Amek nl_12: An Embrace
New tapes and interview with Lucia Udvardyova
Lately, our newsletter schedule got slightly disrupted, so in the last days of March we’ll try to catch up on most of the stuff we’ve been working on in the past few months. We hope you’re still with us, because more Amek news are waiting just around the corner.
Various Artists “An Embrace”
After more than a year in the making, we are happy to share with you An Embrace, a collaborative compilation with the German label VAAGNER created for Easterndaze x Berlin 2021.
Each label invited four of our artists to form four duos. Evitceles & Fortunes Brine, Zhe Pechorin & Anasisana, krāllār & Ekin Fil, as well as Vague Voices & Crosspolar collaborated remotely and each pair wrote a piece.
An Embrace is available on a limited edition cassette tape and a riso-printed zine featuring interviews with the artists alongside writings by S. N., Tsvetan Tsvetanov, Krisztián Puskár and Stanimir Panayotov.
Listen and order An Embrace here.
Anarchist Mountains Trio "La Terre et la force"
La terre et la force is the Anarchist Mountains Trio debut for AMEK. Usually a duo of brothers Stefan and Jordan Christoff, here they are joined by Joseph Sannicandro. The result is a subtle, beautifully paced album reflecting the summer day in Montréal, Canada on which it was born.
Find La terre et la force on tape (ltd. to 66) and digital here.
Angel Simitchiev & Linus Schrab "Airborne"
Airborne is the first collaborative album by Angel Simitchiev (Mytrip, Dayin) and Linus Schrab (V I C I M, Thet Liturgiske Owäsendet, Purlieu Recordings). Recorded in May 2019, during an intense creative weekend in Sofia, Bulgaria, the seven pieces found herein combine ambient delicacy with the intensity of noise and post-industrial soundscapes.
Find Airborne on tape (ltd. to 80) and digital here.
We also did a special mix for our friends from Verace on 00185fm. Find it here.
We have a few copies of the new issue of Noise Receptor. This issue features interviews with Linekraft, Martin Bladh, Murderous Vision, Nil By Mouth & more. As always, the stock is limited, so if you want to snag a copy, contact us ASAP.
Lucia Udvardyova is 1⁄2 of Easterndaze, a project dedicated to investigating the experimental music scenes of Eastern Europe. She’s also involved in several community radio projects, the tape label Baba Vanga, SHAPE platform and performs under the name Palmovka. We’ve been following Easterndaze for many years and have always admired their efforts to show more of Eastern Europe than concrete blocks and poverty. The last year we’ve been extensively communicating with Lucia, while working on An Embrace, so we decided to share one of our many talks with you.
How did you start Easterndaze? Is it currently run by the same people who started it?
Easterndaze was pretty much just two people: Peter Gonda aka gnd and I. We met around 2008 in Prague. We both had interest in radio - Peter having been active in a Slovak student radio called Tlis, me having worked for Czech Radio and having done some stuff for Resonance FM. For me personally, the interest in the region dates perhaps back to the time I was living in London in the early 2000's and encountering this East / West divide as a gastarbeiter (with the fancy name au pair). Talking to my English friends about Communism and growing up in the 1980s became my pastime after getting back from parties and hanging out. I realize that it probably sounded like scifi to them, which looking back from 2021 seems pretty surreal to me too. I was, of course, fascinated by the West as a child, and wanted to escape there as soon as I could (I moved to the UK aged 19 largely because of its music scene). But at some point, I moved to Prague and became interested in the pre-1989 underground, the dissent movement, etc. My family roots are classic East & Central European - a mix of regional history and outrootedness (Serbia, Bosnia, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Hungary..). Yet, I had little knowledge of let's say the culture of my relatives in Serbia.
Back around 2008-9, there was little coverage of what's happening in the music scenes of these countries. So in 2010, I set out with Peter to travel across the region, interview musicians, search for music online during the day, attend gigs and hang out with all the amazing people we would be meeting in the evenings. These physical encounters laid the foundation for all the later contacts and networks. I doubt we'd achieve the same if it was done purely online (which we also briefly thought of doing, but luckily abandoned). At the moment, it's mostly me posting stuff on the Easterndaze Facebook, doing the Cashmere Radio show and the Berlin event and with Peter, we run the Baba Vanga imprint and do the Czech Radio show.
Easterndaze is a beautiful name, do you remember how you came up with it?
Peter came up with it. We were thinking for what seems like forever about the name, as names are always the most difficult and reductive. We were a bit wary of using "Eastern" as such, but then we thought why not :)
We first met probably 10 years ago while you were travelling around Bulgaria and the region, do you have a particular favorite place and scene that you discovered thanks to Easterndaze?
The travels and encounters were the best about the whole project, no internet contact will ever replace those. I remember being in Varna in 2012, and climbing up to the Soviet-Bulgarian monument with the duo Жълти стъкла (they looked like sweet beach goths when we met them, both dressed in black, both around 20, in love), the inside of the monument was full of trash and derelict concrete. We were going upstairs in complete darkness, me panicking and almost being unable to go up (being claustrophobic) but then when we reached the top, the view (of the Black Sea) was beautiful. They had a guitar and played.
You have a monthly radio show on Cashmere Radio in Berlin and are also well-connected to various other radio stations in Europe. What keeps community radio relevant in our current musical landscape?
We started as a radio project (a series of travelogues for Resonance FM) back in 2010. Radio remains close to our hearts. Radio helps you navigate across the vast sonosphere of contemporary music scenes, but I also love the outthere experimental stuff radios like Cashmere or Resonance FM are doing, the radiophony. Community radios in particular gather various music communities that perhaps would not have met otherwise (mostly the moderators being musicians, label owners, etc, not journalists per se, so the activist nature of the whole medium is implicit) and are vital for the local underground scenes.
Easterndaze is dedicated to revitalizing the perception about Eastern Europe and our art and culture. Do you think Western Europe has already started to see the good stuff beyond our grey concrete blocks or we are far from this yet?
It's hard to say. There are more articles about local music scenes in general, though they still have a whiff of inherent exoticisation about them. Some media coming from the East are probably complicit in this, presenting the region as the "New East", the more obscure aspects of it, the better. With the rise of rightwing politics and populism in several Central European countries as of recent, Eastern Europe has once again become regressive in the eyes of Western media. On the flipside, there are the unofficial structures and underground scenes, the activists, etc. that are thriving in spite of the shitty economics and politics that surround them. There are several amazing labels and collectives releasing amazing music all around the region, and I think they are getting noticed much more than let's say 10 years ago (could this be due to the much-maligned social media?).
Is there any interest from territories like the US or Asia for the work you are doing or the local activities you are helping spread the word about?
The interest I'd say - and we actually were excited about this when we realised - is primarily intra-regional.
This year marks the fourth issue of the Easterndaze x Berlin festival, in which we are proud to be participating with the project “An Embrace”. Can you tell us a bit more about everything else on this year’s program?
Apart from An Embrace, which is a collaboration between you and Vaagner, we are also doing a community radio project that involves 4 community radios coming together and sharing/remixing their programmes during the week of 19 - 23 April. There'll also be a panel talk focused on the topic on 23 April, as well as a live radio marathon on that day. In September, we'll host a video installation at Bärenzwinger Gallery in Berlin, a project by Holly Childs and Gediminas Žygus (Subtext Recs). And at the end of September, there will be a videodrome/music video installation at ZÖNOTÉKA also in Berlin. More information can be found here.
The pandemic clearly affected the way the festival had initially functioned but do you see this as some sort of positive transformation, something that in the future might create more impact or the current situation is simply a huge obstacle for your long-term goals with this event?
Somehow - and this makes it perhaps more free - there's no clear goal or some teleological trajectory with this event. It's nice to do it and pay everyone involved (this year, we have received funding from the German funding body Musikfonds). If it happens next year, great, if it cannot, it's not a tragedy :) The Berlin event was initiated by Natalie Gravenor, who is a film distributor & producer, and a big thanks goes to her and her work on this, as well to Maria Orciuoli who does the PR for the event, and the graphic designers (this year it's Máté Janky aka Alley Catss). We are a small but nice team by now :)
You also run a tape label called Baba Vanga, named after the blind Bulgarian clairvoyant, any new releases in the pipeline, you’ve been silent for a while?
We were on the train to Sofia from Varna back in 2012, with a demo of an artist from Czech Republic called Střed Světa (Centre of the World), who does this idiosyncratic, very special broken electronics. Being in Bulgaria, Baba Vanga's country, we decided to name the label that way. At the moment, the label has been a bit dormant, but Baba Vanga will be back! ;)