Episode 163: Eszter Balint
I didn’t recognize Eszter Balint’s name when I got a PR pitch about her Airless Midnight, but I the record a quick listen anyway and shot her representation a note about getting her on the show. Lucky for me, the musician has the sort of backstory press release writers kill for, the daughter of experimental theater troupe members who moved her and the theater from Budapest to New York at an early age, putting her at the epicenter of the city’s late-70s avant garde scene. In 1984, friendships with musicians John Lurie and Richard Edson led to a leading role in Jim Jarmusch’s pioneering Stranger Than Paradise, with roles in Woody Allen’s Shadows and Fog and Steve Buscemi’s Trees Lounge following (along with a lesser-cited Miami Vice appearance). Disillusioned with acting, Balint dove headfirst into a musical career that found her collaborating with a wide range of musical visionaries, from Michael Gira to Marc Ribot, along with the release of two critically acclaim solo records more than a decade apart. 2014 also saw an unexpected return to acting, as Louis CK cast Balint as his violin-playing Hungarian neighbor in Louie. Balint was kind enough to sit down at a Manhattan cafe to cram as much of her fascinating life as possible into an hour-long interview.