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Krisztián Forrai: The DJ bringing global bass to Budapest

Beside his high profile activities as a multitasking DJ, promoter, journalist and creative mind Krisztián Forrai still finds time to be a scene activist. He’s pushing Budapest’s notorious dance fever upwards and its club culture forwards with Ghetto Bazaar, a blog and club series for global bass genres. We talked to him to find out more about Ghetto Bazaar and to learn what’s going on in the new Budapest scene.


Electronic Beats: What drove you to launch the Ghetto Bazaar blog and club night?
Krisztián Forrai: The same thing that drives me anyway, which is the natural interest in the latest sounds and the itch to promote them, be it writing about them or playing them out in clubs. Basically, when I discovered this global ghettotech or global bass phenomenon three years ago and I got hooked on it, I almost instantly had the urge to create a Hungarian platform for it. No one covered it and really few DJs were playing this kind of music at that time – well, in fact, it hasn’t really changed since then, it’s still a “family affair” of a close circle of DJs. So, three years ago I looked around to find likeminded people to involve in establishing the local outpost for global bass, and I found two DJs who could also write about music, Fonetik and Blnd! Together in July 2009 we started the Ghetto Bazaar blog, and in the same month we had our first party. Blnd! has since practically left the collective (although spiritually he’s still with us), so now Ghetto Bazaar is just Fonetik and me. I’m proud of the fact that the blog is now part of the international global bass network, and as DJs we have played alongside some of the leading figures of the international scene, like J-Wow (of Buraka Som Sistema) and SaBBo. I also think our mix series is really cool!

What’s the philosophy behind the Ghetto Bazaar project? 
Let me start with a personal note: Global bass works for me because it opened the door to traditional Latin, African and Asian music which hadn’t really been my thing. However, now I keep discovering myriad folk genres that the global bass scene “uses” and these discoveries are a constant source of amazement and amusement. It also made me realize that deep inside me there’s a Latin American spirit [laughs]. I think global bass itself is promoting lots of already existing and really exciting musical styles that would otherwise remain unknown to people who are not into “world music”. Also, global bass is nothing new, people have been mixing electronic dance music with ethnic sounds for decades now, it just wasn’t labeled that. Global bass is just much cooler and appeals to us because the electronic dance music components are better in it and the cross-pollinations are more intriguing. Fonetik and I both arrived to global bass via EDM and we love to keep things aimed at the dancefloor; Ghetto Bazaar is essentially about party music. There are wider social implications to global bass since it is the music of the ghettos – and although we are well aware of this and acknowledge it in our blog posts whenever necessary – we prefer to make people shake their booties and have a carnival of a good time.

What kind of global bass music are you promoting?
We strive to cover the whole spectrum of global bass, from baile funk to zulu house, with an emphasis on danceability. Anything that is Latin American, tropical or Caribbean-influenced does it for us obviously – we are huge fans of all things cumbia, the UK bashment sounds (bass-heavy club music with Caribbean rhythms) and African-Portugese kuduro. But it doesn’t need to be only happy music – we love the dark, grimy ghetto club genres from the US such as juke and trap and also the “smart” stuff leaning towards future bass, especially the Mexican varieties which are absolutely incredible. What we stay away from is filth – as in brostep – because when a genre spawns its “–core” derivative that just ruins the fun. It almost killed moombahton for us, and we were the first to promote it in Hungary. It just didn’t take off in its original form, whereas moombahcore is quite big with the brostep crowd. The music we represent falls between two stools in Hungary: it’s too “progressive” for fans of Latin, dancehall, reggaeton and it’s too “low-class” and unsophisticated for the bass music crowd. It doesn’t fit in any existing scene and it hasn’t found its own place in the Hungarian party culture – yet. It’s endless summer at Ghetto Bazaar, so we’re looking at the bright side, which is whenever we do a party, people love the music and the vibe.

How do you see the Budapest global bass music scene, are there any fledgling and internationally emerging artists we need to keep our eyes on?
As I said, it’s still a pet project of a handful of good people. On the DJ/promoter side there’s ELO (Márton Élő) and Jumo Daddy from the band Irie Maffia, DJ Superstereo, DJ Haze and Bodoo and Ghetto Bazaar. On the internationally recognised artist side we have Slap In The Bass [, who are Hungary’s main tropical bass act and Kovary who does different types of global bass, such as moombahton and kuduro. The latter two are the ones to keep your eyes on. Global bass is still an emerging type of music in Hungary, there’s no media for it (except our blog), no TV and radio exposure, no dedicated club nights, so I wouldn’t say there’s a fully fledged scene for it here – but we’re working on it.

Berlin’s fertile club scene is currently threatened by the authorities’ new royalty system. Doing more projects in Budapest you have a great overview on the city’s music scenes, what do you think about the current local electronic music and club scenes in Hungary, what’s happening there right now?

This is a very complicated issue. Although the Budapest club scene in general look like it’s thriving on the surface, promoting anything that is not already popular with the masses, especially niche music like ours has become extremely hard in recent years. Neither partygoers nor venues take chances with something new even when they tell you that they like the music. Also, the efforts by niche promoters are often undermined by lack of communication and collective thinking, which results in similar parties happening on the same night or too many crews promoting the same kind of music. The scene in Budapest is small, we all know each other, I strongly believe we should join forces whenever we can to get things to the next level.

The next global bass party called BudapesTropical will take place on August 4th at Fogas Ház, Budapest. More info here.

Published August 03, 2012.