- I met a young talented musician, with a wide horizon. She is a big talent of her field, Katalin please give me a brief introduction of you for my readers:
Katalin: - My name is Katalin Burns and I was born in Budapest, Hungary. I am a musician and a writer/translator. From an early age, I have been drawn to music and story telling. As a child I took every opportunity to perform, but I turned out to be a very shy teenager, so in my teens I only wanted to express myself in writing. To this day I enjoy writing fiction, I even have a published novel in Hungarian and my short stories regularly come out in literary magazines. In my early twenties I applied for the movie director course at the University of Film and Theatrical Arts in Budapest, and ended up in the top 20 of applicants. Due to lack of motivation and encouragement, I didn't go on to take the final stage of the entrance exam. I was only sure of one thing: that one way or another I wanted to become an artist.
- You have a great profession as singer, how you started it?
Katalin: - For a while, I only played instruments. I felt inspired to do music, but couldn't open up enough to let my voice be heard. So I played flute, violin and various kinds of weird percussion instruments in a friend's band. Later on we provided traditional folk music at dance hall events. We still believe in the mission to present traditional music to our own community. Then, at the end of my twenties I realised I wanted to sing. I had to overcome all the tension and inhibition that had built up in me through the years. This was a very hard job. As I started out late, I had not had the chance to enjoy the protection and guidance of a teacher, a mentor. I had no contacts, no history of competitions, no experience, only the desire to somehow be up there on the stage, with my voice. Then I went to talent shows, where I was typically given special prizes, because the jury appreciated me, but couldn't really place me in a category. My musician friends came with me to these shows and together we presented music from Hungary and Siberia.
- What and who did really inspire you to get into field music?
Katalin: - I was inspired by a lot of bands and soloists. I loved soul music, but the band REM and punk rocker Patti Smith made an even bigger impact on me. My greatest source of inspiration, however, was folk music. First of all Hungarian, then came one by one a lot of others. Being a fiction writer, I was also inspired by contemporary literature. I remember associating a lot of songs with stories or imaginary video clips!
- What problems did you face to achieve your career?
Katalin: - Lack of contacts, lack of mentors who would have introduced me to the world of performing arts. I had to work hard to put myself on the map of the music I represent. I was given some awards and gradually the profession began to know my name, but for the Hungarian folk music scene my music was too Eastern. I was influenced by the music of Asia to a great extent and I enjoyed applying some experimental features in my shows. I picked up the basics of Siberian/Mongolian double tone technique. Asian voice techniques have always interested me.
- Who have you worked with?
Katalin: - I have mostly worked with my band Hajna (Gergely Kiss and Gábor Bártfai). I am very fortunate to have some new partners now, such as Balázs Szokolay Dongó, a woodwind/bagpipe virtuoso and Vajk Kobza with whom I share an affection for the music of the Middle East. A large source of inspiration has been my cooperation with Suraj Khan of Lahore and his brother Chand. On my last visit to Pakistan, I also cooperated with Amir Azhar, a creative guitarist, bass player of the Mekaal Hassan band. I occasionally take a path leading West when I join the band Dagda for Scottish music, but I thoroughly enjoy this bit of Western music in my life, singing in the Scottish dialect. I once did a Sufi programme in Pakistan with the Punjabi folk singer Qurban Niazi. I had a lot of fun recently recording a demo with Wajih Ull Hussnain Nizami sitar talent and his friends from Rung School of Sufi Music and Arts of Islamabad. I have also tried my hands on supporting live dance productions with my voice. My partner in that is dancer/choreographer Panni Somi and her Sivasakti Kalananda Dance Theatre. I have built a mini repertoire of Indian music with Eva Thompson sitar/veena player and Gábor Gyarmati guitarist.
Katalin: - I constantly dream about cooperating with new music contacts. I would love to collaborate with Rokia Traore, Kiran Ahluwalia and the Vahdat sisters. But the list could go on and on.
- What are results of your achievements?
Katalin: - I have always wanted to travel and with the support of an institution or an organisation participate in international projects. My dream was a cultural dialogue between my Hungarian-inspired vocals and other artists' music as we sit together on the same stage, sharing the same moment. This dream came true as the Hungarian embassy in Pakistan put trust in me and invited me there for a fusion show with Chand and Suraj, whose vocal technique quite rubs off on me as I listen to them more and more. When musicians whom I respect know my name and remember some of the things that I have done, I also call that an achievement. In a talent show organised by Fonó, a significant concert venue in Budapest, I won third prize with my band in the folk music category. With my band I made an appearance in a Scottish TV show presenting Budapest, and I once performed live on Kohenoor TV in Lahore. I was featured in an annual collection of Hungarian folk music CD as a solo vocalist. To master the skill of giving your best in a project, to be creative and ready to improvise is also something I am gradually picking up.
- How do you see the work nowadays in your field easy or difficult?
Katalin: - Without a lot of contacts, it's definitely difficult. But contacts are not everything. Without your high standard and skill, any contact is just an empty shell. I have knocked on a lot of doors and found a few that opened up. I am always contented with the one thing I presently need to focus on, looking forward to the next show and planning exciting things for the future. I write a lot of project proposals. If the situation is difficult, I remind myself that things tend to change very quickly.
- Do you have a favorite musical project that you’ve worked on?
Katalin: - My first visit to Pakistan and my first fusion show there was really memorable. That was the first time I could feel interaction with highly skilled musicians (Mohammad Ajmal, Salman Adil, Anil Saleem, Chand and Suraj Khan) from the subcontinent and experienced their respectful approach to my music, adding their own ideas to it. We only had a short rehearsal, there was no chance for more. And yet, the show was a joyride, with a lot of things that happened in the moment, making the project a real dialogue between Pakistan and Hungary – whose folk music is filled with the longing for Eastern connections.
Katalin: - Currently I have more projects being planned in a few Asian countries. Of course, they are at various stages in the process. And then, I also have some mission in Hungary! Other than these short-lived fusion projects, I also dream about a deeper collection of compositions, a CD with like-minded musicians. I would like to send a demo to European festivals, to establish my presence in the West. Right now the publication of my first live Hungarian-Pakistani show on CD is in progress. Of course, I would also like to train myself more in the skill of singing.
- Do you have any advice for young people who want become in the field of media (Music/ television/ Film) ?
Katalin: - I can only mention cliches, but they are always useful. If you have that desire for performing planted deep inside you, then nothing and noone can stop you. Listen to both criticism and praise, but always with a pinch of salt. Find your own style, stick to your path and never take success or the appreciation of the audience for granted.
- i wish you the best: make your dreams true, or at least be succesful in your occupation and your personal life. Thank you