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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

Kolektif Istanbul haven’t changed all that much since their first album Krivoto, which came out nearing the peak of the Balkan hype in 2008. These 13 mostly infectious dance tunes are still keeping to the same Turko-Balkanic territory, though French sax player and totally Turkified  band leader Richard Laniepce prefers the term “progressive wedding music” to describe what the band are all about. ...

Berlin is a swamp: literally, figuratively, and etymologically (Brlo - old Slavic for swamp). It will suck you down if you are not careful - and sometimes you just need to escape to save your soul.  I have been plotting my escape for a while now, even without knowing it. Sometimes I think Belgrade would be a nice place to get ...

At five in the morning a wailing comes up from the valley below as one mosque after another broadcasts the call to prayer, a coagulating chorus joining up together in one unified lament – Allāhu akbar,  Allah, Ash-hadu an-lā ilāha illā allāh, Ash-hadu anna Mohamadan-Rasul ullāh……  It is weird and unearthly, and as I lay in my bed,  listening to this otherworldly ululation coming ...

Whenever I visited my grandmother in Istanbul, Aksaray, I simply had to check out the scene on Istiklal Caddesi.  Mostly, I walked there. Back then there was no tram and I didn’t really fancy taking the bus. So I walked past Istanbul University, where my mother studied, then either through Kapalı Çarşı (Grand Bazaar) or past the Sultan Ahmet Cami ...

**** The intimacy of hearing – and seeing - Baba Zula live has lately surpassed the experience of listening to some of their latest studio albums. As time has gone by the songs of Istanbul’s celebrated underground psyche band, seem to get less and less distinguishable from one another.  In all fairness, Baba Zula has always been against the traditional ...

It must be love! by @denizdenden This production is a utopia in dystopian times. Shantel & Cümbüş Cemaat's album “Istanbul” open up a utopian space between Frankfurt-on the-sea and Istanbul on the Bosphorus. Here a new attempt is being made to create – with respect and devotion – a  new dialogue between pop cultures.  “Dialogue of cultures”, that sounds a bit trite, ...

When it comes to Istanbul’s nightlife, many usually think of Taksim – that  stretch of European Istanbul, north of the Golden Horn, intersected by the Istiklal Caddesi  a pedestrian thoroughfare which slices  through the district of Beyoğlu from Taksim square in the north to Tünel in the south.   Here, and in its dozens of tributaries and small, dark side streets, was where – up ...