It’s funny the way sometimes on this island you lose track of a musician that you used to see and hear play regularly, only to bump into them down the road to realise that they are still alive and kicking! This is exactly what has happened with Viktor Kniesz. What a handy opportunity to catch up and find out what is he up to….
Hi Viktor, tell us, where do you originally come from?
I was born and raised in the midlands of Hungary in a beautiful city called Kecskemét, between the two big rivers, Danube and Tisza.
That sounds lovely! How long have you lived in here?
I just started my 17th year on the island of Lanzarote as resident.
Wow, that is a long time! What brought you to Lanzarote, initially?
I joined an international band eighteen years ago in Salou (Tarragona), in Catalonia, on the mainland of Spain. It was a 4-piece band with the leader from Dublin, a fiddle player from the U.K. and a multi-instrumentalist from the U.S.A. The four of us were a great success in the town of Salou, playing every night in one the most popular Irish bars. After the summer season we were thinking about how to forward our success and based on the band leader’s previous years of great experience on the island, we all decided to give it a go on Lanzarote. It was love at first sight.
Many people say that, indeed. What is it about the island that you particularly like?
The landscape is so exciting, extremely unique and the locals are so welcoming and helpful. As a child, I always wondered, what could be over the horizon, what might be happening beyond where the eyes can see. Since I’m living here, those wonders have stopped.
Ah, how poetic! What would be your favorite place in Lanzarote?
It’s quite difficult to pick a favorite place, as I love everything about Lanzarote. To the untrained eye it may look the same: volcanoes, white houses, the ocean everywhere. But every single “spot” has its special vibe and beauty. From the unmistaken Canarian city atmosphere of Arrecife, through the long straight road to the Playa Blanca lighthouse, up to the hills and dunes on the fishing villages of the north.
When you put it that way, Lanzarote sounds even lovelier! Going back to business, how did you get started in the music world?
I always wanted to be a musician. Since I was a child, I found the world of music exhilarating, exciting, honest and emotional.
My teacher in Hungary must have figured that out because she kept pushing me into that direction, even though my parents were totally against it until I started winning Hungarian folk singing contests. When I became a teenager, they bought my first instrument, a bass guitar. I asked for that, because my older brother started playing the guitar and I didn’t want to copy him. The road was long until I got to where I am now with this profession.
Well, I’m glad that your parents eventually came around. Who has been, your idol and/or inspiration, musically speaking?
One Christmas my mother put on some music before the dinner. It was the soundtrack album of the movie “The Last of the Mohicans”. And it just hit me. I decided to learn to play the fiddle ( violin) inspired by that particular tune every one associates with from the movie, a jig, called “The Kiss”. Based on the emotional experience, i started educating myself and ended up with traditional Irish and Scottish music, along with my other big inspiration, bluegrass music.
How would you describe your gigs and your music for someone who’s never heard you before?
When I play (and I prefer to call it playing other than gigging, or even worse… working!) I entertain people with the music of Ireland, Scotland and the American south on my banjo and fiddle. There is definitely foot stomping, hand clapping, dance- and singing- along. It’s jolly, happy, lively and energetic stuff. A bit of positivity that we all need in our lives, especially these days. I believe, the sound of the banjo, the tunes on a fiddle can bring joy and happiness to everyone, therefore I thought I had to start sharing this experience.
And I’m glad you did. Do you have any special projects coming up?
I do, I started a workshop where I teach basic and advanced techniques on both instruments, banjo and fiddle, and the style of traditional Irish music and bluegrass.
A wonderful way to share your passion, certainly. Where do you have regularly play in Lanzarote at the moment?
I’m over the moon and back for being able to play live as well at a fantastic Irish bar, PJs Bar in the Old Town of Puerto del Carmen, owned by the amazing Geraldine and PJ, who are also one of the great supporters of music, being great entertainers themselves.
Tell us something your fans might not know yet about you…
Because of the unfortunate present situation worldwide, I don’t let myself get bored ever. Whenever I can, I take my camera and go out shooting or making short films and videos. I find this hobby so fulfilling, as there is always something to take a photo of. With the videos I get to be director, editor, screenplay writer, cameraman, composer, sound engineer, location manager, actor… etc. at the same time, which I love. It must come from my six years of acting in the theater of my hometown and all the other creative life I have been involved in, from tv commercials, to radio stations.
Well, you are a man of many talents. Finally, how can our readers keep up to date with your gigs and projects?
On my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/viktormate.kniesz.3/ and also on my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/kniesz_viktor_mate/ or @kniesz_viktor_mate. Anyone can follow and have a look at my other “occupations” and maybe even like it.
I’m sure you will get a few likes and followers after this interview, no doubt. Thank you so much for your time Viktor and best of luck with your future adventures, musical or otherwise.