Without or without knowing, they have been in everyone’s memory who lived the 2000s to the fullest and was passionate about Turkish rock music; we’re talking about Harun Tekin and Koray Candemir. As we sadly remember the glory days of Beyoğlu, we spread across a city that’s looking for an alternative. We’re here at Dasdas! Embracing music, theater and gastronomy, this hub’s music department is led by co- founders Harun and Koray – the most striking duo of recent times with a series of acoustic concerts. We ask this duo who have been focusing on music for over 20 years, “What has changed since the time you began making music?” and leave the stage to them for a conversation about music that stretches from past to present.
Harun: It was a great motivation for me to meet Koray. This has been my greatest achievement in the past 20 years.
Koray: Here we go!
Harun: We were rehearsing at Stüdyo 18 and they were also there.
Koray: It’s around ’97-98.
Harun: Kargo was an accomplished band while mor ve ötesi had released just one album but they were very angry back then, protesting many things. Kargo was a bit more mature – more mature than which cannot be explained by age. It was as if they were our 15-year-older uncle. But we gured that out in time.
Koray: Am I an uncle now?
Harun: Let’s say more experienced.
Koray: Experienced! But I was 22 back then.
Harun: I could not be explained by age. We were far angrier.
Koray: Yes, their feelings were more intense. Back then, they were against PR and music companies. That was how we met but it was a quick chat in that studio.
Harun: Then, we got together again at the “Sing Your Song” contest in 2001. Koray was hosting it.
Koray: It was an interesting contest that gave us many musicians such as Manga and Emre Aydın as well as light designers and sound engineers. Harun: Murat Tümer organized it and we were in the semi- nal as mor ve ötesi.
Koray: Then, our friendship cemented with Harun’s project.
Harun: I started harassing my cool close friends and acquaintances for the project “Savaşa Hiç Gerek Yok.” One day, I visited Koray’s house for a photo shoot. This was a more proper beginning.
Koray: Then we started visiting each other. Harun: And became very close friends.
Koray: I think it was 2002; it’s been 15 years! How fast the time goes by… Harun: PlayStation sessions and laughs…
Koray: And that unbearable lightness of being in the same profession.
Harun: Then, in 2004, we experienced the joy of making an album at the same time. What happens when you release an album at the same time? Koray: It wasn’t very good for us. mor ve ötesi had crushed everything.
Harun: That year in May, both mor ve ötesi and Kargo released an album. That had never happened before.
Koray: It had happened to us before and that one was the second time!
Isn’t it better or more enjoyable? Isn’t it today’s problem that similar genres don’t produce music or challenge each other?
Koray: It’s more like there are no genres; it’s all jumbled.
Harun: I think the main problem is that lovely musicians and bands, who have a great potential, are labeled as the Third New Wave which is just too big. There are a lot of works that could be perfect but it’s not good when you regard them as a movement and try dressing them in something they’re not – neither for those bands nor the people who see them as such – because this is something that challenges their knowledge about literature or music. The Third New Wave brings one’s mind something greater than Edip Cansever and Turgut Uyar. Even
if it was, it wouldn’t be called that because those poets didn’t name themselves back then.
Koray: A lot has changed though! There’s the Internet and social media. There was nothing like that when we rst stepped into this world in the ‘90s. The current dynamics are interesting. There was a lot more mystery back then. There were a few artists or bands playing in the genres you were interested in. Now, it’s all chaos! You can have anything anytime. It seems a bit less precious to me but it always resets itself. There’s nothing much to worry about but there is a chaotic atmosphere. There are too many things being released. We may not be seeing it right now but, 50 years from now, people will be able to properly evaluate the discovery of Internet and its effect on people. This has fed the social monster we have within us; everyone’s interested in the social aspect of the Internet.
How did the industry change when discovering new things became easier?
Koray: The power of money in the industry changed. There’s this concept of downloading now; people can download or pirate songs. Cases similar to Napster have been around since the ‘90s. This changed the gameplay of all record companies, including their strategy of production. Who to invest, which platform to use; everything has changed. Let’s see where it’ll take us.
What would you like to say about the fact that Beyoğlu as we know it has almost disappeared and that the music scene is looking for a new place? What did this transformation bring about?
Koray: Taksim was the heart of the city and it’ll always be that. I don’t think it has changed. It’ll regain its glory once it’s all patched up.
Harun: Yapı Kredi Kültür Sanat’s new building and Akdeniz Heykeli sculpture have breathed new life into the street. It has seen the worst and the bottom, and I’m sure it’ll spring right back up.
Koray: But it was wonderful back in our time. We would watch a live performance in every bar and street, have fun and visit 3-4 different places a night. It had a strange chemistry.
Harun: In 2011, we welcomed 30 writers from Berlin in Istanbul. They had trouble understanding the nightlife in Beyoğlu although they came from Berlin which was a very cosmopolitan city and that they were familiar with Turks. People reading this magazine can understand what has got lost and why; I don’t need to tell you in detail. The actors of the Turkish entertainment industry sit chained in cement. We should be optimistic. One day, when those chains and cement are gone, we’ll have had a great training.
Koray: Of course, this decreases one’s motivation. We used to go on tours with sponsors or perform at university festivals. We naturally feel less motivated. We could reach many people by playing live; now that number is lower.
Harun: Everyone who’s driving in Istanbul’s traffic harbors negative feelings toward other people. People are unhappy and negative, and they don’t exactly know the reason why. Then you become angry, which can even diminish your passion to do good for people. It’s not because these people are evil; it’s because they’re unhappy. You can see those people do good things sometimes as well so, as Koray said, the environment can poison people. But you continue to look for ways to resist this feeling.
How have you resisted?
Harun: We resist by looking for alternative ways to express ourselves. And Dasdas is one of them!
Koray: By being patient.
Which motivation led to the birth of Dasdas?
Harun: It’s a project we share with our friends Muzaffer (Yıldırım) and Mert (Fırat) – a hub that brings together music, performing arts and gastronomy. All these venues are interacting with each other.
Koray: Dear Harun, what has changed after the album Dünya Yalan Söylüyor?
Harun: It was way harder to attract people’s attention when we rst stepped into the industry. But it was easier to go on once you made
a name for yourself. Now, it’s the reverse. You can upload something
on YouTube in ve minutes but it’s hard to be found. It’s a jungle of
erce competition. Those who release new singles partake in a great competition. Access to music should be something that requires effort but it’s no longer that. There’s Spotify and iTunes, and we don’t even download now, we just stream. This is the worst version for the artist in terms of income distribution. Digital instead of hardcopy, and streaming instead of downloading the digital.
Koray: Copyrights used to be weaker back then but it’s always been
the concerts that helped the artist earn a living. The copyright income would just evaporate. No one lived by their copyright income. We can set
a standard – if a Turkish band can earn money enough to live, then the industry must be in a good place. That’s my criteria because, when you’re in a band, everything you earn is divided into four – at least. If they can earn a living by making music, then there’s a cycle in the music industry.
It has dropped drastically in the last 10 years, and that’s the real problem. There are pop stars and megastars who can release an album on their own but it’s a different story. The way they earn money with their moves and concerts is different. Bands have a special structure. Since they write and compose their own songs, they need to be able to survive along with the industry. But currently, it’s an endangered aspect of the music scene.
If someone would come up to you and tell you that they’d like to make music, what would you recommend?
Harun: “If you can live without making music, then don’t do it.” Koray: Are we going to sign it “by Tarkan Gözübüyük.”
Harun: It’s true because they need to be stubborn, hardworking and ambitious. And it may not be enough even if they have all this.
Koray: Making music isn’t getting harder; making music in a professional way is. You can install the equipment and record your songs at home, and share it with people. It’s no problem. The problem is to do it as a job.
Harun: We’re one of the lucky few among the musicians of the world; we’re one of those who make music just because they like it and can earn a living from it. There aren’t many people like that. Therefore, it’s not right to say someone that they’ll make it into the circle if they work really hard; it’s a sort of dream trading. It’s better to tell them that they probably won’t make it and to inform them about the risks.
Where does A.I. stand in the music scene?
Harun: I don’t think there’s a war between humankind and artificial intelligence. But if one thinks that way, we’ve already lost that war, for example, in literature. Someone sends a poem to the New York Book Review. The critics love it and ask who wrote it. It turns out that it was written by an A.I. The story will be that yes, an A.I. can do the same
but the other one is done by a human. We’ll live in an age when we’ll listen to something not because there’s a difference in the material but because it is done by a human. Let’s imagine a beggar who is not as romantic as we are. There’ll be a time when s/he’ll say “Wow, he’s really singing!”
Koray: Do you think four A.I. would get together to form a band?
Harun: Sure, it’d be perfect. There’s not limit to them. Even 29,000 of them can get together and release their debut single “Singularity.”
Acoustic music? Koray: They never end.
Harun: In 15 years, we’ll understand that things like soul, emotion and intuition are overrated, and that nothing is unrepeatable or unique. There’s naturally a resistance because it makes us meaningless. The analogue vs. digital ght in the world of sound, and comments such as “everything is digitized but it’s still like analogue” do exist but the difference is so minute. The digital revolution has presented us creative industries that would make humans’ job a lot easier such as before or after undo. But if you went 25 years ago and ask a sound engineer, they’d probably reply by saying, “A.I. cannot do that much.”
Koray: It’s a deep subject. “Whatever it was, we did it to ourselves,” said Brian Eno, one of the world’s most famous producers, in an interview. When we were recording and made a mistake, we’d open the same channel and re-play the part; then the search for “perfect tune” began. Our ears became accustomed to hearing the best. Natural attack and playing together disappeared. Now, our ears are yearning for it. Auto-tunes and processors that balance the music with the vocal tune, they can all do that. So, in years, we’ve been poisoned unawares; we cannot tolerate even a small mistake. Pop culture owns everything and it’s an interesting subject. We’re forced to record songs with the perfect tune.
Does this make you think “Some things would be different if it were now”?
Koray: Looking back at Turkish classics such as Melih Kibar and Onno Tunç, their songs were perfect. The aim should be not adapting them to this, but this to them. They have an interesting feel. Since a certain time has passed, they will be re-recorded with different feelings. Now, everything may look incomplete to us because, as this saying goes, “There’s no complete song.” It may end in some way but we can always add new things to it.
Harun: Our rst two albums were recorded with a rather amateur spirit. Last year, to celebrate the band’s 20th anniversary, we remastered the rst three albums. We didn’t change the albums’ mix or records but restructured the nal stage to bring it a bit closer to current musical standards.
Koray: Put on a current make-up.
Harun: We brought them close to the other albums in sonic terms. But through the difference between two sounds, you can hear the relationship between two periods and see how things have changed.
Koray: You look for that feeling when you listen to an album from the ‘70s! You look for those old, live and regular arrangements. People still play instruments. That will never change, and when someone is good at that, s/ he can always mesmerize others.
Harun: I Hope so but can a massage chair replace a real masseur? I think, at some point, it can.
Koray: I think a bit differently about that.
Harun: Because I cannot claim that there isn’t a massage chair that is as talented as a good masseur, I regard ourselves as good masseurs.
Koray: It’s an interesting analogy but during the massage, two people get to feel each other’s skin. I don’t know if that machine can give you that human feeling.
Harun: Massage enthusiasts can answer this better since I have no idea.
Koray: A human masseur is a different thing; there’s a transfer of energy.
Harun: It’s very important for us to feel human touch because, in the end, we like our species. What makes it special is that we’re the ones doing it. There’s a difference between Harun giving a concert, and someone like Harun giving a concert. It’s like saying, “Let’s watch Harun.” I don’t know if I’m being realistic, a dreamer or a rambler about technology because we don’t know it yet.
Koray: People should look back on this in the future; we may not see it as we’re living it at the same time. We still haven’t understood its effect on people. How old are smartphones? Is it since 2010? They’re really new! But this change has connected everyone. We’ll see it social effects but, in terms of music, that human touch is important.
Harun: Why cannot we know it? Since the early 2010, the amount of information generated every year exponentially increases. For instance, the first airplane, the first car, the beginning of the Internet, or the first A.I… We talk about them now – about a car that goes 30 km/h and occasionally stops. We’d say a car could never replace a carriage but what happened? Is it loss of meaning? Isn’t meaning a human-made concept? Yes! The discussion goes that way. It’s about conversation and performance; these are the things that keep us alive. Why do we think that? Because humankind is a species that can hardly think without putting itself in the center. And when we do that, we’re afraid of the destruction of our species – every time we say “A.I. cannot do that much.” Are we right in fearing this? Sure we are. Would it be good for our species to go extinct?
Koray: We don’t know that.
Which motivation helps you create nowadays?
Koray: There are rooted feelings. We have a rhythm and tempo of our own. Since we’ve been doing this for over 20 years, we’re actually doing this out of habit. Sometimes we feel less motivated and it takes a longer time to create new things.
Harun: On the other hand, being an artist means not actually being
aware of what you’re doing. We see this when it’s caricaturized but it has
a glimpse of truth in it. We may not be able to explain what it is exactly we do. A songwriter for instance – what leads him/her to write songs? It’s a eld where, sometimes, working hard is more meaningful. I believe that if someone sits at the table thinking, “I should write a song,” they’ll be able to do it. I believe that. If they have the expertise or the motivation, they surely can because there’s no inspiration to wait for. That’s not how it works. Yes, there may be some moments in life but it’d be better for the songwriter to not depend on that for survival.
Koray: Edip Cansever once said, “I invite inspiration to my table.” You cannot achieve anything just sitting and waiting, without committing to it. There’s no such thing as waiting for inspiration to come to you. You have to play, write and draw. What kind of a painter would you be if you weren’t drawing and painting all the time?
Harun: And generally, to invite inspiration, you may need to distance yourself from the common habits of the society you live in. In that regard, people interested in art would not make such great role models because it’s a whole other thing. You cannot tell your kid, “Look at this young man, and be irresponsible like him. Don’t go to bed before 6 a.m. and have all kinds of bad habits. But everyone will be curious about you when you grow up.” And you shouldn’t say it because this bit of craziness is what makes these people different. By the way, we’re not that crazy.
Koray: Yes, being a role model is an ambiguous term.
How did your acoustic series come about?
Koray: That was something we did at home. For 15 years, we’d play something to each other at home. For instance, before Dünya Yalan Söylüyor was released, I listened to the acoustic version of all songs from Harun. Then, in 2004, a friend of ours had a birthday, and they said, “You always hang out together, why not play something for us?” I’m happy we did that because we wanted to more! We could do something like that in the future, we said. Then, we attended an event for Tiyatro – D22 as volunteers. That concert was amazing, and we had so much fun. So, we started doing that once in a while. Now we continue to do it – not as a part of our careers but occasionally. I think it ts the timing.