Hello my friends!
I am back from one of the most interesting & shortest trips I’ve had in a very long time.
For those who don’t know, I went to Budapest with my lovely boss Jazzman on a business trip. Luckily, business trips in our industry usually involves music in one way or another, so this business trip meant that we went to Budapest for a bit less than 48 hours to dig for records. And oh boy did we dig…!
I’m not a massive digger myself, not because I don’t want to be, but whenever I get around to do it, I either feel very stupid in the shop or I never seem to find what Im after. I don’t really know the little tricks when it comes to what to look for when digging for records beyond artist/musician names & labels. So I feel very blessed to have gotten this great opportunity to go on a real digging trip with Jazzman because he shared some of his own tips & tricks.
We started the trip not knowing where this place would be. We had an address and Jazzman had sent an email to the guy notifying him we were coming, but that was about it. So we didn’t know what to expect AT ALL.
We ended up taking a tram to the very outskirts of Budapest to a place that looked like a small village out in nowhere. Since I am too tight to use my 3G network abroad, I had saved google maps description for how to walk to the place from the tram stop. So we literally climbed a small mountain, I had to improvise with the directions because they were leading us in a circle, but I managed to get on the right path and after 20 minutes we reached our destination that looked like this:
Where on earth are we?
Jazzman got slightly worried when he realised that this might not be a shop or a warehouse at all and that we probably were heading to somebody’s house. And he was right. All we knew was that the man was called Attila, so we when we reached the closed gate to the house, we picked a random doorbell and pressed it. An old Hungarian man walked out and I politely said that we were visitors from London who were looking for Attila. The old man said we had pressed the wrong bell but that he would get him, so he started shouting his name and knocking on all the windows on the house. After a few minutes Attila appeared, so I did the same polite explanation and he let us in.
What could be hidden behind these doors?
We walked through the doors and in the front room he had prepared boxes of Jazz records for us to go through. All Jazzman was saying was
“Oh my god – I can’t believe we’re in this blokes house!!”.
His wife and his wife’s mother were there too and they all greeted us and offered to make us some tea and coffee. Of course, Jazzman didn’t really care about any of that, all he wanted was to get started with the digging, so Attila went through the boxes he had prepared and Jazzman took out his portable vinyl player so we could listen to the records. As soon as Attila saw the player, his face went pale and he started to swear in Hungarian. I asked what was up and he explained to me that he had had a French DJ visiting a few weeks ago who also had a similar device, and he had scratched/destroyed 4 very expensive records, so he didn’t want us to do the same. I tried to explain to him in a very diplomatic fashion that Jazzman was a professional – that he had been doing this for longer than I had been alive and that Attila was more than welcome to stand next to Jazzman to ensure he wasn’t doing anything that Attila didn’t approve of. I also assured him that we would pay for any records we might damage in the process. First he wasn’t sure, but I smiled and insisted and in the end he said it was fine. So the real adventure began!
The front room
We came up with a system where Jazzman selected & took out the records, and I very carefully put them pack in their sleeves. I was plugged in with my headphones to the player as well, so once we had selected the stuff that looked interesting, we sat down to decide what was good and what was shit.
A little pile of records we liked
I ended up talking a lot to Attila’s wife Kata and her mother. Kata makes hand-made jewellery and she had recently started making hand-made clutches out of very fine Japanese silk. They were very busy because she was meant to go to Milan for a big Christmas fair, so they were busy making the final touches to all the clutches in the other room. They asked me if Jazzman was my husband and if it was me who decided what records to buy, I laughed and said no to both. They asked me a lot of questions about how it was living in London & “the west” – I told them that it was hard and that I had been very lucky but they didn’t seem too convinced. As the day went on they brought out snacks for us to much on whilst we were continuing our quest to find some decent records.
Snacking & Digging
It took us about 6½ hours to go through all the records in the front room plus a big box of 45s when Attila said that he had some more in the back but that they were in a specific order so Jazzman would have to go in there and listen if he was interested. Safe to say he was, so he headed in whilst I decided to stay with Kata & her mother because it was a bit too narrow in the other room for us both to try to dig & listen.
The back room
As darkness fell outside they made us some pogácsa to munch on & offered us some Hungarian beer. Jazzman declined because he didn’t want the alcohol to affect his judgement of the music. I, of course, decided to go for it. As a Hungarian myself I know that the worst thing you can do is to decline food & drink in a Hungarian home, especially alcoholic drinks. So whilst Jazzman continued to dig, we talked about my life in London, how much I earn, what I do, Jazzman’s history, what he does etc.
Hungarian Wheat Beer!
Jazzman digging in the back room
After about 8 hours of digging, our stomachs were very hungry (despite the snacks & beer!). It was cold & dark outside, so we decided to head back into town to have some food and a pint. I ended up buying 4 records and Jazzman walked away with about 20 (he said he’d be happy if he found 3, so I think it was a rather successful digging session!). Lots of Polish, Russian, Czechoslovakian, Bulgarian and not so many Hungarian records, or at least not as many as we thought we would find. But still – lots of fun and overall an amazing trip.
Damn, I really am a very lucky girl!