Black Nail Cabaret is a Hungarian formation, which was originally set up in 2008 by Emese Arvai-Illes (vocals) and Zsófia Tarr (keyboards). Zsófia Tarr left the band in 2016 and got replaced by Krisztian Arvai. Black Nail Cabaret is a rather atypical formation active at the wider music fields of electro-pop music. That’s maybe the reason they define their sound as ‘dark avant-garde pop’ or ‘synth noir music’. After a self-released debut full length and two official albums released on Basic Unit Productions, Black Nail Cabaret’s newest opus “Pseudopop” has been released on Dichronaut Recrods –a label they set up together with Ultranoire. “Pseudopop” is for sure their most accomplished- and still intimate work to date.
(Courtesy by Inferno Sound Diaries)
Q: I realized Black Nail Cabaret has been already set up in 2008. How do you look back at this first artistic decade? What have been the main facts and best memories?
Emese: It is incredible, it has been such a journey. We have been going step by step, evolving on the way and there is still so much ahead! The main thing is that we are still learning, about music, about the industry and about ourselves. Being on tour is always the sweetest memory of all, going to new places, introducing our music to new audiences.
Krisztian: In summary, we produced 10 releases out of, which we had 4 studio albums, we played in many countries of Europe, and so on. This has definitely been an upward path and we just hope it will continue in the same pace. It makes me proud that our spirit, and of those who work with the band hasn’t faded in the last 10 years.
Q: Sound-wise I always have experienced your music as something enigmatic; definitely electronic- and pop-like, but still atypical. Music with a very personal sound identity, a kind of sonic-DNA! How much important is it for you as artists to create something personal and how do you perceive this sound?
Emese: Sonic-DNA, I like that! I think there is no other way, butgoing deeply personal. The current album is always a mixture of all impulses –musical and artistic, that affected us in that 1-2 year period. I always have to dig down to find a new concept I can give birth to and live for in the following 1-2 years. I can tell you that the new concept after “Pseudopop” is already on the way. It’s hard to close this tap of ideas!
Krisztian: Emese’s melodies are crucial and define the quality of the musical background and the outcome of the song. We were never keen to follow any trends and we didn’t force anything into a song that had no place in it. This is fortunate in one way, however it is one of the reasons that we may never be part of the mainstream.
Q: The front cover of your album reminds me to the Rorschach test while the title of your new album “Pseudopop” is quite intriguing as well. What is it all about?
Emese: I consider this album to be a contemporary pop record, with dark alternative roots. ‘Avant-pop’ if you like. Deep down it still has its darkness, even though it is melodic and upbeat at times. I started doing Rorschach paintings for “Bête Noire” and there had been many for the single only, so I continued painting, using the song titles as references, or sometimes randomly. We kept the ones that we could relate to the most.
Q: I personally experienced “Pseudopop” as your most intimate work, which also is an aspect that comes back in the lyrical content. Can you give us a few more info and details?
Emese: I try to grasp everyday life as it goes by and usually write a lot of lyrics on the way, while traveling, or at night when something keeps me awake –like it was with “Icarus”. I sometimes struggle with insomnia and find it hard to fall and remain asleep. One night I was watching the lights from the streets reflecting on the ceiling and it felt like our bed drifted out of the room and we are floating in the night. Something gave a constant A sound. It was eerie and beautiful, instantly I felt grateful for not being able to sleep, so I wrote it all out. That said, I think this album was a great lesson to open up more and to let go of the expectations, and to rather focus on what is trying to crawl out to the surface.
Q: How do you consider “Pseudopop” in the evolution –considering items such as writing, recording, production, of Black Nail Cabaret?
Emese: I am really proud of “Pseudopop”; I think we managed to keep on progressing. That is the main goal with every album, to outdo the previous work in a way, or rather doing something different. In order to release the pressure of it, we like to explore new directions. One gets so many impressions in one year that it is inevitable to be affected by it. It will push us to slightly different paths, methods, visuals our sound.
Krisztian: A band can maintain the audience’s interest until it can remain in contact with its fans and manages to bring the expected quality. There is atmosphere and depth in the songs, but it still resonates with our followers. “Pseudopop” is a good example for all this. There is an old-school flavor to it but its sound is in line with other great productions of recent times. Our technical and professional development has helped us to keep up and to bring this to life. We are on a long learning trip. I don’t think “Pseudopop” is the best we can do, we have to keep looking forward.
Q: You both are Hungarians based in the UK. Do you feel concerned as citizens and artists about ‘Brexit’ and what are your further plans and ambitions?
Emese: We are based in Hungary since 2017. We moved back after Brexit was announced – although this wasn’t the main reason of it. However I still do work in London as do many of my friends as European citizens and travel back and forth, therefore I am concerned about what will happen to EU employees as at the moment everything is still uncertain.
One part of me is idealistic and is hoping that the UK will somehow remain. Artistically I am not sure if it means any difference, as I assume we could still travel to the UK with our gear to play gigs there, except we would need to use our passports instead of the ID card.