Indie Music Bus Logo Trademark

Interview with MK Ultra (Travis Szendrei) - August 2013

From Travis Szendrei's YouTube Channel: "This is a long story. I nearly died in several car accidents. I was given medications and the reactions were awful. I felt like an experiment like the ones involved in Project MK Ultra by the CIA." ...

MK Ultra Debut album is being released worldwide September 17th 2013.

Presenting our interview with MK Ultra (Travis Szendrei): New Album - "Documentation"

Share It

Thanks for the opportunity to ask you a few questions. How are you doing?
No problem at all Walt. It is a pleasure to speak with you for Indie Music Bus. I'm going great. Thanks for asking.

So you've been behind the scenes for major labels for years. How did you get your start in the industry?
Well, I first was touring around with my band as a bass player and showcasing for labels. We had a manager but I was the real one. I really loved the business side of the industry so I went to college, and did A&R at Universal and Warner Bros.

What was the deciding factor that led you to doing your projects independently?
The change of the industry. I have been offered deals for MK Ultra but I've learned how to promote independently. I am not saying if the right deal comes along I won't work with a label. However, I like doing it this way too. Obviously, having creative control with MK Ultra is important too. Aaron Bagley who co-produced the album with me knows what I want. We have been making music for years and will be putting out an album under the name Dreams in Stereo.

I have read about you writing the songs for your new release "Documentation" from personal experiences of your accident and the medication that was prescribed. But what was the difference in your songwriting process from your previous projects to this one?
My previous songwriting was not quite as personnel because I had others singing my lyrics. With MK Ultra I am completely an open book with my personnel experiences. If you don't know the story of the near death car accidents or the bad reactions to the medications and feeling like an experiment. People can take it a different way. That is fine too. That's the great thing about music everyone gets something different out of it.

Watch "Let's Go Official Video"

Subscribe to MK Ultra on YouTube

Watch "Let's Go Behind The Scenes"

The video for the song, "Let's Go" seemed like a fun video shoot to be on. How much creative input did you have in the shoot and how did the concept come about?
The video was my concept. Being behind the scenes in the music business you see a lot of what I did in that video. So the concept was really a parady of the music business and what goes on. Obviously, some is over the not really actually. The director was great and I had a ton of fun. So many artists on labels hate to make videos because their creative freedom is gone. However, I own my own record label Visionary Music so I can do whatever I want. That makes it fun.

Who are some of your creative influences in the industry?
When I'm writing I never think of others. I will reference sounds during the production process. I love Abandoned Pools, NIN, Lana Del Rey and a new artist called Lorde. I like artists who put everything into it and view music as art. Not a way to get girls or drugs.

If there was a statement that summed up "Documentation", what would you want it to say to your listeners?
It's an album with experimental sounds, with catchy songs and complete lyrical honesty.

With the invention of the Internet and everything that comes along with it, are you approaching your music career differently than in your past dealings or is it business as usual like the major labels?
Of course, you can't be a dinosaur. This interview for example is awesome. It's on the net and I can promote it and so can you. I don't worry about record sales as much as I used too. I obviously hope people buy it because it costs a lot to create and put out your art. However, many labels waste their money on dinners and drinking. They try to act like rock stars. I am on the business side and artist side to but I try hard to keep them both separate.

Since you have seen the real side of the major label industry and have had the privilege of being successful independently as well, is there any advice that you would like to give to aspiring artists about the industry?
Yeah, do not get jumpy and wide eyed. If offered a deal make sure you know what you are getting in to. As artists a deal should not be your goal. It should be making great music and not falling into musician clichés.

Which song from "Documentation" has the most important part of the story and why so?
I would have to say the cut on Documentation that has the most meaning is the song Killing Angels. The video for that song will be released the day Documentation is released on September, 17th. I am from the east coast and once I arrived in LA I literally got hit by a bus. It turned into a 13 car pile up but I got hit first. The lyrics in that song are very blunt. "After the accident, they gave me some white pills. I don't even know what they're for." That is how many of the Doctor visits are. It's take this this and this without real direction.

The chorus rounds it out, "Your Killing Angels and watching them bleed." It's a reference to the fact that some people didn't care about what I was going through. Part of that is my fault though expecting support from humans. I figured out who my real friends were. Not everyone is going to understand. I still had to make a living when I was very hurt. It's really too bad. I'm a pretty sensitive guy and if it happened to someone else I would do everything I could to help my friend get through that. There were people that really did help me. Others didn't care and they know who they are. That hurt a lot. I simply wanted some support from some key people and didn't get it. Los Angeles is not The City of Angels. It's the city for many of the fake but my career is there.

How would a typical day go for you as an independent musician? Do song ideas just come out of the blue and which instrument do you use to work out music ideas?
The song comes out of the blue. Then there is the challenge of making sure it's what you want to hear on the record. My mind is always thinking about songs. They just come then I work on them with Aaron. I love that guy.

We like to throw a few questions in about you the person behind the art, fans seem to like that sort of thing. What's on your bucket list? What are your favorite hobbies and foods?
Sure. I would love to travel to the UK, Australia etc. When the time is right MK Ultra will make it over there. I am noticing a demand and as my music fits there nicely.

Hobbies, I just like hanging out with my friends and family. You can never take them for granted. I would much rather do that than watch a movie. However, once in a while I see a great movie like Zero Dark Thirty.

Food, I love ice cream. Since, the car accident I have to be careful regarding what I eat..

We truly look forward to "Documentation" being a huge success! Thank you for taking the time chat with me for a bit. Take care.
Thanks you so much for having me Walt.

Visit MK Ultra

Special thanks to Ced1 of Independent Music and Media for helping with this interview!



MK Ultra is the solo project by Travis Szendrei. Szendrei performs lead vocals, is a multi-instrumentalist, who writes the material. Aaron Bagley, who Szendrei met when he was just learning music, is the producer along with Szendrei for the debut album “Documentation.”

Szendrei’s second musical project titled, “A New Vision” became the third best selling album in the northeast area. The music of MK Ultra is much different as it is fueled by raw emotion from life events Szendrei has experienced. The sound of MK Ultra is best described as Dreamy, Ambient, Indie/Pop. All this is compiled into his most emotional recording yet in his debut album “Documentation.”