In the last few years Budapest became a bucket-list destination among the party animals. Tourists from all over the world are visiting the crowded pubs, the famous ruin bars and amazing sparties. But there is a new, trending scene in Budapest that is worth experiencing: the electronic music.
Electronic music and techno have been popular among young adults for a few decades now, but lately it has become insanely popular. Industrial cities, like Berlin and London have a huge techno scene. Budapest is just getting among these cities with more and more clubs and bars playing techno, festivals being organized, international DJs visiting Hungary and local DJs becoming popular.
To get the whole picture of this music scene, we asked two people, who have been in the world of electronic music for some time and who see the professional side of this industry.
A crossroad between East and West – Dóra Gunther
Dóra Gunther is organizing events at Toldi Klub and the Kolorádó Festival. So she seemed to be the person to ask about this evolving and vivid scene. When we asked her what she thinks why Hungary‘s capital is such a suitable location to build up a techno scene, she explained that the exciting youth culture around the city and the fact that it is a crossroad between East and West contributes to its success. Nevertheless, for her there are some principles which the organizers have to take into account when planning to create an appealing mood for the events and to attract a broad audience. „You have to adjust the music to the location. For example this year at Kolorádó we will have concerts and electronic acts in a little valley in the forest, so we are trying to choose some obscure and mystic stuff that matches the vibes of the location“, says Dora. To get an impression of the festival, watch the official Kolorádó- aftermovie here:
The location and artsy decoration is of course not the only factor that makes an event unique. In fact, since the music is what this scene is actually about, the sound system and quality of the music has to be in focus. According to Gunther, even though it is basically the clubs that define the mood and style of an event, they try to invite DJ‘s that match their needs. To push it over the edge so that it becomes popular, her advice is to invite the most popular DJ‘s in the beginning to also be able to experiment with new talents. Besides, this opens up the possibility to make the organizer‘s palette more colourful and open to some underground vibes.
It is of course always a question of profit as well, which can be negatively affected if there are not enough guests. This is why one should not only try to attract the locals of Budapest, but also please the tourists that are coming to the city to explore different scenes and to be part of the community for a limited amount of time. Therefore, the head of the event needs to find an appropriate balance between money and art to be able to stand their ground between plenty competitors. Everybody has different priorities in this field, as a result we can find events in the city that clearly differ from one another. Gunther‘s view on these differences is that: „you can find and be happy about some real industrial berlinish techno and hate the vibe going on at Corvin, with the big guys showing their muscles to some basic non intelligent techno music. Also, you can find labels or groups that concentrate on some really experimental progressive stuff, for example Exiles, or some real underground happenings where you have to be invited to.“
When we asked her about her motivation and the first reasons why she decided to start organizing music events, it was really interesting to see how much she seems to love her work. Alongside the creative factor that allows her to work outside an office with interesting artists and people with good taste, she claims that the primary reason is to see people feel free and that music seems to be one of the best ways to achieve this state of mind. In this context, Gunther recommends some festivals in Hungary that are essential for the techno scene: Alkotótábor, Ubikeklektik and Aliga which are definitely worth it to be checked out by people that can’t keep their feet still when listening to techno.
“Be fresh, be true & work with the good people.” – László Papp
The more we were finding out about the variety of techno events in Budapest, the more we wanted to gain a further insight in how the scene is organized. It became very clear to us that behind unrestrained partying there is actually a serious business going on. So we decided to have a chat with László Papp, who is the owner of Központ, a well known downtown bar and party location in Budapest, which still has an alternative vibe to it.
Choosing Budapest as the location of a techno venue didn’t happen incidentally. László Papp describes the city as the perfect place to become creative. He claims that Budapest has a wide range of musically styles to offer: mainstream and underground scenes are coexisting. “It always happens like this: The underground scene observes some new styles and acts. They become “cool” in a small circle of people. Then the artist or the new style gets known by more and more people until it gets mainstream. In most cases when something ends up being mainstream the underground turns towards new things.” Saying this, László Papp makes it very clear that the scene is continually changing. People that are associated with techno in Budapest, especially in the more underground places, are on the move, they are seeking inspiration and always trying to discover new directions and styles. “There is a small underground scene that is always up to date and forward-thinking. Usually these people are the first who start to listen to the new tracks and genres.”
Unfortunately the most creative artists are not always the most popular ones. László Papp is well aware of the fact, that there is an area of conflict in balancing popularity and creativity. “It’s a hard work, we always try to catch the artists at the point of their carrier when they are still underground and cool but already known by a lot of people.” The hard work is paying off. Electronic music is attracting more and more people. “Of course sometimes that leads to parties with a really mixed crowd. But this is how it works. I think the goal should be to develop music with the mixture of different genres – even live and electronic music. I really adore to see how this method leads to the birth of new genres.”
The potential of techno music is far from being exhausted and Budapest seems to be the place to meet the music lovers. However, to really get in touch with professionals or experts is not always easy. “The bigger part of the audience is quite “slow” – most of the people in Hungary are behind the western trends with 5 or even 10 years. There is a big responsibility in this issue of the big festivals who don’t have “culture mission” because their only intention is to make money.” Of course money is a thing – as it is in every business. In the end you have to pay the bills no matter what. But László Papp states that the creative process should always be prior to the financial one. “I hope producer will try to be unique and creative – instead of following the trends, just be professional and use our special Hungarian way of thinking and flavour during production.”
Being a professional in the Budapest techno scene is not always easy but in the end it is a working field that is filled with passion for the subject of music itself. When we asked László Papp for his personal recipe to run a techno venue in Budapest his answer was honest and simple: “Be fresh, Be true & work with the good people.”