Q+A: 5 minutes with mïus

Not only does he run the elegantly-branded record label Théque Records, the imprint he co-started, but he also plays around in the visual art space, adding an extra dimension to his already-diverse musical moniker. Based in Budapest, this triple threat works on films and designs sets. But the talent doesn’t stop there.

Stream / Download: ‘Slow Burn’ ft. HALOSARABandcamp

Who is he, you ask? Well, more than just a name, today’s interview guest is an artist used to crossing disciplinary lines. Straying from the box of ‘musician’, he is also an architect, a touring audiovisual creative (his naked waves show will see the light later this year during his forthcoming European tour), and a producer who recently unveiled a blues-tinged Electronica record, which features the new-found harmony-loving singer HALOSARA, and announced a new album titled Abstrakt; the project will be available on the 2nd of June 2023.

Let’s introduce Gergely Álmos, also known as mïus:

Set the tone for us. Why the arts?

Besides making music and managing Théque Records, I am an architect. It is likely that I started on the artistic path because I studied according to the so-called “Zsolnay method” in elementary school, which means that, besides mathematics and history, there were compulsory subjects such as puppetry, dance, flute, chess. During my studies, music always accompanied me: I studied oboe, guitar, drums, and piano.

Which comes first when you’re producing – the sound or the idea?

I am mostly guided by a concept in music writing, which definitely comes from architecture. While architecture is an applied art, in music I can break down the limitations that bind me when designing a space or building. But I work with a lot of found sounds, and sometimes only the flow leads, or a simple Sunday jamming on one of the instruments. That’s why I’ve already learned that you have to press the record button even when messing with a simple synth knob.

Does your material feature any collaborations?

mïus is more of a collective than a solo producer project. Whether it’s the musicians in the live lineup or the collaboration with visual artist Andrea Stojánovits. On the album Abstrakt, Polish singer Raf Skowronski, newcomer Sára Háló, and contemporary jazz singer Emma Nagy joined us. Also, one of the artists of Théque Records, Dániel Varga contributes to a song with his beautiful saxophone sounds. So we are a big family.

What’s on your current playlist?

When I write music, I exclude all external distractions. So right now I have almost a year’s backlog to catch up on. Last week my dearest friend surprised me with a F.S. Blumm & Nils Frahm2X1=4 album on vinyl, so I am going to start with that.

Tell us about the chemistry you have with your fans on stage.

I am not a talking guy on stage, even if there would always be something to talk about, because I feel like it just pulls you out of the immersion in the music. Therefore, we perceive our concert as a kind of theatre performance, where the visuals and light structures also play a very important role. Here, light and sound vibrate simultaneously in real-time, which is also the name of our current concert series: naked waves. At these concerts, we achieve quite a deep vibration together with our audience.

What techniques do you experiment with to get your original sound?

Basically, there is always a strong concept and structure. We play a lot with the beats, which is more like math. We also had an album, ‘Études de Battements’, which means beat studies. There was a 5/4 Techno or Samba mixed with House. The current album is more about sound design abstractions that combine found sounds and analog synthesizers. The title of the current album, Abstrakt, refers to this. Of course, 9/4 is also found here and we easily jump between 3/4 and 4/4 within songs, or even in tempo.

Take us through a day in the recording studio.

Since I use a lot of synths, I write most parts by myself. Creation works best when the flow catches up, so now I decided to move the entire synth collection home from the studio and set it up in the middle of the living room. So I didn’t have a living room for half a year, much to the delight of my partner. Then comes the exciting part, when I involve the musicians and we continue to come up with ideas.

Was there a specific moment in your life where you thought, “this is what I want to do”?

I consider myself lucky that my hobby is my job. Both architecture and music are things I like to do, which is why it is sometimes a problem that there is no separation between rest and work. However, when I worked in big Hollywood films, I had a moment when I realized that I prefer the smaller scale. “Homo mensura” – man is the measure, Protagoras wisely said. I am looking for smaller projects both from the point of view of global events and our future. The less is more.

What do you keep close by while you’re playing a set?

My favourite gear I would never leave home is my Vermona PERfourMER synth, which is so exciting to play live even if you don’t have the option for saving presets, so you have to memorize everything. I don’t have anything like a mascot during concerts. But our pianist, Szilo, always puts her glittery, smiling dino on the piano. You could say the dino is already a band member.

Any emerging artists on your radar?

I can mention two emerging artists at our label Théque Records: the pop-folk singer Ohnody, or the modern classical vaghy, or even Daniel Aron, a.k.a. Daniel Varga, featuring on our album as a saxophonist. For me, the most exciting bands in Hungary are Jazzbois or the jazz Nagy Emma Quintet.

What gets your creative juices flowing?

Anything. It can be a tiny snippet of a sound in traffic, a good contemporary film, or a hike in nature. Anyways, while walking quietly in nature, you can think very well, I recommend it.

Take us through your collection of gear, tech or software that accompanies your creative expression.

The favourite gears in my setup I use are Vermona PERfourMER, Korg Minilogue, Vermona DRM, with effect pedals such as Strymon Big Sky, El Capistan, Red Panda Particle, Empress Echosystem is beautiful, Fairfield Circuitry Shallow Water is very interesting. I use Ableton as a MIDI controller. Besides my synths, there is my beloved Furch acoustic guitar and my Mapex drums covered with crazy things for weird sound design.

Any side projects you’re working on?

Théque Records is a really big side project. In parallel with the making of this album, I have been designing the contemporary renovation and expansion of the unique baroque building of the archbishop’s palace in Veszprém for 2 years now. It was a very nice task.

How have you refined your craft since you entered the industry?

By writing a lot of music. I also consider live music especially important. We’ve been through a lot of concerts, good and bad ones. But there is always room for improvement. If you feel you have reached the top, then I think it is worth thinking about you doing something wrong. But fortunately, I’m still very critical of myself, which I think is a very important part of this profession besides humbleness, to a healthy point of course.

Break down the news for us: what can we expect from you this year?

We are adapting our Abstrakt album into our naked waves concert series and will be taking it to light festivals. Outside of Hungary, we have plans for a concert in Prague and Rome, and since we kept down playing in clubs for a while, in April some of the new songs will be presented in an exciting industrial space. But with Andra Sztojánovits we are also planning audio-visual installations for several festivals this year.

Famous last words?

Ezekiel 25:17 by Samuel L. Jackson.

Listen to mïus’ new single ‘Slow Burn’ ft. HALOSARA below:

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Image credit: Bence Szemerey