Efkan Şeşen, a musician who has lived his music life in Turkey for thirty-five years and has been living in the Netherlands for the last five years, presented his 15th music album, "ID" (identity), consisting of his new songs, to the audience after a long time. These album songs convey stories from 9 different geographies in their own language. The works of this album, which consists of songs in Turkish, Dutch, English, Kurdish, Armenian, Arabic, Zazaki, Pontos, and Laz, whose lyric...
Efkan Şeşen, a musician who has lived his music life in Turkey for thirty-five years and has been living in the Netherlands for the last five years, presented his 15th music album, "ID" (identity), consisting of his new songs, to the audience after a long time. These album songs convey stories from 9 different geographies in their own language. The works of this album, which consists of songs in Turkish, Dutch, English, Kurdish, Armenian, Arabic, Zazaki, Pontos, and Laz, whose lyrics and music belong to the artist, were completed in 4 years. We talked to Efkan Şeşen, whose last album was released on May 1, about his 9-language album, ID. Let's talk a little bit about your new album, starting from the end first. Your 15th album in your personal music career was released on May 1. Was this date, May 1, chosen specifically, or did it coincide with May 1? Of course, May 1 is a particularly thoughtful date. Because I wanted a permanent world album to be documented on a special day. Also, my daughter Ezgi's birthday is May 1st. The world belongs to everyone The name of your last album is ID, that is, “identity”. I guess it is compatible with the content of the album, but I think it would be better to learn from you. Why “identity”? And why did you want to express it as ID? First of all, 9 stories left a deep mark on me and my heart. This is how this work began. I thought that 9 different stories would be even more meaningful in the languages of the lands they lived in. My interest in languages, combined with these experiences, aroused great motivation in me. Of course, along with these stories and languages, being here with the right people who can support me has made the album beautiful and sincere that you are listening to right now. As for the album name; I wanted to explain that despite the differences in language, belief and geography, peoples are like flowers standing together in the most beautiful garden in the world. Identity… Yes, it is important, but it should not be forgotten that these identities can live in peace and brotherhood. The peoples have not had any prejudices regarding this and they should not have any. The world is everyone's. Let them be divided into as many borders as they want. I and people like me accept this as such, and we see colors as a richness and continue to struggle within this. The reason why the album name is ID; this work can be listened to all over the world and of course it was made in the Netherlands. Moreover, belonging is a word that is also used by us. A common word that is understood to mean identity in many languages is ID. Actually, I think you have emphasized the cultural diversity of life and preferred to express this diversity with a universal and common definition as ID. Do I understand correctly? This is definitely a good idea. Life is life with our cultural richness and it is livable. Let's not consider the visual on the cover design of the album separately from this content, right? Who owns the visual design? Was it designed for the album? The visual design belongs to my brother Güler Akdemir. When I started this work, from the moment I mentioned it to Güler, he realized the design with great sacrifice and love. In fact, the album is out. Güler's ideas are not finished :)) Everyone who contributed to this album worked knowing what they were serving. And of course, their belief that I would draw this conclusion was complete at every step. All drawings of the album have been designed for “ID”. Four years that made people say, "Even if I die, I won't regret it" “Identity” emerged as a result of a long study that took four years. That's a long time for an album. How did the "identity" come about? What kind of work did you carry out? Can you talk a little bit about these four years? Actually, I just briefly told the story of ID. First of all, the traces of nine stories are the driving force of this work. The rest was easier. Of course, in these four years, we have experienced many negativities. Adapting to my new life, really learning a new language, the difficulties of my two years of schooling, of course the great difficulties brought by my economic conditions. And the corona that took the whole world by storm and what it took from us. In this sense, I really carry the honor and pride of succeeding in a very difficult work in a very difficult process. In other words, my identity reflected in my window met the public. They say, "Even if I die, I will not grieve", this is exactly the sentence that describes me and my four years.
It would be wrong if the artist stood by those who persecuted the public, even for a moment.
There are nine songs from nine different languages in “Identity”. This is an interesting album as well. We know a lot of albums with a few songs in different languages, mostly in a certain language. But I guess an album with each song in a different language is not very common. This is how you did it. How did you decide this?
Nine lived stories… I want it to be perceived, listened to and appreciated by appealing to the conscience in the hearts. But if we look at popular culture and think about what trend people are chasing, I can't say it's interesting. Unfortunately, truth, honesty and modesty do not attract attention. I guess I will be the best example of pathological case to be examined in the future. If you don't belong somewhere, or at least don't use them in your discourse, our people don't own you. However, I would like to see the coincidence of what I tell with my life and the sincerity in my songs. Those who leave their art consumption to political, ethnic or religious addresses or reflexes associated with themselves will not see you and your art. Because you are not popular either because of that or at least. Such is the perception of the majority. If you ask if this is the case for you, as I said in my song, it has always been "it happened". On the other hand, there should be no gap between an artist's message and his own life. Even if the artist is standing next to those who oppress the people for a short time, let alone speaking their language or contributing to it in some way, whatever he does is wrong. This cannot be glossed over with a simple sentence like "I did this without thinking".
The lyrics and music of the nine songs in the album belong to you. How did you write the lyrics? How did you preserve the poetic harmony of the words you wrote while translating them into different languages, and the flow appropriate to the music? This must be very tedious. Can you tell us a little bit about the process of writing the lyrics and translating them into these languages?
First, the words and music flowed fraternally onto the paper and the notes… Then I had my friends and elders for whom I received language support. These names took their place under the songs in the form of explanations on youtube and under the shares. Kurdish, Armenian, Pontian, Zazaki and Arabic are languages that I have never spoken. Therefore, I would like to express my gratitude to my friends for their support in these languages. Let them be, let them be. I think we left a beautiful mark on the world when the ant turned black.
Listeners can empathize with the story of each song.
In the promotion of the album, you said that "the songs of this album bring you stories from nine different geographies in their own language". Does every song have a story?
Yes, every song has a story, but I'm not going to tell it. I want people who speak these languages to remember the story first, and then people who don't know these languages can listen to these songs without prejudice and look at their words. What has been told? How would they feel if they experienced the same thing? Let them develop empathy… I want the listener to work as much as I do to understand these values in a process where the world is so compressed and shallow. After all, this study is not a study of “songs and dance tunes” made to entertain people… Ha… it should not be concluded that; “Trouble again, trouble again?” described. No, of course not. These stories have become the content of works of art created with great sensitivity, in a soft and aesthetic way suitable for everyone's understanding. In other words, they will also feed us all spiritually. But it seems that this will take time. As long as we get the prejudices out of our heads. Let's give ourselves a chance to capture the spirit of a work of art...
The work in ID is an 'Efkanca' production
Eastern and western languages were mixed among the nine languages you chose. The pronunciation of each language and the story told about that language will naturally be different. Moreover, I think it is necessary to have knowledge about the culture and music of the people to which each language belongs. Considering all this, it is better understood how the four-year preparation process for the album went, right?
Languages can co-exist under all circumstances. Why? Because where the stories take place is primarily here. For example, if I had come across a story from Cuba and was impressed; If I wasn't in contact with the person from whom I could get the right information, this story would most likely remain a story that, unfortunately, will only live with me and that I cannot share in my music. Therefore, here, the story itself, the culture of the people of that geography can be assimilated in some way. There is even a production similar to the music produced by that culture. Let's call it a question of the capacity of your knowledge. But let's just say that my music productions in "ID" are completely Efkanca. Because no new production is made with such a concern, it can only be imitation. Well, if it's going to be imitation, then the job is much easier, you can read the popular tunes in those languages. And without taking any risks, you will carry out a work that will be easily accepted by the public. This is not my way. I pay great attention to this; If I am gifting a work to a public, the accuracy of my story, my ability to use the language in the most correct way, the artistic saturation that music will bring to the ears, and the understanding of the message I want to convey through my art. But I have always loved artistic freedom, and I do not allow anything to put pressure on it.
For each song, you used the tones of the music of the people who used that language and the instruments of that geography. For example, kopuz in Turkish songs, duduk in Armenian songs, kaval in Kurdish songs... But despite this diversity, there is no big difference between the tracks left by all the songs in the ears. It's like a synthesis. How did you capture this synthesis?
I caught this synthesis entirely with my own liking. In other words, "this is necessary", "what will people say if this does not happen" etc. I don't do anything with anxiety. I already love to listen to the music of these cultures. I also love the owners of these cultures. Their problem became my problem once. In other words, using a duduk or a kopuz or a trumpet is not a necessity, it is a beauty that finds its place on its own. For example, the trumpet was used in the Zaza song… When my son faced the song, it was performed by saying “I will play the trumpet to this tune”… The spontaneity of the instrument is also more. I think that I have given my instrumentalist friends the necessary freedom to reflect their souls on the piece they play. This is reflected well in the songs. In addition, the fact that I do the arrangements for most of the songs brought the album sound compatibility, despite the differences in musical terms and instruments.
The idea of a whistle is my most innocent side, they tried to steal it
You continued your music career, which started with Grup Yorum, on a personal journey with Dokuz Altı Yolları in 1995. “Identity” is your fifteenth personal album you released. All of your albums are the kind to listen to with pleasure, in my opinion. But two of them are actually different than usual. I'm talking about your whistle albums, maybe you guessed it. How did the idea of the whistle come about? How did you discover?
The idea of whistling was the most innocent, private part of me. However, in the country, if someone starts to sell something that belongs to you because it is mine, life orders you to deal with the courts for 3 years by saying "You can't sell my whistle because it's mine, O thief". And later, when you feel that this will continue, you realize that this business has no innocence and privacy, and it comes to the release of these albums so that my whistle that I sang at the events is not sold. But it is interesting that my “polyushka polye” whistle, which has been listened to a lot even in the world with its version last year and has been known to be mine for years; again wanted to be sold by a thief in my country. His name is Cahit Shahbazov and he said "DO NOT GO" over my whistle. We noticed the situation right away and prevented it, but look at the courage! The man sells only one song on Spotify, which is said to be tightly regulated, and that's my whistle. He shamelessly names the centuries-old Russian folk song in his own way. In the Netherlands, institutions follow up such thefts well and act quickly to prevent the theft… now we are on the alert and we are following. Let this friend stop stealing and whistle himself. And give up trying to sell my whistles under different names.
It's not enough to play and sing online, I miss the scenes
Let's talk a little bit about the world. You released a new album under epidemic conditions. How does this process affect you and your work? How do you try to deal with this situation as a musician?
I answered your question a little between the lines. But in short, I can say that I had a lot of difficulties during the epidemic, where the lack of contact was almost 95 percent, under very difficult conditions. Without my son Sinan and my wife Didar, I would not have been able to cope with this work. Because with age, your health problems and corona infection surround you. Ultimately, we try to cope with these conditions as a trio. There is another issue, like every musician, I missed the stages. Telling to steal online has never taken its place. Just as you cannot find the conditions for making good music, the stage is not satisfactory because you do not experience the atmosphere of the stage combined with the audience.
No one should say "someone is buying and subscribing to your channel"
Well, finally, where and how can people find your "Identity" album? Is the album available in music stores? Where would you suggest they follow you?
Now I want this from my lover. Really listen, if you can, buy and share as much as you can so that I can do new works. If you really like it, honor me with a few sentences. But don't do this to me: Don't leave me alone with the dry phrase "we love you so much", thinking "Someone is listening, someone is buying anyway, it is not clear whether I am a subscriber or not". Yes, I'm modest, but I also pay rent and bills, and these albums are produced with hard work within limited possibilities until they reach you. This is the case for me. And I'm in a circle of lovers who hardly ever buy. Buying and downloading the album of your favorite musician, at a time when there was no stage income with Corona, is a serious support for a musician like me who distributes his songs himself. If that can't be done, at least you can download the musician's music to Spotify, ITunes, etc. listening to users, subscribing to the Youtube channel and sharing the video on social media is also contributing. But I can't say that the experience at this point is very bright. Politics, sports, shopping, etc. You can make up for the lack elsewhere, but for music (without stage performance income due to Corona), the only interaction area is the internet now. Your finger gesture and your note play a direct role for music users and owners. The result is what makes these sentences uttered… Incidentally, I offer my most sincere love to my very few listeners who truly embrace me. I guess it will take time for a consciousness to turn into the right step for the other majority… Let me repeat it here; My album songs can be purchased, listened to and shared on digital platforms.
Thank you very much for your time for us. We will be eagerly awaiting your next works.
I really thank you. I wish you success in your publishing life.
The album is available on all digital platforms from May 1, 2021. In addition, album videos can be watched, liked and commented on on the "Sesen Muziek Youtube" channel. Some major links are below;