Interview with István from First Aid 4 Souls by EBM-Industrial.NL

We are happy to have the chance to ask you a few questions. Thanks István, that you have found time to give answers to us.
From which country and which town do you come from?
István Gazdag: Hungary, from the town of Eger, but I live in the capital, Budapest.
How are you doing? Where are you currently?
I.G.: In summertime, I spent plenty of time relaxing, without Internet or a cell phone. Now, I’m working on the new album Deathstep.
Could you briefly summarize First Aid 4 Souls and what you guys are about?
I.G.: Well, this is a multi-art project, built on Electro-Industrial and New Wave: A particularly European mixture of music, literature,and visual arts (mostly paintings and the visuals for the songs).
István, what noise do you make in First Aid 4 Souls?
I.G.: Actually, I do compose all the music for the band, so I make all the noise. 🙂
How’s the start of 2010 been for you thus far?
I.G.: Probably the best year of my life.
Other ongoing projects?
I.G.: I’ve just finished a dark ambient / ritual noise album with a friend of mine, Péter Kecskés; hopefully, it will be released in less than half a year’s time.
How would you describe yourself for people who don’t know what you and your music are about?
I.G.: A robotic Desperado, creating industrial sound-sculptures. For a total outsider, I would say that Kraftwerk plays metal 😉
What is your musical background? Who are you and your band members? Tell your story!
I.G.: Well, First Aid 4 Souls started only in 2007, but the members have quite a long past together. Practically, it is the successor of Vacuum. Painter Norbert Szuk provided Vacuum’s visual background imagery. His paintings, so full of industrial and magical meaning,contribute well to the overall success of the band’s all-art conception. He continues to be responsible for the group’s high-level of vivid visual imagery. Philosopher, István Drimál, a good friend of mine, was behind the drums of Vacuum. He is our intellectual supportand is responsible for the group’s philosophical background. This support has included the penning of several lyrics. The intellectualintegrity and the roots of the group rely profoundly upon great intellectual achievements in history with an emphasis on ideas fromclassical philosophy – Heraclitus, Plato and Hegel playing a large inspirational role. This intentional identification with our intellectual frequency serves us well creatively and also represents the group’s pride in its well-rooted European culture. Regarding transcendence, there are distinct religious, philosophical and magical traditions making appearances in our themes, but the band definitely refuses the negative energy of Satanism, and New Age philosophy hasn’t served to inspire the group musically in any way to date. Essentially, maintenance of the spiritual, mental balance is of great importance to us. We are constantly moving toward the essence behind this existence believed to be reality. It is our intention to preserve our roots and present a continuation into the future of music, relying on these nearly 20 years of intellectual and technical experience.
As for me, István Gazdag, I was responsible for the musical background and the vocals with Vacuum, and I continue in this area with First Aid 4 Souls. I’ve been working with electronic music for 20 years now and have been collecting electronic sound-making and sound-manipulating devices since 1985. Having built up a considerable studio – with a preference for Korg instruments – I’m able to provide practically everything for bands; everything from song composition to mastering.Additionally, I continue to enjoy playing/working in and with other bands. I would particularly like to mention Terra Incognita and my cyber project, The Last European. I’ve been blessed to have had the opportunity to work with several great Hungarian artists and have found great reward in composing music for ballet and films, media
signals and main titles. My effect-like gruff vocals are counter-pointed by the clear voice and skilled drum play of Katalin Helfenbein. It’s well worth noting that several lyrics are also written by her. Needless to say, her deep humanity and resounding talent contribute quite a lot to the band over all. Attila Pálfalvy is our third stable member. Attila is a permanent soloist of the Hungarian musical theatre and also the drummer of the industrial band WFS. He is extremely multitalented, being gifted with the ability to play many musical instruments and also contributes much with his unique vocals. Zoltán Havasi is in charge for the visuals, but he’s also a talented drummer, when it comes to that. This is the front line, but the guest artists bring the real surprise. Actually, these artists aren’t guests that much – the cooperation is continuous, and, of course, successful. I don’t think I have to introduce Linda Daemon, the lead singer of “Drugzone”. Her extraordinary and wide-range voice can be heard in the First Aid 4 Souls songs too. Aaron Russell is the leader of the American Industrial band “Impurfekt”, he provides the sheer industrial vocals.
Mark Duffield, the creator of the alternative project “I Am One” from London, is the New Wave voice of the band. Eszter Ágoston is a remarkable representative of the Hungarian Jazz-Pop scene, her singing gives freshness to the new album. Madalina Kertész is a now 14 year old Csángó Hungarian girl, the song in she sings is most probably the most beautiful of ours. And Tor Marrock is the demigod of the Welsh goth metal, just to have a little bit of everything.
The truly enjoyable opportunity for us to arrange our principles and thoughts consciously during the creation process is very rewarding on one hand, and on the other hand we deliberately wish to inspire the independent thoughts of our audience through our music, lyrics, and of course through vivid imagery in the band’s performance. Indeed, it is our true intention to motivate others through our music. We wish to
inspire profound contemplation about ourselves as individuals and our collective role in the universe in a way that does not intend to control, but rather to give rise to independent thoughts in the listeners’ mind. I strive for this kind of completeness while writing and constructing the music; every dark tone has a little light in it, and even the most relieved moments contain a pinch of pain. There is a conscious effort to counterpoint the relative monotony of electronic music with live musical instruments and drums. I could add that while the soul of the group is Kati and the will is me, the knowledge in the band is definitely Attila. His theatrical vocal style and precise skill in playing drums raise the role of the human factor in the band to a much higher extent. While I search the causes and effects of alienation (sometimes with brutal solutions) the others put emphasis on the constant importance of humanity. Musically, FA4S also relies on several kinds of tradition, deliberately mixing the fine brutality of noise music with the psychedelic pulsation of trance and blending the rich melodies of New Wave with the strict grinding of industrial metal. Obviously, we don’t care for being labeled to suit any one category of music and the current musical trends have no effect on us at all. I’ve established the Sound & Chord record label to promote like-minded individuals and groups (on non-profit basis) enabling these talented and deserving artists to record in a professional environment.
Our history: The First Band: Vacuum (Hungary) 1992-2003
Here and now I’d like to state that this Vacuum is not identical withMthe Swedish synthpop project of the same name. At the end of 1992, I finished my duty in the army, I composed music (on the Amiga and a Roland D20), and later I started singing. At the same time, my friend István Drimál started philosophical studies and also learnt to play the drum.
Recently I talked with István, and just realized, that for 3-4 years we rehearsed two times 3 or 4 hours weekly. We wanted to do a lot, we played on every possible stages, almost everywhere in our country: Petöfi Hall’s main stage as warm-up bands for bands like Clock Dva, Swamp Terrorists or X Marks The Pedwalk; Tilos az Á, Yuk, and all the other stages nowadays considered ‘alternative’. We loved doing it,
there were no concerts with identical schedules, and our appearances were really extraordinary (in those times, at least): aggressive
scenes, provocative appearance and extras, masks, corpse-bags, chemical protection equipment, wicked and beautiful videos, own animations (in ’93!), and accompanied by exhibitions by our contemporary artist friends. The visual and conceptual support of Norbert Szuk, Gábor Veto and Csaba Lengyel’s was indispensable part of our concerts.
We have been announced as the „Hungarian Skinny Puppy“, and our instrument park expanded with lots of great stuff, so in Hungarian relation we progressed well. After a while the band came to an end. We didn’t have a row or something, we just didn’t have any appearances on stage. Then I won a composers’ competition and the prize was a contract that covered the expenses of the mastering of the first and only Vacuum album. It has been published, but without István Drimál.The album showed only traces of industrial, it was more like ambient,electro, big beat and acid.
What day jobs did you guys have while you were putting the band together?
I.G.: Kati is a university graduate, studying Japanese, Zoza (Zoltán Havasi) is a visual expert and publications designer, and I’ve been a
teacher for 18 years now.
What do you do when you’re not partaking in band activities?
I.G.: I teach, read, watch sick movies, ride my bike or play strategy and horror games…
Is your family pretty impressed with what you’ve done?
I.G.: Absolutely.
Back to your roots, how did you first come to music?
I.G.: I was kind of lucky: my parents like music, so beside lots of classical music, I listened to Kraftwerk as early as the end of the seventies, which determined my whole life. Back then, I was shocked that such sounds and atmosphere exist. I was completely captivated, and I am still today. I found my musical style. Their next album,Computerwelt got to me quite early.
At the end of the eighties my mother found out soon, that either she bought me some kind of music instrument, or I’d create one with my
limited resources and skills. For the sake of home electronics, she chose the former. She was too late: By the time I got my first synthesizer, a Casio VL1, I already built a gizmo out of a washing machine and some tape recorders.
Of course then I realized, that the ADSR synthetics are much funnier than kicking the side of the washing machine. Later, my American uncle managed to get me a polyphonic Yamaha, which I managed to connect to an Amiga.
I’ve already attended to a musical kindergarten, then, in the elementary school, the best teacher of the time taught me the basics of music. Later, at the college, I studied classical and traditional music, but my main subject were sociology and pedagogy.
If you weren’t a musician what would you be?
I.G.: Undead. Well, seriously, I think I’d write novels.
What would you be doing right now if you weren’t in First Aid 4 Souls?
I.G. I’d most probably play in another group, or support new bands.
When did you form First Aid 4 Souls? What inspired you to make
music together?
I.G.: 2007. Love. I’m going to marry Kati, the drummer real soon. The others joined later. Also, I’m not planning to marry them.
Which is your favorite band at the moment?
I.G.: Cabaret Voltaire & Skinny Puppy
What are your top ten favorite Electro/Ambient/Industrial Club
Songs of all time?
1-Cabaret Voltaire: I Want You
2-Gary Numan: My Breathing
3-Killing Joke: Night Time
4-Dance Or Die: Psychoburbia
5-Klinik: Moving Hands
6-Snog: Corporate Slave
7-X10: 25 Millions D’Anees
8-Skinny Puppy: Assimilate
9-Laibach: Alle gegen alle
10-Coil: The Snow
1-Cabaret Voltaire: The Covenant, The Sword and The Arm of The Lord
2-Dance Or Die: Everspring
3-Lassigue Bendthaus: Matter
4-Amesha Spenta: Amesha Spenta
5-Die Form: Corpus Delicti
6-Fear Factory: Demanufacture
7-Killing Joke: Night Time
8-Front Line Assembly: Caustic Grip
9-Skinny Puppy: VIVIsectVI
10-Front242: Front By Front
What are you currently listening to on your mp3 player?
I.G.: Now playing: Orphx – After
Which artists have you been listening to in these days?
I.G.: Mostly the New Wave artists of the ‘80s and early EBM bands (Click Click, à;Grumh…)
What are your views on the current state of the Electro / Ambient / Industrial scene in Budapest / Hungary in terms of creativity and audiences?
I.G.: There are some really good bands, and the Hungarian audience is known of being direct and showing good reactions. I’ve got nothing to complain about.
And the scene in other countries?
I.G.: The Japanese audience means a very strong support. Now, we are
working on a 2-3 months long Japanese tour. In Europe, my favorite is
the intelligent Czech public.
If you could play a show anywhere in the world where would it be?
I.G.: In Berlin…
What band or bands would you like to tour with and why?
I.G.: Akimbo, Drugzone, Chrysalide, Twinkle – We already had shows
together and I sweated like a horse on each and every concert of them.
Is touring a pleasure or a necessary evil?
I.G.: Of course, it’s good. It’s a really enhancing experience to give something to people. I also enjoy talking with my audience after the
What’s the band’s favorite song to play live?
I.G.: Magneto, an acid/EBM track. It always makes the crowd dancing.
What about all the big festivals? Summer Darkness in the
Netherlands? Mera Luna, Familientreffen and WGT in Germany and the
I.G.: Well, it is still a beautiful dream for us.
How did you come up with the name First Aid 4 Souls?
I.G.: Kati made it up. I really like it. There’s a little bit of cynism though. Well, 90% goodwill, 5 % paranoia and 5% cynism.
How did you come up with the title „Two Seasons“ (First Aid 4 Souls latest CD)?
I.G.: This is a mistake. We don’t have such an album, it’s Mark Duffield’s own project, “I am One”. Maybe Brutpop?
All right. You guys toured heavily after „Two Seasons“ came out.How did the whole touring, to support that record, turn out?
I.G.: If you really mean the one after the release of Brutpop, it was the first bigger tour. We enjoyed ourselves all along. We saw the same
on the audience.
Have you recorded any previous CDs or posted any audio files on the Internet?
I.G.: Yeah, many. The first album with the Vacuum, and later with the FA4S (at Some Bizarre). Soon, will be back online, with free rarities. In the past, I’ve uploaded lots of things to there. Also, my MySpace profile worth a visit.
How does it feel to hold the finished CD in your hands?
I.G.: Like holding my dick in my hands, after an accident in which it got separated and reattached by a 5-hour-long surgery. And it would
still work.
Do you spend a lot of time on remixing other artists tracks or is it something you do when you have some time over?
I.G.: I make a lot of remixes. It’s a good chance to learn some tricks 😉 Really. By the way, it’s also a chance to make new acquaintances
with other bands.
What inspires you when you are writing?
I.G.: Science-fiction and horror movies and books, philosophy and history of religion. Social injustice. Paintings. Poems.
What is the key to making music from First Aid 4 Souls and what inspires you to keep growing as a musician?
I.G.: The key is the intellectual awareness. The inspiration is the Zeitgeist, the promise of infinite possibilities. My final goal is doing my things right and, in the end, to escape this reality.
How do you create a new song?
I.G.: Often, I compose the musical structure complete, and then, play the themes and other melodies live, and when it’s been recorded all
right, and then, I switch the power off without saving. Next day, I start it over again. Most of the times, I only remember the essence,
the interesting parts. Alternatively, I work on a song for 1-2 years,changing the tones, re-effecting the tracks. Both methods have advantages and disadvantages.
How does your music creation process work?
I.G.: I compose on digital sequencers, using lots of effects, keeping the song under some kind of chaotic pressure. There are many versions, but mostly only one or two are public. The songs are built from 70-180 tracks, started with the bassline, the drums, on top of it, the “fabric” of music, that is, the melodies accompanying the main theme,and, at last, the vocal tracks. The experimentation is continuous.
What type of recording process did you use? Who produced your recording?
I.G.: I own a well-equipped studio. This is where I make the instrumental. The vocals come from 4 different continents from the contributors. I work on the tracks till the pre-mastering stage – I’m my own producer. The official tasks of the producer, as well as the final mastering is done by Michael Maier at Electro Arc.
Tell me about lyrical compositions.
I.G.: When a song is finished, I either discuss it with the contributing artists, write a draft and let them do the finalization,or write it myself and record it on the spot.
So what are your main influences as a band at the moment?
I.G.: In my teenage, massive savings from lunch money were spent on empty cassettes, and rented vinyls. Soon, I knew the works of Yello,
Cabaret Voltaire, Tears for Fears and Depeche Mode, FGTH, Art of Noise, Soft Cell, DAF, Bronskie Beat, New Order, and many others, the
world of synthesizer-based New Wave. Still, there are thousands of tapes waiting for me under my bed… it takes quite an effort to
collect their contents in modern, digital format.
In the High School, I met more and more people, listening the same music as I did. I spent my time with goths and grufties, and listened to Cure, Joy Division, SoM and others like these. Interesting, but Test Dept and the Einstürzende Neubauten was already known in the scene, tagged as industrial music, but there were no “industrial people” around… or at least, I haven’t met any.
Well, in 1987 I were showed something at a records shop. I was astonished, I kept listening.
– Oh my god, that’s it, it’s what I always wanted, what is it?
– It’s Front 242!
– Oh my god, I want more like this!!!
– Then listen to this: That Total Age, it’s like the DAF, but harder.This is Nitzer Ebb…
Within several months, we’ve maxed out our Laibach, Front 242, Nitzer Ebb, Cassandra Complex collections.
István Drimál was the pen-pal of a Canadian guy, and he sent us a tape. Well, this was a very strong impact. It changed our life and style. The Skinny Puppy there and then, at the end of the eighties,was perfectly newish and had a staggering effect on us. Since then, I haven’t seen anybody with such dramatic power, horror and humanism at the same time, perfectly rhyming with the chaotic, military marching,deep space atmosphere, violence, perversion, beauty and pain in the music. As a teenager, the Hungarian scene seemed two-dimensional. The Skinny Puppy confronted me with unexplainable problems, musical space and abstraction. It captured me and transformed me. Yes, I love this band, I think they’re exemplary, I really respect them.
How do you sell your CD’s/Audio Files? (Consignment? Live sales? MySpace, iTunes, Distributor?)
I.G.: This is the business of the publishers. I only manage the Internet and media appearance.
Do you keep up with how the record has been selling? Is that really important to you?
I.G.: I’d love to, but I can’t. The business world is not really for me…
Since the music industry is now more open to purely electronic music, has this made things easier for you?
I.G.: I never really cared about categories… this is the advantage of being independent. It’s easy, I never looked for a publisher, but they always found me somehow…
Do you see the Internet as a benefit for bands like First Aid 4 Souls? Does the growing possibility of someone downloading your material,rather than buying it, worry you?
I owe everything to the Internet. I’m happy to see that people like my music – they download it. The publishers aren’t happy that much because of the illegal downloads, and I completely understand it. But you can’t piss against the wind, so you’d better accept it. I’d be
really happy, if the smaller publishers were viable, because they are keeping the scene alive.
How do you see the future of download/copyright in area of Goth/Electro/Ambient/Industrial music?
I.G.: Everything is available for download, anytime. The scene is smart, well skilled with computers. Don’t be naïve, the physical release is only demanded by the DJs and the fanatic collectors. 99 percent of the listeners download, about 70 percent illegally. Soon,no small, independent publishers will remain, only netlabels will survive. Maybe some downloaders will donate enough money to buy new instruments. 😉
What are the best ways to develop it in your mind?
I.G.: I’d put some money into a Facebook campaign.
Do you think the music industry is dead?
I.G.: No, it isn’t. Just repetitive, materialistic and calculable, so,at least for me, it is barren and boring.
What was it like the first time you heard one of your songs on the radio or internet or in a club? Who was the DJ that played your song?
I.G.: I heard one of my songs first on TV, in ‘93. The media loved us,we were interesting. Of course I was very proud back then. Nowadays, I’m happier if I don’t see media people around. Last time I had to shoo them away. They wanted to promote a teen vampire movie with us and the scene. I don’t want to be mentioned in the same sentence with shit like that.
Please let us know about your upcoming plans; maybe some new releases you like to confirm here?
I.G.: In 2010, the next album, Deathstep will be released, with more EBM and electro feel than the previous one.
In the beginning of 2011, our joint ritual/noise/dark ambient project with Péter Kecskés (United Gods) is planned to be released, titled Kaosapokalypso. It’s completely finished, we are now organizing the release.
And the Vampire in the Discotheque selection album (with mostly the tribal-electro-acid songs) will hopefully be released in summer 2011, targeting the Japanese audiences.
Where would you like to see First Aid 4 Souls three years from now?
I.G.: In your club.
What do you think, what does the next twelve months hold for the band?
I.G.: 3 new releases. Japanese tour. Plenty of new fans. This is for sure.
Finally: If there was one thing you want people to know about your
band what would that be?
I.G.: Its mere existence. This interview is a very good chance.
By the way, do you like my questions? Tell me what you think about them! 😉
I.G.: They were a lot and really thorough. I’ve smoked 7 loads of pipe till I finished.
Thanks a lot for your answers! We wish you furthermore great success. Any final thoughts for the people out there?
I.G.: I thank for this possibility from the birthplace of EBM.
The industrial is the last true rebellion in the musical world. Do not let yourselves influenced, and keep up the good fight. You are – and
always be – right.
with many thanks to Ruud and his team.

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