"By The Time You Learn To Use The Definitions..."
A conversation with György Czabán and Zoltán Végső
Due to the Hungarian way of record distribution the artists who decide to choose their own way have to face the dilemma of taking the trouble of the release and promotion of an album besides making it. That's why the first album by Ágens was released as a supplement of an art monthly . Even if it's commercially not available it gets to a certain audience. We were talking about this and loads of other important things with Ágens at Radio Tilos.
'By the time you learn to use the definitions to identify and express yourself they become insignificant.'
Tell us something about the CD! You've always had songs that could have been released. Why now, why this?
Although I've been here for five years the exact direction wasn't outlined then, so the music wouldn't have had the attractive force that lies in its intellectual context, as well.
Did you sing before that? Children's ditties at the kindergarten maybe?
I was a member of the choir at primary school. I was hardly able to get away from it at high school but I managed somehow: I sang out of tune at the entrance exam.
So you got away and it wasn't in question after that?
I used to play with amateur theaters, I wanted to become an actress.I used to attend a school for theatrical arts but I left it because they wanted me to sing perettas, something I was reluctant to do even at the exam.I wanted to be a serious, dramatic actress. I'm - or I used to be, I would say now - actually an actress character, an adventuress, a slave to the night-magic, someone with elemental stories behind her back. So I saw it wasn't for me. Then I studied Hungarian literature and motion picture theory.
Do you still study?
No, thanks, it was enough.I work from 8 to 5 and then I sing and accomplish the tasks I get as a singer.Last year I had the leading role in a movie by Szalay-Dárdai titled 'Reflections' and I thought that I could make a living on singing and acting and other works.Then the movie turned out to be able to pay only in small amounts and we were very poor, so I took a job for I didn't want to cry for grants at funds. I had this album released after that from my own money and some help from my friends. I also contribute to theatre plays with my singing.I do my work without having to cry on someone's shoulder . I am really proud of my independence.
Do you plan to release the soundtrack of the movie?
I don't think so because what I know is not really used in the movie . The final version of the film made me very sad . The first ten minutes are beautiful and then the whole thing slips away.
What was the shooting in Venice and New York like?
It was my first time in Venice and it was carnival-time which is a disappointing spectacle for tourists to a certain extent but still has a sort of elemental power. It was right my birthday when they released the pigeons and all those balloons.I was very happy , full of trust and love in last february when the shooting began.We spent about two months there and the situation wasn't that bright in the end but I have good memories of Venice.But New York was really terrible , the problems culminated there.
Do you regard yourself as a singer now?
Yes, I've been absolutely sure about it for about three years.I used to say that I have a singer-consciousness but I've just begun to realize what it means.
Do you train your voice?
I think a lot about it . I went to several teachers .My opera-teacher was unwilling to give me a proper training for fear of spoiling my ability. I went to a jazz-teacher who claimed that he was the only one in Hungary to teach improvisation. I asked him to accompany me on the guitar and saxophone but he was unable to follow me .I wish to learn but I haven't found the right person yet. I thought that László Hortobágyi would be my master but he rejected me.My inner language( and the ability of translation) didn't work to tell him what I know about the world.It happens sometimes . You understand everything, you have a lot in common and still you walk past somebody in lack of a common language.
Do you have your next album in your head?
It's actually ready and recorded , it's gonna come out in September.We think about the third one , we've also recorded a track for that.
You probably have sponsors for it.
Well, most of them wants to change you according to their ideas.I was unable to cooperate with them. If you take this path you have to release at least two albums if you want to be taken seriously by the huge record companies.
Do you have a record company?
Me and my composer, Boudny . Even the Bahia- the only one that time with whose conception I would fit in- told me to bugger off .It's natural that they showed me the door at the BMG .It's amazing what kind of people and situations I come across.I listen to everyone , I leave the time for a story before I jump out of a relationship.I trust that it would finally dawn upon them what they really do and something happens that makes them change their way of thinking.So I always give people a chance to show themselves if they wish.It's incredible what ideas do they have with me.
There's one thing I can imagine: the role-giving sofa.
I didn't have a share in that, but someone offered one million HUF a year for' meeting' a couple of times a month. I could release loads of albums and buy leather clothes then. I told him that I would think it over . Not so much for the money but the leather clothes! But this is unusual because most men get paralyzed before making a proposal. I don't play roles and I can hear what they think . I wait till the end of their thoughts, which is something for which they aren't prepared.
Why did you release the album as a supplement of Balkon, an art monthly?
Did I have another chance apart from releasing it as the umpteenth commercially available record?
No because the distribution is very bad. It was a good idea, you became a sort of sponsor for Balkon.
Yeah, some kind friends of mine gave the money for that. Zsolt Czakó made the cover design-that's beautiful- for free.You know when the time for something has come.It gets on your nerves if things don't work because you know that the moment will never come back. That particular thing will never have that power but in its own time .Of course , I have my own omissions that are probably responsible for my attitude towards crying over one's omissions. I can't hear that anymore because I'm not interested in capitulation.This may sound harsh but I face the same thing day by day: the madness of life: I like Tarkovskiy . I find an answer and teaching to all my essential questions in his movies. So I think in parallel with that crying voice.There's always something to deal with. I've just learned to cook and it's important what I'm gonna cook on Sunday.
What are you going to cook?
I don't know yet because I go to the market on Saturday examining everything slowly and carefully. I take it very seriously since I've learned what it means. Everything is important , this conversation here, as well.
Translated: Gábor Harmati