In conversation with Àbáse
A man inspired by Budapest's Hip-Hop and DJ culture from a young age, pushing the boundaries with a wide range of instruments, Àbáse sits down with us to talk about his introduction to music, latest releases and plans for the future.
Hey man, glad we could do this. Tell us about yourself, how long have you been in the game?
I was lucky enough to grow up in a music loving family so the good vibes were always around. I was about 6 when I decided to learn drums and started my institutional music education around 1997. Later as I grew and got introduced to the flourishing underground music scene in Budapest I fell in love with Hip Hop and beat making / DJ culture. Around the age of 16 I saved up for my first turntable + mixer setup and started collecting records, started recording my own ideas with equipment I could rent from my school for the weekend. I always took music learning seriously, through the years I slowly shifted from drums to piano and after graduating high school got accepted to the jazz conservatory in Budapest. Around 2007 I met the talented producer DJ Slow who took me under his wings, we started making beats and organizing events together and laid the foundations of our first serious project SoulClap Budapest with whom we're still releasing music.
That's really humbling. I'm enjoying your 'Elevate' release right now, what was the inspiration behind this?
As much as I love the collaborative process of creating with my bands I always felt that one day I would like to curate a project that is my own and very personal. I have been hearing a certain sound in my head for years that I knew I would like to develop. Elevate is the first step in the search for that sound. During the years at the conservatory I was very much used to playing and recording with live musicians, mixing beat making with live recordings. In 2014 I was living in Paris and instead of working with live musicians I could only lay my ideas down alone on my laptop. I started creating beats and working out song ideas in my tiny studio apartment. Upon arriving back to Budapest I knew that this material will be the backbone of my first release. The sound of the EP is also heavily influenced by my favorite producers I was listening to during that time, The Soulquarians, Madlib and Javi Santiago.
Some great collaborations in the release.
I was very lucky to meet and connect with some beautiful talent during my travels as well as to collaborate with my closest friends and colleagues from the BP scene
We got to meet with Birmingham based singer / songwriter Call Me Unique during her first trip to Budapest. She’s been a real friend and mentor for me ever since. We first collaborated on Amoeba’s debut album ‘Keep The Funk Alive’ and have a whole project on the shelves that I co-produced for her. The beat for 'Too Close' was written in my head during a long shift in the Paris restaurant I was working at at the time. I had to hum the main melody to myself over and over again so I don’t forget it. I couldn’t wait to rush home and start laying it down on my laptop. The beat also features guitarist Vanis who’s been a big influence on me both as a musician and producer as well as Fanni Zahar on flute and Bence Taborszky on flugelhorn.
I first heard Emmavie’s music (her EP with producer Alfa Mist) during my stay in Paris. I immediately fell in love with her vibe and creativity and had that EP on repeat. When I learned that Call Me Unique knows her personally I decided to travel to London to meet her in person and invite her over to Budapest. The one week we spent together in BP is one of the most creatively memorable times of my life. We recorded about eight songs in seven days. I got to meet ScienZe in Budapest during his tour with fellow MC Fresh Daily and producer Chuck Le Garcon. They gave a powerful performance in Budapest and we got to hang the next day. I got to meet him again while I was in New York and I was very happy that he accepted my invitation to be a part of this project. The live outro features Boros Levente on drums, Fanni Zahar on flute while I play Rhodes and synth bass.
The recording of 'Crossroads' is a completely improvised impromptu version of the song. Its an outtake from the late night sessions we had for our ‘Mixtape #1, Abony Sessions’ with SoulClap Budapest. It features Rhodes, drums and flute only with me playing the bass on the keys. I added the cinematic synth textures later in the studio but that's the only overdub I did, otherwise everything besides the main melody is completely improvised on the spot (structure, solos, etc). The title represents a very real dilemma I had at the time. ‘Staying or leaving’ was a very relevant question to me as I had already travelled for several months in France and the states and had serious plans of moving to NYC, leaving my hometown for good. I love how the improvised free vibe of the recording reflects the actual answer: just go with the flow.
The original version of the EP featured another song 'Barbès' that we unfortunately had to pull for sample clearance issues. (You can still find it on the Budapest based Budabeats label's 10th anniversary vinyl compilation though). It features my dear friends iLLspokiNn and Rabbi Darkside. I consider iLLspokiNn to be a mentor for me, I definitely learned a lot from him. We worked together on several occasions in Budapest and Paris and recorded an album together with SoulClap Budapest. He's an amazing talent. I met Rabbi Darkisde through him who's also a shining light, amazing MC, beatboxer and educator. This was the only track on the release that had a completely sample based beat, It was a direct chop from Jamaican saxophonist Cedric IM Brook's version of 'Song For My Father'.
I definitely learned a lot from the people who collaborated on this project and grew greatly during the process. I truly appreciate each and every one of them.
What kinds of tools/software are you playing with to make your music?
I use a lot of percussion when creating. Beatbox, congas, bongos, talking drum, shekere, caxixi, bells and agogos, you name it. I'm also a keyboard player, my first love and main weapon is my 1974 Fender Rhodes. I also use analog and software synths (Juno, Dave Smith, Roland SH 2000) and love the Clavinet sound in my Nord Electro 3. I also love experimenting with different recording methods, vintage microphones, guitar pedals and effects or this vintage cassette tape recorded I found on a flea market for 5EUR. I track and arrange everything in Ableton. Even though I rarely use them for sampling, I always surround myself with my vinyls, listening to them when not recording and often bringing them to my DJ gigs when I have the capacity. They're just very inspiring to have around.
(Photo by Gianna Shamone)
That's some crazy kit, I know a lot of people are restoring the 1974 Fender Rhodes, would love to try one out some day.
Any artists inspiring you right now?
I'm really connected to what Makaya McCraven does, his approach to re-arranging live recordings is very refreshing. It's a technique we always experimented with and I use it heavily on my Invocation EP but he's truly taking it to the next level. I've been a fan since his 'In The Moment' record. Brazil has an incredible scene, I'm very happy for the success of Luedji Luna, her music is very pure and beautiful. My talented friend Luciane Dom is constantly looking for new sounds and I recently linked with a singer called Dossel who also released a very forward thinking album last year. And that's of course just the surface. I love what Ziggy Zeitgeist and 30/70 does, the whole Melbourne scene is mind blowing.
I'm very happy for my friends Jazzbois from Budapest. We're basically family, we grew up and have always been playing a lot together. They're some of the most talented cats I know and they just released two truly killer records in one month. Of course Africa is always the place, I was very lucky to play a few shows with jazz trumpeter Etuk Ubong who has a very special vision and sound, our friend Worlasi released a very versatile record a few months ago, I been playing a lot of Burna Boy's latest record, the Fokin Boys are always very brave and innovative. I also like what Jidenna did on his 85 to Africa record it's very on point. Honestly there's just so much good music everywhere I look. It's such an exciting time. On another note I also very often find myself going back to older recordings, I love digging and discovering music from the past. I'm currently obsessed with a Hungarian band from the 60's called Atlas who were way ahead of their time and created a beautiful interpretation of beat and American soul and funk. I'm also digging deeper and deeper into 'golden age' samba and MPB music these days. There's also a non stop Jorge Ben festival going on in our home.
What do you have in store for 2020, any plans?
There are a lot of releases planned for 2020. First and foremost I definitely want to release my debut album that I recorded in Brazil. It's a very personal project that I'm truly excited about. I have some unreleased material on my hard drive from the 'Invocation' period that I really want to put out as well. I hope that this year we'll be able to finish our collaborative EP with Emmavie that we started a while ago. We have been sitting on some beautiful music that I'm very excited about. I have been tracking a lot with Stevo Atambire from Ghana, we would like to put out a complete album together in the near future. We already started to release the debut singles of my talented manager Katerinha that we co-wrote and produced for her with Jazzbois. She has some amazing songs. Also watch out for my projects SoulClap Budapest and The Mabon Dawud Republic as both bands are about to drop new music very very soon!
(Photo by Attila Szlanka)