You just got back from a long road trip where you set out to discover Anatolian music. What was that experience like?
“When Red Bull came to me with the project, I told them I would be open to going on a journey where I searched for my musical roots, so we got to work and the idea for Uzun İnce Bir Yol was born. The project took a full year from start to finish. We filmed in five cities, and it was an exciting and emotional journey. Returning to my childhood in Manisa, discovering new things and visiting places that we normally wouldn’t were all incredible experiences. Seeing people’s reactions and how they continue to pursue their passion for music without seeking any profit from it, soaking in the culture of immigrants in Manisa – all of it was wonderful. We had a blast everywhere we went, and we managed to do some live recordings with local musicians who were involved in the project.”
What are your thoughts on Turkish musicians’ relationship with Anatolia these days?
“There’s still a wealth of inspiration to be had in Anatolia, and once in a while I’ll encounter talented musicians who benefit from it. The popular culture of Istanbul and Europe has us moving away from Anatolia, which will someday result in the extinction of this wealth. The change started out with regional clothes and later extended to dance and music. While filming for this project, I met young people who want to preserve their regional dances and culture. It gave me hope to see that they were as adamant about perpetuating their culture as their grandparents were. At least there will be some people striving to promote Anatolian culture for a while longer.”
What did you enjoy most about the filming process?
“I loved the laid-back atmosphere and hospitality of the people in Edirne, which was the first place we visited. I was also very excited to see Manisa, since it’s both my birthplace and where I first went to school. Singing in the schoolyard with the marching band was a dream come true. I also loved hearing trumpets everywhere. Immigrants who live in Manisa always have a marching band at their weddings; in their neighborhoods, you’ll often hear Macedonian and Bosnian spoken as a second language. The trumpet music of the Balkans is quite popular these days, but most people don’t know that it’s a part of our culture, as well. In fact, if you go to small-town celebrations there, you might feel as if you’re at a Goran Bregović concert. I have these old photographs of my mother and our relatives getting ready for Hıdırellez celebrations, which we put to use in this project.”
We know you’re a huge Barış Manço fan. What’s the story behind that?
“Back in 1991-’92, when my band and I first started getting into rap music and also wanted to explore our own roots, we used his track ‘Lambaya Püf De’ as a sample, and the result was perfect. Back then we couldn’t find vinyls so we used a cassette tape to get the sample. Afterward we deliberately went through all of Barış Manço’s albums: of course we knew all the lyrics, but by then the songs had started to inspire us, as well. It got to the point where we’d listen to Barış Manço before going out onstage. Years later we got the chance to meet and even perform with him.”
Uzun Ince Bir Yol is available for streaming on redbull.com/muzik.