Hello Vik how are you?
Hey Del, I’m very well thank you, I appreciate you having me. How are things going for you?
All good thankyou for asking!
Congratulations on the release of “Casting Stones” how does it feel?
Thank you! It feels great. To be honest with you, it’s a big sigh of relief for me because we had some major technical issues during the recording process with this one. I had to record the vocals at least five times!
What’s the story behind it?
Casting Stones is a sequel to the previous release, Secret Lies and they are both a part of a trilogy which will be concluded in 2022. Secret Lies was about hiding secrets and denying them to the point where one would convince themselves that they didn’t exist because of the shame. Casting Stones is about those secrets being discovered by the person, in this case a girl, who they were hidden from. “I’m casting stones at my reflection” is meant to show that the hidden lies burden the person keeping them with deep shame and this creates an element of self-loathing. I think the video really explains it a lot better than I can in words, but I would encourage people to watch Secret Lies followed by Casting Stones (all the way to the end!) to understand the story so far.
You cowrote it with Matt McAndrew how did that collaboration come about?
I took singing lessons from Matt starting in February 2020 right before the madness. There were a lot of songs I’d written on my shelf with no one to sing them, so I asked him if he thought I had a voice to carry them through or if I should just give up. We kept in touch pretty much every week and ended up practicing, editing vocals, writing lyrics, and critiquing my songs through Skype. I then told him that I’ve always wanted to come to Los Angeles. I have a joke with him that I ended up here because he dared me to come – Well here I am! He picked me up from the airport in June, put me up for a few nights whilst I was sorting myself out and I recorded a tiny part of the second verse of Casting Stones at his studio!
What was the most valuable lesson you learned during those sessions?
That Matt is the man. I think it’s important to have someone in your corner encouraging you, almost pushing you in a positive way, to maximise your potential. I had all the tools to start this band and write the songs, but he made my self-belief go up another level. Everything is about managing expectations, and it’s important to realise what those are to be happy. For me, it turned out to be writing, recording, and releasing music with my voice in the forefront and it is the best feeling there is. Other than the vocal techniques and warmups I think that’s the most valuable thing he taught me.
You are part of the band Telling Secrets, how did this band come into being?
Telling Secrets is based on a load of songs I had written during my time at university and prior. I didn’t release any of them as I said because I didn’t think I would end up singing them. I still haven’t released anything I’d written prior to 2020. I’ve been trying to put this band together for years but no one I knew wanted to be involved in this kind of rock. Everyone said that they’d either grown out of it or just weren’t keen. When I connected with Matt, I go this synergy of enthusiasm to make it happen and I think it rubbed off on the guys when I asked them to play for me and be involved. I’m very thankful for their trust and I’m excited to see where we go next.
Who’s in the band, who plays what?
We have Augustus William Clark on bass, super cool dude, also supports Man United, like me, and he’s the real deal. On lead guitar there’s Lewis Wheeler who I think is an absurd talent and really understands what he is doing, he makes it look so easy – he is a Liverpool fan though so there’s always a bit of mutually bullying going on. I got George Farrar to step in on drums as a hired gun for the Casting Stones music video and he really killed it so it’s great to have him involved too. Lastly, I sing, record, and write the songs, teach it to the guys or facilitate them with the means to learn the material. I have Zack Baker from Rain City Drive recording drums and mixing the tracks and he is a big part of this too so definitely deserves huge credit.
You formed in Manchester, given its history with music what Manchester bands influenced you starting out?
Honestly, none. Not musically anyway, I really like Oasis but apart from that, Manchester to me has been very indie and jangly which is cool, but not necessarily what I would choose to put on. I really lean more towards bands like My Chemical Romance, Escape the Fate, Falling in Reverse and Green Day so it’s a very different beast!
You now live in L.A. how’s it been living out there?
I am collecting my stories out here – It’s awesome. I love the vibe and the lifestyle here and with some luck this will last for a while. I’ve been hanging out with Matt and going to gigs, we went see the Rolling Stones just last month and Bring Me The Horizon recently. I have nothing concrete yet, but I am very keen on hitting the Hollywood circuit out here and playing some shows next year, I think it would be a lot of fun.
What’s been a highlight of it so far?
One single highlight? Damn… I managed to get a ticket to go and see Bring Me The Horizon at the Whiskey a Go-Go which was cool because it sold out pretty much straight away as it’s a 500 cap venue and they usually play arenas. Aside from that I’ve been meeting some cool people and trying to make the most of it. I am living one of my dreams. Going to a sandy beach on a semi regular basis without having to get on a plane is also up there on my list.
COVID impacted the creative industry in a big way what kept you motivated?
The fact that I knew I had time to make up for the four years I wasted at music college not releasing and performing with this band because no one was interested. I was hellbent on releasing Secret Lies and recording all the other songs. I got filled up with so much self-belief, it was a very positive time for me in that sense. Maybe part of it also helped to convince the guys to stick with me because things slowed down for them too. I know that they are involved in other projects but perhaps this gave them a bit more time in their schedule to say yes, so that extra responsibility to live up to their trust was another motivating force.
2020 was a time to reflect what did you learn about yourself?
I think I sank a little bit mentally. I noticed things I didn’t like about myself physically and then shortly after when the Black Lives Matter movement was at its peak I reflected on my heritage and roots. I was born in Budapest and all my family is from Hungary, but I grew up in England. I was always in this weird space where I was exposed to ugly things in Budapest where not everyone is accepted, but in London, Surrey, and Manchester there are all sorts of people co-existing harmoniously. It’s not perfect but it’s a lot more accepting than Eastern Europe. Instead of sharing Instagram posts of what was going on I was quite introspective for a while. Analysed the ugly inside me, tried my best to get rid of it and engaged in some tough and challenging conversations about the issue with people very close to me. It was emotional and it created a lot of friction at the time, but I just feel like that’s how I can do my bit. There’s a line in the song that goes “I’m trying to change, but true colours will always keep me the same”. This to me means that no one can ever really truly change. Where I come from, what I’ve seen, and how my life started has made me aware of some very ugly things, but I think that a large part of life is always trying to improve, and battle against these bad habits or ideals. You can only truly challenge them if you understand them, so I think they are actually a good thing in a way. This isn’t to say that Hungary or Eastern Europe is horrible. There are many lovely people there, there’s beautiful architecture and I do miss it. I just know I know some of the people who are part of the problem and it felt wrong not to confront them.
Did you pick up any new skills?
I improved a lot on my singing, completed a Graduate Diploma in Law (Congratulations! D.O.), and managed to do the prime Ronaldinho squad builder challenge on FIFA. The order there isn’t necessarily a reflection of what I spent the most time on!
What are you listening to at the moment?
According to Spotify, Cutting it Close by Rain City Drive, I dipped into 30 by Adele whilst doing my laundry but that’s on pause until next Sunday, Horizons by Starset and the master I just got back for the next release!
What are you looking forward to next?
The next release. I’m putting together some guys from LA to be able to play shows here because Augustus and Lewis can’t just fly over and play at a club. They will always be the band members and I will absolutely never abandon them. We are looking at it like having a UK line up and a US line up. They also have their other projects as I mentioned before which they are involved with creatively. Augustus is in a band called Dalmas, which George Farrar is the singer for, and Lewis is in a band called House of Hatchets. I’ve never actually played a show where I’m singing so I’m keen to get going and put the best possible thing together. The next real step will be to perform live, and the goal is to be doing that in 2022 in both the US and the UK.