Touring in America, recording in LA. It’s the timetable of a Hungarian band, Ivan & The Parazol. But what does this have to do with showcases? A lot. Interview.
What’s the use of international showcase festivals? What are their benefits in relation to Hungarian bands? These questions have been asked repeatedly since the Hungarian music industry tries to go viral in the international space. We had and have presence in European showcase fests like Tallinn Music Week (EE), MENT (SI), Eurosonic (NL), Reeperbahn (D), etc. and in American ones like SXSW, CBGB or San Diego County Fair.
Now we have Budapest Showcase Hub (BuSH), a festival focusing especially on the Central European music industry from the Baltic to the Balkans. BuSH’s second season starts on 15th of November – not only for professionals, it’s open for everyone, so it’s high time to examine the importance of showcase fests. I have to tell you – as a showcase goer – I understand and perceive the scepticism from the audience.
Questions like ‘How can we see and notice the progress? or ‘Despite the existence of showcases, no Hungarian band had a breakthrough’ seem to be fair but you have to understand, we need the connections first to gain any achievement. (I don’t wanna talk about the role and lack of English language press. It’s a long story as you can see, I may write about it someday.)
Success is a relative business. Take one example: Ivan & The Parazol. They had and have cool stories and breakthroughs from showcases to touring and recording songs in America. So if you wanna understand how can you develop as a band by means of these kinda festivals you have to take a look at their timeline.
Ivan & The Parazol: Serial Killer
They started in 2010 and now their latest song, ‘Serial Killer‘ was recorded by EastWest Studios in LA. Furthermore, they will return to the US next January to make the next (fourth) LP with the help of American producer, Wil Anspach.
So, how’s this possible? I had a chitchat with singer-frontman, Iván Vitáris to discuss the matter.
‘Every showcase has a benefit’ he reminds us. ‘Every one of them. Even if we are talking about our latest release, Serial Killer.’
Let’s see what happened in terms of the latest song & forthcoming LP.
‘The whole thing goes back to 2013. We had a gig with Hanni El Khatib at CBGB Festival in New York. Another band, called Bass Drum of Death also played that night and they are managed by a guy who has a Hungarian descent. We became friends with him and kept in touch. Years have passed but we stayed in connection. So when we got a request by San Diego County Fair to play on the 4th of July this year, the cooperation really started. He arranged some other gigs and put us in touch with Wil, who put the EastWest Studios in the picture, because he used to work there. So we said: No question! We recorded three songs in there.’
And as we can see, the cooperation went really well, Ivan & The Parazol returns to continue recordings.
Another story is the South by Southwest (SXSW). They went to Austin, Texas in 2013 for the first time, and gave an impression which opened up a huge possibility. Parazol’s hit, ‘Take My Hand‘ became the Official Promo Song of SXSW in 2014.
‘Oh, and one more thing about SXSW. We met a guy accidentally. Our drummer, Simi, put his phone to his ears and said: ‘Hey, it’s our music.’ He runs an agency selecting music to TV series, so that’s how our music landed in series like Shameless.’
Going back to Europe. It’s cool to see what’s going on in the Portugal showcase festival, Westway Lab. It’s not an ordinary one where you can find gigs as you know. They are mixing European (guest) musicians with native ones to encourage creative compilations. The idea is to create new songs, visions by mixed working groups.
‘That’s how we – me and our keyboardist, Bex – met a Portuguese-Brazilian punkrocker, Nelson. We wrote 4 or 5 cool songs together at Westway Lab, so when we came back to Hungary we discussed with the others what do they think about these kinda compilation? They liked it so we continued working and creating a formation, calls, The Melonas. We recorded an album together which has a release show on the 28th of December in Budapest at A38 Boat. Nelson is going to join us and we are playing together.’
What’s the story, Central Europe?
It seems to be nice. But I have to tell gaining success like this as a band, doing cool music it’s not enough. You have to work hard, looking at new and effective connections and keep doing it all the time. Never relax.
Now the question is: what’s the story with Central Europe? – I asked Iván.
‘It’s weird but we don’t really have strong connections here. I’m sorry that we didn’t start with creating ties in our region at first. But I have to be honest, every band tries to move to the huge markets like Germany, Sweden, the Benelux states, Great Britain or America. But we are working to have the same ones in Central Europe. That’s why we are happy and support initiations like BuSH.’
He says we need good connections, we need to know each other here and BuSH gives the opportunity to do so, and that’s cool.
So if we have better affiliations we can arrange cross- promotions and the audiences have better possibilities to get to know new voices, new trends from neighbouring countries. But we have to build up a strong PR and I believe festivals like BuSH can help the industry doing it.
If you wanna come, you can check BuSH’s participants, schedule & tickets HERE. Ivan & The Parazol will play on the festival’s Grand Opening Show at Akvarium Klub on 15th of November with Kamp! (PL) and Noëp (EE). If you are interesting in The Melonas’ gig on 28th of December, you find infos HERE.
EDITED by Károly Gergely