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Denes Toth is an ambassador of the Slovak independent electronic dance music scene. He is a DJ, producer, and founder of the successful Moody electronic music event series, a performer in the name of melodic house, thanks to what he established himself on both the domestic and international music scene. As a producer, he has released on Liverpool-based Circus Recordings and Berlin’s MONO.NOISE. He regularly performs alongside world-known artists in Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and Hungary – well demonstrated by line-up records from festivals such as B my Lake, Sziget, Balaton Sound, Grape, Beats for Love, and more.
We caught up with Denes Toth about his early days in music, the ‘Moody’ brand, his MONO.NOISE debut with the ‘Impulz’ EP, and more.
EG: Hi Denes! Welcome to EG! How have things been going this year? How are you doing? Where are you based right now?
Denes Toth: Hi, firstly, many thanks for having me! This year felt like a crazy rollercoaster, but I cannot complain, as I had amazing highlights in both my personal and my professional life. I am based in Bratislava, Slovakia and like most of the world, we had a lockdown at the beginning of the year, which allowed me to focus on projects which I really wanted to work on, but didn’t have the time. I was able to finish my debut EP and I also started a music blog from scratch, which is dedicated to the contemporary electronic music scene in Slovak language. Then it all got super crazy when the country opened up: it was simply so much to do and so much to catch up on. The summer was very busy. I played almost every weekend until late September, as I was really trying to enjoy every possibility that came along. Thanks to Deadcode Production and Dice Events & Agency, I had a lot of amazing gigs: I got to play with Solomun, Adriatique, Kollektiv Turmstrasse, Jan Blomqvist, Denis Horvat, Kasst, and Mathame, to mention a few. I also promoted quite a few events, which added a lot of tension, but also the reward was therefore sweeter. The end of the year brought some shutdowns again, so I’m back at working on online activities and making music.
EG: Let’s kick this one off right from the very beginning…What were your first musical interactions like? When and how did you get into electronic dance music?
Denes Toth: I grew up in the 90s, in a small town called Tornala, Slovakia, when there was no fast internet connection and the world wasn’t a huge open book as it is now. My first interactions were copying my sisters’ cassettes, shadowing my cousin who was already a DJ, and once we got a satellite dish, watching Viva Club Rotation every single weekend. Their ‘Love Parade’ streams probably made the biggest impact on me, even though it only happened once a year. I was also very interested in the DJ gear and everything connected to this world from a very young age. My first gig happened when I was 14, and I could not imagine back then that I would be doing this 20 years later on an international level. It actually makes me happy to look back; the journey was long, but every step made sense. One of the biggest impacts on me was when a friend of mine from Hungary handed me a DVD with Carl Cox’s ‘Love Parade’ 2000 video set. I simply could not listen to (and play) anything but techno for many years after that. I have started to slow down in the past 5 years, finding my new comfort between the waves of melodic house & techno.
EG: Now you’re the creator of ‘Moody’. Congratulations, we know it’s been a long road. Can you tell us what ‘Moody’ is all about?
Denes Toth: ‘Moody’ started as a series representing contemporary electronic music in Slovakia as a response to the lack of such events in my area. Ever since the beginning, our mission is to make high-quality events, which translate to memorable memories for the people. It was also an interesting step for my career and I sometimes wonder if putting all that time and energy into music production resulted in a different level of success for me, but I really feel it had to be done and it’s a great addition to the evolving local scene in Slovakia. ‘Moody’ has been running for over 8 years now and it has now evolved to even more: a platform which we call our ‘Moodyverse’. Its mission is to spread the word of great contemporary electronic music artists, labels, platforms, playlists, merch – everything that connects to the musical world we love, using a dedicated music blog and a well-connected community-building initiative through our Facebook group, and our social media pages. I’m very lucky to have a great team around me, who help a lot to fulfill our mission. Shout-out to Konik, PLUSplus, Olivia & Adrian Csanak, Mowonic, and Gustawson!
EG: You even worked as a booking agent for Analog, right? It’s really revealing to see how much ground one has to cover in these modern times as a DJ and a producer in order to have a fair shot, right?
Denes Toth: Yes, and I must say I feel really lucky to have all these opportunities. I got to work for Analog thanks to Vienna’s very own Philipp Straub and it gave me a rather interesting insight into the music scene. Back in the days, if you were lucky, you could even breakthrough by putting out a mix CD in a music magazine or releasing your first EP. Nowadays, there is just so much content arriving at all the platforms from so many people every day, that makes it very difficult for new talents to be noticed. You have to be fluent not only in music but also in a bunch of other professions to promote yourself. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it certainly takes away from the time you could otherwise be spending perfecting your music. In my case, I had to develop myself as an event promoter, to build a brand, that gives people the certainty of having a good time, while listening to the most recent tracks, on a great sound system, accompanied by modern visuals. To be honest, I don’t regret any of it, as it’s been a great ride and continues to be so.
“Moody has been running for over 8 years now and it has now evolved to even more: a platform which we call our ‘Moodyverse’. Its mission is to spread the word of great contemporary electronic music”
EG: You recently had your MONO.NOISE debut with your ‘Impulz’ EP. Congratulations! What has the reception been like?
Denes Toth: Thank you! It’s really been a long journey for me, as I was never really able to put the amount of focus into music production that is deemed essential to make something unique. I have been playing around with Ableton on-and-off for almost a decade now, but I really wanted to be cautious about my debut EP and didn’t want to release something, that was not finished or it is not 100% me. I must thank MONO.NOISE for their great work, Daniele (Di Martino) has really worked hard to promote the release and I think it worked out really well. So far it received great feedbacks e.g. from Super Flu, Philipp Straub, Bebetta, Guzy, James Zabiela and I have even seen Annett Gapstream spinning one of the tracks lately. This EP made me believe that I can do this, as I wasn’t really confident with my own productions beforehand. I must admit, that I was also very insecure and not ready to allow my own work to be judged and criticized, but I’m happy that I made this step. It also gave me the confidence to continue transforming my ideas into new music, which, hopefully, I will be able to finish in the upcoming months.
EG: Is there a story behind ‘Impulz’? What sort of things inspire you? Do you think inspiration is overrated?
Denes Toth: ‘Impulz’ is really meant to be my musical impulse towards the world. I have created it by deconstructing and reworking a track I had previously made but didn’t like. Apart from the obvious self-expression, one of my inspirations was to make music, which could be played by artists who I like a lot. In the end, whatever happens, I’m happy that I can throw the tracks in my sets almost anytime and they will work well. I put a lot of effort and time into this EP: I was going to work 1-2 hours earlier every day, and I even went to the office during the weekends, just so I can work on it. Inspiration was important, but I also had to learn the hard way that waiting for inspiration will not get you anywhere. I love the saying ‘no rest for the best’, as I really believe that constant hard work is what can make a really big difference. In my case, I waited for inspiration for far too long, but the results came in right after I sat down and worked hard on the EP.
EG: You’ve had your fair share of live shows this year with your ‘Moody’ brand. What was it like to go back after what it felt like forever without live shows? Have you seen your sound change since then?
Denes Toth: Actually, it was both amazing and also very exhausting. We had a good guess from last year, that events will be permitted during summer, so we tried to squeeze the whole year into it. This resulted in 7 events between June and October and we were more than happy to welcome names like Mulya, Joone, Secret Factory, Sobek, Guzy, Souveq, and many local talents throughout this period. My mindset was to enjoy every second of these events while they are permitted, so you can imagine we really had a lot of fun. My sound didn’t really change during the pandemic, I just feel fortunate to be playing at events at very different time slots. I play warm-up slots, peak-time sets, but also closing sets, and all of them require a different mindset. I just love to put up with these challenges.
EG: What are your thoughts on the current state of the scene? The pandemic gave us all a chance to slow down, reflect, and have a lot of uncomfortable, but necessary conversations…
Denes Toth: We are in a middle of a situation, that impacted our beloved music industry just so much. It is sad to see how many talented people had gone from hero to zero in just a matter of weeks. What really surprised me is that how much our government didn’t understand a thing about how our industry works, thus excluding the companies and individuals from grants and not giving them the chance to survive. On the other hand, I think now everybody got the chance to pause and re-think their lives to see if this is really what they would like to be doing in the years to come. I think a lot of things will change, but I really hope that the people’s hunger for having fun will never go away and that we see each other dancing on the dancefloors very soon.
“In my case, I waited for inspiration for far too long, but the results came in right after I sat down and worked hard on the EP”
EG: What else can we expect from Denes Toth & ‘Moody’ in the future? What new milestones are you looking forward to in the coming year?
Denes Toth: As Denes Toth, my aim is to release at least 2 new EPs in 2022. I have some cool ideas in the works, so I just need to sit down and finish the songs. I’m really looking forward to continuing what I have started by releasing my debut EP and I can’t wait to be back working on music on a daily basis. About ‘Moody’, I’m currently working on multiple projects. Firstly, my aim is to bring our ‘Moodyverse’ Music Blog to the next level, by adding a lot of new content and upgrading the website with new features. We are also on a mission to build a great community around our musical world, which is mostly happening in our ‘Moodyverse’ Music Group on Facebook, in connection with our social media pages. Last, but not least, I am already planning probably our most amazing year so far in terms of headliners, guest DJs, and locations. There is just so much to be looking for in 2022!
EG: Thank you for your time, Denes! We wish you all the best for the future!
Denes Toth: Thanks guys for the invitation and keep up the good work! Happy Holidays and have an amazing new year!
Denes Toth’s ‘Impulz’ EP is out now via MONO.NOISE. Purchase your copy here.