As someone with decades of experience as a DJ and producer, when were you first exposed to music? Was techno always your first love?
My first real experience with music was during my teens. I come from a music loving family. As my uncle loved music very much, he bought a lot of vinyl abroad and brought them home. It was a huge thing back then because in Hungary there wasn’t a big selection of vinyl that time. I went to his place a lot to listen to music. He had mainly disco and early synth pop vinyl. I knew back then that I loved music very much and that I liked these kinds of music much better than rock. A bit later, Hungarian radios also began to broadcast music like that, and I was sitting next to the radio and recording every track I liked, and then I created my own selections. I’ll never forget the moment when I first heard M.A.R.S. – Pump Up The Volume. I felt right there that something changed inside me and this track sent me towards the love of dance music. But I can say the same about funk which touched my soul deeply long time ago.
When did you realize you wanted to pursue a career in production?
Besides being a DJ, I got interested in producing music as well. Producing music is one of the most exciting ways of expressing yourself because you can hear the mood and the feeling that the music gives you right away. To translate this to the dance floor is a very good thing. It’s even better if you can give actual fun and happiness with this to others. I thought if I had that definite musical idea that I also have at parties while selecting music, why not try and create my own music. In the beginning, I produced music with different partners because being in the studio and editing music was something really new for me. What I could give then was my musical ideas.
You were heavily involved as a resident DJ in Hungary during the 90s, what was the scene like back then?
A resident DJ had a very big status back then. There were not many places where you could get the latest tracks. There were only few music stores and they only got vinyl once a week. A DJ was special then because he could play music in a club which the audience could only listen to there. There weren’t any DJ mixes to listen to at home or in the car or anywhere else, you could listen to this kind of music only at clubs. This is why the whole thing was so special. DJs and parties were treated uniquely. As technology developed, this musical magic flowed out of the clubs via cassettes. This had the advantage of attracting those people to club sounds who had never heard of it before. This flooding of people didn’t cause any problems because those charismatic resident DJs stayed there who did much more than just putting one track after another. Their personalities were as attractive as the music they played.
As founder of dance magazine FreeE, what originally spurred you on to create your own magazine? Was writing always a passion of yours?
In the middle of the ’90s when electronic dance music had already exploded into clubs and there were a lot of parties everywhere, hundreds of DJs were born and they started touring. Hungary also joined the big international dance music revolution. One thing was missing very much though. This was the bastion and bridge of DJ and club life, the media. This was the time when me and some of my friends were thinking of creating a magazine where we could write about DJs, parties, music, fashion and everything connected to this culture on a monthly basis. So FREEE Magazine was born, which was free for a long time. Later as we grew, we tried to develop it and we put a CD in every magazine. Our readers liked the magazine because all the editors and colleagues were clubbers or DJs or people from the club scene. So we wrote our honest opinion if we thought something went wrong in our scene and we praised those who we thought gave something extra to club life. The readers loved our loose tongue.
How would you compare the current electronic music scene in Hungary to the one you were so prevalent in back in the 90’s and 00’s?
We all know that dance music is constantly evolving, developing so this is also the case with our club scene right now. Lots of people work in this industry as DJs or producers. There are some Hungarian artists who have achieved international success. But it’s really difficult to talk about turning points because everything changes constantly. A long time ago, a lot of people thought it was impossible for Hungarians to get abroad with this music. Many didn’t believe in the democracy of dance music and that it has no borders. Now finally this way of thinking has changed. Mainly in the heads. Now everybody believes that this is a lingua franca without borders.
Having toured around the world, where is your favorite place to play?
I have played at many loveable and cool places. Most of my shows are in Hungary. Believe it or not, Hungarian clubbers and clubbers from the Eastern region know really well how to party. There are tons of fanatics who can party really hard. Each and every party can be a real challenge for me, even at a small venue or at a huge rave. The only things that are essential to a really good party are background technology and a few crazy clubbers. But if I have to say one special party place which I remember quite well, it’d be my 14-hour set in a lake in an island. It was a fantastic night. Also, playing at Fabric was one of the most unforgettable experiences of my life. There I could physically feel what it is like when a club was really built for music. And that sound system! I’ll never forget that.
Your productions lend influence from a variety of different styles, what inspires your sound?
Every moment of life has inspired me. Musically, I get my inspiration from early disco, funk and soul music because these kinds of music have influenced my DJ-ing and producing as well. A good party, a good track, a good DJ set, a good club can also inspire and influence me a lot.
Do you still use the same production methods now? Are you a hardware or software man?
I think I remained a ‘hardware’ man. But I’ve always been attracted to technological development, mainly to that kind which I can use to give more to people, which inspire me and keep me moving. I’m sure it might sound strange but I don’t have any virtual synthesizers in my studio. I’ve always been attracted to thick sounds and analogue gadgets. I believe in these. I remember doing my first ever mix collection and I asked the record companies to send me the tracks in studio quality. They sent them on DAT cassettes. I wanted my album to sound well and clear. However, I was accused of creating a studio mix instead of a live mix. But I stuck to my guns and I still believe if somebody listens to this CD at home or in the car or anywhere, the loudspeakers will explode because of the quality of sound. I haven’t changed in that since then. At the moment, I have three musical instruments: a Nord Lead 3, a Prophet 6 and a Korg XL. They all serve my needs, they have all the sounds I love. I do my edits with Ableton. I’ve been DJ-ing with Ableton for 8 years. It gives me huge freedom and opportunity in many things.
Tell us about your latest EP on Abstract – what inspired or influenced it?
The record company is run by good friends of mine. They have been through a lot of years and releases. I really like their determination and humbleness. We were playing together at a party when I put on my track and they got to like it very much. After a few days, I sent some of my demos to them, and they chose Katmandu. The base of the music is a vocal pattern which reminded me of my old funky years when these kinds of tracks formed me and influenced me a lot. I got down to produce a very massive funk tech track which I’d like to play as a DJ. I don’t remember why I started to call it Katmandu though. But it’s true that I’m attracted to Tibetan things in general, and my subconscious mind might have chosen this title.
And finally how would you like back on 2016? And whats in store for the new year?
2016 has been fantastic for me. A lot of things have happened: I’ve been to tons of good parties and I’ve bought a fantastic musical instrument. I hope 2017 will be full of surprises both in my professional and private life. Everything is fine until I can see lots of smiling faces in front of the DJ booth while playing music. I can’t wish for more.
Thank you very much for chatting to us, all the best for the year ahead!
Budai’s Katmandu EP is out now and available to purchase on Vinyl via Deejay.de here:
Budai, Basti Grub, Obrotka – Katmandu – ABSTR004
Abstract Music hits release number four with a firing new EP from Budai. His one original gets remixed by Tracks:
A1: Original Mix
B1: Basti Grub Remix
B2: Obrotka Remix