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15 Questions to Ákos Garai

img  Tobias Fischer

Hi! How are you? Where are you?
Hi Lara and tokafi readers! Thanks, I am fine. I am just back from lake Balaton where I was taking photos and making recordings.

What’s on your schedule right now?
Quite a few things. I am going to release two very important albums on my label 3LEAVES over the next weeks. One is by Steve Roden, another vy David Vélez. Then, I will start to work on a collaboration called “Compo Sites”. This is a project with five artists: Juan José Calarco, Hiroki Sasajima, Chris McFall, Simon Whetham and myself. We will try to reinterpret original Compo Sites recordings made by Slavek Kwi. But I will not just be be working at home; spring is here, when microphones open :)

How would you describe and rate the music scene of the city you are currently living in?
There is a strong music club life here as in most major cities. Budapest is also known for its long tradition in classical and folk music events. Which means that there's nothing much to say about the music I am into and work for.

When did you start writing/producing music - and what or who were your early passions and influences?
I started playing drums when I was thirteen years old. Until I turned eighteen, I played in grindcore bands. Then something changed “radically” within me, and I became open to listening to classical music, jazz and experimental music. Everything happened pretty fast at that time and I often found many of the artists I was fond of in an intuitive way. I didn't have an Internet connection at my home back then, and there were no friends with similar interests around me. However, I somehow established a musical connection withexcellent German artists such as Asmus Tietchens, Achim Wollscheid and Bernhard Günter. Their music (respectively) had a great impact on me: I started composing electroacoustic music “in-the-box “ around the year 2000.

What do you personally consider to be the incisive moments in your artistic work and/or career?

I don't know. I think it should be judged by others.

What are currently your main compositional- and production-challenges?
To present good field recordings with the minimum possible intervention and editing. Catching the moment or the hour.

What do you usually start with when working on a new piece?
It depends on the piece. I like to plan things and make imaginary sketch regarding the piece I am going to work on. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn't and I have to work out new ideas. Also, I like to make a piece on request, where the point of departure is not my own and I have to fill an existing frame with content.

How strictly do you separate improvising and composing?
Not particularly. The way I see it, composing is a kind of improvisation. More or less a conscious action.

How do you see the relationship between sound, space and composition?
They are inseparable for me.

Do you feel it important that an audience is able to deduct the processes and ideas behind a work purely on the basis of the music? If so, how do you make them transparent?
Yes, this is a wonderful ability of sound and listeners. I think when the idea of a work becomes transparent, it no longer requires its creator, the artist. When an idea connects the listener with the sound, then something superior works between them and both artist and listener put aside their ego and personality. This is always required when somebody makes something “higher”. I am referring to something spiritual, the way that deep listening is.

There seem to be two fundamental tendencies in music today: On the one hand, a move towards complete virtualisation, where tracks and albums are merely released as digital files. And, on the other, an even closer union between music, artwork, packaging and physical presentation. Where do you stand between these poles?
On the other hand. Both as a music listener and a collector, and also as an artist and a label manager, I definitely prefer to stick with physical presentation. The main reason for this is that I love many kinds of music, and I have always felt respect for people who brought music to my home. Listening to music means a quiet and peaceful environment, high-end playback system and a comfortable armchair to me. I've gotten used to it, and I don't think it's going to change. There are some very fine net labels around whose releases I burn to CD, print out the artwork and listen to the music in a traditional way.

The role of an artist is always subject to change. What's your view on the (e.g. political/social/creative) tasks of artists today and how do you try to meet these goals in your work?
I do not think this requirement from “artists” would be still relevant today. From my point of view, people at least in my generation do not have such old demands on artists anymore. Of course, there are exceptions, but they're certainly not typical. The old description of an artist is no longer really valid today and recipients do not expect such sublime manifestations. I think there are people with a different sensitivity and creativity, but to be an “artist with a mission” is a slightly ridiculous thing for me.

Music-sharing sites and -blogs as well as a flood of releases in general are presenting both listeners and artists with challenging questions. What's your view on the value of music today?
It's still the same as it's always been: artistic value. Somehow it is easy to instinctively feel if something is good. Previously I couldn't explain this instinctive grasp and how it works independently from the musical language that is used. Now, I think there is a common link between them: The invocation of the universe.

How, would you say, could non-mainstream forms of music reach wider audiences?
Difficult question. I think there are no major changes in non-mainstream forms of music with regards to the interest they're capable of generating. To me, it's like a pyramid. Where the peak becoming narrower, artistic aesthetics become more valuable. Clearly, this rules out a wider interest, but that's a good thing. This structure of interest seems quite natural to me.

Please recommend two artists to our readers which you feel deserve their attention.
Michael Trommer and Mark Peter Wright.

Many artists dream of a “magnum opus”. Do you have a vision of what yours would sound like?

I'm sorry, but I haven't thought about that. Everything I've done and published has been equally important to me, albeit for different reasons. Which is why I don't think that it would be appropriate to think about a „magnum opus” in my case. I wasn't a drummer for no reason: I prefer to stay in the background, if  possible.

Intro by Lara Corey

Ákos Garai Discography:

Fjern Hjem (self-released) 2002
Til Ødslig Horisont (Trente Oiseaux) 2005
Pilis (3LEAVES) 2009
Vertikale Skift/ w. Terje Paulsen (Gruenrekorder) 2011
Barges & Flows (3LEAVES) 2011
Three Shaded Leaves - For Bernhard Günter (mAtter) 2011
Subway Budapest (self-released) 2012
White Hole States (WHITE_LINE EDITIONS) 2012


Ákos Garai

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