Infinite crowded universe – Interview with Andrew Hefler (Kéknyúl)
Funky soulfoul group Kéknyúl will release their latest album Crowded Universe on December 4, which they will also commemorate with a gig at Akvárium on the very same day. We asked frontman Andrew Hefler about the band’s past year, a new addition to the band, and the methods that brought about this crowded group’s latest musical offering.
What has the past year been like for Kéknyúl, how would you rate it? What can we expect in the remainder of 2015?
Excellent. This year started off with an exceptionally fun and sold out show at the Trafó and now it ends with the release of our third album. There have been some great shows and the songwriting process has been a blast. The rest of 2015 will be a bit quieter after the show Friday at Akvárium.
You have a new member in the band, Bata István on bass. How did his inclusion form the sound of the new album Crowded Universe?
Several gifts in one package. He is a fine player, a super musical person and an exceptionally nice guy. This gives us another collaborator and discerning ear. It also makes us have to reduce the amount of activity, the actual playing I think has ‘cleaned up’ a bit. The new songs stylistically have become more minimalistic and straightforward, I think this is a plus.
How did the material for the new album take shape? What is the concept of the album?
We improvise in rehearsals, record things on phones around town, and either piece things together or allow for something to simply land in place. Some songs get really thorough construction, others seem to arrive somewhat complete. The concept I suppose just riffs on the feeling of overwhelming beauty and paralyzing horror that we face in an overcomplicated age.
Can you talk about the album title, Crowded Universe?
I guess the question is how could the universe be crowded if it is infinite, but somehow we manage to make it feel this way.
Will you be making a music video for any of the new tracks? If yes, do you know yet which one?
Yes, I think so. Which, I’m not quite sure yet.
You have quite a lot of band members. How does everyone influence the overall sound?
I think the word/idea self-expression is at best boring and at worst vulgar. A band is about blending to become one thing. Writing songs is labored, finding songs is rapturous. I think the players contribute best when something like this is the mindset. With that there are tasks like horn arrangements, melodic and harmonic choices that need individual contributions. Also listening, voicing opinions and suggesting changes is encouraged. Plenty of opportunity for contribution.
Seeing as you have so many members, have you ever had any difficulty on smaller stages? It must feel like a “Crowded Universe” up there already.
It can be. I love big stages!
What are your musical roots, and how do they influence the sound of the band?
I love motown, soul and funk music, with that being said I have a huge passion for music of all kinds from everywhere. I suppose you are what you eat. I honestly do not know outside of what I want to hear or like how much it influences the band. Most musicians influence their bands within their own limitations as a player. This is good and bad. Hopefully in my case it comes out more good than bad.
What attracted you to Budapest as an American? Do you like living here? What do you like the most about Budapest and Hungarian people? Is there anything you would change maybe?
I like Budapest. I found my wife and children and many amazing friendships. Hungarians make great friends and can have a feral dark humour. I would change the fact that people drive aggressively as if it was a videogame, and the paralyzing misconception of what ‘deep’ is. This pessimism is misleading and grossly superficial.
When and where can we expect to see Kéknyúl live next time?
December 4 at Akvárium, hopefully in a crowded concert hall.