Aysu Çöğür Interview

Australian-Turk Aysu Çöğür is Turkey’s most brilliant rising musical star. She was kind enough to speak to me about her partner Frank, future sound music, and how forcing yourself to write songs is ‘like forcing yourself to eat meat when you’re a vegetarian’

Sean Parker: Could you give us a brief history of how you ended up in Istanbul?

Aysu Çöğür: Well, my parents are Turkish and I’m a born and bread Melbournian. I guess it all started when I wanted to explore my roots especially the musical side of it. My aim was to learn more about makam and then create a sort of fusion between makam music and jazz. My initial plan was to stay here for 1 year, it’s almost been 4 years!

Sean: When not playing with your group The 4th World, how do you find being a solo female artist in Turkey, with regards to social rights and respect?

Aysu: I feel that most of the time people are very supportive of a female musician who is performing solo. It does however feel a little degrading when men are ‘surprised’ at the fact that I can use my loop station very well. ‘Better than a man’ as some have said. Why can’t a woman use a loop station as good as a man can?? Sometimes I even wonder why that is a question.

Sean:How did the Gezi protests over the summer affect your writing and general outlook?

Aysu: Gezi was a tough time for all mentally and physically. During occupy Gezi I was trying to compose a song about the events and of course I didn’t succeed because as you also know, the process of creating a new song involves having it come naturally. It’s like forcing yourself to eat meat when you’re a vegetarian. I have however composed some new tunes since the events. I don’t think my writing has changed I just had a block during Gezi and now I’m back on track again.

Sean: What is your opinion on how social networking and more broadly technology in general have affected the music industry?

Aysu: I think that sites such as myspace and facebook are a great way to get our music out there and also to connect with other musicians. Now that myspace is out of date, facebook has taken its place. I think that these days it’s more effective to have an fb music page (fan page – I really don’t like saying ‘fan’ page) rather than a website to get your music out there and build an audience and connect with listeners.

Sean: You are well known for your remarkable use of vocal loops in recording and on stage, provided by your partner ‘Frank’. How did you discover such a box could be a conduit to genius sound making?

Aysu:Genius sound making? Thanks J Well before Frank there was aki, my akai loop pedal which my very dear friend Kate from Australia got for me back in 2007. I used to tell her how I wanted to loop vocals and make dream like soundscapes and that’s why she got aki as a birthday present for me. I had troubles at first, really I just couldn’t get the timing of the loops right whatever I would do plus there was this constant buzzing coming from aki. Then in 2011 I stumble upon Frank in Istanbul at music store in Tünel. He changed my life. I practiced day and night for about a month and it was just so simple and easy to work him, he is truly frank and fabulous. Now I have upgraded I bought the latest boss vocal pedal with 5 channels from Australia. I haven’t named it yet but I’ve got to tell you understanding this new loopie is going to take a while unfortunately. It’s much more complicated than Frank!

Sean: You are also famous for not showing any ‘diva’-like qualities, amidst a scene legendary for it. How do you manage that?

Aysu: Well that’s nice to hear that people feel that way…don’t you think the whole ‘diva’ concept is very outdated and cliché now? I’ve met a few female singers in my life who have called themselves ‘divas’ and I just can’t help but giggle. We as musicians, as artists first need to focus on our art not our egos. That should be the number one priority focusing on the real side of music- making, recording, performing but unfortunately there are many singers around who put their ego first and base it on image. I think it’s very sad because those people will be left behind. Right now is such an exciting time for music- there is a new sound haunting our souls called ‘future sound music’ and this type of music is so honest. Lyrically and musically it really has no room for ‘ego’. Some examples are: Hiatus Kiayote, Thundercat and James Blake.

Sean: What are you working on at the moment?

Aysu: I just released a single ‘Nuri’ and my first video clip along with it. I plan to release singles and making video clip every 4 months and spreading it out on social media. We’re also gigging with my band once a month and I will have some solo performances with Frank mostly overseas in Canada, Spain and Australia.

Sean:  What are you drinking?

Aysu: Raki is the only way 🙂
Otherwise, on special occasions French Pastis or Spanish Anise…I’ve been having a very long term relationship with aniseed based alcoholic beverages it seems…

Lady Obscure: Aysu, Sean, thank you both for this lovely and informative interview!
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