A Chat with Olivér Szendrey-Nagy from Papaver Cousins (13.07.18)

Image of Papaver Cousins band performing
Image credit to Réka Vajda Photography

There’s something exciting about European musicians, and I can’t quite place my finger on it.  Perhaps it’s their fantastic accents or the fact that they sing songs in languages I don’t understand.  Regardless, European musicians win my heart each time I hear, see or speak to them; and Hungarian Papaver Cousins fall into the category.  Taking some time out, Olivér Szendrey-Nagy of this dynamic duo answers some of my questions about their latest album, his favourite Disney film, and whether he is a blood relative of band member, Barnabás Nagy.

OSR:  The first question is about your band name.  Is it just something you came up with or are you guys cousins?

OS:  Haha.  We are not blood-related, but we are just as close as good cousins can be.

OSR:  On your new album Bad Writing, you decide to move from folk music to rock.  Why did you decide to take this direction?

OS:  I don’t think that the core of our music changed at all.  It’s the same thing with a slightly different interpretation.  Our music was put in a box after releasing our first record.  It suggested that we are the gloomy acoustic folk duo and nothing else.  I don’t think that’s true, and we knew that there should be another way to perceive our songs, so we tried to make it more obvious to everyone.

OSR:  Does your family have a musical background?

OS:  Yes.  My father has a massive collection of vinyl and CDs, and something was always on when I was a child; still is, but I don’t live home anymore.  Barni’s mother is a music teacher in elementary school.

OSR:  Hungary has a rich cultural background with both Roman and Turkish heritage.  Does your Hungarian culture influence your music at all?

OS:  It must influence it one way or another.  I mean with every language comes a different brain wiring, so our mother tongue must affect the way we construct our world.

OSR:  Do you think it’s important that bands consider their heritage or culture when creating music?

OS:  I don’t think it’s obligatory.  I mean, today we have the opportunity to construct our own cultural identity.  It’s a good thing and a bad thing, but it’s good to know your history because you will understand the world around you better if familiar with the context which you have been born into.

OSR:  Most people like Disney movies, so what are your favourite Disney films?

OS:  I know it’s Pixar, but mine has to be Toy Story.

OSR:  What was your very first gig – it could be school talent show – and do you remember how you felt when you performed?

OS:  My first gig was as a bass player in our guitarist and singer’s high school.  I think it was better for me that my first time onstage was not as a singer.  It would have been too much pressure.

OSR:  Who was your schoolboy crush?  I mean, who did you have posters of on your bedroom wall?

OS:  I left home when I was thirteen and went to stay at a Catholic boarding school.  We were not allowed to have posters on our walls, unless it was a football player or something pretty neutral.


OSR:  What is your favourite song from Bad Writing?

OS:  ‘The Clouds are Moving Fast Here’ or ‘Lock and Leave’.

OSR:  What was the recording process like for Bad Writing and is there anything you would do differently?

OS:  Thanks to a grant from our national cultural fund, we were able to book one of the best studios in Hungary for a week.  The band moved in, and we were kind of isolated from everything.  I wouldn’t change a thing.  I think everyone loved it the way it was.

OSR:  If you could collaborate with any solo artist, who would it be and why?

OS: Uh, this one’s hard.  I would go with Jack White, Ryan Adams or Trent Reznor. These guys made a big impact on me.  When I first saw Jack White playing an old Kay guitar, I had this feeling that I want to do this all my life.

OSR:  What do you do when you’re not playing music or at work?

OS:  Hanging out with our dog, Peter.  He is such a star.

OSR:  If you could jump forward ten years, where do you see yourself?

OS:  I hope I will still have the chance to do what fascinates me, whatever that will be in ten years.  If I am able to think about my next ‘big thing’ in ten years, then I am saved.

Thanks to Oliver for chatting with us.  To enjoy more of Papaver Cousins’ awesomeness, you can engage with them via their socials (Facebook, Instagram) or download their music via Amazon and iTunes!

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