One of my favorite musicians is the Bulgarian/Turkish accordionist called ‘Ciguli.’ Unfortunately, he passed away in 2014. After he died, the Istanbul based Roll Magazin re-published an extensive interview with him. Getting to understand Ciguli’s life and point of view only made me appreciate him more. He talks about his love of Bollywood, the situation of the  turkish ethnic minority ...

The deeper I got into the Balkans the more I began to feel the magnetic pull of Istanbul. As of Novi Pazar, everything started to tilt towards the city on the Bosphorus. The food, the music, the language, the mannerisms, all began to assume a Turkish touch. I realized that if ever I were to unwind the knotty issue of the ...

The guy that worked the hotel reception desk looked at me, as if to make sure he had heard correctly. “Tallava? You want tallava?” he said, like I wanted a dose of the clap. “Are you sure you really want to hear this shit? I know of a place on the edge of town. But I’m warning you, it is a ...

Derya Yıldırım doesn’t  like to be pigeonholed. “I do what comes out of me. And if that is for some ‘psychedelic rock’ then so be it,” she says. Oft compared to Turkish neo-psyche rockers Altın Gün, Yıldırım was at the right place at the right time when the Anatolian psyche revival hit. Here we have Derya Yıldırım and Grup Şimşek’s second ...

The shriek of the clarinet cuts the air and suddenly all the young bucks hit the floor, linking pinkies and dancing halay (Turkish circle dance). As the wedding band runs the gamut of popular wedding songs, the bride and the groom take center stage. Now and then a guest comes up and showers the bride with dollar bills, while the kids run ...

Erol Ünal, a young German Turk from Esslingen, near Stuttgart, has come out with a scathing anti-Muslim exposé entitled, Der Abtrünnige – 15 Jahre in Moscheegemeinden. Meine Einblicke in eine Welt von Fundamenalisten und Rechtsextreme, über Radikale bis zu Sufis.  First off, let me say although I disagree with Ünal right from the get-go; taking issue with his tenets, precepts and conclusions, ...

Now, with corona, more than ever, musicians don’t have to leave the privacy of their homes to cut an album. They hook up over Facebook or Fiverr and trade samples over Reason, while tracks are recorded in the comfort of one’s own four walls. The result: no really compelling backstory and essentially boring copy. The story behind the genesis of ...

The first I had heard of Taner Akyol was in connection with Derya Yıldırım, the young saz player and vocalist fronting Grup Şimşek, an international band, which have made some waves both here in Berlin and abroad for their groove-laden arrangements of Turkish songs from the seventies.  Derya Yıldırım is a fine example of the neo-Anatolian sound whose other main ...

We were about to set off by car from Berlin across Germany with Isa Martin, a German convert and whirling dervish at the wheel and  Hamza Altinok, a Sufi teacher and mystic, whose father had founded the first mosque in Berlin in the fifties, riding shot-gun. Both Hamza and Isa were frequent guests at the Ottoman Sufi Center, a Sufi dergah, or ...

About homosexuality and Islam Mehmet doesn’t mince words. “It’s impossible, in and of itself. It’s a contradiction in terms,” says the twenty-five-year- old Turkish mobile-phone salesman from Wilmersdorf. “It’s rejected by our religion flat out. But here in Germany you are confronted with it on a daily basis. Unfortunately, you can’t sound off about it. Someone’s going to take it the ...

Raised in Lyon with the tunes his Sicilian grandmother sang to him, Julien Lesuisse set out in search of his “Sicilian soul”. Along the way he picks up on the sound of the Maghreb, incorporating a heavy dose of Algerian rai, soaked up in situ in Oran, the Algerian home of rai folk music. The result is Luci e Guai, eight ...

One Friday not long ago I met with Ero Behrić and Alen Hebilović – two erstwhile figures in Berlin’s Balkan party scene –  in a Turkish café on Oranien Straße, half an hour before cuma – Friday prayers – at the Bosnian mosque on Adalbert Straße near Kotti. They always had cuma at two o’clock at the Bosnian mosque, which was a convenient thing for ...

The new Balkan sound departs from the clean, straight, beat-laden Balkan club tracks of yore, insofar as the new stuff is looser, fuzzier, deeper, more distorted, less distinct - subtler even, trafficking less in Balkan clichés. “Ethno psychedelia”, you could call it.  Balkan Taksim group members Sașa-Liviu Stoianovici and Alin Zăbrăuțeanu have known each other for more than a decade, ...

I still remember the time when I first visited the HQ of Philophon Records in Berlin. Situated on the top floor of an old industrial building in Kreuzberg, the place where all the Philophon magic was happening got introduced to me; a beautiful, cozy space with carpets and plants, filled with an impressive collection of old and modern studio technology, ...