Listana interview

Bio: Listana is a five piece female-fronted progressive-symphonic metal band from Istanbul, Turkey. The band prioritized live performance from its onset and performed in more than 30 local and international concerts. After the habitual lineup changes and demo recordings, their output is gathered together in an EP album, released digitally under the name “Unveiled”. The band consists of Fulya Çelikel (vocals/keyboards), Alp Soğancı (guitars), Ali Göktürk (keyboards), Kaan Seyithanoğlu (bass) and Ozan Gümrükçü (drums).

Listana was founded a couple of years ago by current members Kaan, Fulya and Alp. Essentially we see ourselves as amateur musicians and all we wanted in the beginning was to develop our musical skills further by playing covers. Our meeting up is an ordinary story: internet forums, Facebook, the search for missing members. The extraordinary part of the story unfolded when music sort of transformed our lives: we ended up being great friends who shared everything and endured hardships together. Just to give an idea about how important the group turned out to be for us: Fulya and Alp ended up falling in love and getting married. Music is just an excellent an escape from our tough daily routines, we have university instructors, students and engineers among us. Of course we played in other bands before (at least some of us), but it was never this fulfilling and experience to bring new meaning to our existence. That’s why we chose the name “Listana” for this alternative reality, where we just be cool and make music and forget about traffic and professional life and responsibilities. The name originates from an Amin Maalouf novel and has a quasi-historical-fantastical feeling to it, but still is Istanbul.

Genre: Actually we didn’t choose the genre; the genre chose us. We like the candour of being able to play everything we have recorded on the stage, it can be said that we do not take much benefit of the wonders of the recording technology. The simple, clean sound of a single- guitar band without backing tracks, with some adventurous polyphonic textures and of course soloing appeals very much to us. Performing progressive metal means challenge most of all, but also novelty and our statement of standing against the mainstream. It would have been an easier journey if we simply played trash metal or something.

Evolution of musical and thematic elements: Our own music emerged in time from the endeavour to assimilate whatever we see as good music into our sound world. Some bands start their career directly with song writing; it did not evolve that way with us. We needed the hands-on “feel” to decide about the sound we wanted to have. For example, we have many older versions of “Birth of a Dream”: we tried out brutal vocals, a more episodic song, operatic singing style, more aggressive, distorted female vocals for the demo version, composed symphonic tracks, you name it. Nevertheless, as Leonardo da Vinci very wisely said centuries ago, “we knew the song was complete once there was nothing else to take out”. The song, as everything else, is in its most refined, simple form now. In terms of discourse, there are epic themes, a lot of dream/alternative reality stuff and some personal reflections in the songs. 

Ideas about the album: Well, admittedly, we still could not find the right path to follow. Each of the four numbers are different from each other: Birth of a Dream has a symphonic-power sound, Hasret is quite proggy with a lot of modulations and time-signature changes, The Legend of Hellespont has an epic atmosphere almost like Rhapsody of Fire’s slower songs, and Elveda is very classically symphonic metal. There are two languages, three different tonalities, perhaps too much variety to claim coherence. We just hope the audience will direct us to the sound which happens to be our best.

Composers: All lyrics are written by Fulya, our singer and keyboardist, she’s also done a lot of arranging and composing for Unveiled. Kaan has laid out the foundations of the two English numbers, and both Alp and Ozan contributed to their own instrumental writing. Alp wrote all his own solos and all the guitar work of “Elveda”. For the upcoming album, we have recruited Ali, an excellent keyboardist, so we’ll have even more creative energy. Already we can boast more guys’ voices in the upcoming album: Ozan, Kaan and Ali have already started writing some hot sizzling stuff.

Inspirations: Initially all we wanted was to play some music to challenge our skills as instrumentalists, so who better than Dream Theater and Symphony X and Kamelot and Angra and all those fantastic bands to look up to?

Preference; cater to the audience or music for its own sake: We still wish to believe there is a way to do both. Nevertheless, we don’t believe in diluting the music just to make it more listenable: those modulations, virtuosic solos, complicated layers are there because they are needed for the discourse we need to express. No one likes it too disjunct and avant-garde in the band, though, so we have a whole bunch of very sing-along melodies, which we hope will appeal to the audience. We are very excited to see how the listeners will respond.

Anything else? The main question is how to proceed from here. What we would like to have is to write a deep, philosophical concept album next, but perhaps this is not the way to go. Perhaps we should just stay this way, multifaceted like the city that provided the inspiration to us, engendered the music at the first place. All we know is that we deeply love what we do and we need the listeners’ support. It is thrice as difficult in Turkey as it would have been in other places and every bit of enthusiasm: be it constructive criticism, support and who knows, perhaps eventual admiration, will enlighten our path. We thank everyone involved, especially the Lady Herself for this very stimulating interview. May Music always be there to beautify our lives!

Want to know more about them? Visit their CDbaby here

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