Probably, there would be no one who doesn’t emulate his life. He was born into a ‘music land’. He passed his childhood time with musicians who are admired by Turkey and passed between different kinds of instruments. He played, he listened, he sang… when the time had come, he became the head of this formation that brought to him all these beauty to come together. Join our appointment with Umur Sungurlu, the third generation representative of Zuhal Music, which has an important place in the memory of this country’s culture and art.
You are almost born into a ‘music land’. How do you recall your childhood now?
For me, I had a lucky childhood period and I grew up in a music community thanks to my family, so I had the chance to meet different music cultures at a very young age. For example, the first concert that I saw was a Rolling Stones concert. I was just 4 years old. I went with deceased Asım Can Gündüz and my father. I remember one day I was listening to fairy tales on the lap of Barış Manço, and the other day I was running after Özlem Tekin …
What kind of musical phases have you gone through and brought you where you are today about you and your relationship with the music? During which period of your life, which styles, which artists you listened to?
When I was five, I took classical piano classes. I had a very disciplined Azerbaijani piano teacher for that age. There were times that I was hiding inside a closet just because I didn’t want to play classical music. (Laughs.) Since everyone at the house has different musical tastes, there was a wide range from Maria Callas to Prodigy, from Sezen Aksu to Yonca Evcimik. Anyway, I still prefer to listen to what is good for my soul, but the only kind of music that I can’t listen to is arabesque.
What kind of responsibility brings to be representative of the third generation of Turkey’s one of the important brand?
Since I do this job as a family tradition that I love, I don’t see this as a responsibility but an aspect that defines me. Of course, in Turkey, a country with such difficult economic conditions, to maintain the continuity of art and initiate it is a difficult situation. Where I feel responsible for is the matter of bringing the healing power of art to more people.
What did you learn from the previous generations?
From my grandfather, who came from Ankara to Istanbul, I learned to take serious risks if it is necessary for the ones you loved… From my father, I learned to unity of the family, the faith of the work you do and the importance of sincerity that will make people you work with feel the family atmosphere… I learned from my brother that we are always strong if we all stand together. ‘Zuhal’ is not an ordinary place, it is a family in its entirety.
Would you like to design a life and future from scratch for yourself instead of taking over such a moral heritage?
Actually, my dream was always to be an architect, colors and designs have always excited me since I was a child. There have been a few different sectors I’ve had experiences without going into the family business, but life has dragged me to where I need
to be. I’m happy where I am right now. I am also into both the art and music and also designing the new store concepts together with our architects Bertan Berk and Murat Tamgüç. In addition to being a family business, I feel like I’m working independently because everyone has their own space and decisions.
What do you want to say about today’s the digital music industry in Turkey?
With the beginning of the 2000s, the world began to move into digital media slowly and the music industry started to be heard through many digital channels. To tell the truth, nobody has to be famous in the world, but everyone should be able to make themselves heard. That’s why I support the digital music industry. Many good musicians are able to make their voices heard and perhaps take the rightful places they deserve with their own efforts and rights. Let’s look at the subject from this point of view; thanks to this development, musicians who are very well-known and loved, share the things with their fans on different platforms what they cannot share on the album. As for musicians, they can be almost equal to their counterparts abroad because they are now faster and more easily accessible. We are trying to do our best by thinking about how we can make their lives even easier.
What does Zuhal Music contribute to Turkey’s musical memory? Why are such entities important?
In fact, we create a music interaction community by providing workshops at our stores for participants who have questions for musicians that they are curious about and may not be able to meet them in their life. Our stores never were sales-oriented and will continue to open their doors every morning as an integration point for us. For the unseen part of us, we take music in high-risk regions of Turkey and we continue to open new doors for them by contributing a vision. Likewise, we continue to conduct our workshops called ‘A Musical Note from You’ which we carry out together with the Cancer-Free Living Association, which aims to be a hope for children who are being treated for cancer. We have many different projects that I can count on like this. I think all of them are very valuable in order to introduce the music culture to young people of our country which has the youngest population on the European continent.
How does easy access in today’s music market affect musicians?
Time is running too fast. Life used to catch us. Now we try not to miss life and fit into 24 hours. We all live by thinking ‘How can we reach what we want in the shortest time?’ and the shortest distance and time are getting very important for us. Musicians also feel like they need to adapt to this so they come up with compositions based on fast consumption. So my longing for old songs is endless…
How would you describe the Zuhal Concept?
With the Zuhal Concept in which exists a world for everyone, we aim to create an unprecedented experience space in Akasya and I believe that we have succeeded. We have created a collective structure by adding brands from different disciplines to the world of Zuhal, where everything about music exists. Among these brands; Tamirane with great flavors and events, Hipicon with its groundbreaking on the digital platform in product design as its first store, Kırmızı Kedi Bookstore with its endless books and plaque selection, with Turkey’s best tattoo artists Tattoo Gallery, world-famous Zee Dog as leading the fashion of pet accessories, Imagineer Kids which enables children to develop their creativity, Depo Dans with every branch of the dance, with coffee-book-plaque trilogy Bobo-CoffeeBooks & Vinyl and much.
How/By whom do you find new musical discoveries?
There’s music playing in the background every moment of my life. It inspires me, helps me to wake up and work. Especially my best friends and their Spotify lists, radios, new places, DJs are the main sources of my discoveries.
Which tools do you listen to music through platforms?
Spotify, Youtube and radios…
Who do you listen to most nowadays?
I’ve been obsessed with two extremely optimistic men for a long time. Polo & Pan is my favorite recently…
Do you still play instruments?
Yeah, I guess I’ve tried many instruments, but I can say that my
main instrument is the piano. I also have my musical background for it, from time to time when I am with my friends, I sing sometimes. Maybe in the future, I can release a single too. Who knows (Laughs).