From Aural Innovations #8 (October 1999)
Korai Öröm are a band from Budapest, Hungary that many of you have probably read about and perhaps found one or two of their CD's. The band have played a lot of concerts in Eastern Europe and mainly Germany over the past several years and have gained quite a reputation as a dynamic live band with a great visual show. The band has been slowly getting larger and larger over the years (now at 13 members, including the visual staff of 4). I have been trading email with one of the founding members of the band, Emil Biljarski, and below are some interesting insights into the band.
SH: The band started out as a three piece in 1991. What was the music like when you were only three and did you ever do any gigs?
EB: The guys called themselves "Mike Hunter Popular" (Mike Hunter was a porno producer or something like this) and tried to be like "Joy Division". But it was long ago, nobody remembers.
SH: I noticed that most of the songs on the Early Fun cassette tape from 1993 have appeared on the first 2 CD's. They seem to be from different recording sessions?
EB: Of course. The '93 tape is 3 pieces recorded live on concert. There was some other live mixed on it later, to make the stuff continuous. I got a lot of tapes with such live recordings, which are quite wild and interesting, but full of mistakes - in the early times we improvised a lot and being very poorly skilled musicians... The CD's are recorded in studio.
SH: Has the band always been an audio and visual experience?
EB: It came all by chance. Somebody came and offered to project images at the concerts and the band said - let's try. There were a lot of changes in the first years - a lot of people came and went, some stayed. So now we are 13... (sorry, 12, the guitarist left last month).
SH: Does the band improvise on their CD compositions live? Do you ever try out new material live before recording?
EB: All the compositions come from improvising at rehearsals. The miracle is when all nine musicians become in the same mood and play something as ONE. The second miracle is if we are able to become in the same mood and play the same on the next rehearsal (nobody remembers or notes the music). The pieces change, they are different on each concert. We record the material after it works live. Studio work is terrible for us. Everybody plays his permanent solos and then we have to make music from this chaos. It works only if we kill most of the music. It means that a lot of different albums can be mixed from the same recorded stuff.
SH: What does the name Korai Öröm translate to in English, if there is a translation?
EB: It's very stupid name. It means something like "Early Joy". Somebody (not from the band) offered it during football play in the early times. The one good thing is that you don't have to seek deep meaning in it.
SH: Why has the band not decided to give the songs names?
EB: The band didn't decide anything ever (the inability to decide is a big trouble sometimes). The things just happen. The pieces don't have names, as I don't know my real name and you don't know yours, so why shall we follow the stupid habit to find out names to things? "Cosmic orgasm in the psychedelic sky" or something like this? The problem is also that people need names to imagine things, without and knowing the names they feel insecure. Of course the pieces have work names - like "Arabian", 9/4, "Richie kind of wild", "Madonna on kokain" etc. Imagine some smoked people trying to give name to the piece just born.
SH: I am curious when you work up a set list for a concert how do you refer to the songs so each member knows what to play? It must be confusing to say, we will play Untitled #3 from 1994, then Untitled #4 from 1996 and etc... you know what I mean... Or are all the concerts new improvised material and tracks from the CD's are not played?
EB: Nowadays we play the stuff recorded + some drum improvisations. But our last concert for example was full of improvisations, because there were problems with the electricity and the bass guitar - it was on Solipse Fest - the greatest and worst organised eclipse festival. We are prepared for any disaster - at Herzberg Fest in Germany last month the generators broke and 15,000 people stayed without electricity - just before our concert. We started to play drums and this was the only happening in the darkness and silence. It was good experience, the people liked it.
The list of our last concert is:
Taf ta taf
SH: The band has done some soundtracks for TV and movies? Are any of these soundtracks available on CD?
EB: No. Most of them are taken or remixed from our recorded material. But for example we accompanied live every play of "Shanyi, the pilot" - a theatre piece of Peter Halas, Hungarian artist living in New York. Yes, I have one "advertising music" recorded, we made it for an internet competition - it is 20 sec. finishing with a burp voice. I thought they will drop it, but it went every hour on the commercial radio stations!
SH: The band seems to be getting more and more press in the west. Have there been any offers to tour in the United States?
EB: Yes, last year we have been invited to play at Progday in North Carolina. I don't know how the people found us, but some people called us from Chicago, NY, other cities and offered concerts. In the end KLM, who promised free tickets, cancelled their promise and we didn't go. There are no miracles (only in your head).
SH: How long does an average Korai Öröm concert last?
EB: 1.5 hour. In the hero times, when we played every month in one small club (it was prepared for 250 persons, but there were sometimes 600 at our concerts), there were sometimes 3 hour long gigs.
SH: Has the band every made a video?
EB: We have 2 clips and another one is under preparation - it will be the best. It is of live music recorded on rehearsal, the story is about one our rehearsal and how the drummer lates...
SH: It seems that Eastern European music is getting more and more popular. Has this existed for a long time in Eastern Europe but it is just now being exposed to the west or is this something very new.
EB: There was always very interesting culture in Eastern Europe, which was the real underground - known only by some people and not having hope to have commercial success or even to be heard by more people. It gives special charm to the music - when you do it only for yourself. I grew up in the Soviet Union. It had (and it has) subculture, as strong and real as the western subculture in the 60's. But you have to be there to understand it. It has another roots and due to it most of the western people doesn't accept it. Rock-n-roll is universal language, but for Eastern Europe it is only the form. The content is different. We are lucky that we are not so determined by the western rock traditions. Maybe this is why our music is less cliché than many western bands, playing "styles".
SH: What musical acts from Hungary have been an influence on Korai Öröm? Do you remember the acts P.Mobil, Karthago, etc....
EB: It is like asking if Deep Purple influenced Ozric Tentacles... Nothing concrete influences us and at the same time, everything - the life which surrounds us.
SH: I heard a rumor the next CD might be a live one? When does the band expect to have a new release?
EB: Our guitarist left us (he is the second guitarist who just became crazy), and now we have to work out a new conception. He had the strongest influence on the music (playing also trumpet, flute, singing). My biggest pain is that we didn't record the new stuff made with him, which is very good I think. I don't know when will we record a new album now.
SH: What is the best way for people to contact the band?
EB: firstname.lastname@example.org or my mobilephone (0036 209 169384). Check our website - http://www.korai.hu.
SH: Also, if you could send me a detailed discography, which includes the side project work of other members of the band as well as the Korai projects outside the 4 CD's.
EB: There are no other music materials published yet. Korai Bandito's - 3 DJ's from the band are now very popular DJ's in Budapest. Our frontman Tibor plays the main role in a full time movie "Sugarblue", our didgeridoo player Vili has his own theatre team and directs pieces with success. Some of us (for example the VJ's) take part in his projects. Now he is working as producer on an album of a famous Hungarian artist. Maybe some of the band will play on it. We made together with him music for theatre pieces. The drummers used to make drum sessions (it is a separate project). We plan to record an album with them but they are lazzzzzzzzzy.
Finally I would like to say that we are not important, the information is not important, the CD's are good, but sterile. Better to come to our concerts and let's feel together those things which happen from themselves and make us stay alive. Cheers!
I thank Emil for the nice interview and I can only hope that the band comes and plays in the rest of Europe and the US in the coming years. I have tried to put together a detailed discography of the band below help out all those who are interested in the music of one of Hungary's best bands!!
KORAI ÖRÖM Discography:
1993 Early Fun cassette
1995 Korai Öröm '95 CD (PB078)
1996 Korai Öröm '96 CD (Kora 0002)
1997 Korai Öröm 1997 CD (Kora 0003)
1998 Korai Öröm Edited Versions 1994-1997 lp (Lollipop Records)
1998 Korai Öröm Recycled (remixes) CD/lp
1996 Music for theatre piece "Sanyi, the Pilot"
1998 Music for the Movie "North, North"
1998 Music for the Movie "Sugarblue"
You can visit Korai Öröm at their web site.