Summer special edition of the weekly magazine KOZELET (Public Life) of Andrea Gerak's hometown proudly featured the artist on 2 full pages: read an excerpt from the bio of the singer and the full interview.
FROM BORSOD TO WORLD-WIDE FAME
The internationally more and more popular singer Andrea Gerak (born in Ozd and raised up in Kazincbarcika of Borsod county) has been compared to Enya and Sally Oldfield as well. Here in Hungary, she's been classified in the same stream as Marta Sebestyen, Katalin Szvorak, Iren Lovasz or Beata Palya. She lives now in Stockholm, Sweden, so we asked her via email.
- It's known about you that you spent your childhood in Kazincbarcika. What are your kindest memories from that time?
- In our house and around, there were many kids of almost the same age, so we would play together a lot. We would jump in the fresh grass piles, we would play hide and seek, make up stories and play them, and others. I was fortunate to grow up in a town where a child could move rather freely. In the summer, I went swimming almost every day, in the winter, ice skating or slegdeing. To all these, trainings and performances with the Borsod Folk Ensemble were added, from my age of ten.
- Do you visit Kazincbarcika, if yes, how often?
- At least once a year I try to go home to my parents, but I would love go a bit more often. Last time I was home at Easter.
- You started your artist career as a folk dancer. Which moments of your dancer career are you the most proud of?
- Maybe the most memorable was a folk dance festival in France, around 1989, where our group was the favorite of the audience, and the Mexicans. I am also proud of a Sweden tour where my photo was featured on the cover of the magazine about the international festival. Another great experience was Northern Italy where I spent 1 month with the Marczibanyi Band as a solo singer and dancer. We didn't only perform in the clubs by the original contract but in the local radio as well, and community leaders invited us to schools. Children enjoying Hungarian music and dances, filled sports halls.
- In the age of 30, you decided to choose singing as your profession. What motivated you in this choice?
- Two things. With my boyfriend of that time, I was talking about that it would be time for me to figure out what should I do in life. He, with a few good questions, helped me to realize that it was always my voice that has made the greatest impact on others. From that on, it wasn't a question for me any more what to do. The other moment was the "Understanding of Music" seminar by Duncan Lorien American composer and music eduactor, where I heard one or two data that made my decision stronger.
- Which music streams does your individual style consist of?
- I'll try to avoid well-sounding specific terms - I anyway don't like to use them. I don't even want to categorize my songs stricktly, because this is what I find one of the nicest and most exciting tasks: in which ways can one convey songs that were born in a small, hidden village, let's say 300 years ago, to the people of super modern XXIth century. My main source is Hungarian folk music, more closely vocal songs. I like to touch songs from other nations, and I play with coupling a Hungarian song with a Turkish or Irish one, for example. Besides performing folk songs in their usual ways, a cappella singing or with traditional instrumental accompaniment, I find it exciting when musicians get inspired by a song that I sing and they conjure up something completely new with piano, synthetisers, computer or instruments from the Middle-East. Today, this is how I work with Hungarian, Israeli, Spanish or Dominican musicians. Or, if I am captivated by a piece of music, then it might happen that I improvise some tunes to it.
- Did you or do you have masters, idols to whom you are thankful, in your singer career?
- First of all, maybe I would mention Marta Sebestyen. I've also learned from the other Hungarian folk singers - at least, from their records. And I took a few classes from Maria Maczko. After the above mentioned Duncan Lorien, it was a vocal seminar that gave me a big kick: held by Ric Poulin, head of Bristols Studios in Boston. Reading Tina Turner's autobiography impressed me deeply. Other then that, the greatest help are those musicians and music professionals who write music to my songs or support me with feedback. I must not forget about my family and my listeners, friends and fans in my homeland and all around the world: I can see it from their kind words, sparkling eyes that it's worth doing what I am doing.
- You are professionally using the possibilities given by the internet. In our country, it's not many artists that pay attention to this. The question is given: is it yourself who is taking care about your management, or is it somebody else?
- An independent artist has to engage in several professions, in addition to their own job: concert organizing, public and media relations, promotion, sales, career planning, finances, image, communication which includes such small things as having a workable phone line or padded envelopes for mailing the CDs. I can do some of these tasks better, - others not so good. I consult my husband, and he takes on a few of these tasks. And obviously, those musicians I work with promote our creations and gigs in their own circles. Besides that, it is me who keeps total control over my career and does the job.
- When can we see your next performance in Hungary?
- At the moment, I don't have anything planned there, but in case of interest, I would gladly go, of course to Kazincbarcika as well.
- Beside singing, how do you like to spend your leisure time?
- I can't really separate the two, for singing and everything that goes with it, is my life. For example, I can enjoy even doing the dishes while I'm practicing new songs... Or, it's a part of the "work" and it's "leisure activity" in the same time when I email with my friends or I go to a concert. I love everything that has to do with singing. Yet, when I feel it's a bit too much while doing a task, I simply do something else for a half an hour, one hour, then I get back to it and finish it. Else then singing? I always loved writing. Now I have several blogs on the net and sometimes even a poem or two would jump out of my head. I like to take photos, sometimes watching a good movie, talk with my son, discover the city and it's surroundings together with my husband, or I just go for a walk by myself, simply to look around. Swimming, sauna, gymnastics at home. I am interested in languages: after English, German and French, now I am tasting Swedish, but I dare to visit Russian or Spanish music sites as well. I tend to get involved in humanitarian activities, like anti-drug or human rights issues - I can be convinced to support these kind of things pretty easily. And my big love is still dancing."