It was 2006. Rhonda Byrne’s book The Secret had everyone dreaming the impossible dream. I read it, too. Just to see what the hype was about. I remember being singularly unimpressed that nearly all (if not all) her examples of asking and receiving, of visualising, involved bigger houses, faster cars, better stuff. They all seemed to be about getting and having rather than dreaming and doing. That said, it was a while ago and I could be misremembering.
A couple of years back, in June 2017, I met AGGI, her of the all caps. A young, 22-year-old, up-and-coming rock star who had a very clear vision of her future. I was very taken by her determination to be herself and not a carbon copy of some other 22-year-old, pressurised by expectations to fit someone else’s preconception of who she should be. She didn’t want to be told what she should or shouldn’t do with her life. She had a plan. She knew what she wanted.
Some 16 months later, we met up again. She was still writing, still recording, still singing. And she’d had an offer of a record deal (that she declined – it was too soon), her own radio spot in Japan, and a tour in the offing. She’d built up quite a following on YouTube and was still busy being herself. A year older, at 23, she was still sure of what she wanted and the effort it would take to get it.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with Rhonda and her secret. Peel back the marketing and the hype. Read through the lines. And what you get is a simple message to have faith in yourself, trust in your god, your universe, your whatever, and you can accomplish what you set out to do. AGGI is living proof.
Just days away from the launch of her first album, Not the Girl, we found time to catch up again. I had lots of questions, ever curious about what goes into making an album. I had visions of holing up in a studio for three months straight, writing and recording track after track until the magic number was reached. Apparently
Albums were an invention of the recording industry. The length of an album was always definedby physical and marketing constraints, not by musical taste. […] There is the story that the inventor of the CD chose the length of 74min so that his favorite symphony could fit on it.
But as most albums are online these days, length and number of songs isn’t really an issue. AGGI had settled on 12 as her magic number. She had most of the songs written (and more). The hard part was choosing 12 that would create a story.
It’s June 2019. The title track, Not the Girl, was written back in 2017. It was the first song AGGI wrote the lyrics to, so it has a special place in her heart. But it also explains its 11 siblings on the album. In AGGI’s plan, it was always going to be the title of her first album. So sure was she that in her first music video Stupid Boy, the album the boy is holding at the start … yes… it’s Not the Girl. Now, that sort of visualisation makes sense. The title track speaks to the angst so many young people (and not-so-young people) feel at not being heard, at not being seen. Identifying with her peers through her music is what AGGI does best.
Shining through is her way of expressing her feelings on issues that are important to her and her peers via song; and a genuine connection to the subjects she cares about.
But while many of the songs had already been written, they needed to be finessed. The quickest one out of the strings was Stronger Now, the result of having too many things on her mind and a deep-seated need to make sense of them on paper. It’s Our Party took the longest. It had been drawered for a couple of years, not quite ready for a public audience. And while she liked it, AGGI knew it needed a do-over. So with the help of her writing partner, Terry V, the revamped version got a place on the album.
The press release touts her genre as ‘wild pop’ a description coined by Shigehisa ‘Kinny’ Kitao, a radio host in Japan, where AGGI has a strong fan base. But whether it’s punk-rock, wild pop, or rock and roll, having an album out there has to be a heady experience. AGGI isn’t looking for affirmation. Her audiences give her that in spades. She’s not looking for the world to tell her that she’s doing well. Her viewing and listening stats speak for themselves. That this young woman from Gyomaendrőd has fans all over the world eagerly awaiting June 7 and the album’s release is confirmation that she’s on the right track. This first album is just one of many milestones. But I was still curious to know what it feels like to have an album out there, her thoughts, her music, her words floating around, touching people’s lives. This is what she told me:
Obviously, it is a very good feeling, always, when I reach a milestone like this. I think one of the best feelings was, which is also very memorable, when I handed over my mom her copy, and she told me she was very proud of me. These are the moments when I really see that the hard work was worth it, and it really gets me, the feeling that it’s actually out there.
Joe McCann of Budapest Pulse describes the album as
A raw unplugged performance from one of Hungary’s best new musical prodigies.
And this particular prodigy has her plan in hand and is steadily working on making it happen. AGGI is off to London later this month to do some promo work and to line up some gigs for September. Of course, she’ll also be gigging around Budapest. After months of studio work, she’s ready to meet the world again.
AGGI’s secret is one that has stood the test of time. It’s one that doesn’t need a glitzy marketing wrapper. It’s one we can all grab hold of: Be true to who you are, know what you stand for, work hard, and like AGGI, you’ll make it happen.
Terry Etheridge firstname.lastname@example.org
Not the Girl on Social Media