A Peacock on Cudi Mountain
Siren İdemen, Ulaş Özdemir / Roll, January 2001, Issue 49.
Languages, peoples, folk songs... and prohibitions. Languages not considered languages, official and unofficial censorship... An antidote to this facistic mentality from the moment of its founding, Kardeş Türküler (otherwise known as Boğaziçi Performing Arts Ensemble) comforted hearts last year with their album "Doğu" (The East), composed of songs in regional languages of our land (in alphabetical order, Arabic, Armenian, Kurdish and Turkish). A video made from one of the jewels of the album, "Kara Üzüm Habbesi," had just appeared on a few channels last summer when the same old gears started turning, and that beautiful song was silenced. A few months earlier, Kardeş Türküler had us floating with their performances and arrangements on Şivan Perwer's album "Roj ü Heyv," and went on to produce the soundrack for the film "Vizontele." We spoke with Kardeş Türküler members Vedat, Erool and Feryal about brotherhood, folk songs, Kardeş Türküler and prohibitions.
After the album "Doğu," your the group started being talked about...
Vedat Yıldırım: The album "Doğu" appeared more on television and in the press. A different sector of the public from earlier on got to know us. With them, former sales of 50-60 thousand climed to 100 thousand.
"Doğu" is a concept album. How did the transition from the first album to this one take place?
Erol Mutlu: Kardeş Türküler's first concert was in 1993; their first album was produced in 1997. There was no goal of producing an album. Even today, we are really a performing group. The first concert highlighted Turkish, Kurdish, Azeri and Armenian songs. For example, in choosing Armenian music, one of our goals was to cross religious borders. Even if these cultures are shown as at odds, we know that they lived together in harmony for centuries. In the scope of peoples' history, seventy years is not so important. They might be neighbors for seventy years, or for ten years. These are peoples with centuries of serious cultural transitions. We took on the musical forms that we created together with them. In that sense, the first album was really a sort of collage. In the album "Doğu," in both a cultural sense as well as in a regional sense - but today many easterners live in the west - we took on "The East."
So, when you say "The East," which area are you referring to?
Erol: Basically, eastwards and southwards from the Euphrates River. Finally, there is an Arabic song on the album. With its special characteristics, "The East" is a cultural symbol. It's not something foreign to us. There are easterners among us.
So you are taking on Eastern Anatolia.
Erol: Yes, but the borders you see in an atlas, and those of the National Pact of 1920 are a bit different. During our concerts, we worked on ways to come up with an approach to arrangement that would arise from these peoples' common points. This has a meaning in and of itself: These peopls have lived together for centuries and this music has evolved out of common lifestyles. Why should this not be taken further? Actually, we made an album with a goal of bringing attention to the future. But basically, it's an album that is built on musical forms of the East. The songs were chosen with certain criteria in mind: vocal styles, makam structures, the themes (migration, exile).
Is there a certain theme, or area that you are working on now?
Erol: We have a driving concern to follow and examine the cultural structure that sets the background for the album. Because of this, the preparatory work for an album takes a long time. Once the dimensions of the research reach a certain point, the pieces begin to fall together.
Because of this researcher side of you, there is an "academic" sort of language in your albums...
Erol: Something that feeds an adacemic, intellectual structure and activity. If you don't do research, you can neither come up with a dramaturgy, or be choosy, or see ahead. You can make serious mistakes. We have a commitment to avoid this.
The interest in ethnic music is increasing worldwide, and in Turkey there is a "mosaic" consciousness. To what do you attribute this rise?
Feryal Öney: We have also done reading on all these subjects. We read various things on issues such as "Is world music something approved of by everyone; and what does it express to Third World countries?" and tried to decide where we would stand on the issues.
So what is behind this interest?
Erol: The arrival of this music on the commercial market has come at a time when some music trends are being exhausted. There is a tendency towards other flavors, like Paul Simon leaning towards African music. In Turkey, the situation is a bit different; in the interest in ethnic music, there is more political influence than a particular blockage in the music itself. Without a doubt. "Yurttan Sesler" (a folk music program on national radio) deformed folk songs in the extreme, and made them insipid. But we don't think there has been much serious research in music in Turkey. After all there are not many experimental, quality projects. To play piano along with bağlama isn't really very interesting. In Turkey, ethnic music has come onto the agenda along with political developments. I think this has a direct connection to the activity coming out of the east. It's the peoples of the East who have brought up the issue of ethnicity, and several peoples have grown active in their religions, languages and literatures. This motivation, which started in the dast, has moved into the west as well. As in many areas of life, there has also been an increase in activity in music as well. For example, even in Turkish songs a concern has arisen for keeping the regional feeling. But a crisis is emerging because we have glossed over the cultures behind the music of Anatolia, without mentioning them.
Feryal: For example, they take an Armenian song, and try to give it feeling by playing duduk; to say "Look, this is an Armenian song." But without the language. However the language is the Armenian's identity. How else can he express himself?
Is singing the songs in their original languages the most important thing to you?
Feryal: It's very important.
Vedat: But the homogenization of songs hasn't only happened in the area of language. There is a problem in Turkish albums too. Someone takes tunes from the east, from Thrace, from central Anatolia and sings them. When you listen to them, they all sound the same. But really they all have a different feel.
When you work with folk songs, what do you give special attention to?
Erol: The first important point is language. Of course we don't claim to sing a Kurdish song like a dengbej, or to sing an Armenian song like an Armenian. If you don't have such a claim, then you have to make your claim on some other point. You can think of a folk song as a living organism. The body of a folk song may not be able to take on everything you want to give it. And a folk song may have some limits to place on you. There is something called "the order of the ear." You can play with some parts of a song but not with others. Another important point is the organization of imagery in folk songs. The questions of when it was produced, what kind of a tale it tells, and how it tells it are important. The Kurdish songs in particular tell very specific tales. They are an oral recording of history. Take the Armenians for instance. They use the word "sevda" (Turkish: longing, unrequited love) but with "sevda," they refer to "homeland." They made a serious emigration, and left an important repertoire as a witness to it. You have to pay attention to the way people sing these song, take into account their emotional state, the variety in the language. You won't find the same emphasis in every dialect of Kurdish. If you think of it as a text, the folk song is like a scenario. Just as there are places you can intervene in a scenario, there are places where you can improve it. Consequently, if you guess correctly the visual whole and the scenario it carries, you can add words and musical elements that will enrich it. While I don't claim it to be an ideal example, the Hakkari song in the "Doğu" album "De Bila Beto" (Ah, let her come) is in large degree Vedat's improvization. It's a tune in a govend (halay) form. Even the words are in large part written by Vedat. Naturally, this requires a new concept in approaching a folk song. A new approach to folk songs is something that needs to be discussed in Turkey. We aren't concered with singing a folk song in an authentic style; after all, "authenticity" is a very conceptual thing itself. Authenticity musn't be turned into a limiting factor. Saying "I sing these folk songs in the original way, very simply, I haven't spoiled their form, they have remained authentic," isn't very meaningful in experimental projects. In Şivan Perwer's last album, we did a great many things in the arrangements in order to strengthen the atmosphere of some of the songs. For example, the song "Miro" (Lord), tells of the cry of a man who comes to the castle of a lord, and asks him to give him his daughter in marriage. We enriched that cry very carefully, with some effects, samples, vocal experimentation and the use of instruments.
Most of your songs have a theatrical form.
Erol: Actually, that arises from the songs' texts, their scenarios. Şivan's singing in particular is very theatrical, and his music is also. Almost every song in his album tell such tales. We tried use musical elements in such a way as to give the songs that theatrical form.
You said that folk songs are a piece of history. So, to "today's" folk songs sung with passion? Do you feel the need to speak about the present day through folk songs?
Vedat: The first thing is to take folk songs from the past and make them contemporary. That's what we are trying to do in a sense. We put them into a form in which they can be listened to in cities too. The other thing is composition. People must be moved by culture and several other things and write folk songs. The song "Kerwane" (caravan) in our second album is such a composition. It's a composition that tells of the migrations of the 90s. But what is an anonymous folk song produced today like? That's hard to say for sure.
So, are there any musicians you like who tell of the present day in folk songs?
Erol: In that area there are some musicians who write music based on scenarios, episodes. For example in Kurdish music, Nizamettin Arıç does more or less that kind of projects. He has written some peaces dealing with Halepçe. He has a work that describes life on Cudi (Cudi mountain, on the border of Iraq). Influenced even by mythological elements, he wrote pieces in which he takes a peacock, a sacred bird to the Yezidis, around Cudi mountain and tells of the views of the people there with music, in the voice of the peacock. For exakple, there are works that talk of the time passing from the birth of a girl to her death. Such things can't be followed much in Turkey. There were also some pieces like this in Metin-Kemal Kahraman's first album. In the end, there are a limited number of people who influence us. Only time will tell whether we will ever compose such an enduring piece. Right now we are occupied with other things. For example we made the album with Şivan Perwer with the goal of giving a bit of support to Kurdish popular music. But not politically, our attempt is to assist in a cultural way.
What musical forms are you predisposed to using when you want to compose something, to tell about an incident?
Erol: We set out from the point of really knowing the musical forms in Anatolia and Mesopotamia well. But we don't claim to know them truly well. İn the album "Doğu," we leaned towards the "govend" form, but there are also pieces outside that style. For example the âsik (minstrel) music is a tradition in itself. Barak, Çukurova, and Assyrian music are all extremely different traditions. We look at what kind of harmony these musical styles are close to, what type of scale and mode they use, or in terms of language, what kind of scenarios they contain. We look at which societies in the East the music is consumed by, what kinds of forms the music enters people's lives or how it is consumed, and as a process from its production to its consumption. For example in Urfa the area where music appears in life is mostly the sira geceleri (special musical gatherings), while in Dersim it's more within Alevi rituals. A conceptual album such as "Doğu" gave us the possibility of leaning towards certain regions. We could have stayed very "panoramic." We had to delve into the details. Our composition really draws its nourishment from here. With this research, the number of songs in your head increases, and a "feedback" relationship comes about between them and today's composition. At this stage we don't really see ourselves as sufficient to the task; composition is a bit more humble, limited field. The "polemic" in the album is relatedto this. In the end, we are telling of a musical tradition God knows how old, and giving the message that it should not be consumed cheaply.
When you sing in languages that had been oppressed, forbidden, then a political stance comes out, no matter what the content of the song. Does singing folk songs in their original languages load you with more of a political mission that you want?
Vedat: Honestly, in Turkey, things that in normal times would be completely natural can take on a political meaning. When many cultures are living in oppression, when something like assimilation is an issue, whatever you do becomes directly political. If there were political freedom in Turkey, the thing you are doing would be very natural, you sing a folk song. The song "Kara Üzüm Habbesi," that we did a video of, is a love song that everyone knows. Aft first the television stations didn't show it, but later it was played many many times on MMC. RTÜK wanted the words, and said "We'll see." Even a very widely known love song can have a political meaning ascribed to it.
Where do you place yourselves politically?
Erol: Our activities do contain a political attitude. When we say "culture," we actually always mean it in the cultural-political sense, because even if the relationship between the two is indirect, it is still quite clear. After all, for Kardeş Türküler's first performance to be centered around Turkish, Kurdish, Armenian and Azeri songs, was political. When you say that these peoples have lived together for centuries and that their music has been produced within that life, you have loaded a certain meaning into it. At the same time, language is a political thing; it has gone beyond being a natural vehicle for communication, and turned into an identity. To present a multilingual Anatolia, is to step outside the official view of Anatolia. To follow cultural boundaries and ignore the geographical borders, is a political act. Even to say "peoples" is a political act. "The brotherhood of peoples," and "peace," are political. As Vedat said, in a society where people live their identities freely, singing these songs is not a political expression. But in Turkey, many things are given with a pre-prepared political meaning. It must be emphasized that the music we make is not "message music." In the end, it's folk songs we sing. You can sing marches, you can make music with a mission. But at this stage, this style of political activity seems more appropriate and more enriching to us, because the relationship between cultural and politics is an indirect one. Cultural efforts should not be reduced to a simple vehicle to relay a political message. The autonomy and originality of the culture itself is also an issue. We are trying to take into account both the indirect as well as the special relationship between the two realms, and build a structure. A music that can do away with politicization as much as it has been loaded with it. Going beyond that is another task. It's inevitable that that things will happen beyond what we see ourselves to be. The way the people we came across on our tour of the East perceive their songs is different, as is their way of perceiving several western concepts.
How did the tour of the East go?
Erol: We gave concerts in Adana, Antakya, Antep, Urfa and Diyarbakır. The way people there perceive and accept music is very different. It was especially different in Diyarbakır. They were very participatiry. In Urfa it was intense.
Feryal: They were very excited. During the concert there were some quarrels about coming closer to the stage. In Diyarbakır, they did everything they could to ensure the concert went safely.
Erol: For a cultural project, a concert, to be taken there, was very important to them. They didn't want anything to mess it up, to keep them from having other such activities in the future. It carried both a cultural and a political value for them; they were very controlled.
How did you feel after playing there?
Erol: Different than you think; you understand that there is a more intense relationship.
Feryal: Lots of messages came in on the internet afterwards, on the order of "We thank you for making people see that there are this many peoples living in Anatolia."
How was it to sing the songs on "East" in the East?
Erol: We were singing them to their true owners; that was different. What was interesting was, that they started singing songs from the first line, not only their own but those of other areas as well. Especially in Diyarbakır, there was a feeling of an identity of "citizen of Turkey." This sensitivity came up in a very strong way. Feryal: We had thought "hopefully we'll leave with more Kurdish songs," but it became clear that they had no such expectation.
Who came to the concerts?
Erol: There were all types. There were also a variety of age groups. Mayors were there, as well as students. There were a lot of women... But I don't think this is unique to our group. There is always such interest in this kind of activities. But I will say that we didn't get any message like "be more political."
How are you seen in Kurdish circles?
Erol: It's changed, especially more recently. At first, a certain Turkish sector foundus too Kurdish. A certain group of Kurds thought we couldn't really be a Kurdish group. But since they themselves moved towards Anatolia's multicultural structure, they started connecting with us. Actually they also have their own issues, like opening up to the different dialects of Kurdish, to the different peoples of Anatolia. We know for example that the Mesopotamia Cultural Center is involved with such projects. For example, there are some projects dealing with the differences between Kurdish-Alevi culture and Zaza culture, to prevent their being homogenized. But this is a matter of time.
What does Şivan Perwer, a Kurdish musician living in exile, mean to you? How did the idea come about to work on an album with him?
Vedat: The suggestion to do the album didn't come from Şivan, but rather from his producer. He played our recordings to Şivan, who had been working with Iraqi Kurd musicans at the time. His arrangements reflected mostly that region and the influence of Arab culture. His producer said "what about working with musicians from Turkey this time?" Şivan is a legend for us, so of course when we first got news of it we were very excited.
How was it to work with Şivan? Vedat: From a practical standpoint, working with Şivan was very difficult. Aside from his tracks, all the recording was done here.
How did you decide on pieces?
Vedat: He suggested fifteen or sixteen pieces to us, mostly uzun havas. We picked five or six, and recommended a few ourselves. In the arrangements we paid attention to his suggestions as well. He was going for a North Iraq/Iran sound in the songs; naturally we resisted a bit.
In the interview in Yeni Gündem, he said he didn't like the album all that much. It seemed that that wasn't what he really thought but rather that he felt he had to say it to people who had been listening to him since the old days.
Vedat: The project itself after all, was to bring Kardeş Türküler, with its style, together with Şivan. In the end we did the arrangements in our own style. But we paid attendion to Şivan's way as well, preserved his theatrical style. We used more bowed instruments that we do in our own albums. Many times we redid the mix athis request. We did what we could to create a common language. A sound, a style, isn't a thing that stands alone after all; it's the product of years, and it is important what dynamics it will be built upon. Our differences stem from this point. But I should say this: Şivan is actually very open to innovation. The songs in his second to last album "Heviya Te" are quite western; so he has done this sort of thing before. We would characterize Şivan as "neo-classical" in Kurdish music. He has come up with some very different projects and innovations. In the album we did with him, we used percussion, bağlama and vocals. That's our style.
Erol: This argument that Şivan brought up has to do with the planning and production. To be honest, we didn't consider what he did in Yeni Gündem to be right. We were interviewed in the same paper two weeks before, and we didn't touch on issues in the development stage at all, because that was something between Şivan and ourselves. Making an album involves some tension as it is. We experience this tension in our own projects, and it's not a "problem" to be "solved;" it can add to the album. As the suggestion to make this album was brought to Kardeş Türküler, it was natural for certain elements of Kardeş Türküler to be used in the project. But throughout the project we took care not to dress Şivan up in a Kardeş Türküler costume. We took his suggestions at many points. Duıring the mixing stage we took his suggestions into account and redid the mix. We met face-to-face time and time again and played rehearsal recordings to him.
"Mirkut" is a great piece: It contains only percussion, backup vocals, even breaths -- and Şivan Perver's vocals. As Perver said himself, it was a "rap" song at the same time.
Vedat: "Mirkut" was a song that wasn't on the repertoire at all. We got the idea to do it later, suggested it and he agreed. He had done similar pieces before. "Mirkut" was a song that we came up with together. Erol: Along with the arrangement of this album, we did the shipping, the tea service, everything. Şivan has a narrative singing style. He expresses the story he is telling very well orally, and has a very good knowledge of Kurdish. We saw all this as soon as we met. He also had a "teacher" side to him. İn the end, during the making of the album, Şivan had difficulty, we did also. It's not at all easy to work with such a soloist. We did our own vocals according to him, we didn't work freely at all. Towards the end of the project we noticed that in the background of the songs' tales, there was a world of work. "Koçerê" is a song that tells of migrants; "Düzgi" is a ritual song. But we thought of the songs as having two layers. In all of these, as in "Mirkut," we tried to show the constant flow of a working life. This was a point on which we couldn't agree with Şivan, and something we noticed long afterwards.
Why do you say you couldn't agree?
Erol: Because Şivan didn't see it that way. He thought of the album as something where he could feel his own vocal capacity in a group of songs, in a clearer way. This was the reason that he suggested four uzun havas from Botan in his first offer. He mainly wanted to do an album that would push his vocal skills to the limit. And it's a fact Kurds listen to Şivan as a voice. Whether he sings with a single bağlama or an orchestra, it's his voice that stands out to them. But when you create an background arrangement to balance out this voice, or even at times compete with it, then the problems begin. Şivan normally believes in lowering the strength of the background music so that the vocalist stands out over it. However we don't think that way. In our albums, the soloists' voices feed into and blend with the background music. They aren't way out front. And in Şivan's album, the voices are more "out front" than in our own albums. In my view, this album from its very content onward didn't merely bear witness to the tension between the traditional and avant garde; it became, from an arrangement point of view, a cause for tension between us and Şivan.
How did listeners react to the album?
Vedat: The ones who like it are generally those we could call urban Kurds. From the classical Şivan fans, we get other reactions. Erol: Şivan is in his 25th year as an artist, and that was actually the occasion for this album. After this, Şivan has to follow his own musical dreams. In his 25 years, he has made enough albums of classical Kurdish music and compositions. As a European musician, and using the possibilities of expression there, he is in a position to set his sights on more groundbreaking projects. As he has said himself, a Şivan album is really an easy thing for Şivan.
How do you find Ciwan Haco?
Vedat: We certainly do listen more to Ciwan Haco. Erol: Though it changes sometimes, Ciwan has a group of friends who he always works with. Şivan isn't in this position, but everyone has experienced his legendariness in its time. Though they both have similar paths, their musical pasts are different. We know that Ciwan was has also been influenced by dengbej, but Şivan is very special, both in terms of repertoire as well as his ability to work with several different traditions side by side. He sings very difficult songs, and long narrative epics both like a dengbej and like an urban Urfa singer. The two have very different musical paths and training. Whether he likes it or not, Şivan has become more politicized. We love them both.
Are there any people in the world who you want to work with now? Are there new projects on the horizon?
Vedat: Because of the Şivan album and the new music we produced for the film "Vizontele," we've gotten rather away from our own group projects. Right now we don't want any such projects. We want to get back to ourselves. Erol: More than projects, we want to get back to internal educational programs that we've taken a long break from.
What is the context of these educational programs?
Erol: Things like fundamental musical knowledge, harmony, practical workshops on arrangements. The tours have gotten in the way of these programs. For example, we worked a month preparing for the Harbiye Open Air Theatre concert.
Do you work so much for every concert?
Feryal: It takes work, because we are such a big group. We had 22-23 peopl on stage in that concert. There were a lot of guest musicians. Some of the arrangements changed. It was very difficult to manage all that.
You are a large group, and you've been together a long time. In your first interview, you said that one of the most important elements of being together was discipline. What kind of relationship do you have with each other?
Erol: There are people who have been together with us since '85 or '88. The advantage of being a campus activity is that you are brought together by your environment. The cultural and political commonalities that living together brought us came about during that time. We haven't cut off our connections with Boğaziçi University; we feed off of it as a group. Generally people drop out of club activities when they graduate. We were a bit more insistent on that matter. Kardeş Türküler has a flexible structure. There is a core group but at the same time we receive the support of friends in the club in our concerts. It is an evolving structure.
You seem to have more of a communal life than any other musical group. How does your connection continue after graduation?
Erol: It really is a semi-communal life. Under these conditions it's hard to exist in any other way.
Do you do any other jobs to earn your livelihood?
Feryal: We don't do commercial music or other private projects, and there are limited venues in which we can make our music. A few people in the group get a salary, but we don't pay everyone. There are part time workers, there are students. Everyone makes enough money to get by.
As such a large group, how do you choose the songs for your repertoire? How di you make the decisions?
Vedat: We have no formal decisionmaking process, I mean, we don't take a vote. It's a process that runs itself. Feryal: Since everyone has a different area of interest, everyone offers suggestions from their own field. Erol: We have a principle of many suggestions and many eliminations. We play many of the songs on our albums at concerts first and test them on the audience. As a result we have pieces from a large repertoire, that aren't thought of only in the context of an album.
How did the idea come about to make the music for Yılmaz Erdoğan's film "Vizontele?"
Erol: Yılmaz Erdoğan had heard our albums and liked them. He wanted to meet us. At the time, we were looking for a concert space. At school we were unable to find a place to give a third concert in our usual way. Beşiktaş Culture Center said they would open for us; they helped us in that way. Afterwards came the suggestion for the film music.
What kind of project are you doing? What do they expect of you?
Vedat: The setting for the film is after all a small town in the East. Making music for a film is very different than any project we've done in the past. We had done music for theatre and dance in the Folklore Club. But a film creates a certain atmosphere, and you have to come up with music that is compatible with that atmosphere. In this film, we've had an especially hard time making the music for the fun parts. We brainstormed, came up with various rough ideas. Later some of our suggestions changed. Our music contains a lot of vocals and percussion. But since the film music is instrumental, we can't add everything.
Feryal: When we looked at the rough montage of the film, it brought about a different feeling in each of us. Just as two people might make completely different films from a single novel: when you read the scenario you react one way, and watching it you react in a different way. For example, the director might find one scene sad, but you might make something more fun out of it. And then there are conflicts of course.
Vedat: For example, when we put some music on the stage, it seemed to us more dramatic than necessary. But the director says "this works here." And maybe it does. Since we are doing this work for the first time, we are picky, and cull a lot. We approach it in a very controlled way. To put music over a film is a very difficult thing. Reactions can come out of it that you didn't hope for. In the film, we use an authentic recording of Aşık Mahzuni. When we first heard it, it seemed very heavy. But once we put it over the film, it was very different. When the sounds of the film and the music come from different places, it can seem not to match, but once you put them to gether, they may.
Will the sountrack be released?
Erol: Yes, it will. You create film music to fit the scenes. But soundtracks are different; there the music has to tell its own story. Both of them may not be on the sountrack at the same time. We have finshed the film music stage; now we are recording the sountrack.
What is the reason for your frequent use of percussion and intense sounds?
Vedat: In almost all of our music, there is a ritual atmosphere. Perhaps it's the percussion that provides that; that is, it's something that has its source in the atmosphere. Outside of that, percussion is very important in ethnic music. Erol: These elements exist in the folk music cultures that we deal with. Kurdish dengbêj sometimes sing with erbane in hand, sometimes a capella. The human voice and percussion are fundamental elements of music. We have underscored that a bit.
Was percussion this much at the forefront from the very beginning?
Erol: That has gradually grown. There wasn't so much in the beginning. Feryal: Now there are twenty percussion instruments. We've become a percussion group. (he laughs) Vedat: Our music is more founded on rhythm. We don't use harmony in the classic sense. It creates a more colorful background. The colors of percussion are very important. Freer, less defined background sounds hold an important place in our music.
Besides these regions, your albums are also listened to in the West. You've most likely been placed on the "World Music" rack. How do you feel about this perception of you? Vedat: World music is something that has to do with globalism. There is the slogan, "Be local, think globally." The subject of universality needs to be discussed here. Feryal: Was our goal at the start to go abroad? I don't think so. But there is, for example, a very large Armenian community in the United States; in Europe there are alots of people who were forced to leave Turkey. They listen to us. But now other people listen to us as well.
Vedat: Listenability can happen without modernizing local cultures as well. Also, music based on rhythmic elements of the world is receiving a lot of attention. Ethnic music and hip hop, trip hop, techno are all this way. I'm not talking about music with no melody, but music based on a melody is changing now. Such trend, may make this kind of music more approachable.
What do you listen to?
Erol: When you look back over the past eight or ten years, you see that the people here have sung and listened to many different types of music. For a while they were singing black spirituals, for a time, choral folk songs. For a period, they were doing Anatolian pop projects. During that time, we listened to a lot of rock albums, mainly the 70s classics. For example, we listened to a lot of Jimi Hendrix for a while. Recently there has been a lot of talk about diverging types of rock music. At that point we really made a break from it, because we turned more towards local sounds.
So, from a musical perspective, are you thinking of heading in some different directions in the future?
Vedat: This line of ours is really one without boundaries. In that sense, there are lots of possibilities. With ethnic music as a base, one can do a lot of things; it's something with a lot of directions in and of itself. We can't say for sure just what they will be.
Before Şivan Perwer and the "Vizontele" albums, I believe you were working on a project like an electronic türkü album?
Erol: In that project, we wanted to bring together some electric and acoustic instruments. We especially wanted to do it with some Alevi pieces. We played three or four pieces, but we weren't able to get very far with it. Of course, alongside this, we need to do a separate project to become acquainted with Alevi music. Because it is based on improvization, one needs to be well enough acquainted with the pieces and the culture to be able to improvize. Later we wanted to change it, take it to different places, but as a project, it got shelved. One has to think when working with folk songs, with harmonic moulds like those on the commercial market, writing appropriate orchestrations, and then adding an electric guitar solo. Some parts of the pieces may need to be re-written within a türkü concept. Then the boundaries begin to go. We tried such things in a few places. Maybe it can be taken further, taken to new heights. To make new compositions to enrich pieces is probably more risky, but I'm sure that it will be more productive. Risk and productivity can be used as twin concepts, because you may not gain much if you try to work without taking any risks.