How did this new album and overall concept for it come about, and what are your ultimate goals with it?
Fanni Sárközy (songwriter, keyboards and vocals): The title of the album, Natural Design reflects the approach that we followed throughout the writing and recording process. We tried to keep the music organic and natural – not only by using real instruments as much as possible but also by letting the compositions evolve in a natural way. We mostly relied on our musical intuition instead of carefully devising every single detail in advance. Tailoring the arrangements to the lyrics and thereby creating a natural balance within individual songs was a key point. The objective was to create music that “lives and breathes”.
What are you most proud of at this point in your life and career?
Péter Schneider (guitars): Perhaps the greatest accomplishment for any band is when they realize that they finally have their own sound. I cannot really specify the elements that make it up – maybe the compositions, the musical arrangements, the sounds chosen or the combination of all these, but it is like a fingerprint. Once a band has a recognizable fingerprint, it suddenly has an identity. What I hear from others and what I tend to believe is that Mizar has managed to achieve this. I think we are very lucky with that.
Who currently is drawing your attention as artists you’re excited about?
Péter: We watch a lot of concert DVDs these days. Jamiroquai live in Verona, Serious Hits… Live by Phil Collins, Sting’s All This Time, Richard Bona’s YouTube videos and Michael Jackson’s This Is It. We obviously draw a lot of inspiration from these shows, not only musically but also in terms of visual concept and experience.
Going back in your life as far as you can remember, what song or performance is the first you recall hearing and being affected by?
Fanni: My mom who is a music teacher made it a point to sing to me when I was in the womb yet. This was a conscious approach on her part and I am immensely grateful for it. Later when I was three, I remember she was playing Mozart sonatas on the piano. I pulled up a chair and climbed up to it so that I could reach the keys and tried to hit notes that suited the music.
What do you see as the biggest challenges to the growth of Smooth Jazz in the future?
Péter: There are so many technology tools available for musicians and producers these days. These tools are tempting but they may also change the sound of smooth jazz profoundly. Technology can play an important role in creating and recording music but we try to keep a balance and stay away from replacing acoustic instruments like piano, violin or even horns with machines. The challenge is to know where to be innovative and where to be conservative and apply these approaches concurrently. We usually experiment a lot with different sounds but then leave the decision up to our ears.
If you were asked to pick one particularly memorable moment from your career, what would it be?
Péter: Definitely the moment when I first heard our music on commercial radio. I was cleaning windows at home and the radio was on. And then, between a Diana Ross song and a George Benson tune, there was our music. I was standing there, with a sponge in my hand, not believing my ears. That was the first time that a programmer picked a Mizar track just because he or she liked it. Emotionally it was a milestone for me.