Only four months into his international migration and Ambrus Deak already looks like an Angeleno. Sipping coffee while posing for photographs at a funky outdoor cafe that’s considered a hidden gem by locals, he seems to have taken naturally to the Southern California lifestyle.
It is in the hipster mecca of Silver Lake where the Hungarian-born electronic music producer who goes by AMB has found his paradise. No longer a visitor but not quite established, he wanders between local pubs and cafes, relishing in the anonymity of a new place. When he’s not exploring or working on music, one might catch a glimpse of him rollerblading the Venice Beach boardwalk.
“I love rollerblading,” he says as a childlike wonderment sweeps across his face. “That was the first thing I put in my luggage — rollerblades, and everything else comes afterwards.”
Deak’s 17-year music career began at the age of 15 when a school chum invited him over to jam; he would play the drums and his friend the guitar. Not taking the request seriously, on account of the fact that his friend didn’t even own drums, Deak humored him and showed up anyway.
Though their jam session was little more than Deak slapping a table top while his friend plucked away at a horrifically out-of-tune guitar, something awoke inside of him. “I felt that we were talking while we were not actually speaking and that to me was like fucking magic,” he reflects in his British-American-Hungarian accent. “That sucked me in so much that I was like, ‘This is something I wanna do.’”
The drums were Deak’s gateway drug to electronic music. After years of lessons and playing in bands, he sold his drums to buy an early digital audio work station. “I didn’t just want to be a drummer in a band,” he explains. “I wanted to write and compose the entire music.”
He left Hungary in 2005 to study music technology at the University of West London but eventually moved back to Budapest in 2009. Since then, he established the imPro Budapest School of Music Technology, launched a record label (Chi Recordings) and became an Ableton-certified trainer. Teaching music became equally as important to him as creating it.
Though Deak was living comfortably while following his dreams of a career in music, he felt unmotivated. “Everything about my life in Budapest was sort of like a fairy tale,” he explains as we discuss why he decided to make such a drastic move. “It was a little too trivial. I needed a challenge.”
When deliberating about where he would relocate, the deciding factor was his fan base. Most of Europe’s electronic music scene revolves around four-on-the-floor house, techno and drum ‘n’ bass — all of which he enjoys but none of which he creates. Influenced more by downtempo, trap and hip-hop, he received more bookings during his six-month stint in the U.S. than he did in Europe over the span of a year.
“I realized in 2004 that my music translates really well here,” he says about his American fan base. “I did not know much about the West Coast scene at all back then and all of a sudden I was booked for Symbiosis Gathering in 2005.”
Symbiosis Gathering is a California music festival that changes its location every few years and offers workshops, yoga, seminars, art and healthy living alongside lineups populated by stars of the underground electronic music scene. After tasting the flavors of the West Coast festival vibe, Deak was hooked. Though it took him years to do it, eventually all paths led him to Los Angeles.
“I love everything about L.A.,” he says. “The size of the industry here and the amount of work opportunities in music is unbelievable.”
He was quickly absorbed into the underground bass music community, cavorting with other L.A. bass artists such as Justin Boreta and Josh Mayer of the Glitch Mob as well as Jake Penn aka Mumukshu. Though Low End Theory's weekly events set the standard for Los Angeles bass music, Deak is a part of a growing community that exists outside of that scene. He, however, doesn’t seem to know or care which scene he belongs to.
“These days, I’m just trying to make music that is as me as possible, not really giving a fuck about anything else,” he says. “I’m gonna try and do whatever feels right. We’ll see what happens.”
Between constantly creating new music, landing his first Los Angeles show as a resident, teaching workshops, and mixing and mastering on the side, following his intuition has worked out well for Deak. Socially, he has slipped in seamlessly, frequenting musician meet-ups and becoming a member of the Society of Composers and Lyricists. He even has hopes of pursuing a career in cinematic composition but for now is focused on releasing new music with Gravitas Recordings and Muti Music.
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AMB’s upcoming event at Union with Andreilien, Zimbu, Morpheus and Air Body marks his second-ever performance in Los Angeles and first since relocating here, and will serve as an epic welcoming party. There will be healthy doses of glitch, bass and other trippy, unnamed genres oozing from the speakers.
Deak’s quirky sense of humor and warm disposition make conversing with him effortless. There is no DJ bravado, only an experienced musician who will happily drink a beer with his fans after a show. His music and knowledge are a welcome addition to the L.A. bass community.
“This is exactly what I want to do and where I want to be,” he says. “I fucking love it.”
AMB performs this Friday, Feb. 17 at Union Nightclub in the "Noise Room" with Andreilien, Zimbu, Morpheus and Air Body. Tickets and more info.