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LIKE WHAT: The MK ULTRA Interview by John Wisniewski

The New York City-based Like What serves up an addictive combination of darkwave and synth pop that is layered with a haunting veil of atmospheric film soundtracks. Like What, who began in 2020, recently released their latest album entitled ‘Unpunctuated,’ featuring their unique twist on darkwave that has captured the attention of many. Like What describes themselves as a “DIY project – an iPad and a guitar,” and yet that simple description delivers a moody, catchy and rhythmic combination. Like What is a one man show, and that man is Balazs Imre who was kind enough to answer a few of our questions for this interview.

John Wisniewski: What was the central idea behind starting Like What as a project? What did you want the music to sound like?

Balazs Imre: I started recording music during the pandemic, all of a sudden, I just had a lot of free time. Music was one of the things that kept me both busy and sane. I had a lot of demos lying around and decided to compile the best ones and finish the production. I have been thinking a lot about the musical direction, my original concept was something like “the music of Depeche Mode with the lyrics of The Cure.” It should be stated, that during the process, I diverted slightly in different directions, yet kept the idea of blending synths with guitars and producing with a minimalistic approach.

JW: Could you tell us about recording the new album “Unpunctuated”? What was it like being in the studio again?

BI: The first album, ‘Avant-Garde’ was very versatile, I liked the creative process, it was very experimental. I tried a lot of different things and sounds. For the second album, I felt more confident with the musical direction I was aiming for. In this sense ,’Unpunctuated’ is more mature, more coherent – conceptually and in terms of production.

JW: Tell our audience about the process of making the new video.

BI: The new video for “Time To Let Go” was somewhat unplanned. My original thought was to release a music video only for the song “Unpunctuated.” I really wanted to work with AI, to see its potential. The end result was a cartoonish music video, with overlapping images and slowly changing scenes. I was so amazed that I decided to release something similar, but in a darker style and with more storytelling. I like both videos, I am happy I gave both songs the chance to shine and showcase it visually as well.

JW: Does pop music and cinematic score music inspire you?

BI: Cinema is my main inspiration – mostly horror and film noir. These are movies with stark imagery, which can trigger a lot of emotions. I am trying to paint these images with very few words and let the music do the rest.

JW: Will you be playing live?

BI: I would love to! But as a one man project, it would be difficult to perform a show that is interesting enough without using too much pre-recorded elements. I am certain I will find a way in the future, but for now, Like What remains a studio project.

JW: Are you a fan of Darkwave and Goth music? If so, how did you discover it?

BI: My gateway drug was She Wants Revenge. I heard them first in the TV show ‘American Horror Story.’ I was amazed by their sound, so I started to listen and search for similar bands from the past and the present. This exposed me to Joy Division, Interpol, The Cure, Siouxsie and many more.

JW: Any contemporary music artists that you like that you would like to mention?

BI: I love Twin Tribes, She Past Away, A Covenant of Thorns, Bragolin and The Foreign Resort, they are all great and stand out from the rest of the scene and their popularity is well-deserved. Through my experience in music I have discovered a lot of talented musicians who might be under the radar, at least for now, that list includes NOIR, Ulysse Marshall, Scott Baker Graham, Pain in the Yeahs, Kyd Barrett, Another Abyss, The Ghost Cabaret, Basavriuk … there’s so much great music out there!

JW: Any future plans and projects?

BI: After releasing the music videos for “Unpunctuated” and “Time To Let Go,” I took a short vacation to travel a bit. But I’m not really taking a break from creativity, new songs are in the works already. As this album was more synth-heavy than the previous releases, maybe I will focus more on guitars with the new material. We’ll see. But you’ll hear from me soon.