March 16th 2016,
Mystery Gothic Radio 12 A.D. Interview With Eszter Balint
Whiskey: Hello Eszter are you there?
Whiskey: Hello, hello.
Eszter: What was that lovely piece of music?
Whiskey: That was you, that was Departure Song.
Eszter: Oh really? How cool, I love when I hear my stuff and I don’t recognize it.
Whiskey: That’s insanity. So yeah, I would ask you what your inspiration for such an amazing, amazing track is but, wow you don’t even remember making it.
Eszter: No, I do remember making it. But it was cut, the sound was cutting in and out, and it was sort of this weird, underwater quality to it, and I thought it sounded really good, and that I wanted to find out what it was.
Whiskey: Oh, it’s really good. I super, super love it.
Eszter: I’m so happy, thank you, thank you.
Whiskey: So, Airless Midnight.
Whiskey: It reminds me of the end of the world, you know, with like the watchmen. Where did you come up with this title? Like…
Eszter: Well, it sort of just came to me because I was really stuck for a title for this record for a long time, longer than any of my other records, and finally I sort of gave up. I said I’m going to stop effort-ing, because that’s not helping. And then I woke up one morning with this title in my head. And it just felt really familiar and right, I don’t know why, and I Googled it right away to make sure that I wasn’t lifting it from somewhere. Because when something feels so familiar, you think maybe it’s already the name of another album or something.
Whiskey: Totally, maybe David Bowie said it or something.
Eszter: But I couldn’t find anything on Google, so I was so happy, and it was just one of those muse moments. But it does feel right, there’s a kind of, many people have pointed at noire-ish element to this record, I guess.
Eszter: And this title to me has a little bit of a film noire ring to it.
Whiskey: And the whole album has this sort of like, it’s slow and haunting, in like, not sinister, but like I don’t know perhaps sad, but…
Whiskey: But you know, powerful.
Eszter: Thank you. I hope it’s not hopeless.
Whiskey: Oh no, no not at all. It doesn’t feel hopeless. I mean…
Eszter: But it is sad, it’s definitely yes, there’s a lot, sadness is really rich ground for writing I think.
Whiskey: Have you heard of the Sad Girl’s Club?
Eszter: No. What is that? Tell me.
Whiskey: It’s a little bit more of like the witch house background culture type thing, more of the fashion element to it, other than the music. So they post a lot of photos that are like pastel color sort of, girls drinking forties with boots on.
Eszter: I’ll look it up.
Whiskey: It’s pretty silly. And actually doesn’t have all that much to do with your album, but, you know, there’s this sad element to it, and it is real, it is, you know, you can, one doesn’t listen to it and think, oh you know, top forty.
Whiskey: Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. You know, so it has a real power to it. So, you were working with Louis C.K.
Eszter: Yes, I did work with Louis C.K.
Whiskey: On his thing. Do you do comedy often? Or…
Eszter: Never do. Well I’ve always been in things that had a edgy element of comedic something to it. But never outright comedy, or with comics. So that was a first. But that show of his wasn’t so all out comedy anyway, right?
Whiskey: Honestly, I haven’t seen it. I, you know, I caught, I went through your stuff, and I saw the violin solo from the show.
Eszter: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. So the show is, it actually was one of the sort of things the press talked about a lot. How for a comedian, and for the genre of comedy, it was really often more sad and tragic and serious than comedic. Although it had it’s fair share of comedy as well. But no, I don’t normally work with, I could never be like a standup comic, no way.
Whiskey: Although you play his girlfriend, right?
Eszter: Yes, I do. I was in six episodes of season four and it’s this love story arch that’s quite touching and came out really well I think.
Whiskey: Crazy. Are you really Hungarian?
Eszter: I am. I was born in Hungary and I left when I was ten. I lived with a theater group, we were banned in Hungary under the communist regimes. So that’s why we left, and the rest is history.
Whiskey: Oh my goodness. The communist regime.
Eszter: Yeah, the good old days.
Whiskey: Yeah, totally, totally. Makes you want to vote for Bernie Sanders.
Eszter: Oh yes, the election. Oh yes. It’s hard to talk about anything else, isn’t it?
Whiskey: You know, it’s easy to laugh at. I’ve seen crazier elections.
Eszter: You have?
Whiskey: Oh hell yeah, hell yeah. Do you remember when Ross Perot ran?
Eszter: Yeah, but I don’t remember it being nearly as crazy as the Trump campaign.
Whiskey: But, but there’s an entertainment value to the Trump campaign.
Whiskey: Right? I mean, one could, as someone in mass media entertainment, I guess you could kind of compare it to the Reagan campaign against Carter. But you know, that’s a little bit of future speculation, and I don’t know. You know, hey, if he wins, he wins, and you know, we can all go hang out in Toronto or something.
Eszter: Yeah, let the sink ship.
Whiskey: Yeah, let the ship sink however it may be.
Whiskey: So I was going through all of your stuff, and it says here that you worked with Bosciat, and all I could infer since you’ve worked with a lot of really famous people, you happen to be extremely talented.
Eszter: Thank you.
Whiskey: But since you’ve worked with Bosciat I have to ask have you met Andy Warhol?
Eszter: I actually, you know, wasn’t friends for a long time with Bosciat, and did one little project where I participated in this record he made. I played violin on it when I was fifteen. But, which is actually considered a bit of an old, on the fringe classic rap record by some. But to answer your question, yes I did meet Andy Warhol. And he actually, well…
Whiskey: I want to know, yeah.
Eszter: I didn’t know him well. But I met him a few times, which is funny because I starred in a play many years before I had met him called Andy Warhol’s Last Love. In which, my father played Andy Warhol.
Whiskey: Oh you’re kidding.
Eszter: No. And little did I know that a few years later that I would have, you know, Andy, I would have somebody yelling upstairs to my apartment in the theater where I grew up, Eszter telephone. That’s back in the day when you had like one, you know, rotary telephone that fifteen people shared.
Whiskey: Yeah, I’m hip to the good old days.
Eszter: You’re hip to the good old days. And somebody, so this is one of the theater members yelled upstairs Eszter telephone, and I yelled downstairs from my little cubicle of a room, who is it? She said, it’s Andy, Andy Warhol. And I was like sure, yeah right. And it really was him.
Whiskey: Oh my goodness.
Eszter: Asking me for tickets to Strangers in Paradise for him and Bosciat.
Whiskey: Cool, that’s amazing.
Whiskey: I will be honest, I visited Bosciat’s grave in Greenwood Cemetery not too long ago over the summer.
Eszter: I’ve never been there.
Whiskey: It’s well, you know, he’s buried in Greenwood, you know, with the crème de la crème.
Eszter: Yeah, yeah.
Whiskey: Yeah. So…
Eszter: That’s nice, did you just, I’m sorry, did you just go there on a whim to visit his grave? Or were you there anyway, or what?
Whiskey: I was there because I met somebody who, I enjoyed their company and I figured they would be a good goth gram model, and I don’t normally shoot them myself, but you know, I brought her down and that’s what she wanted to see over at Greenwood Cemetery. So we went down there and shots some photos for goth gram, and hung out with Bosciat for a while.
Whiskey: And then she went back to the Ukraine to go fight the revolution or whatever.
Whiskey: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Eszter: Okay, well it sounds like you have some stories too. Go on…
Whiskey: No, no, true, true story.
Eszter: I believe it.
Whiskey: So what’s it like being a mom in Brooklyn? Because you understood all of that, you know where Greenwood Cemetery is, obviously you’re a New Yorker.
Eszter: Yeah. You know, I was only a mom in Brooklyn for about ten months, if that. So I wouldn’t really be an expert on the topic. I’m a mom in Manhattan. But I did live in Dumbo for a little while with a kid, and I think being a mom anywhere is like, you know, I love being a mom, and being mom in the city, in New York City is pretty great. You have so many things around and I mean it’s hard, but it’s actually one of the roles I’ve taken on in my life that I most unequivocally enjoy in many ways.
Whiskey: Do you like, okay, so when your child goes to school, do you take the subway?
Eszter: My child now commutes by himself, and he takes the subway, yes.
Whiskey: I did that too as a child, and most people in the world would think that we’re redonculous, but I guess that’s just the way it is done.
Eszter: You mean, you mean that most people would think that’s just so scary or something?
Whiskey: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Eszter: No, I did that when I was a kid in New York when it was a hell of a lot scarier than it is now.
Whiskey: Exactly. You nailed it. Back in the eighties, or seventies…
Whiskey: As the case may be. So you’ve got a show tomorrow.
Eszter: I do, it’s at this very cool little venue Pangaea where I’ve actually been playing a lot. So it’s going to feel very homey for me to return because I’ve never played a show of my own there, but I’ve been playing violin and my fantastically talented friend Tammy Fe Starlight’s show, Cabaret Marianne, so we did a residency there for many weeks. And now I’m returning with my own show, with my guitarist Chris Cochran, well, he’s not my guitarist, I have not appropriated him but we have played together for a long time.
Whiskey: Okay, where is Pangaea?
Eszter: So Pangaea’s in the east village, it’s across from St. Mark’s Church if you know where that is. It’s on Second Avenue, between Eleventh and Twelfth. 178 2nd Avenue, and it’s a restaurant, bar, very cool cozy little venue, and you can find it online and etc. And it’s tomorrow at seven thirty. Am I doing a good job plugging here?
Whiskey: Of course, of course. But okay, so one last, one other thing that we really should get back to. This Airless Midnight album that you just released…
Whiskey: Which is in fact really, really good.
Eszter: Well thanks so much, I’m so glad you like it.
Whiskey: You worked with all of these fabulous people in making this thing, and you know, I’d like to, if you can, you know, tell us just a little bit about your experience in working with, you know, studio musicians and making this thing happen and…
Whiskey: Well you tell me, I mean…
Eszter: Well I hadn’t made a record in a really long time, and I was raising a kid is one reason. But another reason is that it’s gotten really hard to get a record made in the traditional old way that we used to get records made like, get a label, or something like that. So I did one of those fundraiser things on Pledge Music, do you know about Pledge Music?
Whiskey: No, I’ve never heard of it.
Eszter: It’s sort of like KickStarter, it’s really taken off. And I raised the funds there, which was really difficult because I have to be sort of promoter, fundraiser, update poster, cheerleader, at the same time as making the record. So I don’t know if I could exactly do that again, but I’m super grateful that it came together, because I was able to make a record. And the producer, J.D. Foster, I worked with on both my previous records, and had a good experience, and we really see eye to eye in a lot of ways. So it made perfect logical sense for me to go back to working with him again. And he brought in the drummer, whose name incidentally is Brian Nelson who really kicks ass, if I may use three letter words like that on your podcast.
Whiskey: Oh hell yeah, hell yeah, it’s a podcast.
Eszter: And then as far as the collection of guitarists, I really have to admit that this is very clichéd and not anything ground breaking, but I love the electric guitars so much, and they’re so many different ways to play it. I could have like ten different guitarists on a record of mine, and I also insisted on playing some stuff myself. But the people, the guitarists that are on the record, they’re just all so special in their own completely different ways. So Dave Schramm, you know who he is, he plays in Yo La Tengo now and I hadn’t really worked with him before except very, very briefly I think on one thing that we recorded. But he’s a friend of J.D.’s and we worked together in the studio on one project, and immediately I thought, he would be great to have on the record. And then Chris Cochran as I mentioned who will be playing with me tomorrow, he’s, he and I have worked together for a very long time. So we’ve done a lot of shows together and he’s on all my records, and he’s got this very unique angular, scronky, totally his own way of playing. And then Mark Rebo…
Whiskey: So you know about the jazz?
Eszter: Well not so much, a little bit. And then Mark Rebo who I have also worked with a lot and on different projects of his, and a little bit of mine, more on his in this case. And of course, he’s amazing and brought a lot to it. So there you go.
Whiskey: Well I have to say I’m a huge fan of Yo La Tengo.
Eszter: Oh yeah?
Whiskey: You know, with the whole Sesame Street thing, and the upraising and how they do their thing.
Eszter: Well now they’re playing again. So have you seen any of the new shows?
Whiskey: No, it’s been years and years. But…
Eszter: Yeah, I haven’t either.
Whiskey: I think the last time I saw them was at South Street Seaport when South Street Seaport was South Street Seaport.
Whiskey: Yeah, I don’t know. But absolutely amazing. I have to play another track by you, right?
Eszter: Great, thank you.
Whiskey: So what am I playing?
Eszter: Well, are you in the mood for something upbeat, or you know, a little more rocking, or a little more ballady?
Whiskey: Well I had All You Need queued up.
Eszter: Great, do it.
Whiskey: Alright, alright.
Whiskey: Okay, so tomorrow seven thirty p.m., Pangaea, that’s across from the St. Mark’s Church on one more time, 11th Street and 2nd Avenue?
Whiskey: 11th Street and 2nd Avenue.
Eszter: On 2nd.
Whiskey: Excellent. Okay, I’m not totally brain dead. You can get her ticket on Brown Paper Tickets and I you know, hope to see you all there. Eszter, you are absolutely fracking awesome…
Eszter: Thanks so much for having me.
Whiskey: Of course, ditto, ditto, thank you for being here. And let’s see, I suppose after All You Need, I’m going to play Trouble You Don’t See.
Whiskey: And you know, thanks for joining me on Mystery Gothic Radio 12 A.D.
Eszter: Thanks, bye.
Whiskey: Okay, bye.
Girogio Moroder – The Myth (ft David Bowie)
Swans – Mother Of The World
victorient – storm within
Television Personalities – Mysterious Ways
Eszter Balint – Departure Song
Eszter Balint – All You Need
Eszter Balint – Trouble You Don’t See
Gris-de-Lin – The Kick
Animal Noise – How Can You Love Me
Bootleg Rascal – Shade
They Might Be Giants – Hey, Mr. DJ, I Thought You Said We Had a Deal
The Slits – I Heard It Through The Grapevine
Pylon – No Clocks
HUMAN LEAGUE – OPEN YOUR HEART
Talking Heads – (Nothing But) Flowers
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Hallelujah
BLVCK CEILING – Adele – Hello – bootleg
ghost OS – 2 Weeks
SIDEWALKS AND SKELETONS – Last Memory
BARBARIAN – Chromatose Yellow
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