Hungarian four-piece Compact Disco is comprised of Behnam Lotfi – one half of the techno producing team Collins & Behnam – and three former members of funk-pop outfit Brownfield: Csaba Walkó, vocalist; keyboard player Gábor Pál and bass player Attila Sándor. In 2005 Lofti was on the lookout for a talented vocalist when he spotted Walkó on a Hungarian equivalent of TV talent show American Idol. He approached Walkó to sing lead vocals on Collins and Benham’s cover of Seal’s Killer. At that time, Walkó was singing in funk-pop ensemble Brownfield. Fellow band member Gábor Pál, leader and founder of Toy Division, went along and the three founding members of Compact Disco – Lofti, Pal and Walkó – were introduced. However, 3 years passed before the three got together as a band playing electronic vocal pop music. In August 2008, and they rolled up their sleeves and started working immediately on their first collaboration: the track Fly or Dive.
In April 2009, they took to the studio to add the vocals and finishing touches to their first, as yet untitled, album. The completed album was produced at Gábor Némethy’s Groovejack Studio. In July 2009 the album was finished; the band had a name – Compact Disco – and the album – Stereoid – was ready to launch. Independent Hungarian record label, CLS Music, signed the band and released the debut album in December 2009. Soon after its release, Stereoid was nominated “Electronic Album of the Year” in the 2010 Fonogram Awards.
The band began performing live in venues across Hungary and Romania in 2010. The video for the first track to be released off the album, “I’m In Love” produced by Hungarian filmmakers Studio X, was hugely popular. “I’m in Love” topped the Hungarian dance chart The VIVA Club Chart. The original track and remixes entered various international charts including the UK Buzz Chart and the Swiss DJ Chart. The track also scored a hit with acclaimed DJs all around the world including Tiësto, Ferry Corsten, Alex Gaudino, Oliver Lang, Mischa Daniels, Henry John Morgan, Chris Finan, Ant Nichols, and Paul Ughes. In May 2010, the group reunited with Studio X to shoot the video for the second released track “Without You”. May was also the month in which Bravo magazine nominated the band for a 2010 Hungarian Otto Award as “Best New Artist”. The band performed an acoustic show in the “Akusztik” series on Magyar Rádió’s pop music channel, MR2 Petőfi. Recorded before live audience in Magyar Rádió’s Studio 8, the session, broadcast in September, was a hit.
A busy summer followed with Compact Disco appearing at almost all the major Hungarian music festivals. The band covered Hungarian singer Ákos’ work for the Hungarian MTV channel’s ‘Icon’ series and invited Pál and Walkó’s former Brownfield band mate bassist Attila Sándor to join them as the fourth member of Compact Disco. In November 2010, responding to a request by Red Bull, they shot their third video to their song “Fly or Dive”.
The band has remixed songs for several Hungarian artists, including folk-pop band, Holdviola and their remix of “Bánat utca” was a club sensation. They also remixed popular Hungarian solo artist, Ákos’ second single, “A fénybe nézz” from his 2010 album In November 2010 the band won the popular award MTV brand:new aided by their innovative viral video series “Segíts Antosnak” (“Help Antos!”).
At the end of a busy year, as a gift to fans old and new, the band re-released their debut album, Stereoid as a free digital download. The first few months of 2011 saw the band working on their second album, titled ‘II’, which was released in May. This album significantly boosted the band’s popularity. Throughout the summer and early fall, the first single, “Feel The Rain” received heavy airplay in all major radio stations, both national and local, peaking at the top of Petőfi Rádió’s Top 30 Chart, and holding the position for three consecutive weeks. The music video peaked at No. 2. on the chart of Hungary’s most popular music television, VIVA. This resulted in a significant growth in the band’s fanbase, which is estimated to be tripled in a year since the end of 2010, which manifested in large audience attendance during the very frequent live performances. In March the band was nominated to Fonogram Awards in three categories: “Best New Artist”, “Best Song”, “Best Performance in Electronic Music” and won the latter. This was followed by the award of the popular cultural internet portal, Antropos.hu for “Best Album in 2010”. May brought another nomination by Viva to Viva Comet in “Best Group”. In November, Compact Disco won by popular vote the MTV Europe Music Awards 2011 in “Best Local Act – Hungary” and received a nomination to the European selection for “Worldwide Act”.
In May 2011, Red Bull Hungary organized a special event to celebrate the bicentennial of the famous Hungarian composer and virtuoso, Franz Liszt’s birth, called Liszt Remix. For this, four Hungarian bands were asked to rethink, remix and incorporate some of Liszt’s oeuvre into their three or four piece performance. Compact Disco chose the “Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2”, which was made into an uptempo drum and bass piece and “Liebestraum No. 3”, which was incorporated into their song, “Feel The Rain” as an intro. As a bonus, they rearranged their second single from Stereoid, “Withou You” into a classical orchestration, and this was recorded in studio as well upon MR2 Petőfi Rádió’s request to be played on air. In September they performed as a special their rendition of Liszt’s “Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2” again together with the classical philharmonic orchestra, the Budafoki Dohnányi Orchestra (BDZ) that also accompanied Sting on his second Symphonicity tour. This version of the“Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2” was true to the original composition, with equal portions of original orchestration segments and Compact Disco’s version played together with BDZ.
In the autumn of 2011 the band has been nominated to an MTV Europe Music Awards 2011 in the Hungarian section of the category of Best Local Act, which they won by popular vote. As a campaign for this, they teamed up once again with actor Antos Gémes in a series of funny video shorts. In 2011 Compact Disco has entered into various endorsement deals among others with international telecommunication company, T-Mobile; Hungarian fashion brand, Tisza; Japanese musical instrument maker, Akai Professional; and Italian eyewear manufacturer, Police.
From August to December 2011, Compact Disco performed more than 50 concerts in Hungary showing their growing popularity in Hungary, which culminated in their first ever big solo event in January 2012 on the A38 ship (which by the way was voted the world’s best bar by Lonely Planet’s website in February 2012) that was sold out a lot of people could not get in.
In December 2011 Compact Disco entered the televised contest for the opportunity to represent Hungary in the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest, which the band won on February 11, 2012 after a series of semifinals and a final by the votes of the judges combined with audience’s telephone vote. This means that Compact Disco wil hit the stage of first semi final of the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest in Baku on May 22, 2012.