Exploring electronic evolution with Sylvie

Kalen Bergado

Sylvie provides her perspective on Hungary’s scene, how being a DJ has changed, and much more.

Hailing from Budapest, Hungary, Sylvie, who also produces under the name Fellowtravller and collaborates under the alias definitelyBAD, has been in the electronic scene for over two decades. Traveling all around Europe, she has made a name for herself not only as a figure head in electronic music in Hungary, but also for her eclectic and ranging DJ sets, inspired by everything from minimal techno to breakbeat.

Sylvie has not only produced a multitude of EPs under both names, but also is a host for three radio shows, including Mind Games on FRISKY.

From DJing around the globe since the mid 90s, to producing music, to providing the world with her smooth style of mixing every week, Sylvie made time in her busy schedule to share her insights into her philosophy behind music and her thoughts about the growth of electronic over the last twenty years.

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When you first started producing and DJing what was your philosophy behind what music you played? Has your philosophy changed the 20 years you have been in the scene?

For this we have to go back in time until 1996. I was not 19 years old yet when I got opportunity by some of my DJ friends to learn the basic technical skills of DJing. Still in that year I had my very first ‘set’ in a huge party in Budapest, called Mayday, and from this point – with 6 months of very basic knowledge – I got many offers, e.g. to have club residencies and so on… as the first female DJ in our country.

The philosophy itself just grown out during the first few years which was really simple and complicated at the same time, to get the audience enjoy meanwhile I give something new with my selection of music (in this case presenting the deeper and more ‘abstract’ sound of the electronic music). Of course the main philosophy stayed until today although the world has changed. A lot.

Producing music came into my life quite late, I had some tryings earlier too, but real producing just started in 2012, since than I make musics under the fantasy name ‘Fellowtraveller’ and I also have some collab works with my boyfriend who’s also a producer and DJ, we publish our songs under the alterego ‘definitelyBAD’.

Were you playing other genres of music before you started in the electronic scene? If you did, how did those genres impact your sounds in electronic?

Not at all, I grew into this, luckily I could be in the electronic music scene from the beginning and accompanied the path of it’s progression. My first three years past with finding myself and the music which represents my style, during these years I found my basic need what a music should include: energy/pulsation and harmony/emotion, in the appropriate proportion.

What artists and DJs did you listen to as you progressed in the scene to get inspiration for the music you made and played?

In the older times I had many, definitely have to mention the biggest names like Sasha, Digweed, and ohyeah, Anthony Pappa. I was getting crazy from the mixing style of Pappa and Digweed, and Sasha, he was the one who always was the best in to mixing musics which are totally upside down from each other.. and was ALWAYS harmonic! But really I had many during two decades from progressive house DJs through some minimal techno or even breakbeat icons and so on. Nowadays I rather listen to tracks than mixes, maybe is because of the lack of my free time, or maybe because there are too many mixes.



How has traveling around the world effected your style and sound of both production and DJ sets?

In my career I had chance and luck to play around European countries and I feel myself lucky that I’ve found opened minds to my music at that time. For example I never thought that I get so much love and support in Romania, although they were not yet prepared for the electronic music in 1996-1997. Luckily I never had to compromise what to play and how. But it had no effect to my style, unless the freedom had effect on my music in a good way.

Electronic music has been constantly growing around the world for some time now, how did the electronic music scene evolve in Hungary? Has its growth had an impact on the identity of Hungary?

It had definite effect to the Hungarians’ music culture, as to the whole world’s too. The Hungarian people were very open minded and responsive to the new sounds in the nineties, maybe this was lost a bit or mutated since then in general. Today everybody ‘knows’ already what he/she wants to hear or listen. From this point a DJ has more difficult time to show it’s artistic side. We are not like Germany or Romania, but we are rather an underground minded nation (or at least I wanna think that) and I’m proud that I could take part of this.

Electronic music seems to be more and more a core part of mainstream music.  What are your thoughts on the path that electronic music seems to be heading? Do you think it has lost more or gained more from its move from the underground to a more globally recognized and appreciated genre?

It was absolutely predictable that the electronic music will dominate the mainstream area as well, but that’s not really problem, because it comes with the progression. But there is something we have to emphasis, and it is to name the styles inside electronic music. Not just call it electronic ‘cause that’s misleading nowadays. Today is not enough anymore just to speak about it as other genres like e.g. rock. Up till now it became rather a generic name than a sound with it’s more fifty or hundred different musical styles. It also had the advantages as the disadvantages as well. From underground point of view this is (can be) good because with identifying the mainstream you can identify the underground again, the styles can separated more sharply again, as well as the artists and their experimenting sounds from the mind blowing drops. And from this point we can talk again about underground. Simple but true, if there is no mainstream, there is no underground. 25 years ago the pop and other styles were mainstream and electronic was the underground. Now we have mainstream in electronic. And have underground in electronic.

How do you think this growth has changed what it means to be an artist or a DJ?

This growth has effect from all aspects to them. In the older times it was kind of enough to get on this path with maximal humbleness, vocation and energetic attitude. But nowadays you have to be everything else (too) – promoter, marketing expert, graphic designer in one – not only a musician. And this eats the artistic attitude at the beginning and moves your soul into a servicing ‘quality’. You easily lose the most important thing in being an artist or DJ. It is harder and completely different as 20 years ago. If I would start DJing today, I’m afraid I could lose my stamina soon.

Tune into to the freshest episode of Sylvie’s Mind Games & get in deep!:

Listen Now: Mind Games