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August/September 2016

by Sam Vegar

Fresh Talent: Henika

by Sam Vegar

Fresh Talent: Henika

Upon learning her first instrument, Henrieta Tornyai, more commonly known by the name Henika, fell in love with music. Having moved to NZ from Slovakia aged eight, she started playing guitar at 11.

“It’s something I could escape into. Music’s always been that for me,” Henrieta reminisces.

Now, two more string instruments (bass guitar and double bass) and a degree in Jazz Performance later, music has become her life, and held even dearer to her heart.

Henrieta went to the States after completing her degree and worked there with bassist Richard Davis (Sun Ra All Stars, Van Morrison), before deciding to take lead on her own musical career. With experience playing music ranging from Greek folk to orchestral, she had certainly exposed herself to an abundance of styles, so it’s no wonder that she didn’t know what would arise.

“He [Davis] didn’t care how talented you were, he cared about your attitude. So I just started thinking about what I’m really doing, maybe I should do my own thing for a while. I’d worked with other bands and other people and helped to make their vision come true, but I’d never really looked at myself and who I was.

“I wasn’t even sure what type of music it would be, I’d played so many different styles. It was daunting at first to even try to narrow it down, but I just started writing simple songs with an acoustic guitar, to see what would happen.”

What happened is an exotic, haunting, and very sincere sound that exudes Henrieta’s genuine passion for music, and influences have been a vital part to her development as an artist.

“You can put labels on my music; dark alternative indie folk rock jazz, but I really hope people look deeper than that. To me, genre is irrelevant, it’s the essence, the integrity and sincerity in the music that really matters. My greatest heroes like David Bowie, Bjork, Beck, Pj Harvey, Kate Bush, and Nick Cave are all artists who couldn’t be defined by genre. They pushed the boundaries and weren’t limited by anything. This is the sort of artist I aim to be.”

Since winning The Audience’s Making Tracks grant with her single You Bring Me Down Henrieta has professionally recorded the song with Andrew Buckton, and completed a music video on she was actively involved in the production, transforming her initial vision into a true work of art. She is currently working on a self-titled EP with Buckton and Mike Franklin-Browne. Due to be released in September, she is promising a colourful array of dreamy darkness.

“For me, music, it saved my life. It’s something that really gives my life meaning. And it’s not just stuff that I create, but things I grew up with too, it really impacted me. And I think my dream is to give some of that back if I can. That’s my definition of success, it’s not being famous or rich, it’s a connection thing. I want people to connect to my music in the same way that I have to others.”