Creating an atmosphere with sound

We wouldn’t be wrong if we say that one of the most striking films of this year is Frenzy. The film inspires the audience in every sense. Cevdet Erek, the artist who made the sound design of this film is the one who transformed this chaotic atmosphere for the crowd. You might have heard Erek’s name with ‘’A Room of Rhythms’’ that he recently built in Otopark for the 14th Istanbul Biennial. Although
the Biennial is over, Otopark is still open to visit. Here is what Erek told us about the magical world of sound…

Space is very important in almost all sound designs. Was the scenario your beginning point when you created the music or sound of Frenzy? What was the point of origin?

When I read the scenario of Frenzy, I couldn’t get in the groove that much. It was probably because of my mood. When I talked to the director and once the footage came in, then the creative period began. When I presented the first drafts to my friends, I got more positive responses than I expected. Everything you see in the movie takes place in a certain space, it’s not like a science fiction movie that talks about a spaceless area. Sound is designed for a space; and music is a part of sound design. We created a confusing entirety that makes one question, ‘‘is this music or sound design?’’ I designed the sound with Cenker Kökten. He mostly created the atmosphere. Cenker likes to create a strong atmosphere.

Was it the director who wanted the sound and music to also create an effect on the audience outside of the film?

What we do is part of a strong atmosphere, it’s what Emin Alper wanted as well. As we are familiar with this mood, we might have given a stronger effect than he expected. I sensed that the world Emin dreamt of was very powerful. There was also a lot of sound in the plot.

Do you want the sound to stand out in your work or blend in with the space?

For example, the sound installation you created by adding on to the the architecture you built in an empty parking lot… I don’t want sound to stand out. In fact it’s actually really easy to do that… For example, we put so much effort into bringing out the space in ‘’A Room of Rhythms-Otopark’’ in Istanbul
Biennial that the sound just becomes apart of it.

In that case, what is it that you care to highlight?

“A Room of Rhythms” is not a sound-based work. But there are also no visuals. When you look at it, there is no object that reveals the narration. While we designed the sound for ‘’A Room of Rhythms’’, we thought of details such as the place of curtains in Otopark, how to use the office there, whether we should keep the forgotten Jaguar in the basement. We made a complete space proposal. Function wise, it’s not like many spaces we’ve worked with before. The volume of sound design doesn’t overwhelm the outside world. This place has a world of it’s own. But also a space that wants to be the part of that outside world at the same time.

Was this the first time you connected as much with such a space?

I think everyone who design spaces feel the same way. I made several works on this scale but they were abroad. I was really sad that my friends didn’t have the chance to see them.

When I visited ‘A Room of Rhythms’, I realized that I was very unfamiliar with works about sound… Do we classify sound as ‘just music’ and nothing more?

We are trying to change this perception. I am someone who tries everything to include sound in all fine arts.

Do we have a passion for visuality?

I have it too. The reason that I stand out as a sound technician is that there aren’t too many people who do these kinds of design. I also have an advantage. I come from a visual and architectural education. That’s why I can compare one to the other while making decisions. Therefore I am not just a sound technician.

What are some sounds you recently got hooked on?

I am a person who can imitate the sound he hears, sing along easily to the song he listens to. I got hooked on percussions. I imagine myself playing a snare drum. I also like the sound of a person imitating an animal.

Have you got any film offers after Frenzy?

You also did the sound design of Sivas… We attract minority films. I would consider doing these kinds of movies. It was almost as if I had collected many things and emotions for Frenzy. Noises, construction sounds, slogans, yells… Actually it’s also based on harsh musics that I listen to, I am a person who also comes from dark feelings, similar to when I used to play in Nekropsi. You deal with a lot of people while forming the sound. That’s why I aspire to unify the sound within these two films.

Are awards important?

It definitely is. When you get an award in Turkey, you are taken more seriously. The visibility of the film increases. We are all honoured by awards. The possibility of getting support increases. We know that there is no competition for art but it’s beneficial for all of us to be awarded.

What are some of your favourite soundtracks?

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Taxi Driver, among Turkish films, Cahit Berkay’s music. Actually I’m not someone who likes music in cinema. In Frenzy, I made sound more than music. Our pieces consisted of noise and some sounds. Most people wouldn’t call that music. We get away with the rhythmic music that plays while the credits roll. In reality that’s a heavy folk music.