19 April 2024

Interview with Black Nail Cabaret – March 2024

Interview with Emese Arvai-Illes (vocals)

The Hungarian pop noire act Black Nail Cabaret released their latest album “Chrysanthemum” recently and as a new fan, I got hooked on the album and the band right away! I got in touch with the band recently and Emese was kind enough to answer some questions about the new album, band’s influences and the artistic side of BNC. Enjoy!

Hello! Firstly congratulations on the release of your latest record “CHRYSANTHEMUM”. How have you been feeling so far?

Thank you. The feedback has exceeded our expectations, we are glad so many people have been able to connect to this record.

What is the meaning of “CHRYSANTHEMUM” in the context of this album? Do you have personal memories/emotions related to the flower?

Chrysanthemum is a flower that is often used in cemeteries, so it may have a sombre connotation, but it is the choice of a flower because it stays fresh the longest. I chose this as a title from the song Faceless
Boy
, because it sums up the main topic of the album quite nicely: „Chrysanthemums bloom under my feet, paving the way into the trees.“

I have been observing my own fears and all seem to lead back to the primal fear or death: the fear of loss, of grief, of change. We do this to ourselves without realising, drowning in crippling fear. I used chrysanthemums as a symbol of death and grief, but the songs are often exploring how to face these, how to face life itself.

For me as a listener, the album flows from the beginning to the end and feels very creative and spontaneous. How has been the songwriting and recording process for you? Was this something that happened quickly or did the process take a long time?

Songs are being written as we go by, so an album to us is a collection of songs that represents a certain period of time, a time capsule of thoughts and emotions so to say. These have been in the making since the last album got finalised, but some of them are more recent. But we are talking about demos here, or fragments, and lyrics, not fully recorded songs. We could say this album is a course of 3 years. There comes a time when the idea of recording them ripens and we feel ready to go to the studio- which is basically our living room.

You bring such fresh air to this genre, and it’s especially fascinating how you combine visual art with your music in an esthetic way. What are some of your artistic influences? Are there any artistic periods/times that influence your music?

It fluctuates. Musically there are always new impressions or hooks we find, or when Krisztian is testing a new gear for example, that can be a source of a good riff. Lyrically, life is happening as it should, hardships come and go, some well deserved suffering is always inspiring. Visually it is similar to music: there is an overwhelming amount of visual inspiration from artists who I follow, like MUAs, drag queens and fashion designers. Sometimes even too much, and there are times when I am trying to avoid scrolling on Instagram for a while, not to get oversaturated with visual inspo, so that my mind can still work out stuff by itself and I can stay creative. It may sound weird, but after some time it is no longer a source of inspiration but mere eyecandy and entertainment.

Photo by: Dori Hrisztu-Pazonyi

BDSM eroticism is also one of the aspects of your multidimensional style, which, I assume, is also a way of living for you. Can you talk about which aspects of BDSM influence your music? What attracts you to it?

I have always found it fascinating how erotic our music or appearance is coming across to people because it is not intentional. It is just the visual and sonic appearance I am most comfortable with, I guess that is what I can do. It is probably so strongly a part of me, that I do not notice. I am interested in human relationships and psychology and sexuality is part of that.

Your costumes and stage esthetic are a big part of your live show. Do you have a specific “favorite” costume from live shows that bring back good memories or that you keep?

Right now it is the one from the Chrysanthemum release show, especially that gorgeous red insect headpiece created by an artist named Lego Sky from Berlin. But I am already on the lookout for the next outfit and in the process of creating a special black widow scarf for the UK tour.

Photo by: A L Pix

As a new fan, I have discovered your music with “CHRYSANTHEMUM”. Howwould you describe your style to your new fans?

We could say it is dark pop or pop noire, mostly. It is on the edge of pop but with a dark twist. A hybrid of the music that influenced us throughout the years. I would leave the rest up for interpretation.

Any plans for upcoming live shows?

Yes, we are just about to go on tour in the UK on April 3 with Empathy Test, and we will also return to Germany a few times this year. We are also excited to play in Spain for the first time in November. Check out our website, www.blacknailcabaret.com for live updates and ticket information.

Special thanks to Black Nail Cabaret!