If you don’t know much about Turkish music, you are missing out on a genius blend of Oriental, Anatolian and Balkan sounds and surprising new sub-genres of pop, rock, rap and jazz.
Or maybe all you know about Turkish music is a few Turkish Eurovision tracks which made you want to learn more about what’s out there. You are not alone, Turkish music started gaining more recognition recently, so I gathered some musicians from Turkey who are followed internationally.
Perhaps music of Turkey is most well-known for its unique psychedelic scene of 60s and 70s. Names like Selda Bağcan, Barış Manço, Erkin Koray, and Moğollar come to mind. 70’s Turkish psychedelic music has been popular amongst avid music listeners and creative, funky DJs. But now Turkish music is becoming more international, because a lot of musicians started sampling old 70’s tracks. You can check the list of sampled songs on this list.
One of these, Nükhet Duru’s Ben Sana Vurgunum being sampled by The Weeknd, for his song Often.
Another, Selda Bağcan’s İnce İnce was sampled by Dr Dre in 2015 for his song Compton.
For the alternative listeners out there, The Gaslamp Killer’s most popular song Nissim was sampled from Özdemir Erdoğan’s Gurbet.
And of course, for the hipster, Chinese Man’s Down samples legendary Turkish band Moğollar’s song Haliç’te Gün Batışı.
So who are these musicians? Are they still alive?
Unfortunately, most of Turkish 70’s legends passed away but left us their legacy. They inspired new waves of music and bands who had grown up with them and wanted to follow on their footsteps.
Up and Coming International Turkish Bands
Altın Gün is one of the bands who were inspired by these legends. The Amsterdam-based 6-piece consists of bassist Jasper Verhulst (who came up with the idea of reviving 70's psychedelic Turkish sound in the first place), guitarist Ben Rider, drummer Nic Mauskovic, singer Merve Daşdemir, saz guitarist Erdinç Yıldız Ecevit and percussionist Gino Groeneveld. Their mix of Turkish folk, psychedelia, funk and rock reflects a feeling of nostalgia and timelessness at the same time.
For more Turkish Psychedelic Music, check out this Spotify playlist
80's Dark Wave
On the far end of the spectrum is She Past Away, a band making 80’s dark-wave music. Fans of Depeche Mode, Joy Division and The Cure would truly enjoy the interesting qualities in She Past Away’s music. The band was formed by singer and guitarist Volkan Caner and bass guitarist İdris Akbulut. They are currently on a European tour and coming to London on June 1st.
So check out their Spotify page to see if they are coming to your city and I recommend you to listen their song ‘Ruh’.
Another band that’s influenced by Western music slightly more than Turkish is The Away Days. It’s difficult to call them a Turkish band as their lyrics are in English and their sound is more international. The shoe gaze band drew the attention in the UK music scene and have been reviewed by The Independent, NME and Noisey. They’ve come a long way in a short amount of time and opened for bands like Portishead, Massive Attack and Savages.
For anyone who still thinks Rock’n Roll is one of the most amazing genres, Istanbul-based band The Ringo Jets has your back. As a rock music lover, I always like to see and hear banging drums and rocking guitar riffs. Needless to say, The Ringo Jets became one of my favourite bands. Having a female drummer, Anatolian melodies here and there and a unique non-hierarchy where they all sing the songs helps as well.
Speaking of female musicians, Turkish psychedelic music’s founding mother Selda Bağcan must have influenced all the artists on the list at one point, as she has influenced many international bands. The 70 year old legend still tours the world, stirring up festivals with her distinctive voice and political lyrics.
Sziget’s World Music Stage closer this year was Baba Zula, another established band making psychedelic Turkish folk-rock music and blending genres like reggae, Anatolian folk and 70’s psychedelic music. The traditional and modern elements blend perfectly to create their original sound.
It’s interesting to think about how the digitalisation of the music industry allows us to discover old and new music easily from so many different countries. This has helped musicians all over the world to gain recognition, even when they are not popular in their own hometown. Music is a truly universal product we all consume, that we’ll never run out of and never get enough of. However, we do need better ways for artists to make money from their music. Recognition itself isn’t enough.
Check out the Best Albums Released in Turkey in 2018