Deep within the basement of the church, is a place that not everybody knows about. In 2004, Híradó Studios, a fully equipped sound and recording studio, was built in what was the old bomb-shelter.
The purpose of the studio is to assist Christian artists in recording their music, and to facilitate the growth of quality Christian music throughout Hungary. Bands and artists can come in and record their work with Papp Gergó, the studio director, at an affordable price.
Artists that have made use of the studio so far include Morgan Funk, Mea, Tûzveszely, the Golgota Gospel Korus and our own worship team. The studio is also used by Golgota Rádió, and was used for the recording of a new Hungarian Bible audio translation.To read more about Hírado Studio, please visit their website – www.hiradostudio.hu
Interview with Gergő Pap and Mike Payne
I’m clinging onto the iron handle with both of my hands, trying to wrench the huge door open. This giant door is the entrance to the sound studio, although this room was originally built for a very different purpose. Many years ago it was a bomb shelter, dating back to World War II.
I stop for a moment... if this door could only talk... all the secrets it must hold!
Somehow I manage to open the door, and the scene is stunning. If one minute ago I was wondering about the secrets of the past 60-70 years, now I want to know everything about this new world. Fiery red walls, colourful panels, calming illumination, glass doors and windows ..... and there is Gergõ Pap behind one of them, the sound technician of the studio, smiling at me.
I enter the room where Gergõ and his colleague Michael Payne welcome me. The time travel though is far from being over! Gergõ and Mike will be bombarded with a series of questions in this modern-day bunker.
How did your start your sound technician career?
Gergõ: I started singing in a band called Alapkõ (Foot-stone) in 1994. I got saved in that band, then I continued my musical career in another band, The Continentals. We did a lot of concerts and also recordings, but I always felt that perhaps these things could be done more effectively. I became very interested in sound engineering and towards the studio work. But for quite a while, this was only a dream, as it's quite a costly occupation.
In 2000, I married Detti and she shared the same dream. We spent part of the money that we received for our wedding on a computer and a sound card. Then later on, I learnt from a friend that one of the radio stations, Bartók Radio, was advertising a certified training in sound engineering. So I applied and was admitted.
...which of course was followed by the big break-through?
Gergõ: Not exactly. I couldn’t find a job! But after finishing the school, I got an opportunity to work with Iván Folk; a chance to put into practice what I had learnt. Then my first job came about with Vészbejárat (Emergency entry). The vocals were recorded in our house, where we developed a sound-proof recording room, also known as the control room, which separated it from the technical room. Those were exciting days.
Later on, Gajdátsy Peti, my acoustic buddy, helped me to convert our bicycle shed into a studio. I did recordings for music schools, theatres as well as bands, but I didn't make enough money to be able to live on that income alone. So I started to look for job advertisements. I managed to find a few absurd job offers...:-D
It must have been a difficult time in your life ....
Gergõ: At that point I was really doubting if I would ever become a full time sound technician. I even started questioning my abilities. Around this time, we were working on the live recording of Te éltetsz engem (This is the air I breath). Mike Payne, the worship leader of Calvary Chapel Budapest kind of „moved in” with us for a period of time, and during that time we worked quite a lot together. And then one day, he asked me what I thought about building a studio in the basement of the church. Now, that’s when the big break-through was, both physically and emotionally. Mike brought hope back, that perhaps I could do in life what I love doing.
How does Mike remember it...?
Mike Payne: We needed to finish a project, so we had been working day and night in Gergõ’s studio in Veresegyház (as well as slurping Detti’s delicious tomato soup! :-D). The church had been considering the possibility of building a studio. There are a lot of talented artists, musicians and singers coming to our church, so we were sure that there was a need for it.
I remember, Gergõ was looking for a job, and he had just received a job offer. We sat down and he was telling me how it was such a crazy offer. That’s when I realized, that he was the one who was needed in the studio. When I asked him what he thought, I realized that this was what he really wanted to do. This is what he loves doing in life; this was his dream.
After that things started rolling, we got permission for the usage of the space, serious conversations with the pastor, sharing it with the elders, financial help and so on and so on. We all agreed that this would be a way to minister towards artists, and so the leadership supported the idea of building our own studio.
Hot Pepper Híradó Studio...
Gergõ: We built the studio with our hands, but we enjoyed every minute of it. It was extremely important for us to make the studio into a friendly and stress-free place, where the musician is free to create in a peaceful environment.
Mike: The studio has three rooms; a control room, and two recording rooms - one of which is a drum room. This is an advantage, because we can record a few instruments at the same time. The sound absorbing panels are covered with colourful materials, the panels serve to get the proper acoustic sound.
Are there any secrets of the profession, that you don’t mind sharing with the public?
Gergõ: There are quite a few things you can do in a studio nowadays. For example, with digital technology. 20 years ago the digital technology was in it’s infancy, so they built resonant/orotund rooms. The way they created this resonant space was to actually record the singers in a recording room, then they sent their voices through a speaker into a room that was covered with ceramic tiles, and there the sound of the singer sounded more like it was in space. In the early days of studios, this was the post-resonating method. Today though with digital technology, you can do this by the push of a button.
Mike: Digital gymnastics!!! I came up with this name – it’s very useful when you have limited time and money.
We record the music or the vocals, and then like in a Word document when you want to move a word or a line, you grab it and put it where you need it. For example, if a line is repeated many times in a song, it's enough to sing it only once, then you multiply it...if you want it!
There are quite a few finished albums under your belts! Is there a dominating recording style?
There have been so many styles, for every type of ear and taste. From the funky to Hungarian wedding folk songs, from a jazz style worship album to the blues style children’s CD. And we also had rap and rock, so the palette is very colourful. Actually our work is much more exciting when we get to work with different styles.
Mike: It’s been a secret wish of mine – which is not so secret anymore – to raise the quality of Hungarian Christian music. This will be a long process, but it’s a privilege that I can be a part of it.
Gergõ: Yes, that’s what I desire. To mix songs in a more professional way and at a better quality. Of course, we are limited by the technical conditions, so we are open to receive any kind of help :).
The secrets of the war-bunker still remain hidden from us. But fortunately, these two geniuses of technology survived my bombardment of questions and have given us insight into Hírado Studios. Yes, the studio is well hidden in the basement; many people are probably not even aware that it is there, but hopefully we’ve managed to shed a little light on it, and now you are aware of yet another ministry that’s going on in our church.
Marika Payne (article taken from Mentés Másként Magazine, issue #2)