Robert Soko: We are about to compose a book in the next year or two. Something similar to “Please Kill Me”. Robert Rigney: The Balkan version. Robert Soko: Yes, the Balkan version. Let’s say thirty years of Balkan mayhem.  Billy Gould: Cool. Robert Soko: And we are trying to get in touch with everyone who has something to say, on a bigger scale and ...

It was a tough call. Amsterdam Klezmer Band with Yury Gurzhy Djing the after show or Dubioza Kolektiv at Festsaal Kreuzberg. I opted for Dubioza – and I didn’t regret my decision (though I am sure AKB rocked the house just as hard). Dubioza Kolektiv is a kind of Bosnian goodtimes party band, whose English lyrics surprisingly make sense, even ...

Robert Rigney: So basically I would like to know about your beginnings. Also about living in Tarlabaşı in Istanbul, and differences between playing Roma and gadjo weddings. So the first question is how did you start? Cüneyt Sepetçi: Like many Roma musicians it came from my father. My grandfather also played clarinet. My great grandfather also played clarinet. The whole Cüneyt family, if they are instrumentalists, play clarinet. I  have a lot ...

Gino Srđan Jevđević is the lead singer and founder of Kultur Shock, a multicultural Balkan-style rock band that blends certain Bosnian oriental melodies and folk elements with a hard-rock and punk sensibility. Kultur Shock, which celebrated its 25th anniversary last year, and has 11 albums under its belt, is commonly described as a Seattle based “Gypsy punk band”. The label essentially ...

Although she hates to hear it, Olga has got to be one the last of the unrepentant Communists in Berlin. Originally from Varna, in Bulgaria, she came to East Germany to study genetics in the late eighties, where she joined a spectacularly old-school Communist folk music ensemble called the “Ensemble Solidarität”. Straight out of some Socialist-Realist Stalinist mural, the ensemble – formed ...

While it is true that young people in Turkey are getting clued in on their 70s Anadolu psyche heritage through international acts like Altin Gün (if the Westerners like it, then it must be good), one has the sense that Lalalar’s sound may be closer to the hearts of young western-leaning Istanbulus. “Lala,” Ali Güçlü Şimşek, explains,  is “the wise man, the ...

The train line from Prijepolje in the south Serbian Sandžak to Podgorica in Montenegro is perhaps the most dramatic in Europe. You go through tunnel after tunnel, skirting the precipice of one of the world’s deepest canyons. The mountains here are indescribably rugged, barely cultivable and scarcely inhabited. Here and there in the midst of this grey wilderness of barren rock you ...

Şatellites are at one and the same time a brilliant Tel Aviv Turkish-psyche cover band - and much more than that. Some of their catchiest songs are originals, like the first track “Big Baglama” an impossibly groovy number, with low slung, bağlama lines, augmented with some cosmic retro Roland synth work shooting off into the ether. The homage to Turkish ...

A month ago I was declared dead by the Turkish media. Literally.  An Instagram posted this bit of misinformation, and as a result I received condolences on my social media portals. It wasn’t me who died, rather arabesk soul singer Volkan Bekar, who recorded  “Yalan Dolan” on the compilation “Yeralti operation” together with Mr. L in 1996. One of the most gifted – and ...

Anadol claims to be influenced by traditional Turkish pop, “such as Anadolu rock and Arabesk music from this country where I grew up. There is a connection to Folk and also French pop or Flamenco, Middle Eastern melodies and orchestration, Greek adaptations, Kenny G. solos, American guitars.” Having said this, when it comes to her own improvisations, Anadol is miles apart from her professed affinities. Anadol ...

Islandman supplies  slick multi-layered atmospheric down-tempo electronica with an ethno touch. Featuring musicians from all over the globe, the title of the album “Godless Ceremony” gives one pause for thought. A sense of “Ceremony” to be sure – is what is missing in most European and American music, and life in general. It is also in turn what a lot of ...

It is interesting to see and hear how Turkish wedding dances have changed over the years - from slow and decorous, to high-octane “turbo folk”. These 20 tracks offer a rare glimpse of – mainly – wedding music from Anatolia before  it became infused with techno and Western disco influences. The old halays, for instance – represented here by  two shoulder to ...

These songs stem from a perilous time in Turkish history when ethnic strife between Turks, Greeks and Armenians was beginning to make itself manifest. Oddly, perhaps, the precarious mood of the day doesn’t seem to infringe on these bubbling early seventies Istanbul  meyhana (tavern) tunes. “All is well in old Stambul,” one might be seduced into thinking. At the center of this ...