The band who played at Sziget after only 13 gigs – Middlemist Red
People tend to be skeptical when they hear about a newly formed rock band. Their thoughts vary between “there’s nothing we haven’t already heard”, “rock is dead” or “they’re just gonna copy something we heard before.” Middlemist Red, however, greatly disappointed me in this regard… positively. These guys are full of life and the will to experiment. They have that something we’re looking for in the early records of The White Stripes and Franz Ferdinand or, rather surprisingly, the Twin Peaks soundtrack of Angelo Badalamenti. Quite an unusual mixture, isn’t it?
Why all the psychedelia? Is there some sort of Pulp Fiction-inspired background to it?
Soma Nóvé: We don’t play that typical classic “psychedelic music.” We like to experiment a lot, to use a bunch of effects on our instruments, so there’s a kind of psychedelic feeling to it. However, we don’t restrict ourselves to this genre. We’re as psychedelic as a psychedelic song of The Black Keys – there’s some blues in there too. Maybe we got classified like this because there aren’t many similar acts in Hungary.
What is it that you’re trying to convey? What is more characteristic of the band, if not psychedelia?
Ábel Ürögdi: We don’t have a particular message… maybe just to convey towards other bands that it’s worthwhile to experiment with sounds more bravely. You mustn’t narrow it down to one style, there’s lots of places to draw inspiration from. We’re trying to expand our boundaries as well, incorporating as many moods and sounds as we can.
Since you’re always experimenting, is it likely that you will be playing in a completely different style two years from now?
Soma Deli: I’m sure there won’t be a drastic change – like we probably won’t play deathcore or something totally different. Right now we’re in the process of laying down our musical groundwork, and there’s a good chance we’ll stay with this genre. We established a certain sound on our EP we released in November, and we won’t change that too much. Although, as Dávid said, we’re testing our boundaries, so maybe some different “flavors” will get into the mix later.
What does this band mean for you? How can you describe the feeling?
Ábel: I think I can speak on behalf of the other too when I say we take this very seriously, and we’re not just fooling around. This is what gets us to that higher level of joy. We love working with each other, and we’re really good friends as well.
You officially started a year ago. Do you all come from Kőbányai Zenei Stúdió (school of music)?
Soma D.: Not exactly. Only one of us really attends that school, and Dávid has no connection to it whatsoever.
Dávid: Ábel and I played together in another band before. Our style was pop-rock, and after some time we decided to try out something new. He was the one who introduced me to this whole psychedelic genre, which quickly found its way to my heart.
What are your musical inspirations? Are there any bands that you reference or pay tribute to in your own songs?
Soma D.: The strangest thing is that we are influenced by musicians who themselves were inspired by ‘60s psychedelia. For instance, there’s Black Angels, Temples or maybe Tame Impala. It’s weird but lots of people tell us that the whole ‘60s feeling really comes through in our music, even though we were only indirectly affected by the ‘60s and ‘70s.
Do you have any role models or someone whose style you hold in high regard?
Soma D.: One of my teachers, Egon Póka is like that. Not only because of the sound, but generally too. Perhaps his way of playing the bass is what I’m most fond of. It’s something I’d like to incorporate into my own style.
Soma N.: My former guitar teacher Dávid Somló inspired me greatly, even though he’s from another world, musically. Despite that, I learnt a lot from him about understanding music. Thanks to him, I now think a lot more clearly about music.
How do you write your songs? Is there a main composer or do you just sit down and it all comes together after a while?
Dávid: Recently most of the tracks start with me sitting at home, strumming the guitar or writing parts for myself. If I find something good, I show it to the others at the rehearsal. If they dig it too, then the given part can be the starting point for a new track. As soon as we have something solid to work with, the rest comes fairly quickly.
Soma N.: That musical part brings a certain atmosphere along, and we try to capture this the best we can. But if we look at the general method of writing songs, usually there’s a guitar riff that provides the basis, we stick some instrumental effects on top of that, and then the vocal melodies come. We might also record backing vocals if needed. When all of these come together as a general impression, I start writing lyrics for the vocals. Usually I’m the one who writes the lyrics. Otherwise the whole process is rather improvisational…
How can you write lyrics based on a melody?
Soma N.: There are certain melodies that sound good with certain words, and I try to put these two together with the overall message, more or less. For now, my main consideration is to make the lyrics flow real well, to have some sort of rhythm. The English language is perfect for this due to its rhythmic nature, so it’s easy to play with words.
It’s also important to make the lyrics easy to sing along to. Moreoever, I try to incorporate phrases that make the overall message more exciting.
What’s your schedule for releasing songs?
Soma D.: First we made a demo, then an EP, which was good for showing what we want to do. We’d like to present all this in a greater way, with more professional sound, so we’re planning our first single for spring.
Why isn’t the band called Middlemist Blue? How did you choose the name?
Soma N.: This is the name of the rarest flower in the world. While we still didn’t have a name, we thought about numerous possibilities. In the end, I used the services of my good friend Google and just typed in “rarest flower in the world” and we got this as a result. I liked how it contains “red,” plus the phrase “middlemist” has a certain mystique about it. It was quite fitting for our brand of psychedelic music.