that it’s going to the band. I overheard these girls in the bathroom at a gig once who were bragging about sneaking in, and I couldn’t help but tell them off. They just clearly didn’t get that.

The origin story

We’re all friends from high school. Lily and I went to an all girls school together and became friends when we were 16 and I’ve been friends with Abe probably since I was 14. In high school Lily and I started nervously showing each other our songs and lyrics and just kind of growing up together.

A (really) special moment

Camp a Low Hum used to be this really legendary DIY music festival ... we were there one year and were really inspired by the bands. That year we decided that our goal was to play here the following year. And we did! We thought we’d made it—we played at this awesome festival.

The live performance

It’s definitely energetic. I probably turn up the distortion a bit more. There's just a little less care than recording. Not in a bad way, just freedom. But I also find playing live intensely stressful (laughing) because all my guitar parts are very complicated and we play lots of unusual time signatures. 

Once or twice I’ve overheard that we should smile more on stage. I’m like, “what do you mean, I’m fucking concentrating!” It’s a rock band. You don’t have to smile.

Song writing process

In terms of constructing songs, either Lily or myself will have maybe half a song. We might have vocals, might not. We bring that to the space and it pretty much comes out of the jam. Lately we’ve also been jamming and recording it so that later we can listen back and decide what we're going to play.

Favorite venue to play

San Fran. The sound is really awesome and Ziggy, the guy who owns it is just the best person. Bernie, the house sound engineer is great too.

Musical influences

Warpaint, St Vincent, Wand, Fuzz, Ty Segall

Other influences

Nature. Living in such a beautiful place has a big influence on my creative process.

What’s next for Mermaidens?

We’re working on our next album right now, so it’s writing time. We have studio time booked in February and April and it’s nice to have it all mapped out. During Easter break, we’re recording with James Goldsmith, who we recorded with for the other albums. We really want to go to Europe—we're thinking European Summer 2019!

A perfect day in Wellington

It starts with a big breakfast and coffee at home on my deck, looking out at Berhampore. Then maybe we ride our bikes to Princess Bay for a picnic, beers, and swimming with friends. Later on, we'd head back Newtown for a jam session in our space just five minutes from home, have dinner and finish up the day watching a gig at The San Fran.