Mayberian Sanskülotts were among the first Hungarian bands we fell in love with, but we waited for the right moment to introduce them to beehype readers. Now that they released their long-awaited new album, “Adlait”, we ask the singer Zita about old inspirations and new sounds.
Márton Biró: You have been around for quite a long time, and the music scene of Budapest knows you pretty well too. And even though you have released plenty of music, it seems you have worked on “Adlait” a lot. Is that true? And if yes, what is the reason for that?
Zita Csordás: We didn’t work on this album for too long, we wrote the songs a hundred years ago. We just needed to record them. Which went pretty quickly actually. We didn’t need to look for the perfect sound and we discovered so many things thanks to our friend, Antal Mór Szűcs, because he has a wide range of instruments, we’re very grateful to him.
Then Bence Nagy mixed the songs and he is a synth-magician. So basically, there are so many things we should be thankful for to our friends. We write our songs quite simply, just gather ideas together. When we’re recording them, we’re listening to what the others are playing, because we never really hear each other before recording.
Márton : This relates to what I think or feel about you: You just want to make music, right? When I saw you for the first time I got really excited and I searched on the internet for hours but I couldn’t really find too much music from you. As if you wanted to say: Hey, if you want to listen to us, come to our concerts. Is that true, or was it just my impression?
Zita: Well, yes. But it’s all about money, you know. We love each other and our songs, practicing, just fooling around, making music together and doing concerts. It’s like a band-amusement-park. But it started to become a bit more serious, because we were fed up with our own lameness. And we also didn’t really want to organise anymore. Each of us answered the emails in a different way.
So our guitarist Gallusz Balogh wrote on our Facebook, firstly just as a joke, that we are looking for a manager. Someone who could handle us, who would like to manage a band like us that doesn’t really care for organizing or how to become famous or something. And someone who doesn’t really need money in return, because we don’t have any. Instead, we can sort everything out together.
Following this Facebook post we received an application from Viki Radványi – and so many other people as well, thank you all very much – who is now the manager of Mayberian. And she is f*cking awesome, she does everything for us what we can’t. For example, we are going to play in Berlin. Maybe it’s not a big deal, but for us it definitely is.
Márton: So what does Mayberian mean to you as a project? Because I know that you all do quite a lot of things besides that.
Zita: Yeah, that’s right. For me, it is my child. Now everything is different for me, because I just graduated and I started to work at various places what obviously requires more time. But I hope that I’ll be able have enough time for the band.
The other members work as well. Árpád Szigeti – our bassist – works at Hurrikan Press, which is his own workshop. Pisti – that’s a nickname of our drummer István Hromkó – is a graphic artist at a company. Gallusz studies at the Painting Department of the Hungarian University of Fine Arts, and I teach and work as a shop assistant at Lush.
So now it is a little bit hard to just play music but I am waiting for everything to settle down and for there to be another opportunity where I have as much freedom as we had when we were just 18 and started this whole thing.
Márton: Your music and your way of doing things stand out from the Hungarian pop music scene. Are you aware of the club life here? Do you have friends among other musicians? Or doing everything your own way means you don’t care much about what’s around?
Zita: We know what’s going on, there are some bands we listen to. But mostly to those who seem similar to us, which means – not too popular. There aren’t any big names we are actually interested in.
I personally really like the Dope Calypso and so do the others. They are a little bit more popular, maybe we will play together as well, or is that supposed to be a secret? I’m not sure. But Viki often asks us which band we’d like to play with, and we can never really give a proper answer. We always end up joking because we actually don’t know.
With my other band, Zombori – which is unfortunately coming to an end, we are preparing our last gig – we supported some big names. It was ok, they were all really kind. But with Mayberian it just doesn’t fit. We think about it in an absolutely different way. It is an art project or I don’t know, that’s a really crappy way to put it…
Márton: When I first started seeing your concerts you often played together with Csaknekedkislány. So are there any specifically Hungarian bands or factors, without which you wouldn’t be the Mayberian you are today? For example, did you all grow up listening to Kispál és a Borz?
Zita: I liked Kispál, and we still listen to them sometimes, we don’t need to deny that. But what truly grew on me is Csókolom and mostly Zsuzsi Ujj, whose lyrics can still make me cry. Besides that, there’s Marietta Méhes, and the whole underground of the ’80s, which was linked to us at beginning, by the way. But we also really like The Cure, their atmosphere, their influence can be heard in our latest songs.
One of Gallusz’s favourites is Robi Bérczesi, and there would be no Balogh Gallusz lyrics without Bérczesi’s. And we can’t ignore Gallusz’s passion for ambient and experimental music, these are really important to his guitar melodies. Peter, Bjorn and John are another or his favourites. Pisti is into old-school punk and a band called Hela. And we got to love hip-hop together and with Árpi we go even further to contemporary American jazz music, which provides the basis for Árpi’s bass themes.
Maybe you can’t really hear it in our music but I am truly in love with the music of Erykah Badu and I always try, if I can, to imitate her as a way of practice. But basically you can learn a lot just from listening to a lot of music, or listening to music a lot and focus.
Once we played with Puszi and after the concert Zsuzsi Ujj came up to me and told me how touched she was by our music. And she gave me a sheet with the text: “Schrödinger’s cat and casting the dice will never wipe out the coincidence.”
Márton: You have songs both in English and Hungarian. How do you choose between the languages?
Zita: I adore the Hungarian language, I adore Hungarian poems, I am more than happy that this is my native language. I really like writing in Hungarian and I’m influenced by Pilinszky. I think my lines tend to get kitschy at times, and sometimes they actually are. But I like kitsch and there are things and feelings that I don’t even try to convene in a non-kitschy way, simply because I can’t. I’ll leave it to someone who can, who cares.
There are so many topics that deserve a Hungarian text, or we just simply write them in Hungarian. Be it two-line-long texts from our cell phones, lined up next to each other. Or a sudden strike of a cycle of poems in our minds during a bus ride. The shaggy words start to flow, at least that happens to me a lot, especially during travelling, showering or sitting on the toilet.
But Gallusz is totally different. According to him, he writes really slowly but when he finishes something, that is always complete and cool. But he just does this thing with his cell phone. And speaking of the English texts, there is this general thing that we usually say – because this is how it is – there are things that simply sound better in English. In Hungarian, we rather write poems, while Bob Dylan gets a Nobel, you know, for his English lyrics instead.
Márton: What was your first English song?
Zita: “Especially You“. I didn’t really speak English, it is quite obvious, it is a total bullshit, grammatical catastrophe, but nevermind. The purpose was the main thing. I wrote it for a foreigner, who will obviously never hear it, anyway this whole thing is so funny.
Most of my English songs are in English due to the origins of the people they were dedicated to. About Gallusz’s lyrics, I can only say that he doesn’t really like to write in Hungarian anymore, he speaks English, and that’s it. Words are words in any languages. They are beautiful and they are even more beautiful together. If I spoke Spanish better, I would write in Spanish too. The words of each language shape the music differently. This is also important.
We don’t try too hard squeezing our Hungarian lyrics in some particular frames. I mean, there are verses and a chorus of course, but we often just take a monotonous base line and I sing almost parlando like in “Altató”. The Hungarian lyric goes:
Kimérten es lassan húzza meg
az életünk vonalát a kézfejünk fonákján
a sötétben elnyúlva a félelem.
És nyugtató és altató, hogy végre nem vagy itt velem
Zita: I really hate, for example, when a Hungarian text is sung with an English prosody, that kills me, oh my God. So when something is in Hungarian, then it is Hungarian. English can be dragged out and I like howling the songs.
There is the song “Monday Session“. The grammar in that is also so wrong, because I wrote it, but what is there to aestheticize on a girl coming up to me and f*cking biting my neck. Nothing, it doesn’t sound good in Hungarian and it didn’t fit with my preferred Hungarian writing styles.
Basically, I just couldn’t write it down properly so I wanted an English text in which I can write freely “you son of a bitch, it f*cking hurts, you dummy.”
Photo: Eva Szombat / Jávorszki Krisztina