Interview: Disco Kebap with Bariș K

Interview: Disco Kebap with Bariș K

May 8, 2014

Written by:

Dragoș Rusu

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A contented cat

Four people on a round table. 9 PM on a rainy and cold Friday night in Bucharest. We’re excited about the forthcoming Bariș K dj set, which is about to happen in a few hours, but first we try various oriental delicacies like soups or kebaps, which, unfortunately, didn’t really taste like what we were expecting.

The restaurant we're having dinner reservation on is crowded and loud. Through the various flavors of oriental food and cigarette smoke, coming from different tables, you can hear traditional Iranian and Turkish songs, and, once in a while, some Tarkan hits. The owner of the place wears sunglasses and guards his customers, delicately rubbing his potbelly like a contented cat and welcoming certain people with a detached smile.
When we rediscovered turkish music, the way we focused on it was different from the way they were initially doing it. We were more focused on the fusion and expression of the musical styles, rather than the lyrical, verbal approach.
Bariș K
Bariș K

An own sound

Bariș K came up to public attention after 2007, when he self released the trilogy mixtape called Eurasia. This, together with his Istanbul 70 edits released on New York’s Nublu label, and a website exploring the history of Turkish music, and it’s clear that Baris’ heart is where the homeland is. Besides his major role as a curator for the traditional Turkish folk, pop, disco, psych, prog rock and other obscure music hybrids, he started to make his own music. The release of ‘’200’’, in 2013, sees Bariș approaching a far more diverse idea of an own sound, inspired and influenced by the majestic music heritage of his country.

But one of Bariș’ most interesting projects that transcends the music boundaries is the fresh collective called Insanlar (translated in ‘people’). It is a collaboration between Bariș K, Cem Yildiz and Hogir. The first release is called ‘Kime Ne’, a hard-nosed 24 minutes live jam of electronics combined with elements from traditional music, inspired from the Anatolian sound. Cem Yıldız is on vocals, bağlama and electronics, Bariș on electronics and Hogir on percussion and vocal percussion. ‘Kime Ne’ inaugurates Baris' own Aboov! imprint and it is already creating massive buzz on the electronic music scene worldwide. On the duty remix there’s the minimal house superstar Ricardo Villalobos, who already plays it on huge crowded techno festivals from all over the world.

photo credits: Misha Shkurat

A Turkish compilation

D.R.: How did you start DJing?

Bariș K.:First time... I dj’ed with heavy metal, haha. It was not really djing, there was a bar/café and sometimes I would play cassettes there.

D.R.: Any heavy metal favorite?

Burzum. Then I started Djing at a café, with break beats, indie, post – rock. And hip hop elements in the set, but not like the hip hop DJs. We made a real underground hip hop show for a radio, for seven years.

A tall brunette brings the soups and the first dishes. From downstairs you can hear one of Tarkan’s hits.

Rusu of Khidja: Man... there are so many stories about Tarkan. He is still so mysterious; no interviews, nothing... I’ve heard that on concerts, his security doesn’t allow anyone to take pictures or videos.

D.R.: So how did you end up digging more and more into the Turkish music?

Bariș K: I think the first Turkish compilation triggered something, to check for more, you know? We didn’t have access to that kind of music. There was a whole different generation, their perception was way too different than ours. My generation learnt about global music, or the music worldwide from jazz, funk, all kinds of experimental music, hip-hop, electronic music, whatever... So when we focused back into Turkish music, it was way too different than what they were doing. We were more focused on the fusion and expression of the musical styles, not on the lyrical, verbal approach.

Stuff like Baris Manco, Selda, Mogollar, Erkin Koray...this was known. But for most of the rest there was no information, no data. Until some guys came in... I used to work in a record store in the ‘90s, I remember there were some Belgian and Dutch guys coming and cruising around all the second hand stores, and going back with suitcases of records.

Rusu of Khidja: The same happened with Asian guys, with the Aura Urziceanu records, in the ‘90s. They were coming and cleaning the shelves of records and selling them for much more in their country.

Bariș K: It wasn’t that expensive back then. But now it’s getting more and more.

The kebap business just starts, right after the soup.

Kime Ne

How did you meet Cem Yildiz and form Insanlar?

Bariș K: There was a band that we wanted to make some concerts with, to play in our places and festivals. So... there was a guy, whose band (kind of) disappeared in time. Before the concert, he couldn’t come because of some health problems, and the guy was (kind of) alone, because the band was having two guys. So, our mastermind at the club (who started the club in 97, I was only Djing back then) came up with the idea to form a band, to play with this guy. This is how we came together to back up this guy and we played a few times. And it turned out to be nice. We said, let’s go all-alone, and we started doing our first concerts.

D.R.: The lyrics of the debut recording are adapted from poems by 17th century poet musician Kul Nesimi and 16th century icon Pir Sultan Abdal (Otme Bulbul). What does ‘Kime Ne’ mean?

Bariș K: Kime Ne means (kind of) ‘it’s not your business’; something like that. There’s these guys from a really esoteric sect called Hurufi (n.r. a mystical kabbalistic Sufi doctrine) they had to hide from the Islamic authority, because there was orthodox and they didn’t want anything rebellious; they were taking narrow views. It’s (kind of) a Middle Eastern philosophy, always changing, similar to the philosophy coming from... maybe.... India. It is not so different then the Zen Buddhism. So it’s that kind of mentality mixed with the Persian, Zoroastrian philosophies and Middle Eastern philosophies. And Hurufi it’s a blend of any of this. So these guys are worshiping humans. They have a really humanistic and peaceful philosophy about society.

The poem is about a guy called Haidar, maybe the Middle Eastern Buddha. He has a lot of stories about traveling in time and space.

[pause for a little bit of pepper for the soup]

Bariș K: Now I am doing another record with other friends. It’s a sampler record with three or four tracks, which will come out in two or three months.

Rusu of Khidja: How did you record the voices on 'Kime Ne'? How many voices were? Because it sounds like a really rich choir.

Bariș K: There were three people, only one on the voice. Maybe its because of a vocal processor.

My partner, Gem, he is Alevi, another sect, haha. The Hurufi people disappeared in history, in time, because its ideas came out in the 13th and 14th centuries. So they disappear. The poem is from the 17 century.

A folk attitude

Flore: You seem to have a strong idea behind your tracks. For example, ‘200’ has a strong cultural and social idea.

Bariș K: I don’t know, maybe it’s the folk attitude that I love…

D.R.: It was initially released on Nation, from Chicago.

Bariș K: Yes. But I had some complaints from some people, because the rest of the compilation had nothing to do with this track, and a lot of people told me that they had to buy the entire compilation for that song.

They want their money back?

Rusu of Khidja: Twitter was important in Istanbul for the revolution, right?

Bariș K: Yeah, it will be in a few months again.

D.R.: While you were playing at Sonar in 2013, and a girl came on stage with a placard written ‘resist Istanbul’, I was thinking that you also use music as a weapon to fight for peace.

Bariș K: The riots in Taksim square were right on my street; right on the neighborhood where we live, where we work, where we hang out. There was three main streets where the clashes were going on, and one of them, maybe the biggest, was our street. And even now there’s still protest every weekend and there’s burnings, something is clashing or the police comes. So there’s no way you can’t be in.

Some people did some songs about Gezi park after, and now there’s even a compilation, but… Come on.

LISTEN: Bariș K - Live mix in the Attic
About the Author

Dragoș Rusu

Co-founder and co-editor in chief of The Attic, sound researcher and allround music adventurer, with a keen interest in the anthropology of sound.

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