“Humanity has found its insights about this for thousands of years now, and since then it has been re-discovered again and again as it takes root in the consciousness.” The thoughtful words of Péter Kedves and Krisztián Ráth-Buzás, the minds behind Budapest based duo Belau, offer a window into their approach to music. “We aim to offer listeners an hour in this overloaded world, a concert-like duration, where they can detach from the hustle and immerse themselves in our music, focusing solely on themselves.”
As the dense autumn fog blankets the landscape, their latest EP, ‘Apriori‘, arrives as a comforting cuddle, showcasing the sheer beauty of electronic music. The tracks take you on a reflective path where you might confront feelings of longing, melancholy, or even hope. The collaborations, such as the touching vocals of Akacia in ‘Dreamstate‘, heighten this experience, expressing the essence of raw emotion. As I look out the window, with the gray world outside, the album is charming, inviting dreams of joyous summer moments, the burden of longing, and the excitement of golden future days.
In our interview, we delve into the inspiration behind ‘Apriori‘, their unforgettable collaborations, and their bond with the vibrant city of Budapest. Additionally, we are pleased to premiere the album exclusively on C-Heads. Enjoy!
photography by Christian Farkas
Hey guys, so lovely to have you here! Congratulations on your new release! ‚Apriori‘ has been described as an emotional trip. Was this the intention from the onset?
After the success of our previous album, ‚Colourwave‘ we started to work on a new material, but without any exact direction or expectation. If we look back on our previous efforts we were experiencing and demonstrating different levels of our story, but every occasion it was purely coming from us and ‚Apriori‘ is no different in this case. To be honest I only knew that this upcoming LP will be way more harmonized and structured, because fatefully both of us went into a similar direction with our on lives. Arrival became our departure.
How does the title ‚Apriori‘ tells the essence of the album? Does it have any philosophical inspirations?
‚Apriori‘ denotes knowledge beyond experience, something prior to it; an endless source from which we can all draw. The „dynamism“ of this knowledge, however, it paradoxically spreads out in very different forms in the lives of all humans, it originates and unites from the same „constant“ at the end of the path. The circle prevails through its traversal. Humanity has found its insights about this for thousands of years now, and since then it has been re-discovered again and again as it takes root in the consciousness. Just as the lifepath of humanity is analogous to the personal development of an individual, crossing this threshold is also a possibility for every person in their own lives, which, if we do not resist, will surely come. The question is how long we want to stand against.
This LP shows the last stage of the two of us growing up, the story of arriving home, we can even call it the synthesis of the first two releases, the last episode of our unplanned trilogy. It‘s a huge milestone in someone‘s life when you are able to separate what serves you from what you desire. It is a renunciation that reflects such human greatness that it paradoxically leads to the convergence of the two. The map lies within us, it becomes visible, if we close our eyes.
Your collaboration with artists like Beth Hirsch and Sarah Jay Hawley adds a unique vibe to the album. How did these collaborations come about, and how did they influence the album‘s direction?
Since the very early days we are huge fans of Air and Massive Attack. To be honest we work with upcoming acts most of the time, but in this case we were brave enough to ask these expereinced, A-classed vocalists for a collaboration, which might have some additional nostalgic layer and if you ask me it definitely influences the whole direction of the album. It was our pleasure to work with such heroes.
“Being grounded is essential for us, our friends and family are keeping us in balance…”
The album uses a lot of nature echoes, especially sounds of the beach. I love that! How important were these sounds in creating the atmosphere you wanted?
It’s definitely an important delicacy for us as well, that’s why we usually record the very different and organic sounds of the nature when we travel, because it sets the tone, and the listeners are able to authentically fall into the right mood by listening to these snippets. With these, our intention was to create an organic atmosphere where you can sink into yourself and meet the one who you really are.
The intro, ‚Oneness‘ sets the tone for the entire album. If ‚Oneness‘ could transport the listener to a specific place and time, where and when would it be?
To be honest by the passing of time and becoming more and more mature throughout the past years I would say the first LP, ‚The Odyssey‘ was more likely interpretable on a scale of a geographical concept, but with the ‚Colourwave‘ we were more focused on moving the listener out from its location and at the same time deeper to the inside. With ‚Apriori‘ we tried to step up another level and this time we are encouraging every listener stepping into the healing depths of self-awareness.
On the other hand I do not want to avoid your question: the answer is wherever you feel yourself to be when you close your eyes, different in each case. In my case I imagine a lightful place where I am at, with the people who I love.
Over the years, how do you feel the music industry has changed, and where do you see Belau fitting within that evolution?
Trends always come and go; nowadays the subgenre of trip-hop, electronica are not in the mainstream, but the renaissance of an era is always on the horizon of the industry, although there will be a decent amount of fans of every genre who tend to listen to their favourites and the actual new wave as well. According to Belau what I know is that we would like to play less shows, but when we play we want to make it big, but releasing new songs every now and then will be the part of the future that is for sure.
“Anxiety is misunderstood. It is a signal, a flare of right direction that you have to understand and go in the direction wherever it is pointing at.”
With your experience of over 200 concerts in more than 25 countries, are there any performances or countries that are still in your heart?
Of course we have. I have to mention that we had a tons of great and never-forget experiences, fun tours, but some of our favourite ones were Primavera, Electric Castle or the US mini-tour of us. Thanks for touring it’s great that we were able to get-to-know new cultures, and beome friends with local people. We always learn.
Given the success you’ve had over the past six years, how do you keep yourselves grounded, and how do you manage the pressure of expectations?
Being grounded is essential for us, since day one for example we are always focusing on being friendly with the staff, but on an other scale we are always open-minded for the ciritics of our music and about ourselves as a human being. Our friends and family are keeping us in balance, that is very important, on the other hand we tried to give a mirror-experience to each other by being honest and true to the other band members, who I can truly call friends.
Péter, in a previous interview you mentioned that Belau’s music is about “travel, chill, exploration, isolation, and wanderlust.” Given the global situation over the last year, how has this concept shifted for you?
In the last few years it was not just psychical travel and exploration, in the last couple of years it was more like an inner journey, but for sure we had many inspirations from our travels and tours also.
In the last era we had more time focusing on the inside, which – as it later turned out – was not a wanted, but a necessary way of level-up for us personally, so probably this had a great impact on ‚Apriori‘.
Krisztián, you’ve told philosopher Béla Hamvas as a significant influence. For those unfamiliar with his work, can you share how his philosophies intersect with Belau’s music?
Béla Hamvas is a very underrated philosopher, although his works were translated for several languages his thoughts did not get enough credit abroad. In Hungary, in the last decade he was re-discovered and getting more famous for a newer generation. His works are focusing on the connection of the mysticism behind every great religion; he is a great essayist writing thoughts about the „One“, which is hidden within every human soul. He was influenced by classic philosophers from every point of the world (hindu, taoist, christian, islam, pagan, greek, etc.).
“The map lies within us, it becomes visible, if we close our eyes.”
Music has always been a kind of refuge for many during challenging times. How do you want your listeners to feel when they listen to ‚Apriori‘?
I would never want to determine a feeling of someone else. What we try to encourage our listeners for is that whatever they feel under the surface of the desires of the material world it’s there for a cause. Most of modern men are suffering under the pressure of anxiety what they are handling with the greatest denial. Anxiety is misunderstanded. It is a signal, a flare of right direction that you have to understand and go in the direction wherever it is pointing at. Understanding the meaning of our emotions and distressed feelings are often paradox, we need focusing on ourselves and meditate until we understand of our needs.
As Hungarian artists, how do you see the music scene in Hungary? And how has it influenced your music?
Hungarian scene is really diverse, there are many talented musicians who would do have the chance of becoming big. It would be great if some of them would be able to get into more international tours, but after some trying they always focus on the hungarian language and the local scene, which is understandable. Not that is bad, we have some great-great bands.
I would not say there were a huge influence from Hungarian bands to us, but there were some classic old school artists who we loved when were kids, like Yonderboi for example.
I really love Budapest, and I honestly think it is one of the most beautiful capital cities in Europe. I am there pretty often, can you recommend any lesser-known attractions in Budapest that I might enjoy? Or maybe your favorite restaurant? (smiles)
I think there are many really good options for having a small trip in the nature really close to the city, I would recommend Spartacus-ösvény or Tündér Szikla for example. My actual favourite restaurant is Tereza, it’s mexican one.
I’m trying to learn a few more words in Hungarian beyond just ‚thank you‘ and such, but it’s a rather difficult language. (smiles) Which word should I absolutely know?
Megszentségteleníthetetlenségeskedéseitekért. Good luck my friend, it means due to your (plural) cannot-be-desecratednessoussings.
(Laughs) Luck is certainly needed! Thank you so much for your time!
Thank yor for the great interview.
Check out Apriori here: open.spotify.com