Posts in Budapest
Ivan & the Parazol on Communication, Hard Work and a Bit of Magic

"We aren’t trying to sound like anything else in particular. When people hear me they know I'm not British or American, but that's okay. I'm from here—from Budapest."

Budapest-based exciting and honest rock band, Ivan & the Parazol has a sound that energizes crowds throughout Europe When we ask them about what makes the band both fun and successful they describe a mix of open communication, hard-work, and little magic.

Communication: A close knit group, the four-part band says they are successful because they alway face issues face on…“we figured that you’re going to have problems (probably a lot of problems) either musically or personally. But if you are man enough to talk about something and put it on the table you’ll find a solution. That’s the secret. Just talk about the problems...talk a lot.” The past year has had a new set of challenges for Ivan & the Parazol with a band member having to step aside from the band. They describe the first shows without him as incredibly tough, even “traumatic.” But they have been able to use the emotion as fuel for their creative process - which in turn has meant sold out shows and an upcoming record. This new album was recorded East-West Studios and marks a milestone for their sound. “It should have been a really sad record because we just lost our bass player, but it’s a relief record. It’s ‘Exotic Post-Traumatic’.”

Hard Work: Ivan & The Parazol describes bands from Budapest as have a common work ethic. “The bands from here know how to work hard…know how to stuff you shit in a car to travel hours to a shitty festival. We learn how to work and to achieve great things. I’m not saying that other bands from more established countries aren’t working hard, but it’s different.”The Rock & Roll scene in Budapest is close-knit. “We all know each other, are friends, and a little competitive in a good way.” Can Budapest be the heart of the touring music in Europe? Ivan & The Parazol certainly hopes so. "Bands who play in Budapest, leave thinking this place is amazing (which it is). So, we hope Budapest will become an exciting add-on to all big tours!"

Magic: Even the first time they jammed together, they say, “it was magic. We were writing songs in 5 minutes. The last song of the first record was made after one or two months of us knowing each other - magic did happen. The sound chose us, not the other way around.” And it continues to work this way. In New York City? Go experience the magic ourself! Ivan & The Parazol will be in New York Wednesday October 3th - get your tickets here.



 
ivan & the parazol band
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!


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One Man's Quest to Bring Craft Beer to Budapest

On a crisp evening in March, we stumbled upon Hopaholic, a craft beer bar in District 7. While sitting down at the bar, we ordered two IPAs by Brew Your Mind. As we took our first sips, the man next to us leaned over asked what we thought.

We told him the truth. They were incredible.

Without so much as cracking a smile he replied saying, "That's good." Turns out this was his bar, and the beer was a collaboration he did with the guys of Brew Your Mind. He turned back around and resumed chatting with his friends, and we finished enjoying our drinks. Before we left he introduced himself as Gergely Kővári, and we set up a time to meet at his bottle shop down the road to hear the full story.

 Gergely Kővári, owner of Hopaholic + Csak a Jo Sor

Gergely Kővári, owner of Hopaholic + Csak a Jo Sor

At 9:30 p.m. the following evening we headed to Csak a Jo Sor to chat with Gergely as he closed for the evening. When Csak a Jo Sor opened seven years ago, it was the first craft beer shop in Hungary. Today, it continues to be the focal point of the beer community, and is a meeting point for brewers looking to create and collaborate. Just like Gergely’s other establishment, Hopaholic, beer bottles lined the walls of the shop. We soon learned they were only a fraction of his collection of 2,000+ unique bottles—each drank by him, each attached to a different memory. Over the next hour, we heard about some of these memories, the story behind his two establishments, and about beer culture in Hungary.

On the beer scene in Hungary

While Germans and Czechs have storied beer traditions, Gergeley tells us that Hungarian beer making originated more out of necessity than craftsmanship. He says, “There is no specific Hungarian type of beer. In the ancient past Hungarian people were nomads so it was simply much easier than to make beer than wine.”

Hungary is now much more known for wine than beer, and before Gergeley came on the scene there weren’t many choices for a brew. He asserts, ”Five years ago there was nothing. You could drink a lager, or maybe a hefeweizen.” Gergeley saw the lack of consumer choice, and turned his passion for beer into a business that is liberating taste buds and inspiring brewers across the country.

How It All Started

When asked about how Csak a Jo Sor started, Gergeley says, “I started small to see what would happen. The customers just started to come in and it grew naturally. It was the right place at the right time. I just saw that there was no business like this and that we needed it. If not me, someone else would have done it.”

Budapest Beer Bar

After seeing the success of the bottle shop, Gergeley opened the craft beer bar Hopaholic. “It was the first craft beer bar in Hungary”, he proudly says. Hopaholic has grown since those early days, and now you can choose from a rotating list of carefully selected 10 Hungarian draughts and over 200 varieties of bottles. Just a quick Google search for “craft beer in Budapest” quickly demonstrates how much this place means to beer lovers in the city.

To Gergeley, these places aren’t just business ventures. They are his life’s passion. He says, “I don't go out a lot outside of these shops. But, I am inspired at my places. I get a lot of ideas here because people come in and ask me about beers and brewing. I live my whole life here.”

The Future

Even though Gergeley has made a significant impact on the Budapest beer scene, the overall Hungarian beer market is dominated by the major brands. He says, “Craft beer only accounts for 2-3% of beer in Hungary, and most of it is here in Budapest.”

Despite these challenges, he’s determined to keep providing consumer choice and variety. He says, “The craft beer scene will keep growing but we need to find more customers. We have to grow its popularity.” Judging by his passion and two fine establishments, we certainly wouldn’t bet against him. On your next trip to Budapest, try some of his beers and we know you’ll feel the same.

When in Budapest, check out his two establishments, Hopaholic and Csak a Jo Sor. We especially recommend anything by Brew Your Mind, but try a few and decide for yourself!

The Visual Experiments of Dani Labrosse
Dani
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We met Dani on March 15th, a national holiday in Hungary. Because it was closed, we had to reschedule from his favorite cafe, Telep, to another spot open and protected from the rainy day. We talked about his work, his passion for film, and Budapest's fantastic cafes and cinemas.

Labrosse, born in 1997, began “obsessively trying to draw” and develop his personal style when his kindergarten teacher scolded him, telling him he didn’t know how to draw because he decided to put 10 fingers on each hand. Dani explained, “That had a big impact on me when I was that little. It really upset me.” But it certainly didn’t stop him. He was only 6 when he decided he could make a career of art. His step-dad gave him a Wallace and Gromit VHS that included an explanation of Nick Park’s process, and that was it. If Nick could do it, so could he.

At 18, Dani had his first solo exhibition as part of Budapest Design Week, and has already established himself as a fixture in the Budapest art world. His most recent group show was a Young Artists exhibition at Godot Pop-Up. “They had artists who were all only 16-21 years old. It was so eye opening to know that there is so much new brilliant art being created here. Even I wasn’t aware of it. It was really impressive. Obviously I don’t have money to buy art, but I was contemplating how I could call dibs on one of them because they were so impressive.”

Dani's pictures feel as though they are coming to life, and some actually do. His recent explorations with Augmented Reality combine illustration, animation, and his work in short film.

Dani's fear of producing less than his best keeps him experimenting with new methods, routines, and mediums while remaining true to his style and commentary on day-to-day life. His girlfriend is teaching him to paint, he has just completed an augmented reality mural for an ad agency, and he has spent the past two years working on a half live-action, half animated short film.

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To achieve the “scraggly sketchy style” he likes for the film, he is drawing over every frame. He admits that he “could finish the film quickly using After Effects or just overlaying myself” but instead, in this four minute film titled, Man Who Ate Himself, he is hand drawing the 24 frames per second (yes, nearly 6,000 frames).

He explains this tedious process, saying, “Being hunched over a computer and drawing frames by hand can get monotonous and mind numbing, so I have to focus on something else to avoid being bogged down. If I keep working on it for too long, it will end up not being as good because I will half-ass it or something. I like to do different things because it won't be as fun anymore which will make the end result not as good.” His days vary, with the exception of his dedication to morning coffee and doodling his first thoughts. Similarly, when he works on a new project he describes his process as “spontaneous,” starting with an idea “as a jumping board but then ending up in a different spot.”

When he’s not working, you’ll find Daniel either at the cinema or at his favorite cafes. “I love going to the movies. Just going into a theatre, sitting there and having the whole room go dark and focusing on the screen. It’s one of my favorite experiences in the city.” Lucky for Daniel, Budapest has amazing art-house independent theaters. Some palatial, some jazzy, some dilapidated-thrifty, these spaces are also worth visiting for their cafes and bars and lingering for a discussion on film. For Labrosse, Bem Cinema and Theater Toldi are the best in town, and are dreams places to have his short film screened when its finished.

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District 13, where he lives, is “a really inspiring neighborhood” known for a rich history of cafe culture “where people would meet up at cafes to talk about current political climate or philosophy and that kind of stuff.” Keep an eye out for a new series he’s starting soon in which he plans to “go to cafes or cake shops, interview the owners, and draw a portrait of them in their shop.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Take a peek at his website: www.labrossestuff.com and stay tuned for his short film, The Man Who Ate Himself.

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