Born in Hungary, but based in Sweden, Arpad B. is a hip-hop artist with a fondness for tight beats and a sharp lyrical flow. Arpad B. describes his sound as falling somewhere in between the depth and warmth of old school hip-hop, and the focus and balance of the best modern productions, with some trap influences. He says it’s all about tight sounding analog-style beats, lush synth lines, and samples that bring in diverse influences and colors to each track. Arpad B. also strives to keep his lyricism personal and honest: his raps are inspired by his unique life experiences, including growing up throughout the world, in countries as diverse as Hungary, the USA and Sweden. In a recent interview Arpad B. gave us some insight into his doings.
- How long have you been in the music business and how did you get started in the first place?
Arpad B.: I have been making music seriously for about 6 years now, that’s when I started performing and recording songs on a regular basis. I actually wrote the 1st one 8 years ago, though.
- Who were your first musical influences that you can remember?
Arpad B.: I listened to some old Hungarian rap first like Gangxtaa Zolee and Sub Bass Monster, but the 1st English Hip-Hop I heard was actually Jay-Z, so I’d say, him, probably.
- Which artists are you currently listening to?
Arpad B.: I always bump Biggie, no matter what, along with other great 90s Rap but I do try to keep up with today’s stuff as well. Out of the newer artists post 2000, I like Joe Budden & Slaughterhouse, T.I., Game, A$AP Rocky, Fabolous and the list goes on ! But I listen to other genres as well occasionally, I like some weird stuff that you’d never guess like Joe Dassin (French Chanson music from the 60s-70s) all the way to Avicii and anything in between, as long as it’s good music it doesn’t matter what genre it is. I listen to a lot of different kinds of music, but it is usually Hip-Hop 99% of the time.
- Have you suffered any ‘resistance’ from within the industry in your country, and if so how have you handled that, and how do you handle criticism and naysayers in general?
Arpad B.: I’ve had a couple fallouts with some people in both Hungary and Sweden, but that’s just how life is; nobody actually important. In Hungary nearly every rapper makes music in Hungarian, in Sweden however there are a few English acts. Obviously people usually listen to American artists if they want to hear English rap, but I’m working on changing that.
- What are your thoughts on visual media and Youtube? Do think that video is an appropriate marketing tool for your music, and do you currently have visual media for fans to see?
Arpad B.: It definitely is a good marketing tool usually, but videos are less about the artistry of the said rapper/singer and more dependent on the video director, in my opinion. I have a couple videos online on my YouTube channel, and I’m going to have more soon. The videos are all works of others, though I’m not a director or anything. I don’t have anything fancy, just some simple stuff right now. However I do have one animated video that has that Sims/GTA San Andreas feel.
- Which do you ultimately prefer? Entertaining a live audience or creating songs in a studio environment?
Arpad B.: That’s tough question, both are so fun to do. But if I had to pick one, I have to say I love the long studio sessions, when you just do your thing, forget time, and get lost in the art of creating something special.
- Essentially how do you produce your sound? Do you produce yourself, with loops, samples and software based beats and do you also work with real instruments? Or do you work with external producers, and if so how do you choose them?
Arpad B.: I work mostly with other producers, some that are friends, some that I just communicate with through e-mail or Skype or whatever, but I have been making beats for about a year now as well, I’m not that good at that though, yet. I’m just discovering everything, still learning how to play with the midi keyboard and so on, so some loops slip into these early creations to be honest. My strength so far is making drums, but even that is novice if you look at the producers that have done it for many years. As a little kid I did play trombone, of all things, for a bit. I do mixing and mastering too, I have about 5 years’ experience with that.
- Which is your latest music release and where can fans find it?
Arpad B.: I have plenty new stuff on the way this fall, but the last release was “Juicy Fruity” that you guys actually had on the site, an experimental EDM/Rap collaboration for those not familiar. I also have an EP out from last year and the 1st single off my next project. I have stuff on nearly every site, but I recommend hitting up my Soundcloud or Spotify. But I’m on every important platform, even the new Apple Music.
- Which ingredient do you think makes you special and unique as a performing artist in a genre thriving with newcomers and wannabes?
Arpad B.: I’m a Hungarian dude who lives in Sweden and raps in English, that’s probably the most unique thing about me. I also like to think I have my own sound, because people can never really pinpoint any other artist that I “sound like”.
- If you were forced to choose only one, which emotion, more than any other drives you to be a part of this tough business. Is it joy, anger, desire, passion or pride and why?
Arpad B.: Another tough question, but at the end of the day I love music and that’s that. And music is all those emotions plus many more. But what drives me to be in this tough business was you question actually, and then I’d have to say passion, with a hint of desire and some pride sprinkled on it.
- Which aspect of being an independent artist and the music making process excites you most and which aspect discourages you most?
Arpad B.: Wow man, another great question. I love writing and imagining how the finished song will sound like. Also, people’s reactions are awesome, for example when people tell you how you made them feel a certain type of way when they listened to one of your songs. Now, the business side of things can be frustrating, but all in all this is what I like to do and the business side comes with it. As an indie artist you have to do most things yourself. At least we have nearly total control in what happens. Nobody owns my masters, nobody is taking a cut of the money I make & etc. and I’m my own boss, I like it that way.
- How do you market and manage your music career? Do you have a management team or do you control everything by yourself?
Arpad B.: I do nearly everything myself, however that is changing now, more on that later, but as of now what I can say is things are finally starting to happen with my music on a bigger stage. This year for example, I have already performed at an event where 2 of Sweden’s biggest acts (Dani M and Molly Sandén) were the headliners, but really big things are going to go down this fall, if everything works out, but of course, you never know in this business.
- How do you achieve your great sound? Do you work exclusively a private home recording environment or do you use a commercial sound studio too?
Arpad B.: I do it all, I have a little studio in my apartment, but I go to “real” studios as well.
- The best piece of advice in this business you actually followed so far, and one you didn’t follow, but now know for sure that you should have?
Arpad B.: The best advice is probably to be patient and keep grinding. A lot of people give up and don’t believe in themselves enough. An advice I wish I would have followed more was planning everything out and setting specific goals, I been trying to change that, and I already see positive results.
- Gives us your personal shortlist of hip hop’s 3 greatest artists – living or dead.
Arpad B.: Definitely Tupac and Biggie. But the 3rd name is really more of personal preference, it would be impossible in my opinion to name the 3rd greatest without reasonable doubt. You could say Jay-Z, Nas, Eminem and the list goes on. But I will go head and say the 3rd greatest according to my humble opinion would have to be (or would have been) Big L, but he was also killed. It’s tragic to know how much more great music these legends who died young could have still made.
- Do you consider Internet and all the social media websites, as fundamental to your career, and indie music in general, or do you think it has only produced a mass of mediocre “copy-and-paste” artists, who flood the web, making it difficult for real talent to emerge?
Arpad B.: I would have to say both statements are correct. In today’s world you have to do the social media thing no matter what. But like you pointed out, there’s a lot of copycat type of people who flood the scene so it makes it that much harder for the really talented to get noticed. However, I do believe, as in the earlier question, if you just stay patient and do you, sooner or later your time will come.
- If someone has never heard your music, which 3 keywords would you personally use to describe your overall sound and style?
Arpad B.: If I can cheat with the 3, OldSchool x NewSchool x Need-To-Learn-Though ! Kris, my good friend from back in Budapest quotes that all the time from Biggie and that would be that.
- Straight off the top of your head, how would you describe the current state of Hip-hop in your country of residence and Europe as a whole?
Arpad B.: Ah, it’s nothing like the U.S., there’s plenty other genres that are way more popular and higher on the list for many people. There are Hip-Hop heads of course, but it is not as popular as in the US, and there’s defiantly no A-List of super-rich mega stars that chop it up with the biggest names. The quality of the scene itself is respectable for its size, but God knows I wish things were happening on a bigger stage that they are now.
- As you work your way through your career, which more than any other fires-up your imagination – A Grammy award, Platinum music sales or some other tangible milestone?
Arpad B.: I have some milestones that I have passed, but still have plenty to go. Nothing super big like a Grammy or a Plat, but the number one thing I want to do is be able to provide for my family full time with just music. I’m getting there, but there’s still a long way to go. Also I would love to work with certain people and the usual stuff. And …I wanna put my beloved hometown Budapest on the Hip-Hop map on a worldwide scale.
- What is the ONE thing you are NOT willing or prepared to do EVER, in your quest to achieve a successful musical career?
Arpad B.: I’m willing to adapt and make minor changes in my vision, but you will never see me all of a sudden as a whole different person. I’ve seen people go from hard rap to soft RnB/Pop just to make it. That’s something I will not even consider.
I would like to that you Rick and all the Jamsphere people for the interview, you guys are the best. Shout out the all the people who actually support independent artists. Peace & Love !