Budapest-based Hungarian artist Dániel Marcel Hevesi represents the new wave of underground techno culture to the contemporary fine art world.
His work is unique, for he converges the worlds of underground techno with abstract, minimal art, and he does so in a compelling and stand-out manner that makes him a multi-lateral artist in the truest sense of the term. Among his most well-known pieces are those that comprise his “Locked Groove” series, in which he paints different techno sub-genre inspired artworks. Each piece of the “Locked Groove” series is created by using acrylic paint, small gravel, chalk and smaller sized canvas, his methods characteristically involving both self-invited “water washed” techniques as well as techniques used by German contemporary abstract artists.
I was drawn to Dániel’s work from the moment I saw it, and after speaking to him I realized that his passion for techno is a deep-rooted one, while his work as a painter is in fact a more recent form of expression. Dániel has been involved in the underground electronic music scene since 1996 and started painting just two years ago in 2015.
“The connection between abstract art and underground techno music was always there. They both live a life of an outlaw. Very misunderstood and not valued enough in a wider audience. They both belong to the underground. But this is all fine because, they are not for everyone.” Dániel says.
Hi Daniel, thanks for taking the time to talk to us!
Thank you for featuring me on 6AM. You and your team’s work in the underground electronic music scene is unique, considering than you are putting a lot of emphasis on the music, rather than focusing on huge agency promoted celebrities, like in the EDM industry. It makes me glad that I can take part in the re-establishment of a music centered underground culture.
Thank you! Tell us a little about yourself, where are you from?
I was born in Miskolc, Hungary. This city used to be the biggest industrial city the country, before the change of regime. Both parents were architects, my mother used to paint in her free time.
I moved to Budapest in 2001 to continue my studies as a college student. After becoming telecom/technical acoustic engineer, in 2005 I undertook a job that came with a lot of traveling across the globe, from Australia to the U.S..
Five years later, I felt the need for a steadier lifestyle, so I stopped traveling for work. Later, I started to develop myself in many different competence areas and had more time to focus on music. I teamed up with event organizers, radio stations and had my own monthly radio show. In 2015, I started to think about more and more about the link between visual art and music, which eventually lead to the projects that I am about to talk about.
Let’s talk about it! How did you first discover your passion for art?
My devotion towards abstract art started in Lille, France, where I was an ERASMUS scholarship student in 2003/2004. It all started with an interior design desktop background image on my notebook. This wallpaper reminded me every time for a home that I imagined in my mind. A home where I sit down comfortably and listen to my favorite tunes and get enchanted by art. A type of art that for me, without a question, was an interpretation of contemporary electronic music.
More than a decade later, when I could afford to have my own place, I wanted to re-create some of my favorite paintings to decorate my walls, so I started to learn about different painting technics and later on, I realized that I really like creating my own art and no longer wanted to reconstruct any paintings.
Your art is unique, which makes it special and makes you standout from other artists. Can you explain how that is so?
I think, that the actual artistic workflow and the converge of contemporary art and underground electronic music is what makes my art unique. It creates a story that hopefully will resonate with many people.
Techno is a focal element to your art. How did your love for the genre first begin?
It was the in the mid ’90s when my hunger for music began. I remember I was scanning radio stations to discover new music in the evenings and I accidentally discovered a radio show that changed my life forever. The show was called “Hipersebesség”, or “Hyperspeed” in English. The radio host, Peter Simon, was playing trance, happy hardcore, garage, house and techno at that time.
I was already listening to his show for almost two years every Thursday evening, when he eventually organized a mix competition. By that time, I was very much into drum and bass, so I submitted a D&B mix which got aired in the show. From that moment on I became a frequent visitor of the radio studio and made some new friends. The whole studio environment was so attractive to me. I fell in love very fast with the music sharing and music curating culture.
A very good friend of mine, Laci, who I met in the studio at one point started to talk to us about how to listen to a techno track, how to recognize a well built-up track and how to differentiate good sounds from lame ones. At that time, we were listening to Jeff Mills, HMC, Adam Beyer, Gayle Sun, Percy-X tracks mostly. The sophisticated and ritualistic way of listening to these vinyl records hypnotized me. I was something that I could not experience with Ed Rush or Dom & Roland tracks, because there was too many distractions, energy and emotions in D&B.
Above: A techno mix from 2002 created by Daniel, including two unreleased tracks from Laci,
the “Techno Teacher”
Is this something you do full time now or do you have another job?
I would love to do this full time, but in the moment, I spend more on these projects than I gain. I expect this trend to turn around in the coming years. In civil life, I work as mobile network consultant. This job actually helped me a lot to get my hands on rare vinyls, since I traveled a lot all around the globe and had a chance to visit many record stores.
Who are some of your favorite labels and artists?
I am extremely picky and maximalist when I choose a track to be included in my performances. When I play the chosen tracks I play them between 131-133 BPM. My preferred techno theme comes from the the combination of harder (veretős), bass heavy, mystic, hypnotic and minimalistic soundscapes and textures. My favorite artists, who create tracks matching these criteria are Eric Fetcher, Jonas Kopp, Lewis Fautzi, Samuli Kemppi, Shifted Tensal, but I really love to discover new, less known artists like Evigt Mörker, so that I can promote their music.
At the moment, I am following close to 300 techno labels, most of them are from Spain, Italy and Germany. I always get excited when I get notifications from Granulart, Float, MindTrip, PoleGroup, Semantica about new releases.
So tell us, how exactly do you marry techno and your art into one piece? How does that selection and artistic project work exactly?
When it comes to selecting music, I am always looking for the “engineering touch”. A very good sound engineer can make even electronic music come “alive”. In most cases this means the usage of analog gears, electronics, while creating music. I go through several thousand techno music tracks, until I filter out the ones that match my taste. In the next step of my artistic routine an hour-long mix is created from the selected tracks. The build-up of the mixes are based on the methods and categories I usually write about on my blog.
When the mix is ready, then I start to prepare myself for the painting sessions, which involve the selections of painting technics. The moment I am ready with setting up my work area, I turn up the volume on the stereo and the artistic work can begin. Creation of the artworks happens in high energy, trance-like state. The complexity and “color” of the music are main factors in the creation of the artwork.
You do both paintings and audiovisual projects. How do the two differ for you as the artist?
Although they are very much interconnected, they also address different audiences. Under my name I run my fine art business, targeting art lovers, galleries, collectors, art dealers, curators, interior designers and last, but not least, people who are into techno music and art. For people, who are more interested in music and the audiovisual performance, I created One Man Techno Army.
Addressing these two groups of people is a big challenge for me, since it requires two different communication styles, while I still have to maintain my core identity. Therefore, I need to manage several social accounts and websites. The only place my artworks and music really mix is my Instagram account.
For me, the audiovisual project is a continuation of the painting sessions. Without the paintings, I would not create visuals. Paintings add the element of surprise and abstractivity to the visual.
Have you ever considered having your audiovisual projects actually used at techno parties?
In 2015 when I got into painting, I did not want to go back to the nightlife. Painting was for me a way to express the love of techno music and it was enough for me at that time, but as the time passed, I discovered more and more excellent music and artists and soon I felt like I am in 1997 again and I wanted to share as much as good music with the audience as I could.
Because of this, in January I established One Man Techno Army with the purpose of promoting quality underground techno music. Adding a custom-made, live, mix controlled visualization to the music is something unique that I haven’t come across in any music genre so far. My audio-visual performance could transform a party to a contemporary underground techno movie theatre.
Your work is very unique, but do you feel like you are inspired by the work of any other painters out there?
Yes, I think every artist needs inspirations as an initial push. My visual inspirations in the beginning came from Catherine Christie, Chrissy Angliker and John Hoyland.
What is your view of techno, a mostly underground genre, and its role in more popular parts of society such as the arts?
Music is art, and so is techno. More and more authorities accept techno as part culture. Berghain became a high culture club in Berlin and in Zurich, “techno culture was recognized as part of its UNESCO ‘intangible cultural heritage’.” These are all very promising signs for the underground scene’s followers and for the artists too. I am hoping that authorities will go further soon and recognize techno as an art form. I would love to have an audiovisual installation in the Museum of Contemporary Art in Detroit and it would be an even greater achievement if they would include couple of my paintings in their permanent exhibition.
Underground techno music is the most expressive genre among contemporary electronic music styles and I think that the art that I create is one of the best way to build bridges between the fine art world and the techno music culture. Techno has taught me persistence, complex thinking and it is also a great source of energy. It could do the same for others, too!
You just had your work exposed at the “morphous AV FEST in Portugal”. How was that experience?
Organizers were very helpful and professional, te audience was nice and I love Portuguese red wine!
Have you ever thought of doing work with a techno producer where they make a track to YOUR work, rather than you inspiring your work on techno tracks?
Awesome idea, I am stealing it! (laughs). But no, never thought about this. Would be nice to sit down with a few of my favorite producers and see how they interpret the same painting. Than we could call the different versions “remixes.”
If you could choose ONE techno producer to work with, who would it be?
It is a very hard choice to pick one producer. The first one, who comes to my mind is Staffan Linzatti. Did you listen to his latest album, The Dynamic Dispatch? It is crazy good!
Finally, what’s your objective with this project? Where do you see this really going?
My main objective is to break cultural stereotypes regarding techno music and get it recognized as an art form. Despite popular belief, techno has nothing to do with wild drug and sex parties, and neither does it have to do with with celebrity “artists.”
Also, I would like to bring back those people to the underground electronic music scene and culture who were scared away by the aggressive EDM campaign in the early 2000s.