If you hear the name Malibu, the image of enjoying the carefree life in the company of California girls and surfer dudes while the sun is sinking behind the Pacific ocean’s horizon instantly comes to mind. But sometimes it rains even in Southern California and that rare occurrence sets the tone perfectly for the debut of Malibu B - in which B stands not for beach, but for the first name of Bálint Szabó, the 26 year-old Budapest-based producer behind Hungary’s latest and coolest synthwave act. His first EP of “mood music with typical flavors from the 80s and early 90s” is coming out on cult netlabel Black Leather Records on February 7th, so it’s just the right time to find out about Malibu’s imaginary musical B-side.
Why Malibu? Have you ever been there?
I have never been to Malibu. I have another music project which I started with my friend in 2009 called NakedKool, and once we played with the idea of picking DJ names for ourselves. I wanted a “west coast” name, matching the sunshine feeling of NakedKool. I always liked the name Malibu, it’s sultry and visually evocative, and also the letters of the word are great. Sometimes though, it would be great to go and have some drinks on a beach in Malibu.
You tag your music as ‘Miami touch’. How would you describe this sound?
It's not a genre, maybe it can be one day, haha! Seriously, it’s rather a feeling, when you are speeding down to the beach on a hot summer day and carrying that day into the night! This tag was originally invented for NakedKool as well. We needed a more specific genre definition than house and nu-disco. Every second DJ plays house music, so this genre tag does not mean anything. The other thing is, that in Hungary most of the house DJs play tech, progressive or minimal tracks and our type of house music is different to these styles. Also, for us the packaging is very important, and Miami touch is our package that includes the music, the track titles, and the artwork.
What are your inspirations musically, and outside music?
Musically? The tune! Every good tune, without musical categories. Even when I was a child I was always singing some tunes, mine or someone else's. The melody is still more important for me than, say, the drum- atterns. Outside the music, because I’m thinking visually, often pictures inspire me or a movie.
Your music is very soundtrack-y. Is this intentional? Do you see movies in your head while you're creating the music?
Oh yes, it is intentional! I love when the music and the images fit together. Often, when I’m riding on my bike in the city, or just walking around listening to music, I look for connections between the reality that I’m seeing and the music. It’s great to shoot music videos in your head.
Which 80s movie you would write your own soundtrack for, if given the chance?
I would be proud if I had written the main theme of Blade Runner, or the training soundtrack of Bloodsport. But my all-time favorite is Jan Hammer’s Miami Vice soundtrack. I can’t really think of an ideal movie soundtrack for me, but it certainly wouldn't be a teen movie about the loser boy in high school, with a happy ending haha.
Your music is not so far away from the 80s re-imagining synth-music artists like Hype Williams, Com Truise or Maria Minerva.
Thanks! I want to be as creative as Com Truise! His drum, synth and bass sounds are awesome, with fantastic mixing. He is one of my favorite contemporary artists, along with Tensnake, who has his own universe… I quite like the music of Hype Williams and Maria Minerva, but I don't think about lyrics yet. Otherwise, I prefer melancholic themes, or ballads, sometimes with a hard bass. There’s been an abundance of „80s style” music for a few years, and a lot of it is boring, at least for me. There are many tracks with the same template, with typical synth and bass lines on a 4/4 beat - ‘80s American teen movie style tracks with a bubblegum melody.
You were born in the 80s. It seems like there’s a never ending fascination with the 80s for the new generation of musicians - why do you think it is?
I can’t really figure out the magic of the 80s. Maybe it is the supposed freedom of that decade, it is as if everyone took happy pills. Crazy clothes, hairstyles, colours. And cars! Look at the Ferrari Testarossa, the crown of the consumer society. Superficial, hedonistic? Maybe... but you have to love it. Watch any episode of Miami and you will know everything about the 80s! Beautiful women and real man! On a more serious note, the 80s were the golden age of synths. Iconic instruments in iconic pop(!) songs - just listen to the synths in Yazoo’s 'Don’t Go' or the drums from 'In the Air Tonight' by Phil Collins. I love the sound of those instruments!
Your first EP ‘Launch’ is released by Colombian net label Black Leather Records which is more about techno, electro and EBM. How did you end up at that label?
When I started the Malibu B project, I sent out demos to a lot of labels, and Black Leather Records was the first to write back. Later other labels became interested as well, but BLR is on all the major online shops which is an important factor for me. We don’t have anything fixed with BLR after this release though, but I hope to work with them and with other labels in the future.
What are you working on at the moment? What are your plans for 2012?
I have a lot of unfinished tracks to sort out. I am constantly working, and learning along the way, trying to improve my production skills. So I’m going to write more EPs, and put out free downloadable tracks as Malibu B. My first EP is a bit moody, but it just happened that way, as I already have and will do sunny tracks as well. Apart from Malibu B, I will also continue working with my friend, writing music as NakedKool, we’re keen on developing a fresh and different sound to distinguish ourselves from other house acts. And, we will be organizing events in Budapest under the name Excess Krew.