LISA MULLINS: We don't often go to Slovakia for our Global Hit segment. But here's a tip. If you were to mention the band Longital to the right people in Slovakia, you'd have instant street cred. Showing hopefully that you know a thing or two about Slovakian indie-pop scene. The World's Marco Werman explains.
MARCO WERMAN: The first thing you should know about Longital's popularity in Slovakia. They didn't gain it through MTV.
SHINA: We don't have MTV in Slovakia.
WERMAN: That's Shina from Longital. She was having difficulty explaining to me just how famous Longital is back in Slovakia. So Shina turned to the other half of Longital, Daniel Salontay, her partner in the band and in life, to see if he could explain.
DANIEL SALONTAY: When we play abroad they come over like [INDISCERNIBLE] and they say, are you famous in Slovakia. And I'm asking myself what does he mean famous? Slovakia has like 5 million inhabitants which is one-third, one-fourth of New York, right? Well, we're a band which is able to support itself by playing music. We have our own label. We released seven proper albums and one re-mix album of our own and we released maybe thirteen more albums of other Slovak bands.
WERMAN: The narrator in this song, Berlin-Grenoble-Arles, is taking a train across Europe, and daydreaming. He sings, the train is full of people, with heads full of thoughts of other people, I can't see through them. Shina and Daniel Salontay both have backgrounds in theater. And Salontay says that as Longital, they rely equally on music and language. And composing in Slovak he says distinguishes Longital from the pop groups in Slovakia who want to sound Anglo-American, but sing in Slovak. It's also harder to work that way as a musician says Salontay.
SALONTAY: If you want to create like this clone of Anglo-American pop music and you want to sing in Slovak, it might be very different and difficult. Because you have to create a puzzle of the words in order to fit this Anglo-American kind of musical [INDISCERNIBLE]. And these bands or these lyrics which are made like this, end up in huge nonsense. For instance, like take football, like the word football and [INDISCERNIBLE] football. The stress is on ï¿½ball.ï¿½ [INDISCERNIBLE] Slovak we say football which [INDISCERNIBLE] the stress is on [INDISCERNIBLE]. So it just in the beginning of the word and we create rhythmical phrases. You usually, like if when you sing in English, you [INDISCERNIBLE] the words on the hard beat and it creates some kind, this dance kind of feeling.
WERMAN: In Slovak, the emphasis on most words is on the first syllable, says Salontay. That often creates tension with where the downbeat should be. If at times Longital feels unfamiliar to your ears musically, that may be why. Sure, it may just be the Slovak that sounds unfamiliar. But that hasn't prevented non-Slovak-speaking fans of Longital from checking out the band. Salontay says for him and Shina, it's just a matter of connecting with them.
SALONTY: They're individuals who are sensitive, who want to grown with our music, and they're scattered all around the world. So we have to travel and find them. Identify them and get close to them. Grab them and make them our friends. This is our mission.
WERMAN: Longital's latest album titled Gloria is out on Daniel and Shina's own label, Sinko Records. For The World, I'm Marco Werman.
MULLINS: We've got more on all our Global Hits including a great video of Longital performing in Budapest at TheWorld.org. From the Nan and Bill Harris Studios in Boston, I'm Lisa Mullins.