Today we have a special playlist compiled by Instanbul-based Gaye Su Akyol. Akyol’s latest album Anadolu Ejderi came out last month on Glitterbeat Record and combines elements of Anatolian folk, traditional Middle Eastern music, and psychedelic rock to create a retro-futurist sound. If you’re a fan of other Glitterbeat artists like Altın Gün or YĪN YĪN, this is for you.
—Keenan Kush, Talkhouse Director of Operations
Hello! I’ve prepared you a 10-piece playlist of songs that represent the spirit of the people of Turkey, and are songs I would like to cover someday. It consists mostly of names that contributed greatly to the ’60s and ’70s Turkish vocal psychedelic rock and Anatolian pop, and some older names who’ve revolutionized Turkish music. A couple fresh names of my musician friends, representing the contemporary original music scene, can also be found.
—Gaye Su Akyol
Tülay German — “Senin Şarkını Söylüyorum”
An extraordinary voice and singer. Initially trained in jazz, later reciting Turkish folk music and working with important folk musicians, she’s synthesized an incredible blend of genres and contributed greatly to the Turkish vocal original music repository.
Zeki Müren — “Hayat Kumarı”
Turkey’s first queer icon and definitely one of the most important and most revolutionary. Taking a genre as conservative as Turkish classical music, and transforming it with his style, renditions, assertive costumes and lifestyle, he upturned many norms of the culture and redefined what could be accepted. This one isn’t a very widely known one of his, but with its psychedelic touches and musical richness, is definitely a song I’d love to cover.
Müzeyyen Senar — “Ben Seni Unutmak İçin Sevmedim”
A rare piece of classical Turkish music. Müzeyyen Senar is a symbol of the republic, a one of her own kind character. She’s put out a considerable number of LPs in her lifetime and her existence has been a statement by itself. I love the unexpected twists in this song.
Cem Karaca — “İhtarname”
Cem Karaca, among the founders of Anatolian pop, combined rock with Turkish music, one of the biggest contributions to the genre. I love the protest undertones, the avant-garde approach and the unpredictable transitions in this song.
Selda Bağcan — “İnce İnce Bir Kar Yağar”
Selda Bağcan is a most distinctive voice and character in Turkish music. She’s had a few headaches back in the ’70s due to her political stance. It is clear to see this political stance and a certain power in her music. She’s made great contributions to Anatolian pop, both with her original compositions and her renditions of old songs in the contemporary style. This song deserves a special place, with its instrumentation and its lyrics telling the truth about the economical and sociological atmosphere of its time.
Moğollar — “Moğol Halayı”
Moğollar is one of the creators of Anatolian pop, and architects of Turkish psychedelic music. A certified game changer, playing their originals and covers alike, with the basic rock trio, electric guitar, bass, drums, with the addition of traditional Turkish instruments such as bağlama, cura, kaşık, resulting in a very eclectic and authentic genre. This song is a great example of that originality.
Erkin Koray — “Ankara Sokakları”
Erkin Koray comes at the very top of my list of musicians of Anatolian rock and Turkish psychedelic music. With his lyrics, his original arrangements and the persona he’s created, he has been a great inspiration to my music. His work until the end of the ’70s, in particular. This song is a wonderful blend of the musical structure Ankara Havası with good old rock.
Barış Manço — “Eğri Eğri Doğru Doğru”
Barış Manço is a most beloved personality to generations of Turkish people, not only for his contributions to music, but also for his children’s TV show that he produced. This song is a great Anatolian pop classic in my opinion. It’s got influences of Turkish folk as well as some sweet touches of synth.
Lalalar — “Kötüye Bişey Olmaz”
I’ve witnessed the production of four albums, and shared countless memories, with Ali Güçlü Şimşek these past 11 years. He’s an incredible guitarist and a really creative producer. Barlas Tan Özemek is cut from the same cloth, and their Lalalar trio together with Kaan Düzarat, is a most spectacular Turkish psychedelic rock band to come out of Istanbul. The way they uniquely impose the inspiration from their roots into their music, how they sound like nothing else out there, is their trademark. I would love for you to understand their lyrics. Thankfully, English translations of their lyrics can be found on their vinyl cover.
Kamuran Akkor — “Bir Ateşe Attın Beni”
I believe Akkor has vocals and renditions of international quality. I feel she shares common musical roots with Fairuz. This song has a very special place for me. Burning, sentimental, real!
(Feature image credit, left: Aytekin Yalçın)