"𝙿𝙲𝚃𝚁𝚂 is a product of 15+ years of hard work across different bands and countries in Europe. Throughout our youth in Skopje, we (together and separately) took part of numerous bands from underground scene in North Macedonia. Romantically involved since 2015 we moved to Budapest and continued to grow influenced by the city's vibrant music scene and the experiences we cherish from continuously playing in venues like Szimpla Kert. In 2019, after playing together for 13 years, we created 𝙿𝙲𝚃𝚁𝚂 - a culmination of all those years of collaboration, love and togetherness. The sound we bring is authentically shaped by our experiences and the variety of musical genres we love, combined with socially responsible lyrics. Musically, our main influences are mixed between bands from the 90's-00's alternative scene (NIN, QOTSA, KoRn, Deftones) and mellow vibes from pop/rock female leads like Lana Del Rey, Lykke Li and Sharon Van Etten. Lyrically, we are influenced by everyday life and social and legal theories (product of Dora's pursuits as a PhD Candidate in Comparative Constitutional Law) covering issues related to equality, religion, economic and social structures. Music is a force. We like to use it for good".
Where do you come from and what brought you to Budapest?
Dora: Back in North Macedonia I worked as a lawyer and a human rights advocate. We had an amazing life in North Macedonia, we had jobs that we loved and we played music. I moved to Budapest in 2016 when I was admitted at CEU for my masters in comparative constitutional law. Since it was just a one-year programme, Zokie didn’t move with me as we didn’t know what the future would bring. He moved here after I got accepted to a PhD the next year.
Zokie: Before moving to Budapest, I worked as a sound designer in an animation studio for four years. I was also a sound engineer working with a few bands on concerts and tours. Apart from that, we both played in original music bands and had a band together (we have known each other for around seventeen years and started playing together around thirteen years ago). I quit my job and my bands when I decided to move to Budapest to be with Dora and I took everything with me: four guitars and all my equipment. On the border they thought I was exporting that stuff from Macedonia!
How did music become part of your lives?
Dora: We both started playing an instrument at a very young age.
Zokie: I attended piano classes at a music school for two years. We didn't have a piano at home and my parents bought me a synthesizer. Because of the difference between these two my teacher was always shouting at me for not having dynamics. To this day I'm stressed about performing!
Dora: I also attended piano classes for 4 years, I started when I was around 6. It was easier for me because I had a piano at home. Also, when we were little kids we both performed in a national kids' festival. That was quite a thing as you need to go to an audition to be accepted. That’s why I almost never have stage-fright.
Did anyone in your family play music?
Dora: My mum likes to sing but nobody is a musician really. My grandfather was the most tone-deaf person you could ever meet but he was very stubborn and learned how to play the violin. He was quite good as I remember. He really wanted his children to learn to play music as well, so we had a piano, a guitar, a violin and an accordion. Unfortunately none of his children wanted to play music, that’s why he encouraged me to start taking piano classes. Never really learned how to play any instrument well though and somehow moved to singing instead. I am actually the only one who makes/performs music in my family.
How did you start playing in the same band?
Zokie: I played in a cover band as it was difficult to make money just by playing original music. We had a singer but whenever she couldn't sing with us Dora was her substitute. Years later we formed another cover band together.
What music did you cover?
Zokie: Pop rock, funk, electro music from both international and regional artists. Apart from that I played guitar in an original punk-rock band called Two Sides. We played for 7 years, releasing two albums and touring mostly across Eastern Europe.
When did the sound engineering come into play?
Zokie: 20 years ago there were just a few recording studios in Skopje, that were a bit expensive for someone (bands) who didn't make any money from music. And even if you had money you couldn't be sure you would get the production/product that you wanted. That’s why I first started learning some programs on my own and later took a course in music production organized by one of the best sound engineers in the country. Following that I co-mixed the second album of my band. That was in 2004 now things are a bit different, young kids can learn a lot of stuff from YouTube. After completing BA in marketing I went to audio production masters.
Was it difficult to find a job here Zokie?
Zokie: When I first came here I worked as a freelancer, doing sound design for short films and games, as well as composing royalty free music. My idea was to focus on developing as a freelancer, so I can work from home, from no matter where Dora takes me next hahaha. However, at an Open mic in Szimpla Kert a friend of mine told me that one of their sound engineers was moving and so they were looking for a new guy. He introduced me, I sent my CV and I got the job a few days later. It was really unexpected, I was very lucky.
Dora: We have never been struggling since we moved, I know a lot of people complain that it's not easy to settle in. So far our experience here is amazing and Budapest has become our home even though we don't speak Hungarian.
Can you tell me something about your current projects?
Dora: When we came here we started going to open mics, that was the easiest way to meet musicians and that's actually how we met most of our friends. It’s easier to make connections this way as most of the musicians there are foreigners so there’s no language barrier. That’s where we started playing covers as a duo, that we later named Some PPL (some people).
Zokie: In Skopje we played in bands so performing as a duo was new for us. I implemented a loop pedal to record some percussive sounds and a bunch of effects to sound fuller. Later on our friend Sly Juhas started joining us on the cajon and percussion.
Our original music project PCTRS (pictures) was born in 2019 when we turned one of my stock music songs into what today is released as “Rapture”. Dora really liked the sound of the tune and she came up with a singing melody and lyrics for it. The song was unlike anything we had done before - dark, electro, industrial.
What does your creative process look like?
Dora: I write lyrics in a few minutes as long as I have melody. Often I have a melody in my head and then I add lyrics.
Zokie: I bought Dora a ukulele for her birthday and she started googling chords and composing. In 4 months we had rough acoustic versions for around seven or eight songs. As “Rapture” was more electronic we figured we had to produce these songs in the same style - it was very new to me. I had to arrange and transform these ‘beachy’ acoustic songs into industrial rock tunes. It was hard but very productive, we both learned a lot.
Dora: Also, as we don't have a drummer or a bassist to participate in composing their part, everything is done by Zokie so the process takes a bit more time.
Zokie: I'm used to having a band where everyone brings their sound. Doing this by yourself takes a lot of experimenting.
What are your musical influences?
Dora: My brother is 11 years older than me and is into industrial music, and my parents were always into rock and jazz, so I had good influences growing up. I would say Tool, Korn and Nine Inch Nails are my top three bands, ever since I was a kid and have influenced the way I express myself musically; but also other bands like QOTSA, Deftones and A Perfect Circle. On the other hand I also admire a lot of pop female musicians like Lana Del Rey and Lykke Li.
Zokie: I come from a different background, I started with my dad’s vinyl collection containing records from Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles etc. I went through different phases as most kids do, listening to everything from Iron Maiden to Beasite Boys, but I got stuck with punk rock the most, bands like Bad Religion, NOFX, Rancid, Lagwagon, Millencolin.
Dora: We also listen to a lot of Hungarian music but, mostly alternative, underground artists and bands such as Apey, Trillion, èK, The Devils Trade, Sonya etc.
And how would you describe the music you make as PCTRS?
Dora: Usually when people ask us what genre we play I don't really know how to label it as we have so many different influences. I really don't like putting bands in a box because somehow that means that every album they record needs to follow the same style. I believe that as a musician you evolve and do whatever inspires you.
How do you imagine your music in some years?
Dora: I hope we won't stop making music and playing live. Honestly if the quarantine hadn't happened we wouldn't have made all the music we released, as we have completely different work schedules and often see each other just in the morning and late at night.
Zokie: We would like to become part of the more underground scene here in Hungary. That is not that easy when you don't speak the language but i'm hopeful.
Going back to living here, what is your impression of Budapest?
Dora: For me Budapest is a city of extremes. People can be very conservative and very progressive at the same time. On the other hand what I really love about Budapest is that it's very laid-back and chill, very avant-garde. Also, what amazes me is how much Hunagrians love art and books. There are so many theatres, so much music and there's a big audience for all that! It’s incredible how much culture there is here.
Zokie: I love it. Everything that I was missing in my hometown they have it here in large doses hahaha. There are so many concerts in every genre, so many different music scenes and many worldwide famous bands have Budapest on their tour map. I also consider myself very lucky to be working in Szimpla Kert, one of the famous and most touristic ruin bars in the world, and having the opportunity to meet and work with musicians from all around the world.