The Man Behind the Mixing Board: Sound Maker Balázs Pejkó

Oct 28, 2021

Balázs Pejkó – sound designer and producer, one of the founders of StudioH in 1997 – knew from the age of three that he wanted to be a "sound maker". All his life, he had only one passion: sound. "When my dad's stereo was playing, that was like magic to me. What I was hearing had a thousand times more impact on me than what was on TV. Music, the sound is like virtual reality to me, and it has been like that for 46 years.”

When Balázs talks about the most defining moments of his childhood, they are usually related to music and its technical background. While others were playing with Legos, playing football, or going to clubs, he was either playing tennis as a top athlete or was living for his passion. When a record was put on from his father's huge record collection, and the music started playing from the speakers ”to me, that was like a miracle.” Like when he started a recording on the cassette player or he was threading the tape into the tape recorder. Plus, he's part of a generation that had access to computers as a kid. By the time he knew everything about analogue audio players, he soon got his first computer. „ZX Spectrum, then the Commodore 64, Amiga, PC, I had them all. During that time, the local electronic music scene started forming, which I soon became a part of. I never studied it, but I was very interested in music, computers, and programming. When we got an Atari, we could play music on it. Somehow I got into this whole world from here.”

The friendship that formed the basis of StudioH was already established at university. Following in his father's footsteps, Balázs attended the Faculty of Electrical Engineering at the University of Technology and Economics. „Feri Papp and I met in university, and we were friends in five minutes. From then on, we started playing music, and that's when Membrane was born, the third member of which was Pál Séfel (DJ Cadik).” The music scene, the parties, the friendships: they brought new opportunities into his life. "This is where I met some people who asked me to work in advertising because it was a great way to make money in college." This was in the early and mid-90s. Most advertising professionals refer to this era as the Golden Age of the profession. Balázs was a member of the camera team, working with large manufacturing companies such as Pioneer Production, one of the most successful companies at the time. Although this work had nothing to do with sounds, it was still thanks to this that he could become a "voice creator".

Everybody in their place

“The focus pullers, assistant directors that I started with became cinematographers and directors. And when they started shooting their own commercials, they wanted us to make music for their films.” As they and the crews received more and more requests, it became clear that they had to make a studio. At the same time, of course, I had to make a decision." I made good money by working on films but had no time to work and finish college as well.” So Balázs stopped filming on the set, and the studio took the lead.

Since 1999, they have been able to do everything related to sound design. From designing sound for TV and radio commercials, writing music for advertisings, doing post-production for TV shows, feature films, to even sound recording at shooting scenes. Their motto has remained the same since the beginning: "Meet the expectations of the market with artistic merit.” When needed, we hired outsiders to the five-man base team. Someone works on finances, someone else books the actors, someone deals with the clients, and so on. And then some people work solely on music. To answer the question "Where Balázs feels best at work?" is easy: behind the mixing board. „This is my base, where I feel at home. I like the magic of recording. It means that I have to create that singular moment – more so than recording the music – so that whoever's behind the microphone feels good. That includes giving them water of the right temperature, smiling enough, asking them how they are doing, and so on. It matters how you put the earbuds in someone's hand. You have to be able to put an actor or a musician in a position to feel comfortable, where they can make the best of it.”

This kind of maturity, clarity and tranquillity that he radiates, he has achieved with great care over the years. „When you have been through some really important things, you realize that you don't have to burn yourself out while doing it. I'm not making this task or work a trifle, but rather, I think I'm handling it in its place.

Need a coffee?

„I was different too when I was 25. I remember myself from that time when I took my stuff to other studios to mix them up. I must have been quite annoying. I already had the skills and might have known a lot better than the people who were there. Yet, I was not able to communicate well at the time. I see my earlier self in those young guys who come to work for us now. At that age, you don't have the maturity or the insight into how to deal with people. And, of course, how to deal with difficult situations.” And the fact that they still have a lot of work to date proves that the idea works. High-quality work, calm conditions and the human voice will bring success. „You can always learn more. I'm still learning every day too, but it's more technical knowledge. I'm more interested in people now, and how to combine different productions. This is the side of a job that I can add to the most these days. I learned how to smooth things over, calm things down if necessary. The best for everyone, and the only thing that keeps us working together is if we can do our best. If you need a good cup of coffee to do that, then a good cup of coffee is part of the process. And what makes me happy is that everyone's happy. They've had a good time at work, and I've given them all the support they need.” After that, Balázs said, it's only a consequence that the product is good, whether it's a music album or a commercial film. They also have a steady job. The crews insist on working with them, which also explains their good performance. „When young engineers come to learn, I tell them that everyone can be a good professional as long as everything goes well. But when something goes wrong, or there's a problem, that's when you find out how good you are. We can become better when we learn to offer the best possible solution, create the best possible conditions in stressful or extreme situations. That way, we'll be able to make good decisions even in extreme situations. The directors can sense that attitude very quickly, and I think they feel safe when we work together.”