For Belau, spirituality is more than a buzzword. It is something embedded within their practice, that they hope helps make life that bit more “breathable” for those tuning in. Last year, the Hungarian duo of Péter Kedves and Krisztián Buzás, renewed their faith in the award-winning, ‘chillwave’ sounds of their debut, through a more-refined sophomore LP. Belau released this album in a deluxe form – Colourwave DLX – featuring additional guest remixes and live re-works that will consume you with wistful wanderlust.
After making a splash with their Hungarian Grammy winning debut album, The Odyssey, in late 2016, Belau’s second release, Colourwave, centres on the bright impressions of the Caribbean landscape – particularly the clear blue seas, according to the band’s founding member Kedves. Reminiscent of fellow mid-2010s upstarts like Nick Murphy (AKA Chet Faker) and Bonobo, their summer sound washes over you to the point where you may imagine yourself sipping a strawberry daiquiri at a vibrant beach bar.

While Colourwave was released last May, when coronavirus was raging and many of us were locked indoors, Colourwave DLX arrives at a time of hopeful optimism, where post-Covid hedonism might be on our doorsteps. Seven new remixes, from the likes of Portuguese duo Ohxalá and Ibiza resident Ken Fan, give new bite to an LP made for sizzling relaxation. METAL speak to Belau about the inspirations behind the album, the idea of collective consciousness, and all the hidden gems of Hungary that you need to know about.
All the remixes on this deluxe version of the album are quite distinct, ranging from the active drum and bass sounds of Hillsdom to the calmness of Coss. Why did you decide to entrust these specific artists with a remix? Were you friends with the likes of Ken Fan, Oxhalá, Coss and Hillsdom before?
Péter: We’ve tried to incorporate a wide range of great talents for these remixes, because we thought that the original tracks on Colourwave had a lot of different faces which were yet to be seen and heard, so these people joined us to show those faces – even to us. We’re really satisfied with the producers as they’ve made great re-works in their own styles. To be honest, we didn’t know any of these artists personally, except through their earlier releases. We invited them to join us on this journey, and they fulfilled the task brilliantly, but music connected us together in the first place.
This album was made to reflect the Caribbean area. There is a lot of diverse music from the Caribbean, including a large dub and bass system culture. What atmospheres did you have in mind when thinking about creating music about the Caribbean? Did that change as you made the album?
Péter: Before we started working on an album, I had a small trip to a few of the Caribbean islands which had a huge impact on me – that’s why the album also contains some sampled (ambient and percussion) sounds. Colourwave is a multi-layered concept release based on trying to represent a path to self-awareness by using the sounds of nature mixed up with some precise and modern beats. It also relies on the messages and instructions of all the nature that surrounds us - especially the sea. Most of the people who listened to the album said it’s perfect for dreaming about beautiful places in these weird days, I think these songs are way deeper than the previous album.
Related to geography, I know lángos is a favourite food of Krisztián but can either of you tell me a little more about home. What are the little-known things to do or places to visit in Hungary that people should know about?
Krisztián: I might have said that earlier in one of the band’s interviews that lángos is a great Hungarian food that people should try (laughs). And yes, Hungarian cuisine is a good thing to explore if you travel through this area or you just want to try some creative flavours at home. Hungary is just a small country in the middle of Europe, but we have an outstanding history stretching back over 1000 years. There is a wide range of moody landscapes that have come out of that complex history, but the north of Lake Balaton is really the place you shouldn’t miss. There’s a small hidden village called Szigliget near the lake, which has had a great influence on me in the past few months.
Fans and musicians alike often forget, or wish to avoid talking about, how music is also a business if you want to have a career. Péter – having studied business, how does this help for managing your life as a musician? Do you book and organise all live Belau events, for example?
Péter: I think it’s important to have a manager or a team who helps you to develop and reach more people with your music, but in the case of Belau it is different: we are DIY. We try to work on all aspects of music from the beginning, like coming up with a concept, writing and planning to the end like creating artworks, schedules for touring and getting the most of what we believe we can. I booked all the concerts, provided the band’s presence for PR and radio while I also tried to find out the best strategies for the band to grow. I also study these methods and try to develop myself every day to get better and better at these things. Fortunately, we’ve made some good progress and that inspires me to continue learning this part of Belau.
You met at age 10, and created the band in late 2015, so you must know each other very well by this point – especially when touring (pre-covid) and spending a lot of time together. I know you made the album artwork Krisztián, and Péter has the business background, but how do your personalities differ? What does each of you see as the strengths in the other when you work together?
Krisztián: It’s great to answer such well-prepared questions. Yeah, we have been friends for a long time and the band even brought us together more and more in the past few years. We even got a comment that we look like each other a little bit (laughs). Péter is a very hard-working man, full of commitment and never able to rest when it comes to his dreams – that’s for sure. I am more of a creative and philosophic personality, so I am usually influenced by my personal life more even when I work as a jurist [lawyer] or a graphic designer through the rest of the weeks or with my other band. But that is something that complements very well with.
Péter. We have to be honest with each other and ourselves.
The past year has been a time of reflection for many people about systemic abuses of certain people in society. The record features a lot of women, including women of colour, like your previous album so this isn’t a sudden change. Is this an active decision to get more female musicians involved with your music and why?
Péter: Sure, it’s an important part of our concept, we think our music works best with female energies, super-talented women who has their own stories and a great capability to tell them with their voices. We think most of our messages turn out the best way if it is told by someone who has that ancient energy that we want to be flowed within our music. And yes, it’s also a good message for the industry, so in the future we’ll go on with this. We are pretty sure that we will have some outstanding female collaborations, but not because of how many X chromosomes someone has; we want to work with them, because they are inspirational, they are talented, and they represent something that underlines the meaning of Belau.
I’m told your greatest inspiration for lyrics is Carl G. Jung, and that his work perfectly aligns with the spirit of Belau. Jung wrote about how the creative process is an impersonal one, that forces itself onto the person it inhabits, and you also described this album as a ‘path to self-awareness’. Could you elaborate on what the spirit of Belau is and why Jung is important to you? Is this impersonal creativity something that resonates with you as musicians?
Krisztián: Let me break it down. Jung, among others, is one of the greatest inspirations who ever lived – for me at least. He was able to find his way from the, let’s say ‘classic psychoanalytical approach’, towards real alchemy, which is the path to self-knowledge in my eyes. This is a very complex and a very simple thing at the same time, which I do not want to detail more, but I think your question is pointing towards my comments on the band’s lyrical concept.
Here is what I think: Belau is an option. An option for someone who has been stuck in their life, with a certain personal background or in a situation that keeps this person in a neurotic state that says they do not matter. We provide a frame throughout our music where you step inside and have the ability to flow freely without pressure, whether this anxiety is caused by the conventions of society or a false-knowledge – whatever it is. In this ‘safe place’, hopefully the listener will be able to be themselves and find the answers within. That is what we have tried to do throughout the years – to make life more liveable and breathable.
Jung also talks about our collective ancestral past that is ‘imprinted’ on us - be it anything from being scared of the dark to connection with nature. With downtempo or ‘chillwave’ music especially, there often seems to be this perceived mysticism and spirituality felt by those who adore it, or by those who are creating it. What’s this about? Do you consider music a method of accessing an altered state of mind or connecting with this ancestral past?
Krisztián: Let me answer from a different angle. You asked that what Hungarian specialties do we have. At that point of the interview, I didn’t know that we would go this deep, but now I know the answer is philosopher Béla Hamvas. He is a hidden gem of the country, an absolute mastermind who was oppressed by the systems of the past century. He tried to find the answer for the questions that you have brought up about the sacred collective consciousness of the mankind.
I’ll tell you a secret: this is the direction that we tried to go on with Luz and I am pretty sure that the third era of Belau will be focused on this subject way more. We are not a band who are just using random symbols or using this context to be more sellable. Spirituality is a word that I feel has been abused and reviled in recent years, just like a lot of other words, because people totally misinterpret and misunderstand it. The way we talk about it is nothing like the way some people react when someone says ‘mysticism’, for example. This is not ‘trendy’, but an actual lifestyle to us.
But to answer the question: yes, I do think there is such music that is the best to have access to an altered - I would say real - state of mind. For me, that is silence. But, before that, this world needs a bridge and that is Belau.
Péter once said that, in general, Belau’s music is about “travel, chill, exploration, isolation and wanderlust”. Now we’ve all done a lot of isolation this past year due to coronavirus, where is your dream location to travel and explore when we can travel again?
Péter: In the last few of years – except the last one – we’ve visited so many interesting places from Texas to Russia, Sweden to Albania... We have plans, but I think the dream location is Palau, which is where our name comes from. When we were kids, we discovered the islands of Palau, which is a small country on the Pacific Ocean, and somehow the name and the culture there remained an inspiration for us throughout the years. The inhabitants call Palau a different name – Belau.
Is there a new geographical location planned for the next album? What is next for Belau?
Krisztián: We’re currently working on the third album which will be a bit different from the earlier ones. We’re developing the music production, the visuals, and the concept part right now. Geographically we will move towards South-Asia and lyrically right into the depths of the human soul (laughs).