Interview: Imre Kiss

Before gaining broader attention for the Raw Energy EP on Lobster Theremin last year, Slovakian-born Hungarian producer and designer Imre Kiss released his debt Midnight Wave on Budapest’s Farbwechsel in 2013. A limited cassette release (we’re talking 50 copies), it was a mournful, shadowy work and it didn’t stick around for long. One owner, however, was LT boss Jimmy Asquith, who felt that limited release wasn’t enough. Last month his label reissued the album on vinyl, describing it beautifully as the vision of a “lonely individual boarding the 5am night bus home”. We spoke to Imre Kiss about the reissue, night-time colours and the scene in Budapest.

You’ve spoken before about how you got to know the guys at Farbwechsel and Lobster Theremin, so I’ll start by asking: Why now? Why reissue Midnight Wave“Jimmy [Asquith] was planning to re-release it since we did Raw Energy more than a year ago. He felt like the record deserved bigger exposure as it was originally released on tape limited to 50 copies only. It was re-mastered for the vinyl and we got an amazing artwork by Mikey Joyce so it was treated as a new material. We had some delays in the production but now it came out exactly two years after the original tape.”

Not to say your other releases aren’t, but Midnight Wave is super emotional. Was it tough to record that feeling and keep it so coherent? “It felt natural at the time I was making it. It wasn’t really planned. I was listening to a lot of music that had these simple chord changes and I thought it’s cool how instantly they can affect your mood. I was trying to achieve something similar on the album.”

It really treads a fine line between murky haze and your more beats-heavy stuff, but stays outside the club for the most part. Have you plans to work more in that mode in future? “I always liked that duality in music. I know promoters were a bit confused in the beginning if they should book me to play in an art gallery or a club. Even I was confused so I always prepared my set so that it could work both ways. After releasing Raw Energy I got to play more clubs which had an effect on my music, so my next release will lean more towards that. But to answer the question: Yes, I’d like to work more on a similar mode.”

You mentioned the orange tinge of night-time street lights, which really affect the colour of everything around you. Were any other colours important to the making of this release? “Interesting question! Not a particular colour but I used to watch tons of YouTube clips of old VHS tapes. Sometimes ripping them and adding my own music to it. I love the faded colours and the distortion is something that I tried to bring to the album too, hence the smudgy sound.”

There seems to be a nice collective working across labels like Lobster Theremin, Farbwechsel and Crisis Urbana — what is it about this bunch that seems to stand out do you think? “They’re very open in terms of releases and discovering new talents and also put great effort in the artwork without being over the top. They’re definitely more approachable unlike some bigger labels. There’s a lot of respect between artists and I’m friends with many of them so we help each other and hang out when we can.”

What’s the scene like in Budapest, can I ask? “It feels like there’s a lot happening in Budapest at the moment. Promoters from like Nightdrive and Bounce always have great acts. There’s also a new generation of producers who are finally getting the attention they deserve. We’re still not the new Berlin or whatever but it’s an exciting time to be here right now. I hope we can add something positive of how people think of Hungary despite the dreadful governments we have/had.”

What music are you listening to late at night at the moment? “Jonnine from HTRK did a four-hour mixtape for a winter road trip. It’s full of amazing music and is perfect soundtrack for late nights. I also picked up a fantastic 7” while I was playing in Copenhagen. It’s called New Gothic by Generic Face. Shout out to Apeiron Crew for the recommendation!”

How do you balance working on music with your design work? “It’s hard sometimes. I work from Monday til’ Friday as a designer and it’s difficult to find time to work on music. I need some days off work so I can fully concentrate on writing new stuff. I also often play abroad on the weekends and I’m completely knackered on Mondays but I wouldn’t want to do anything else!”

Imre Kiss – Midnight Wave is out now on Lobster Theremin. Buy here.

Aidan Hanratty

Dublin ...