EV: Gábor, remind us how you got involved with A Dal, Hungary’s selection shows for the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest.
GP: It was partly us and partly our record company. We thought we could give this a try and we decided to enter Sound of our Hearts, since we did not have any other song matching the entry criteria at that time.
EV: You made it to the final of A Dal. Did you think you could win?
GP: We did think we could win it, although every performer that made the final was thinking the same thing. However, it was still a surprise to be going to Baku.
EV: Tell us about what happened after you’d won A Dal, and your experience in Baku.
GP: We had been touring since February, so Eurovision was an interesting diversion. Among our Eurovision-related gigs were two in London. We performed one night for the Hungarian community there, which went well. We also performed at the London Eurovision Party. It wasn’t quite what we were expecting. We wanted to perform live, but as the venue was a night club and not a concert venue, we had to rely on playback. It was still something else to see all those fans though.
GP: Touring can be tough, but Baku was something we’d never experienced before. We couldn’t believe the technical organisation behind it. The crew behind-the-scenes had been involved for many years, so knew what they were doing. We had seen the whole Eurovision experience as one of the biggest chances we’ll ever have to publicise ourselves, so we were just really happy to be there.
EV: How did Compact Disco feel when you qualified for the Saturday night final.
GP: It had been a tough week, practising and rehearsing, but after we performed in the first semi-final we knew there was nothing more we could do – it was in the hands of others. When the name ‘Hungary’ was revealed we couldn’t believe it. We always thought we were in with a chance, but having your country’s name read out like that was unbelievable. Hungary was very enthusiastic about Eurovision this year. MTV had had some big names in A Dal, so people were watching the contest in pubs and bars, which is something that has never happened before.
EV: Then what happened?
GP: As I said earlier, we’d been working hard for three months, so the couple of days between qualifying and rehearsing for the final gave us the chance to relax a little. It was warm and sunny so some of us got to see some of the city [Baku] and go on some of the organised tours laid on for the performers. We were also interviewed many times by SBS of Australia. I have relatives there who are big fans of the contest, so they had been giving us tips on what to expect when we went to Baku.
GP: For the final itself, we adopted the same approach as for the semi-final. We just sang the song as best we could, and then let fate take its course. We were able to speak to some of the other singers, and were very impressed with Engelbert. He’s the best performer and knew exactly how to handle the big occasion. We liked his song, but also many of the others. My favourite song was from France.
EV: Who are your musical influences?
GP: Our main one is Depeche Mode. As you can tell from our albums – Steroid in 2009 and II in 2011 – we go for the electronic sound. But we also listen to other things, blues, folk, rock, pop.
EV: What have you done since Eurovision?
GP: We are a hard-working band, so we continued touring. We did this until early this month [September] and we’re now having a short holiday. We’ve recently finished another album, and will be preparing one for the international market. Most of our sales are now through digital media, but they have really increased since Eurovision. For that, we’ll always be grateful for it. We’ll also be touring again soon. We’d like to get to the UK sometime, but as it’s a very difficult market to get into we’d probably only do that when we have had several big hits.
EV: Would you participate in Eurovision again?
GP: That’s an interesting question. Not immediately. Maybe in a few years’ time, but perhaps we’d get more involved in writing rather than performing. It’s a very tough and intense two weeks.
EV: Gábor, thanks for taking the time to speak to us. Have a good holiday, and maybe we’ll see you again in Eurovision soon.