He is the man who has touched the hearts of millions with his songs; from rainy mornings to days when we question ourselves, from moments when we don’t take life too seriously to of course, our love stories… He is Turkey’s Mahsar Alanson. Now, he is letting us in on the good news about an upcoming album for MFÖ.
Looking at the Mahsar Alanson in front of me, I see a man who has figured out most of the secrets of life, purified of necessities and the need to prove himself, taking life lightly on the inside; however a man that is more fed up compared to before. How much of this is true?
Some of it is true. I might look like I figured out the secrets of life. However I haven’t, of course. I don’t know how much I can apply from the ones I’ve figured out either. I don’t see myself as someone who has “made it,” someone who does life justice. The struggle in me continues. I do take life lightly, yes. I make jokes to people that are not expected of me. I enjoy that a lot. And I am fed up, true… Boredom births lyrics.
Would you define yourself as a “happy person?”
I am happy, thankfully. I used to be more restless, couldn’t stand still. I sit more often now. I am more grounded.
Is that a good thing?
Better than the contrary.
It’s Monday, nighttime, end of summer…. What is on your agenda?
The three of us (MFÖ) decided to make a cd again, that is on my agenda.
“How much space can a human being take? A paper, a pen… You have your guitar next to you… The happy moment comes when the song get’s much bigger when someone at a concert sings it back to you… You want to relive that.”
How do you make the decision “Let’s do another album?”
Usually I’m to one to say “Let’s” They have never declined to this day. It had been a long break this time.
Why a group project as opposed to a solo album?
When it’s as a band it’s a stronger, more striking album that reaches a bigger crowd.
What kind of album will this be?
It will be old school. Our last album wasn’t a good one. Because all three of us worked from different studios. With our own arrangers… Combining those ended up being awkward. It was artificial. This time we’ll try to achieve the sincerety in ‘Ele Güne Karşı.’ We’ll do everything. No other arranger is going to be a part of it. It will be as a whole from the beginning till the end. The listeners will know that we have gave this project our consents. A fruit of our mature age, one might say.
What kind of phases does the album go through by the time it reaches us?
I write the lyrics and take them to Fuat. He composes the song as best as it gets. Same with Özkan… He has a few things that are ready as well.
You write the majority of lyrics…
Yes. I dedicated a year to these lyrics this time. I worked really hard. I finished notebooks. That writing phase is a tormenting, enduring one. I usually start it as a poem, then make it a song adding rhymes. This time I straightforwardly wrote lyrics.
What do you talk about in these lyrics?
Life, love, break-up, happiness… It has all of it.
What is the thing that makes you go “Okay, this song is done?”
Professionalism. By now you know what should come after that verse, how many times a word should be repeated…
What is the motivation behind another album for a legend like you?
You want it to be known. The whole point is to have five thousand, ten thousand people to sing a song you’ve written at the same time… I wrote ‘Ah Bu Ben’ in a tiny place. How much space can a human being take? A paper, a pen… You have your guitar next to you… The happy moment comes when the song get’s much bigger when someone at a concert sings it back to you… You want to relive that.
How is you creation process affected by the situation this country is in?
A lot. How can you write a love song when there are jets flying over you, bombs exploding, people dying? There are many things to enjoy in life. However the age we live in is a nightmare… I don’t write lyrics under a candle light during this period.
Are you hopeful about the future?
‘Benim hâlâ umudum var’ (I still have hope). Loosing hope is not a good thing. You should be hopeful even if you’re at war.
You are one of the architects of a structure that’s been running for 45 years. What do you feel about MFÖ now?
It’s us and the Rolling Stones left, no one else in the world… Of course we’re proud… We don’t think of these things during daily life. We’re busy creating new things. The important thing is to make sure each day is different. I always ask myself; “Mazhar have you added a few lines to what you’ve done?” If I have, then it’s a good day. That’s why I keep busy. Because it’s all about working, not “I’m inspired, let me scribble ‘I bought you yellow tulips’ over there.” You write the first line, which then matches with a verse you’ve written previously, you figure something out. It’s a complicated process. That is what I’m busy with, not being proud. Once we die, our souls or the ones left behind will be proud. We don’t care for permanence, or the old. We are able to do new things. I really love that.
What do you feel for Fuat Güner and Özkan Uğur today?
They’re family? More than family? Just friends? We’re a big family. Our wives are also involved.
It must be nice to have a second family you can depend on…
It is. We fill each other’s shortfalls. When the three of get together, we become transformers. The car get’s up, opens it’s arms, and something happens (he laughs).
How are the last 10 minutes before a concert?
It takes half a second to regulate the repertoire. Then we joke around, talk about the agenda of the day. Then we turn on the headphones, by then it is quiet backstage. We hear the crowd’s murmur as we approach the stage. You’re peeved then. “It’s going to be a good one” you’ll say. Singing and playing is like worshipping. It’s not material. We deserve the money for that period that ends when we get on stage. Waiting at airports, those delays… An unknown hotel room… Waiting for the night, staring at the TV… You are not able to leave the room because of the crowd outside… Although we travel in the most luxurious way possible, I don’t want travel anymore. I guess I’m old now…
Are there songs you’re bored of singing but have to because the crowd requests it?
No. We immediately remove the song we’re bored of. Although you sing the same song, the outcome is always different. Because the audience is different. That’s why you always sing ‘Yalnızlık Ömür Boyu’ differently. And that’s a high point. You don’t get bored.
What do you do when you get off stage, what do you talk about?
The sound installation usually. “How was the mic,” “Did we sing this song well?” I used to go to parties in my youth, I haven’t done that in the recent years.
What is the best part about getting older?
Shall I begin with the worst part? There are hairs on my ear! Thankfully, nothing else. Your minimize your circle as you get older. Out there stories encompass you by millions, billions all adding up. People draw your energy too sometimes. You don’t want that. That’s why you try to pick people that are good for you. You don’t carry burdens like you did in your youth. You don’t waste time on ‘this person did this, this happened to that person.’ Maybe you watch a little more TV. We have it on in our house after a certain time every night…. Biricik (Suden) and I know all the wedding shows
How do you spend your day?
I sit down more. Listen to a lot of music.
What do you listen to?
I listen to oldies. Music of my youth… 70s, 60s… The Beatles… I like Country music. I don’t listen to anything new.
You and Ms. Biricik seem like a compatible couple. Is there a secret to that?
I advise men to take a walk around the neighborhood if the woman of the house is angry, followed by another one if it hasn’t passed yet.
Photography by Fora Norman