What’s the best way to meet the need for renewal? How can a scene from a movie shape your future? As we talk all about these with movie score composer Ahmet, we learn the hints of how we can find ourselves traveling to other places with each performance. His improvisational lyrics enhance the layers of creativity in his works while we experience his success in observations with masterful soundtracks.
What’s the main motivation behind your musical journey which began with guitar exercises and lead up to production? How did your story come about?
I was very impressed when I watched Michael J. Fox’s Johnny B. Goode’s solo in Back to the Future. I wanted to play that solo. Back then, my older brother’s whining to buy a guitar for months bore fruit. I think it was 1996. Moğollar, Cem Karaca, Barış Manço, The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Nirvana, Rancid, Ramones, Sublime, ACDC, Lou Reed, Mike Oldfield, and world music, primarily the Balkans and India, I dived further into music. When I listed them like this, I realized how unlike they were. I still listen to such things but anyway…
I had plenty of time for music because I was studying business management. When I saw that it was coming along nicely, I finished college in six years JWe started a long adventure with Gevende at college in Eskişehir; we’d play at a different venue almost every day. After school, I came to Istanbul and met producer Ömer Ahunbay and Hakan Özer. When I insisted to work at their company, we started working together. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that I slept at their door. And we’ve been together for 13 years. With them, I’ve had the chance to learn the most fundamental elements of music production.
And for every independent project I’ve worked on, I added something from myself to those basics, to give it a shape. And I’m still doing it.
First and foremost, Gevende has its own language. Why did you feel the need to create a brand-new language for your songs?
First, I started a long research into the 6,000 official and unofficial languages of the world. I looked for the most appropriate syllable and linguistic structure for our songs. This took about for years. Then… I’m just kidding J
This wasn’t something planned. We’d play ska and old pop songs at bars in Eskişehir. And I got bored with singing the same things. I was listening to a lot of world music back then. I started to replace the lyrics with the words and sounds I heard in those. But the melody was the same. The other members didn’t complain. But we thought it was something temporary. For instance, I’d make up lyrics for Bob Dylan’s One More Cup of Coffee after the first stanza. I don’t think Dylan would be mad. So, I felt alright. Those who knew the lyrics didn’t like it of course but I gave those the chance to say, “He’s got the lyrics wrong” and look cool. So, they kind of liked it.
Things got more serious when I started composing. I followed the same path. I felt really comfortable with singing improvisational lyrics. I travel to a different place with the same melody after each time. I don’t think I created a language per se. I create words, syllables and verbs out of my favorite sounds; they don’t mean anything without the melody.
How would you define the sense of belonging?
I can feel like I belong to anything of which I hear the melody.
There’s a melody to the street I walk through every day to go to the studio and to the sunlight that reflects on my window every morning.
How do you think it’s different to reach the audience through a soundtrack and live performance?
Both are about music but they don’t have anything in common. No matter how free you are in the soundtrack, there are limits to your playground. You have to be a tailor, to cut and paste and to rearrange the music to make it best suit the movie. For the live performance, you are the one drawing the boundaries and you won’t even have any if that’s what you want.
How was the process of composing the soundtrack for Butterflies? How did the movie influence you?
I’ve known Tolga for a long time and we worked together before the Ivy and such. When you work with a director for a long time, the process becomes healthier. We saw its benefits while working for Butterflies. I read the script a year before the filming began. I traveled a lot that year from Rize to Malaga, Berlin and Kars…
I would record melodies with ukulele and a small guitar and would share it with Tolga. Then, we chose the ones we felt closest to. For the movie, I tried to create a steppe atmosphere without any particular geography. I tried many instruments during the process. It was very pleasant.
We know that music is another element that evolves around the visual world and takes us under its spell. How do you think this interaction with the visual world mesmerizes us in such a short time?
Pick a song, put some visuals to it and watch. Then change the visuals. There wouldn’t be such a huge difference.
But if you put different music to the same visual and watch it again and again, you’d have a different story each time.
I’m not saying the auditory is superior to the visual. I just wanted to demonstrate how big its influence is. Sometimes, the scene is accompanied by a music at such a low decibel that nobody notices. Some would even say, “Was there music in that scene?”. But if you take that music out, the scene looks naked all of a sudden. In fact, I enjoy making music right in this context; the kind that looks non-existent when it’s there but leaves a huge emptiness when it’s absent.
What’s the song that defines Istanbul for you?
Every song that plays in my head when I’m walking in a crowd. Here is an audiovisual show. I walk frequently between Eminönü and Sultanahmet districts. The music playing in my ear creates a whole other world every time. I recommend it. It’s a feast.
What’s the most special voice you’ve ever heard?
Selda Bağcan said she has the most special voice so I’ll take a look at that JEvery voice whose story I know is special for me.
The movie character you feel closest to?
What’s next for you?
I’m currently working in a feature-length production from Florida and the series BartuBen directed by Tolga. I also have projects coming up for Lu Records, the record company I opened in May that released the soundtrack for Butterflies and Özgün Semerci’s banjo album. 2018 will end with many new things.