"There's a growing demand of new regional music"

Interview with the organizers of Budapest Showcase Hub
Pécsi-Szabó Dénes (music manager) and Somló Dániel (musician and A&R person) are both co-founders of the Budapest Showcase Hub, and their passionate, all-embracing answers to our questions clearly showed their love and dedication towards this unique project that has been created three years ago, and serves as a great platform for emerging Eastern-European bands ever since.

Daniel Somlo and Denes Pecsi-Szabo are standing behind the BuSH project right from the start.


Daniel Somlo is a member of Eastaste, he has also played in several acclaimed local bands.


Denes Pecsi-Szabo is the founder of UP Music Management Budapest.

Kapcsolódó cikkek

What makes the Budapest Showcase Hub unique and exciting ?

P-SzD: Let's be honest: if a Hungarian music fan would have to list even one band from Poland, Romania, Ukraine or Slovenia, then probably few of us would have a clue, while BuSH presents more than 30 bands from 14 different countries during the three-day event.

Through the past three years could BuSH stand its ground among all the European music showcases like Waves or Eurosonic ?

P-SzD: I have been to a lot of showcases and it's true that after a time one gets a bit much, and the question comes up whether all these talent shows and competitions are necessary, as the market can receive only a fraction of these bands. But the main concept of BuSH is different from other festivals: our focus is on the whole East-Central-European region. The fourteen countries send almost equal number of bands, which were chosen by a jury composed of more than 600 music pros. And this works for the moment: people are talking about us at other showcases too, and the number of the delegated bands proves from year to year that BuSH is a much needed event.

We also try to present our themes from a different perspective. For example this year the musicians can meet Bjorn Pfarr, the main organizer of Reeperbahn Festival and they can ask him about his method of picking bands. And this is without precedent: that an influential music pro can be quizzed like that by the musicians who want to play at his festival.

Is BuSH balancing well between the public and the market ? Can musicians find their hearts' desire just as well as the people who would like to pop in and listen to a cool gig? Is this festival directed more to the professionals than to the audience ?

P-SzD: Live music is always for the fans. The pros are viewing the bands from the public's perspective: what is that the audience really likes, that's what they're interested in. The fact that the event is held right at the city centre, and visitors can take part in a dozen of concerts during one night for a favourably priced ticket is also a public-friendly attitude from our part. Of course the conference part is mainly attended by the musicians and the pros but during the night concerts fans and managers mingle together with record label representatives and people who are simply interested in new music.

Croatian singer-songwriter Lovely Quinces debuted in Hungary at the first BuSH and she has had several concerts here since, she is a big success everywhere, people really love her production. Do you know about other performers who took their career to the next level since their BuSH gig ?

P-SzD: Helen (RO) has been playing in Hungary several times, and Golan (RO) too, for example they have attended the Valley of Arts Festival in previous years and they are very sought after in their homeland, filling big stadiums with people. Golan returns to us to attend the closing night and play before chic local indie-rock band Fran Palermo. By the way Fran Palermo has found a Polish booking agent thanks to BuSH and local punk-rock band Gustave Tiger was chosen to perform at the Slovenian Ment Festival. Often the most interesting things that happen at BuSH are hidden from the public: the managers work hard too. For example Vera Jonas has obtained a Dutch agent who organized for her a successful Asian tour since then, even though she didn't play on the festival that year. Antonia Vai, Mörk and Mongooz And The Magnet played in five different countries thanks to fortunate encounters all happening here.

SD: The Hungarian organizers also have a preference towards former BuSH performers, for exampe this year's Brain Bar featured Bulp (playing atmospheric new-wave electronica) from Slovakia, and the Palace of Arts, Szimpla Garden, A38 Ship, Pontoon or the Valley of Arts hosts regularly talented performers from the region. These collaborations often have something to do with us.

Is there a chance for Eastern-European music to get more attention here in Hungary, or the 'West' will always dictate the trends?

P-SzD: I would say that in the following years many bands from the region will meet success 'abroad', although they face many challenges: the small countries have small markets which can receive only a fraction of the emerging bands. Only super pop groups can make a living: usually they sing in the language of the given country, but the music they make is fairly uninteresting from a more progressive point of view. Bands who play complex and exciting music simply cannot reach enough people to make a living, for example that's the case here in Hungary. That's why it is absolutely vital for the bands of our region to show themselves in the neighbouring countries too. There are more and more bands who build their career with great consciousness, and there are more and more managers who find inspiration at showcases like BuSH, and the export offices also seem to find their way finally, a good exAmple is HOTS (Hungarian Oncoming Tunes), so there are some real positive vibes out there. For the moment it's all on small scale, but there are some bands who can have a breakthrough any time. We definitely feel that music agents from England or Germany pay a lot more attention to our region now than even two or three years ago.

SD: The local events, clubs and festivals we mentioned above are implying the fact that there is a growing demand of new regional music here in Hungary, and in the last few years a lot of success stories have had influence on the western countries as well: for example there is the Estonian Tommy Cash who gives sold-out concerts throughout Europe, or the also Estonian Ewert And The Two Dragons, who are currently conquering American territories as well, or we may mention Catz n Dogs from the Polish techno scene, and Onuka from Ukraine, who became famous with her unique mixture of electronic music and Ukrainian folk music. She's selling out the biggest venues all over Europe. The story of the Latvian indie-rock band Carnival Youth, or the Lithuanian Beissoul And Einius (a former BuSH performer, focusing on high-fashion and quality electronic music) is also interesting from this aspect.

But nowadays we must also consider the online and stream activities of the bands, since it often occurs that we come across incredible numbers, songs that were streamed over millions of times, and the major part of those streams were not generated in our region but from the west. Thanks to the current listening customs and the quick passage of information it matters less and less where are you from. What matters is whether your song works or not, is there a strategic concept behind, and how can the performer or the management realize that concept in practice. I hope that the local media which shapes public opinion and provides culture and music will catch up with this process, because all around us the world of music is progressing forward very quickly. If this catching up happens, then yes, we might see that the dominating trends are not exclusively dictated by the 'West'.

Do you think that the Eastern-European bands generally follow their own heads more boldly and they endeavour less to follow the expectations of others compared to their western colleagues? Can we notice any common features in their mentality or artistic attitude?

SD: Perhaps thanks to the historic past we share one can feel a certain courage, a desire to prove ourselves, but I don't think that western bands were less conscious. On the contrary, often they are more mature-minded and determined, and they have a whole 'machinery' behind (let's call it the music industry) and they can take advantage of that. Perhaps this 'machinery' is what we miss here in Hungary, and because of that local bands must count on themselves more regarding their career, but with persistence and dedication these problems can be bridged. One of the main goals of BUSH is to change this situation: this is why we organize different workshops, trainings and relationship networking events (like Grantourismo) where people can mingle, connect and develop themselves. I could start a whole new conversation about musical education...

Thanks to the diversity of the region and also due to the diverse political situations, there are different tendencies: while in the Balticum or in Romania emerging, progressive new bands practically rip through the local music scene filling whole stadiums (like Golan), a few kilometers away (e.g. in Hungary) similar bands can only play in small clubs for one or two hundred people, and they can't really move forward to the next level. This correlates of course with the club scene of a given country or town. The current situation in Budapest doesn't give enough possibilities for the bands to prove on stage, and that's a big problem (referring to the fact that many of the smaller music venues have closed down nowadays, while the bigger ones usually pick the bands who are already successful).

Regarding the mentality or the artistic attitude, I could mention perhaps the Russian performers, there I can detect a common ground: a little dark, suburban atmosphere, kind of a sweat-suit trash image if you like. Of course we'll also have a performer like this at BuSH: Shortparis, who closes a very successful year as they have not only filled the clubs of Berlin but the foreign press also keeps praising them. I think they are the Mr. Bungle of the 21st century!

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