Music & Nightlife

Your guide to the best gigs, live venues and nightclubs in Istanbul

Interview: The Away Days
Music

Interview: The Away Days

We caught up with Turkish dream pop band ahead of the release of their first album

A one man orcshestra: Love, Hippies & Gangsters
Music

A one man orcshestra: Love, Hippies & Gangsters

Love, Hippies & Gangsters is a project that does its name justice: it wears both the rose-tinted glasses of the hippies and the sharp suits of tough 20th-century gangsters. There’s rich orchestration, African rhythms, groovy Middle Eastern melodies, a mellow psychedelia akin to Spiritualized and many other references that are obviously entirely instinctive…. Like a traditional musician, Yiğit Bülbül writes songs that are inspired by specific moments and sensations. What’s more, he stands up to the challenges of the music industry as a solo artist. We caught up with the Turkish-born musician following the release of his new EP Dazzled / Old Days on Bandcamp. There’s a great deal more orchestration in your new tracks, there’s also a great harmony of elements. How did you do the arrangements?“Playing with unfamiliar instruments is what I love the most, so whatever I can afford or whatever I stumble upon, I take it home and start fiddling with it right away. It’s not so much that I do ‘arrangements’ – I just set up the microphone in my room and try whatever instruments I have lying around. If I like the sound, I keep it, and if I don’t, I just delete it. I don’t really have much space left in my room now, but I plan on continuing to expand my collection when I have the opportunity.” There are a lot of different ideas and approaches in the tracks “Old Days” and “Dazzled.” What is it that brings it all together for you? What type of songs do you want to write?“I want to write son

Interview: Mammal Hands
Music

Interview: Mammal Hands

When we think of jazz, improvisation is one of the key attributes that come to mind – yet your music seems well planned and structured, almost like post-rock. How do you define your music?Jordan Smart: “We actually are all fans of a lot of post-rock; it’s a very powerful and emotional genre, especially bands like Mogwai and Godspeed You! Black Emperor. It’s hard to define a lot of music, and often it’s writers and journalists who end up deciding what something is or isn’t. When we write we aren’t thinking about fitting into a genre at all; we just want to explore compositions and ideas together and see what comes out. In our tracks, we like to balance improvisation with adding composed material in places where it serves the structure and mood of the piece, rather than the traditional jazz head/solos/head format.” None of you have a formal education on music. How did you start making music together?Nick Smart: “We met busking in Norwich. Jordan and I were busking on classical guitar and saxophone, and Jesse was busking with a different group. He came over and we got to chatting and started playing together within a few weeks. None of us have formal training in performance from an institution, but we all study music in different ways. Jesse has been learning how to play the tabla from his guru Sirishkumar Manji for about 12 years, and I studied Music Technology at De Montfort University.” What’s different about your new album Floa as compared to your debut, Animalia?Nick: “I

Interview: Róisín Murphy
Music

Interview: Róisín Murphy

RÓISÍN MURPHY’S CAREER has been a gloriously unpredictable beast. After starting off in the ’90s as one half of Moloko, she’s mixed eccentric trip hop and electronica with huge club hits like “The Time Is Now” and “Sing It Back.” The latter is still so ubiquitous that her six-year-old daughter recently came home from school and asked, cutely getting the song’s title ever-so-slightly wrong, “Mama, did you do ‘Bring It Back’?”                 Since going solo in 2004, Murphy has released the brilliant mainstream pop album Overpowered, an EP of classic Italian songs called Mi Senti and last year’s electro-prog-disco opus Hairless Toys, which was nominated for the Mercury Prize.                 Now comes the equally fearless companion piece, Take Her Up to Monto. We decided there’s no time like the present to pick Murphy’s supremely creative brain. How did your music career start?“I started out in such a weird way. At a time in my life when I didn’t think of myself as a singer at all, I chatted someone up with the line ‘Do you like my tight sweater?’ and ended up in a band [Moloko] with him. I became a singer and a songwriter by learning on the spot, so I think I always need to be slightly out of my comfort zone when I do something. I’ve never stopped being experimental because that’s how I started.” Take Her Up to Monto mainly features songs recorded at the same time as last year’s Hairless Toys. How did you decide which songs made which album?“The songs on Take Her Up to Mo

The unsung heroes of music
Music

The unsung heroes of music

Meet the people behind the scenes at your favorite concerts

Top Istanbul clubs

Minimüzikhol
Clubs

Minimüzikhol

As the name suggests, Minimüzikhol is an intimate affair nestled in an apartment floor in the trendy Cihangir neighbourhood. Founded in 2009 by a collective of local DJs, whose previous efforts played a formative role in putting Istanbul’s electronic music scene on the map, Mini hosts local and international DJs from Thursday to Saturday.

Arkaoda
Clubs

Arkaoda

Ever since setting up shop on the bar street Kadife Sokak in 1999, this iconic establishment has had a pioneering role in Kadıköy’s transformation into Istanbul’s hippest neighbourhood. Antique velvet armchairs, good music and cozy dim lighting make Arkaoda a great place to chill with friends for hours at a time. A cosy café by day and an ever-popular bar/club by night, Arkaoda is our favourite watering hole on Kadife Sokak, Kadıköy’s main bar street, and has a calendar peppered with a diverse selection of underground DJs from Istanbul and abroad, with live shows taking place on the upper floor.

Citizen
Clubs

Citizen

Hidden away on a blind alley off İstiklal Caddesi, Citizen is one of the only remaining places to listen to good house and techno in Taksim – and al fresco: the majority of the club, including the dance floor, sprawls out onto the secluded street.

Gizli Bahçe
Clubs

Gizli Bahçe

Gizi Bahçe (Turkish for 'Secret Garden') is hidden in plain view on Nevizade's main meyhane street in the dead center of Beyoğlu. A great late-night spot that regularly hosts solid DJs, Gizli Bahçe is also well-known as an LGBT-friendly venue – no macho behavior tolerated.

See more clubs in Istanbul

Live music in the city

Salon IKSV
Music

Salon IKSV

Consistently featuring some of the best international bookings in the city, Salon's calendar is jam-packed with the hottest names in jazz, rock, alternative, classical, experimental and world music. Maintained by the Istanbul Arts and Culture Foundation (İKSV), Salon is housed in the beautiful Nejat Eczacıbaşı building in the Şişhane quarter of Beyoğlu. Keeping an eye on what's happening at Salon is a must for music lovers.

Zorlu Studio
Music

Zorlu Studio

A multi-purpose arts space within Zorlu PSM, Studio hosts boutique concerts spanning all genres. Its impressive sound system and electronic music bookings in particular have transformed it into a popular spot for going out on weekends.

Babylon Bomonti
Music

Babylon Bomonti

Istanbul’s premier live music venue Babylon has singlehandedly transformed Bomonti into the city’s newest nightlife destination after relocating to the neighborhood in September 2015. At its new home in the sprawling bomontiada complex, Babylon Bomonti continues to host some of the best performers from Turkey and around the world. In addition to the main hall, which boasts a state-of-the-art sound system and a 500-person capacity, the venue is also home to Radyo Babylon’s studio and a gift shop. Located on the site of the historic Bomonti brewery, bomontiada also offers Babylon-goers the chance to visit contemporary art venue Alt, the Ara Güler Museum, multidisciplinary art platform ATÖLYE Istanbul, as well as eateries like the Populist, Kiva, Delimonti and Kilimanjaro.

Dorock XL Kadıköy
Music

Dorock XL Kadıköy

One of many new arrivals in Kadıköy, the massive Dorock XL hosts concerts of Turkey's top musical acts and encapsulates a spacious lounge with indoor and outdoor seating. When bands aren't playing, the floor is likely to turn into a dance party even on weekdays – a testament to Dorock's popularity.

Peyote Nevizade
Music

Peyote Nevizade

The long-running Peyote is one of the most popular and beloved venues in Istanbul. Tucked away in Nevizade in the heart of Beyoğlu, Peyote hosts live music several days a week and its terrace always hosts excellent DJs. Peyote is known for its commitment to supporting local artists and countless acts from Istanbul's music scene have cut their teeth on its venerable stage. A wonderful place to get a drink from anytime between the early afternoon to the early morning.

Pendor Corner
Music

Pendor Corner

Offering free live music several nights a week, Pendor Corner is an old Beyoğlu favorite that has weathered the storm and remained open while many of its neighbors have closed down. Housed in a beautiful turn-of-the-century building, the bar stays open long after the music has stopped. Pendor is known for its bombastic cocktail menu and serves bar food to soak up the suds.

Discover more live venues in the city

Jazz & blues clubs

Nardis Jazz Club
Music

Nardis Jazz Club

Known to be perhaps the go-to jazz bar, Nardis is situated at the foot of the Galata Tower and features live jazz music from local and international acts practically every night. With a capacity of 120, Nardis requires table reservations and features a special menu. A favorite among local jazz lovers and a must for visiting jazz enthusiasts.

The Badau
Music

The Badau

A newcomer to the Istanbul jazz scene, The Badau opened its doors two years ago in the increasingly popular neighborhood of Yeldeğirmeni in Kadıköy. The charming, intimate setting is rounded out by an ambitious, creative menu. Jazz lovers take note.

Bova
Music

Bova

Though only open for around a year, Bova has already become known as one of Istanbul's premier jazz bars, located on the bustling Mis Sokak in the heart of Beyoğlu and featuring a regular schedule of local jazz ensembles. The music is enjoyed in a surprisingly low key and comfy atmosphere with reasonably-priced drinks.

Ağaç Ev Kadıköy
Music

Ağaç Ev Kadıköy

Having closed the doors of its previous location in Beyoğlu, the established blues bar Ağaç Ev moved across town and set up shop in the corner bar formerly occupied by Shaft, an iconic rock bar that went down the hill over the years before shutting down in 2017. Having revamped the dilapidated Shaft space, the Ağaç Ev folks offer live blues every night of the week with no cover charge.