THE past few weeks…
have exposed me to musicians from all around the world. I have been speaking with the Budapest-formed band Volkova Sisters and ask how they got together – they have been telling me about their latest track, Faceblind, and reveal its story.
I ask them what the differences are between England and Hungary in terms of music; whether there are any new artists they would recommend to us; if they have gigs coming up where we can catch them; what we can expect from their upcoming album, Slowin Away – they talk about their upbringing and what the future holds.
Hi, guys. How are you? How has your week been?
Dalma: Quite intense, actually: a breakup and general life issues (smiles).
Dani: I see material for a few new songs here…
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourselves, please?
We are a group of people living in different European countries, working together for almost ten years now. We like dark and atmospheric sounds and, as kids growing up in the ‘80s, we were heavily influenced by the music of that decade. At the same time, we always aim to find new and less-explored ways in music.
Someone described our genre as ‘Goth-Tron’.
How did Volkova Sisters form? When did you all meet?
Dalma: We all knew each other from the Budapest music scene. We've been best friends with Daniel for more than a decade now; we also have had a previous band before. When we started Volkova Sisters, we knew that we were missing an element and we really didn't want to be a duo: we wanted to involve other ideas into our world and Geri just came in the right time.
Daniel showed him our first demo and the rest is history. Tibi, our drummer (who is a member of the legendary Hungarian Dark-Rock band, Sexepil), came into the picture roughly two years ago when we were thinking about ways to expand our stage presence.
Is it true you borrowed your name from a William Gibson novel? What struck you about the name?
I'm a big Sci-Fi fan, including all the side-genres, and Willian Gibson is one of my favourite authors. Very easy to read, with lots of action and quite precise future forecasts. When I read his book, Pattern Recognition, I was a mesmerized by this character pair and I thought it really resonates with the way we think about art.
Faceblind is your new single. Can you reveal its story?
Dani: We were in a car in the Hungarian countryside on our way to a week of songwriting in a remote location. It was late at night and we listened to a radio talk show about people who were ‘faceblind’. It's a rare condition of the brain when someone is unable to recognise faces. This, straight away, inspired a whole new range of characters for our mythology. We wrote the song the next day…
It is from your upcoming album, Slowin Away. What sort of stories can we expect to find in the record?
The stories revolve around all the feelings we gathered since we started to live lives less bound to a single geographical location - from feeling lonely in a metropolis to the general angst of our generation that we see from very different angles in different places.
Also; we took some inspiration from the underground Techno scene in London…so expect something more upbeat (sometimes, almost danceable).
You formed in Hungary but are based in England. Was it difficult finding a scene and base in Hungary? How does England compare in terms of its sounds and artists?
Dalma: It was hard to gain attention in our home country but our fanbase is growing, so I'm happy that are native fellows dig our stuff.
The U.K. still has its distinctive sound. Not from a genre perspective: I'm talking about the mixing and mastering process here. Music-wise; I don't think it's an island anymore: every European country which I've been to had a surprisingly vivid and amazing underground scene. The problem is that, if you're not looking for it, you'll not gonna find it. The markets are still segregated - and underground artist can barely compete with acts signed to major labels.
What music were you all raised on? Did you grow up in musical households?
I was, and Daniel too; both our families had massive vinyl collections and were part of the local underground scene...
Dani: Actually; my parents were part of the scene as musicians, so I spent my very early years already around studios, gigs and rehearsal rooms. Music was always playing somewhere; a lot of '80s Post-Punk, New Wave and Alternative stuff on Jugoslavian-pressed vinyl and cassette tapes copied from my parents' German friends.
Can we see you tour this year? What gigs do you have coming along?
Dani: We'll play one gig in London this summer – this will be in Birthdays on 2nd June. Apart from a few festival dates in Hungary, we'll spend most of the summer setting up our brand new studio space and start working on some new material.
Our experience in the U.K. so far shows that there's a certain limit to your opportunities for gigs as a D.I.Y. band. To reach further, you need to be supported by a record label or a booking agency. Maybe, we'll get there with the third album (this was an open call).
What do you hope to achieve in 2018?
I think, technically, as a band, we already achieved our goals for the year. Now, it's up to our fans and everyone else out there if they will like what we've done. For the rest of the year, I'd like to chill a lot and take a very slow pace in starting something new; again, with a slightly different approach.
Have you each got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?
Dalma: I can't really pick one particular moment. The most touching thing for me, in general, is when I see people singing our songs. That’s when your vision starts to live its own life.
If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?
I would love to open for The Perfect Circle. I think Maynard is a genius.
Dani: I'd choose Daniel Lanois. I think Geri would let him play one of the solos on our gig.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
Dalma: Very briefly; simple advice: never give up (smiles).
Dani: Focus on yourself and your own art, not what others do or say.
IN THIS PHOTO: Sidsel Endresen
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
Well; I'm not particularly following the new trends…but I can recommend one of my favourite singers, Sidsel Endresen, as she is one of the cultic figures of the Norwegian Jazz scene.
Dani: Peggy Gou's It Makes You Forget has the best bassline of 2018 - so far (smiles).
IN THIS PHOTO: Peggy Gou/PHOTO CREDIT: Dan Medhurst
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
Dalma: It's the opposite for us, I think (smiles). Making music is our chill time (smiles).
Dani: Dalma's right. But, if I need to reset my ears, I always go to the riverside. There's a nice little beach close to our studio, only accessible during low tide.
Finally, and for being good sports; you can each choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
Etienne Jaumet – For Falling Asleep
Dalma: John Hassel – Vernal Equinox
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