Hi there dear reader, welcome to YIKS and welcome to London. I’m here with Djanan Turan, a fabulous London based singer songwriter from Turkish origin and we are basically doing a touristic sightseeing day; and you are invited to walk along. Isn’t life beautiful?
Hi Djanan Turan, Thanks for taking the time to go for a stroll to London with me and the readers at home today. Luck has been by our side as this is not the London known to me, instead of being gray and cloudy it’s a beautiful sunny day today! How long have you been living here?
Djanan Turan: Its gonna be almost 15 years! Oh my God! Cant believe it!
Do you remember the reason why you came to London specifically, and not (for example) a romantic city like Paris?
Djanan Turan: Of course I do!! Music! Not hard for me to remember as its been the reason to majority of the things I have done in my life. I was singing in Turkey since a young age but didn’t really know where to take it to. Something inside was telling me to come to London. And I do not regret it.
Do you have any favorite areas or perhaps places in London you recommend visit? We might not have time to go there now, but maybe the readers at home can write it down in their little note books for later use… Something with live music perhaps?
Djanan Turan: Passing Clouds is really good, in Dalston. They have raggae, afrobeat, world music mainly, really nice fluffy vibes with very mix mash decor, Jamboree, is really amazing, very vintage vibe, always really good bands, it’s in Limehouse. These are still more the hidden gems of London. All the rest, they can find in Time Out or whatever.
Oh people at home, we are walking through Soho now.. I love this place, even though it’s also making me feel funny. You know it’s ‘the street in which various eyes meet’.. Talking about eyes, we really should go in the London Eye and maybe sing a song together at the top. Do you have a song that is easy to sing along with?
Djanan Turan: Lets sing something with Eye. ‘Eye of the Tiger! that will be easy to sing together don’t you think?
Ah Djanan if you don’t mind, I see an off license here.. Do you want anything to drink for on our journey? I’ll take a dragon stout.. What can I get for you? What do you want?
Djanan Turan: i’ld love an apple cider please. I lovvveee that on a sunny day like this.
Ah.. I’m so glad we have something to drink, with this pleasant weather. It’s perfect as it will make our lips and tongues wet so our talking mouths won’t dry out while we do this walking interview in the London’s sunshine.
I was wondering if I knew any Turkish music.. And as a music lover I could only come up with some commercial nonsense from the nineteens. I’m not even going to mention it here as it wasn’t very good haha. But I was wondering if you know perhaps any new or old inspiring Turkish music that we should check out as music lovers?
Djanan Turan: Yes lots! forget about all that commercial stuff. There are some really good psyhcedelic stuff with nice Anatolian vibes like Baris Manco, Erkin Koray, Selda Bagcan. Also check some old classical and folk music,people like Muzeyyen Senar, Neset Ertas. There is some really cool new stuff too, actually quite a lot of nice hiphop and rap.
How important is the influence of your roots in the music that you are making now?
Djanan Turan: It is very important, without me even making it important. I just write songs and melodies, you know, without any strategic thinking. It all happens involuntarily. But once its there, I can hear the possible influences and the influence of the place where I grew up in is inevitable. I love it though. I think it brings very unpretentious but different, rich flavours to the songs.
Do you come from a musical background, family wise?
Djanan Turan: I cant say we used to play at home but my grandma apparently used to play the violin and sing beautifully when she was young. My mum and dad both appreciate arts and music which was a beautiful influence. But i did spend most of my childhood, listening to music, collecting music, doing dance choreographies to my favourite classical pieces and literally sang allllll the time. I was singing with the rock band of my school by the age of 14.
Talking about families.. On a bright sunny day like this in London it seems to be full of them. Let’s try to find a spot on Trafalgar Square and ask one of the tourists to make a picture of us as a memory..
You are coming across as a very bright and positive person who would jump spontaneously on stage when hearing a band that affects you with their music. How many times did this happen & are there any funny stories to tell?
Djanan Turan:Ah thank you! I am glad I come across that way. I am quite spontaneous in life with things and follow my instincts most of the time. I have jumped up and sang in various places but I am also very very shy believe it or not, never got on someone else’s stage without asking.
I have loads of funny stories though. Once I sang in South Bank organic food market for a slice of free apple strudel. They were asking people to sing My Favorite Things and I wanted to get the apple strudel for my friend. There was a little boy who was about to sing and I said ‘no I’ll do it’ and I asked the boy if he really know what he is doing and at that moment i think I destroyed his confidence. Poor thing he sighed ‘not really’ i did a big show really belting the song out, and got the apple strudel! My friend then said, ermm did you realise he was about 8 or 9 years old.I was, oops, didn’t really occur to me, thought we were equals 🙂
How do you write a song? And (that’s what I’m really curious about) how do you translate it into music that you can play with your band?
I mean this sounds easy, but everyone has a different way of getting things out of the head.. Do you pen down the notes?
Djanan Turan: Well you always create music as well I am sure you are familiar with the process but of course people have different ways. I generally burst into a song, while walking, jamming, or lots of times right before i sleep. I hear the melody and the lyrics together, most of the time. But there has been times I have just written the lyrics and put a melody afterwards or vice versa. But most of often I have the lyrics and the melody just bursted out together. Then I sit down and try to add more dimensions to it on the piano. I then meet with my band and play it to them and they add lots of beautiful things with their flavours. Its magic!
I have written a lot with other people as well though and I love it. Like, the 4th track of the EP is a collaboration with the electronic band The Egg. They had the tune as an instrumental piece and also part of the chorus and I have written the vocals over it.
Also something else that had been on my mind.. You are multi lingual right? How many languages do you speak? And most importantly in which language do you think & dream?
Djanan Turan: 2 ! Turkish and English. I tried to leaner Russian but didn’t tho very far with it.
My two languages are very equal now. I dream in both, write in both, think in both. Also music, is a very dominant element in my dreams.
What is easier, writing songs in the English language or in Turkish? Is there a difference in these two languages emotion – word wise? If that makes sense..
Djanan Turan: Both is easy and natural for me. I think certain emotions come through one or the other, totally depending on my life experience. When i write, I dont know which one will come out.
For some reason I believe your music is first off made to be performed live and then (if possible) recorded for a studio version, and not the other way around. Is this true? What do you prefer; recording a song in all its perfection in a studio or performing live on stage?
Djanan Turan: Wow! spot on! this is where I am at these days. Perform first and then record. To be honest I have done both through different projects but more and more, I like playing them for a while, let them breath in, breath out, interact with people, find their own personality and then be recorded.
talking about performing live; you are doing all kinds of gigs, but also are active on the festival circuit. I mean you can be heard and seen on Glastonbury to the Secret Garden festival, and in the middle and beyond. What is it like to perform on such a festival, are you doing a different set than a more ‘normal’ gig?
Djanan Turan: We, sort of, do our normal set but I think festivals boost us up with their own energy. Festival gigs are always quite chaotic, with rain, logistical difficulties, changes in schedules, etc… but they are always ridiculously vibrant, energetic and no matter how hard its been up to the gig, I always came off the stage very happy and reenergised.
Ah, Djanan Turan.. We have arrived at the Big Ben. Every time I see the Big Ben now I have this automatic trigger that thinks of this video by Lekiddo (The Lord of the lobsters) who hugs the Big Ben as if it’s a big you-know-what.. Did you see that? It’s hilarious and fun. I guess that’s what London is about too, so many creative people in all shapes and sizes coming together and doing their thing.. How did you get your band together? Is it really a band or perhaps musicians that join you?
Djanan Turan: yep! hilarious! And true, london is full of that mad creative energy. People peaking to their ultimate potential, as well as coming together in different units and learning how to create collectively as well.
Mine is, quite like a band now but they all play with other bands and do session work too. I didn’t find any of them in a noticeboard or anything though. All is through some nice musical connection we made somewhere and we thought, hey lets play together. So I get to enjoy their existence as long as they are there and available but have to be flexible as well in case they are not, so we have some back up musicians who played with me a few times and know the material.
You recently have released your new E.P. with the help of money coming from a kickstart campaign. If you look back at it, what do you think of using this way of fundraising? Do you recommend it? Are there two sides of a coin?
Djanan Turan: There are definitely 2 sides to the coin and the nice circle ring that joins them together! It was hard work, a lot of work and a weird tense period. The type of crowd funding I went for was ‘all or nothing’ so you have to hit your target or you get nothing. So as people put in money towards the project, its an incredible amount of love received and you feel very grateful, as well panicking about the deadline and the target. So the glass is half full and half empty at the same time!
Still, it was a great thing to do though. It was beautiful to connect to people in such a way and keep them involved somehow throughout the process. So much support, so much love! I do recommend it. And believe me, if I can do it, anyone can as I am generally the type of person who wants to vanish straight after a show.
Thank you by the way for wanting to support my fundraising campaign to raise money for a music floppy diskette release in Russia. It was very sweet of you, unfortunately for a crowd fundraising campaign there wasn’t a crowd for this one. Especially not a crowd that can read Russian haha.. But thanks I think the thought of it was very sweet, it wasn’t a serious thing.. More something personal.. Talking about personal things: are your songs written from a personal perspective or more from an outside spectator?
Djanan Duran: I loveee your work and the sense of humour especially. You should try again! Just put the text in English.
I write songs from both my personal perspective and as an outsider. I think whatever feeling that is there, trying to say ‘hello, i am here’. I go, ‘oh welcome! Let me just blow you like a balloon’ its a matter of really holding on to that instant and exaggerating it and sometimes it comes totally from another person’s story.
Like one day, I was walking and bumped into a friend who I didn’t manage to keep in touch properly and he did look a little upset about that. Maybe him being upset wasn’t at all about me but after I left him, I kept walking thinking of him and writing a song, all the way to the point that he is committing suicide at the end of the song because friends neglected him. Its that kind of exaggeration I am talking about!
Talking about this, I wanted to ask if you could tell me what your single ‘Maze’ is about. I had tried to review it with the help of the video clip in which you wore this yellow dress which I would have liked to wear myself one day.. But that’s not the point.. The point is that I feel like I didn’t really do a good job getting the meaning of the story right; would you be able to shine some light on the video and song?
Djanan Duran: You can borrow it anytime you like! Its made by my friend Robin Harvey and I think he smashed it!
Hah, well I don’t blame you for not getting the story! It was actually a dream that I had but not so easy to translate to a music video. The song is about the excitement of complications, conflicts, beauty, whatever that a new relationship is likely to bring. These days I have been very into acknowledging my own patterns and the complications that I create, hence I must have had that dream. I walk into a room and all the emotions that are likely to come are actually all within me and not coming from someone else. I fall in love, I get excited, I get nervous, I get upset so we see this woman in quite a simple setting going through different emotions and dealing with herself. We kept the setting plain deliberately to create a contrast and to highlight the possibility of the situation being plain and the mind complicated.
I like the outcome but I think we should have had Tilda Swindon or Juliette Bincohe or some kick ass actor like that to really deliver all that, not me!
Standing here as a tourist looking at the London bridge isn’t really spectacular don’t you think? I mean it’s just an old looking bridge, it has a lot of history and all that but visually it isn’t a Eiffel Tower is it?
What would you do to make this place a bit more pleasant to the eyes if you had unlimited resources to do so?
Djanan Turan: Its surely not an Eiffel Tower but i must say, I quite like London
Bridge. If I have to cross it,as much as possible, I walk over it and then take the bus. I do it to remember to embrace the beauty of London. So easy to forget when you are living here and dealing with day to day.
If I had unlimited resources though, I would make it look like a cartoon! When you say London Bridge, in my head, it has a very animated ring to it for some reason. I would make it look like a copy of a souvenir version from a tourists shop in Leicester Square.
I just saw the prices on the bus stop.. The prices for a single bus fare are insane here! How do you manage to move around here without getting your wallet legally robbed by just using public transport? Do you have any survival tips for a musician / artist to live in such an expensive city?
Djanan Turan: I walk a lot!! I love walking anyway, its great for songwriting. Also I don’t do any sports, so that’s kind of my exercise. Also I save money!
This city is madly expensive but there are quite a lot of alternative ways of living for artists- although, more and more they are disappearing :((
Other than that, I always say, if pasta weren’t invented, I am not sure that there would be music! Pasta is the life saver! And treat yourself to some pesto on top if you are feeling rich.
How is the music scene in London nowadays? Is there still a brewing live scene going on?
Djanan Turan: Its still beautiful. You get to see incredibly good live music in majority of the places. Also no scene ever seems to completely disappear. Might be more popular sometimes and less at other times but all the scenes seem to exist and carry on in little pockets.
You have been touring too right? Also in Turkey? What is the big difference (if any) between playing gigs here or abroad, or even just outside this city?
Djanan Turan: I love it all! Turkey is sometimes a little tricky because it has been politically very unstable, everything gets effected. Gigs get cancelled last minute, people hesitate to organise things and commit for future, etc… I loved playing in other parts of Europe. Outside London, in England is actually really amazing. In London there is just so much happening and people take it a bit for granted, not to criticise though. Its inevitable, probably I do it too. But you go outside and see a lot of appreciation both from the venues, promoters and the audience.
How would you describe your music if you couldn’t use the words ‘alternative’ , ‘folk’ and ‘pop’? Cause personally I think your music deserves its own genre…
Djanan Turan: Haha!!! The answer was never easy anyway and you just made it even harder by taking away 3 of the words I thought I could settle in!
Just kidding, ok lets try…Oh actually the other day a friend used Neu World, then pop but we skip the pop bit, let’s say NeuWorldFreeSpiritedSongs… Thats long!
Here we are.. The London Eye.. I’ve never admitted to anyone, but I’ve always wanted to secretly take a ride in it.. Please don’t tell anyone, alright? I don’t want people to think I would like such a stupid tourist attraction.. Please keep it for yourself, okay? But let’s totally go for it! For once I don’t care if the security will check our pants for knives and explosives, and neither if we have to stand in line like a bunch of idiotic sheep.. Just for once.. Let’s be a stupid tourist… We can go back to our normal things as if it never happened later on..
What are your upcoming plans Djanan Turan? Are you working on more songs, new videos? Where can people see and hear you play performing live? Where to keep in touch?
Djanan Turan: Ah ok! I wont tell anyone if you don’t tell anyone that I have actually already done it before! Yes!lets do it again.
Got loads of plans! Loads of more tunes to record but for a while I need to focus on gigs and promoting the EP. We will do another video for another song from the EP, most probably for Drive.
I will be away in Turkey for a bit and then our next gig with the band is on the 19th September at The Priston Festival. My website is a good place to follow things, and also Facebook, Instagram, twitter and all that social media thingies.
Do you have perhaps any shout outs, thank you’s for the readers at home before we enter the London Eye?
Djanan Turan: Sounds like, ‘my last wishes’ Hope this thing had it’s MOT done!
I would like to say to people, thank you for listening, and please keep listening, promise I will keep coming with more music!
Oh my gosh! I’m so thrilled! We finally go together in the London Eye! How exciting! The view.. The height.. The highlight of our day, really! … Here we go.. Up.. And up.. And..
I just remember Djanan.. Something very stupid… I’m afraid of heights… Can this Ferris-wheel go back? Oh shit.. I’m sorry Djanan.. I’m gonna be sick.. I so wanted to sing a song with you on top of the world but now.. Oh no! Here it comes.. So sorry.. Blechhh bwaarhhhj blechh bwhaakk
[and so dear readers did the lovely day of London sightseeing with Djanan Turan and KN end. Djanan Turan with fingers in the ears and eyes close at the window to ‘enjoy’ the view while softly singing ‘to herself, while your interviewer KN uncontrollably pukes all over floor of the London Eye cabin…]