Makam Music



- Interview by Ramazan Çakmakcı

Edip Akbayram was born in Gaziantep on December 29, 1950. His first record, Kendim Ettim Kendim Buldum, is released when he is at high school. He participat­es in the Golden Microphone contest and wins the first prize with his very first compositio­n, Kükredi Çimenler, inspired after Aşık Veysel poetry. He is awarded prizes for his EPs, Deniz Üstü Köpürür, Garip. He becomes famous throughout the country. Aldırma Gönül, and Eşkıya Dünyaya Hükümdar Olmaz break sales records and are awarded with golden records. In 1980, his compositio­ns are banned from playing on TRT for a decade. In the mid 1990s, he resumes his work with an album, Türküler Yanmaz, which is dedicated to the lives lost in the Sivas Massacre. The great master is given more than 250 awards by various entities.

In his fiftieth year in art, we talked about his half a century art life.

We met thanks to the late Atilla Akkuş, a mutual friend. I joined your and

Atilla's chats sometimes with my wife. I witnessed in person that you love the local culture and living an ordinary life in touch with the community people. In one of these conversati­ons, my wife told you that "You took to the stage and sang at my parents' wedding in Kilis and this is a favorite story told among the family." You told us about those times. Let's turn back to those years and start how Kilis affect you, if you like.

I studied at Gaziantep High School. One day they said a literature teacher from Kilis would be coming and his name was Reşit Kotuk. The teacher read a poem by Ahmet Haşim, Ağır Ağır Çıkacaksın Bu Merdivenle­rden. He taught me the aruz prosody. The person who formed the basis for my literature, which is one of the sources in my art, is my literature teacher at Gaziantep High School.

Kendim Ettim Kendim Buldum, Değmen Benim Gamlı Yaslı Gönlüme, Aldırma Gönül, Eşkıya Dünyaya Hükümdar Olmaz, Garip and many other pieces touched the heart and soul of us all for fifty years. Your art unites millions of people that have a different perspectiv­e and life style. What is your secret to that?

Again in high school, our music teacher showed up with a violin on our first lesson. It was the first time that we saw a violin. The teacher said 'This is a violin." He played and began to tell. "This is Beethoven from the world classics, this is Mozart, this is Rachmanino­ff..."

When you are about to start a thing, you need a strong and solid background. You are destined to fail unless you are resourcefu­l and self-sufficient. I had great examples to follow, such as Cem Karaca, Barış Manço, Erkin Koray... They made compositio­ns and all of their songs were great hits. So, I made up my mind shortly and made my way clear. I was going to sing the songs, ballads and poetry of these lands as I am living in this country.

Pir Sultan, Yunus, Karacaoğla­n, Dadaloğlu, Mevlana, Nesimi, Davut Sulari, Mahzuni Şerif, Aşık Veysel… These are the Beethovens, Mozarts to my country.

My country, my poetry, my music. Each extended play that I made in this philosophy was awarded a golden record.

Anybody who calls himself an artist owes to this country.

My country, my poetry, my music. Each extended play that I made in this philosophy was awarded a golden record.

Tickets to my concerts are sold out. I honor my job and I quit if I am unable to make the concert halls full with the audience some day.

What would you be your advice to young musicians so they make a permanent name for themselves?

Being permanent requires a strong background, which works like rings of a chain. You need to love and feel passionate about what you do. Otherwise you cannot succeed. You need to search and read. You cannot breathe life into their poetry if you do not know Neşet Ertaş, Nazım. Art is a long track to cover. You should not yield to populism. If you work hard it bears fruits and the message is delivered to the right address.

I have one of the largest music archives at home. There are so many people. Some hit the music lists around the country with a song but faded into oblivion for the second album. That is also true for today. They put a song on a digital system; the song plays here and there but it is gone in six months after all. We had a soloist and orchestrat­e ensemble recording on two channels. Now, they give fifty channels for the drum and it still does that 'tom-tom' sound. They take the easy way out.

When do we get to listen to your new album?

I have not made an album for six years. I am now checking about three hundred pieces roughly, it is a though work. I will get in the studio only if I come up with pieces that I find exciting and outperform the earlier ones.

How does an album make a good album?

A successful album contains melodies that address and embrace everybody, young and old alike.

I see that celebritie­s who had achievemen­ts in music are taking roles in the films, series and ads. How come you were not?

I have received a lot of offers but I know my place. I was recently offered to appear in a commercial. The only thing I needed to do was to raise my hand and say "I am drinking it, too". They offered $200,000 for a three-second image capture. I turned it down of course. Being Edip Akbayram is costly...

If artists are taken over by pessimism it means that county has lost blood. We do not let pessmism come up to us.

It has been a long time since you sang We Will See Beautiful Days, Children, a poem by Nazım Hikmet in 1996. The song is still loved by millions despite the years. You were awarded Nazım Hikmet Honor Award in Moscow a few days ago. How do you feel about it?

Nazım Hikmet is a very important poet for Turkey and for the world. I was in Moscow on June 1. I was presented the Nazım Hikmet Honor Award upon his grave by the Turkish-Russian Businessma­n Society. It means a lot to me. An artist should be able to give hope for the society. So, we will continue singing "We will see beautiful days, children". No matter how deeply in sorrow we are …

We are going through a time that when responsibi­lities of the artists are a heated debate. Things are said as to what an artist should do and what not. What do you think about it?

An artist speaks. He speaks for the society. He represents the country. He does not play ostrich. I have never evaded responsibi­lity in that sense. I directly and honestly told what I believed to be true to the best of my knowledge. And I paid the dues. I am ready to do so if and when necessary. This is what an artist is meant to do. I am an artist of this land and I don’ hesitate to say it if something is wrong. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be an artist. I cherish the revolution­ary spirit. The Veteran Mustafa Kemal Atatürk is the greatest revolution­ist that one can defend in Turkey today. His way is the revolution­ary way.

I know that you are in a fight for copyrights. Can you tell us about it?

I am the member of the Board of Directors to the Music Performers Profession­al Society. It is a profession­al society that defends copyrights of 2200 artists in Turkey. Our data processing center monitors and tracks the use of registered artists' works, so we pay royalties four times a year.

If you are to deliver a message to Makam Müzik Magazine readers...

My songs in almost fifty albums that I have made in fifty years of my art concentrat­e on four core values: Love, friendship, peace and fraternity. I salute the readers with a longing for Turkey and a world filled with love, friendship, peace and fraternity.

Art is a long track to cover. You should not yield to populism.

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