‘Innocence is impossible, piercings are possible’: An interview with Céh/Új Bála
Gábor Kovács is a Budapest-based musician and visual artist. Active in a number of projects, he works with a wide range of genres and sounds, although his two main outputs are Új Bála and Céh. Új Bála merges noise, psychedelia and fringes of techno and summons the rhythmic skeletons of dance music to bring order to his backdrop of mangled synth noises. After a couple of self-released digital releases he published two tapes in 2016, the techno-oriented Boka on Baba Vanga and the more punk and noise-influenced “Butcher’s Tears Dry Slower Than Average One’s” via the Melbourne based Altered State Tapes. While Új Bála continually steps in and out of the club environment, Céh is more of a minimalist punk experiment, a collision of two worlds: Raymond Kiss’ visceral guitar and Gábor Kovács’ rough and rugged electronic sounds and intense vocal presence. The outcome is an amalgam of noise rock, industrial punk and delightfully crude drum programming. The band’s debut “Youth is Impossible” was released in 2015 by the Hungarian art collective Brain Fatigue.
Céh is your mutual project, both of you are also active as solo musicians. Can you talk about what you do together and separately/solo, and how you combine?
Gábor: In my solo project, I produce techno-influenced electronic music under the moniker Új Bála. My obsession with techno is kind of obvious when you listen to the drums of Céh, but the techno aesthetic often seems too secluded and elitist to me. I’m more into the straight-forward spirit and energy of punk, so that is the point where Céh comes into equation.
Raymond: I think that everything I do comes from the same place. It doesn’t matter if it’s solo or a band.
Do you see any parallels between Raymond’s guitar playing and Gabor’s drum programming and vocal style?
G: The vocal style and drum programming are based on a mutual consensus. I can sing a bit if it’s necessary, my singing voice is a false baritone, ‘the worst Nick Cave imitator in the universe’, as the press once described it very well. Anyway, we prefer this raw aggressive barking. It’s kind of the same with drums. I know that Raymond loves to play fast and loud and distorted, so obviously blasted beats and frenetic snares are welcome.
R: Playing the slow parts just bores the hell out of me.
You released a record called “Youth Is Impossible”. Can you talk about the title and what it alludes to (teenage angst?)
G: If I remember it correctly it comes from the lyrics of our song ‘I’ve tried to fight against the routine but protein fell into habit’. So, when I was a kid a wanted to be a kid, but that wasn’t possible. It’s personal. It’s a deeper topic than a classic ‘fuck you mommy, I’m gonna get that piercing’ type of teenage angst. Innocence is impossible, piercings are possible.
R: One’s youth should be full of energy, but everything around you tries to break that in one way or another.
You are both based in Budapest. How is the music scene there? I guess musically you are both in the experimental/electronic as well as the noise/rock/garage scenes.
G: Yes and no. Usually, true punks find our music too arty while the nerds of the experimental scene find it too punky. So, we are in this grey zone. But fortunately, there are some more open-minded promoters around (such as UH Fest, Küss Mich) and they give us some credit here and there. Overall the music scene is quite happening, the house and techno scene is already well-documented in western media. Besides that there are lots of interesting things happening in Budapest and in the countryside as well, but of course everything is totally DIY, far from mainstream, suffering from the lack of resources on every level.
R: If there’s a scene I want to be associated with, it’s something like the weirdo scene.
What can we expect from Céh in 2017?
G: Definitely a new record.
R: Love songs.
Interview by Lucia Udvardyova