In our latest Introducing feature we spoke to Alican about Isolate, his relationship with Murat Uncuolgu, and the experience of partying in Istanbul.
Words: Callum Martinez / Interview: Matthew Richardson
When dance music erupted from the cities of America and spilled into Europe, no one could have expected how far its reach would extend. With countries such as the UK, France, Italy, and Germany (to name a few) rapidly adopting this new form of music and churning out their own iterations of it, the sound of bleepy, electronic dance swept ever eastward edging closer and closer towards the Asian continent where it seemed to bury its roots in a seemingly unlikely place. Turkey.
Nestled at the foot of Europe, Turkey has had a tumultuous social and political past, but with the fall of the Ottoman Empire – replaced by the subsequent rise of the Turkish Republic – the country had started to adopt more westernised ideas of building its society. It’s indoctrination into the United Nations as one of its founding members, and a renewed focus on economic growth post WW2 saw trade increase and in the 50’s the synthesiser revolution that was sweeping throughout the world hit the country, and a new wave of electronic musicians were starting to be born. Turkey’s most notable pioneer in electronic music was certainly Bülent Arel, who became a key figure in the evolution of electronic music in general, eventually moving to the US where he worked with the likes of Vladimir Ussachevsky, and also build a recording studio at Yale.
Since then, Turkish electronic music had flourished and in the 90’s dance music inspired a new generation of Turkish ravers. Clubs such as MiniMüzikhol were booking big time European DJ’s regularly and area known as the Taskim District within Istanbul became the centre point for electronic dance culture within the city. (You can read more about electronic music in Istanbul here.) Since then electronic music, it’s artists, and its supporters have been through a lot in the city, and with tensions over social norms, coup-de-tats, violence and economic struggles, the flower of the scene is still being watered by its musicians who are determined to keep it alive.
Alican is one of those musicians. The Istanbul native kicked off his career in the millennium and since then has released on well known labels such as; Innervisions, Kompakt, Get Physical, and Multinotes to name a few certifying his presence within the scene in his home city via his Isolate parties.
Born in Turkey, a country not renowned for its electronic musical heritage, what was it that pushed you to pursue a career in music?
Well, I have always been interested in electronic based music since early years. I started listening to Hip-hop when I was a teenager. Then I found myself trying music softwares (trackers) in Amiga. I had no idea at the time, but I was messing around with samples and sounds… but of course nothing serious!
When I decided to take things seriously, it was exactly the start of 2000, when I was able to go to clubs and experience different kinds of electronic music, from many names playing in Istanbul. So all these different nights, inspired me to become a DJ & Producer.
Now I have a record label and events company with my close friends.
The scene in Turkey is relatively unknown to a lot of people, can you give us an insight into it?
Istanbul has a long and rich history which goes back to the early ’90s, with really good clubs that might be considered as very forward-thinking at that time, even in Europe..
People here are very passionate about hearing what artists are creating. So that makes it a very free and open space for artists and also for the crowd. Istanbul is a city that never sleeps, one can easily find a place according to their likes for partying. In the same night, you can find a big techno party in a huge venue or go into a small drum & bass club in the heart of the city, or go up to a rooftop bar to enjoy the beautiful view of the city, with good house music.
What artists have had the biggest musical influence on your career and why?
I have couple of artists to mention:
Prodigy – probably one of the first electronic acts I’ve ever listened to. Liam Howlett’s “The Dirtchamber Sessions 1” got me realise how sampling can make you creative and improve your production skills.
Sasha & Digweed – I’ve been a fan for a long time and their flawless mixing and selection, taught me a lot about DJing.
Murat Uncuoglu – Learned and still learning studio tips & tricks from him. He taught me a lot about making music, how to make your music sound good, how to make it work on the dancefloor… so many things! (Thank you Murat!!!)
Can you tell us about your relationship with Murat Uncuoglu and the evolution of your brand Isolate?
It goes way back to the early 2000s. Murat was the top DJ here in Turkey and I was a passionate music listener and a beginner in producing. After I gave him some of the music I was making, we became friends; he invited me to the studio and showed me some tricks. That’s how it all started.
Isolate started as a party series in Istanbul. We did club nights, parties and festivals and thought we needed to present our musical vision. People seem to like what we are presenting as Isolate, so we are happy 🙂
What has been the best event you have played at and what made it stand out about above the rest?
Hard to name just one, but I can mention some of the good ones I played.
Probably the biggest was the Love Parade in 2008 – crazy experience. I think there were 1.6 million people that day. We had our own float with couple of friends from Turkey. it was so nice to meet lots of like-minded people and people from our scene.
I have unforgettable experiences in Amsterdam, Ibiza, Georgia, Istanbul, Cesme ….
Have you got any projects you are currently working on you can share with us?
I have spent a lot of time in the studio past year. Worked on new music, tried different things. So, I have a new EP coming out on Isolate end of July. Can’t believe it’s been almost 2 years since I released my solo EP on the label… and couple of originals & remixes out by the end of the year.
Finally, if you could produce a track with any artist past or present who would it be and why?
Roman Flügel, namely someone who isn’t limited to a particular genre when making music, but also has great experience for the dancefloor in terms of what works, and what doesn’t.
He is an artist who always delivers something surprising. You can hear ambient, breakbeat, techno, electro, house.. everything in between! So, it could be nice to work with him.
You can check out music from Alican here.