From the depths of the New York City underground comes the darkened synthpop of Like What, with Edgar Lorre speaking to founder Balazs Imre about the band’s history and musical direction.
An InterView with Balazs Imre of Like What
By Edgar Lorre (ErrolAM)
Please tell us the story of how you started Like What?
Imre: Like What is really a quarantine project. I had been working on some songs for a while, so when the pandemic hit and my life turned upside down during the lockdowns, I had a lot of free time all of a sudden. Music was actually one of the things that kept me busy and sane. I took some earlier demos, then decided to complete the production. And the rest you already know – after the first few singles, I then released a short album, Avant-Garde, and the Unplug! EP, followed by Unpunctuated, which was released earlier this year in May.
Were you part of any bands or projects prior to Like What?
Imre: I played at music schools and in some cover bands early on, yet Like What is my first project where I am doing my own original songs.
What was the experience like recording the new album, Unpunctuated?
Imre: After releasing Avant-Garde, I felt more confident with the musical direction I was aiming for what would be the next album. So, in this sense, it was a bit easier than the earlier releases. I believe this confidence is clearly present on Unpunctuated, that delivers a clearer, more coherent concept and production.
How has the reception been thus far for the new album?
Imre: Honestly, I was a bit nervous before the release, but the reception was really great. It has resonated with the audience from day one and I have received a lot of positive feedback. The pair of music videos have also received a very good reception.
Will Like What be playing any live dates or is it strictly a studio project?
Imre: I am still trying to figure this out. On the one hand, I really would like to go onstage and play live. On the other hand, as a one-man project, it would be difficult to come up with a setup that is interesting enough without using too many pre-recorded bits. I am sure I will find a way in the future, but for now, it remains a studio project.
Do you consider yourself a gear enthusiast? If so, can you tell our audience about some of your favorite musical gear?
Imre: Far from it. I am actually a minimalist. I really only use an iPad and a guitar, and I’m happy with it. It makes it much easier to focus on the music and the ideas rather than ‘the perfect sound.’
Who are among your biggest darkwave and industrial influences from the past?
Imre: That would be a long list, but it all started with Joy Division, Depeche Mode, She Wants Revenge, to name a few. I have listened to all sorts of dark material since I first discovered the genre.
Can you recommend any contemporary or new darkwave or dark electronic bands that our audience should be listening to?
Imre: Okay, this is another long list! I love Twin Tribes, She Past Away, A Covenant of Thorns, Bragolin, The Foreign Resort… they are great and stand out from the scene for a reason, well deserved. But through music, I have discovered a lot of talented musicians who might be under the radar, at least for now – Ulysse Marshall, Scott Baker Graham, NØIR, and Pain in the Yeahs all have great material out there. We keep in contact, share ideas, or just chat about good music in general, like a real underground community should.
What is next for Like What?
Imre: The music video for ‘Unpunctuated’ was released at same time as the album, based on A.I. generated images. I really like that video. The second music video has just been released for ‘Time to Let Go,’ which is my personal favorite from the album. I’m not really taking a break from being creative; in fact, new songs are already in the works. As Unpunctuated was more synth-heavy than the previous releases, maybe I will focus more on the guitars this time. We shall see, but you’ll hear from me soon enough!
Photograph provided courtesy of Like What