Image credit: Norbert Pandur Balogh
We spoke with vaghy, a Neo-classical composer involved in keeping piano music alive. With formal training in the classical stream, he has previously assisted in organising Piano Day in the capital of Hungary, where he resides. In 2022, he released a single titled ‘Bite’ as part of his debut LP, Minimalism, and now offers listeners a visual representation of the track, which you can watch below. What’s more, listeners can expect to receive his second album on the 26th of May under Théque Records.
The composition is minimal in its instrumentation– it only contains the piano–yet complex in its rhythmic motifs. a dance of arpeggiation, vaghy’s vigorous playing is deft and articulate, making for a piece that is not bare, but essential. Neither empty nor chaotic, but orderly and meticulous, a work of detail.
Without further delay, here is vaghy.
You mentioned that the video for ‘Bite’ is inspired by a piece of art you saw in an exhibition. How would you describe the artwork?
The video was produced by Péter Lichter. I didn’t know him personally, I’ve only seen his previous works. I was very impressed by the way he makes videos with this innovative method for me. When I sent him the music, he replied almost immediately that he was involved in the joint work and already had an idea of how to make it. In fact, he photographs old 8mm footage, painting them by hand at certain points. This is an incredible job. The song and the video are in incredible harmony and faithfully reflect the moment when the song was born.
Outside of music, what other creative mediums do you dabble with, if any?
I mostly deal with musical things. The multi-layeredness is in this, and broken down I am active in several genres of music. But the most exciting and challenging task for me is film music. I really like to delve into this, because it is a completely different task that requires concentration and you have to think in completely different layers while creating. There could be more such requests.
Describe your sound for us. What do you want people to feel when they hear your music?
When I decided to make a completely stripped-down piano-centric record, it was obvious that I wasn’t going to record it on a regular piano. From this decision began a long journey where the goal was to make my sound unique. It soon became clear from this that the end result would be a very intimate, intimate dance. The purpose of my music is thought-provoking, deepening and a sound that makes the listener feel as if they are sitting in a room with me when listening to the songs.
Which 3 artists have influenced you the most growing up?
Thelonious Monk, Keith Jarrett, Ryuichi Sakamoto.
How did you discover your particular sound?
As I mentioned, finding the unique sound of the piano was not easy and required a lot of experimentation.
Tell us about one of the first struggles you faced (as a group or a solo artist) and how you overcame it?
This was not a difficulty, but a strong realization of how different playing in a band is from playing solo. For a significant part of my career, I was a keyboard player in bands, and there you get used to the fact that attention and responsibility are divided. When I stood on stage as a soloist for the first time, I realized on the steps of the stage that there will be no one on stage with me except me and there is no shared attention, whatever I do there, everyone will pay 100% attention to me, and I will be in charge. At first, this thought paralyzed me, but I was able to draw a lot of strength and energy from it.
What are the most important pieces of equipment to you?
The most important thing to use in the recording chain is the piano itself. Everything that follows in the chain has completely traditional tools. When I play live, the most important instrument besides the piano is the foot synthesizer I built. This is essentially a Moog copy, but I have slightly modified its functions and use. It was also surprising to me how well such a bass synthesizer complements the acoustic piano.
Music for the individual or the masses – which do you want to create?
Absolute music for the individual.
Do you have a favourite memory of your career so far?
Playing together with Lubomyr Melnyk in 2019 was one of the greatest experiences of my career. We had a joint concert on one of the most patinated concert stages in Budapest.
If you could work with, or perform alongside any artist living or passed, who would it be?
What kind of message are you trying to send with your music?
Today’s music consumption does not favor performers and composers of your kind. Today, everyone listens to songs embedded in boxes containing moods. I absolutely think in terms of album concepts, arcs and large-scale ideas, which in terms of the final product require time and due attention. I am very confident that today’s music consumption will turn into a style that will bring you back a little to the bed of the old days.
What can we expect from you in the near future? Any upcoming projects or gigs in the pipeline that you would like to tell us about?
My second album Granum will be released soon. This is an album that was completely improvisational and recorded at once. I am very proud of this project because improvisation is very important to me and an element of my live performances. It was a big challenge to make a record without a written melody written in advance. After the recording, I was so tired that I couldn’t do anything that day. It was incredible to discover in myself that there and then a journey was created, and I was able to keep this not only within one song but also the idea that spanned the entire album was revealed. In addition, I’m preparing a very new material where I leave out the solo piano segment a bit, and electronics and vocals get more space.