Makam Music

TALKING ABOUT AKIN ELDES’ SOLO ALBUM, TEK BAŞINA

- Fotoğrafla­r / Photos by Şebnem Eldes

One of the pioneering Turkish guitarists, Akın Eldes is best known for the names he works with and also for the projects he himself actualized. He stepped into the world of music with flute and mandolin in his childhood, followed by guitar at high school. Having played for Bulutsuzlu­k Özlemi, and Pinhani, Eldes also worked with Asım Can Gündüz, Bülent Ortaçgil, Birsen Tezer. Released in 2018, the seventh solo album, Tek Başına, covers Uzun İnce Bir Yoldayım by Aşık Veysel, Kimse Bilmez by Mehmet Güreli. The album has ten instrument­al pieces in total, including his own compositio­ns, Sonra, Şimdi, Hamam, ve Ninni. Known for his modesty in his profession­al career and in his private life, Akın Eldes told us about his no-ordinary story in addition to his music career. Come on in for this pleasant convo.

You released a different album that was called Cango in 2007. What does Cango have to tell about Akın Eldes?

In 2007, I was engaged in tourism industry, it was intense. I heard and lived through the term back then. Django [pronounced as cango] is a term used for tourists that do not buy excursions. The story behind it is complicate­d but in short, those kinds of tourists are unfavorabl­e types in tourist industry. Cango is an interest to me in music, too. There is this Django Reinhardt guy for example. Then again, I used to have a dog, it was called Cango. The term was of an interest to me in many aspects in my life. Today there is no dog. Neither is tourism...

It is okay to have a leader in a band but each member should be given the means to exist on his own and bring in a vision to the rest of them.

I play by listening. I listen to each member from the drummer to the bassist, the keyboard player, if there is any, the vocal and the rhythms, so I make a common ground for myself to lean on. In my opinion, this is very important.

One's taste in music gets stabilized at 25-26. I thought that I had crossed the mountains, learned heaps of things in the course of time. As far as I see things now, what I have come though so far is only a small percentage.

You have been to a lot of concerts and album works with Bulutsuzlu­k Özlemi, and also with Pinhani, which were the long-term projects. Do you think each band that you work with symbolizes and reveals a different Akın Eldes in terms of music?

Yes, and no at the same time. Now this question of yours strikes my mind that 'I am supposed to mature as the times goes by'. Needless to say, things are different for Akın Eldes, who played for Bulutsuzlu­k Özlemi at 25, for Pinhani at 42 and who made a solo album, Tek Başına at 50. Couple of years ago I happened to listen to Uçtu Uçtu by Bulutsuzlu­k Özlemi, the first album that I played for. I continued to listen to the album on the loop. That was surprising for me because I had personally thought 'I cannot stand it!' in the beginning. But I could, and I even loved it. Akın Eldes back in that time surprised me, I saw through him in deed. So, the child is father of the man, they day. And this is as large as life. One's taste in music gets stabilized at 25-26. I thought that I had crossed the mountains, learned heaps of things in the course of time. As far as I see things now, what I have come though so far is only a small percentage.

As for Tek Başına by Akın Eldes... Each band you played for reached large crowds. Inspired after your album name, we would like to know this: Do you think you have been left alone with your accomplish­ments?”

That is a good question. This hasn't been asked before. I was on my own when I started music and it was something I complained about, you know. I dreamed of a working environmen­t where two of three of us had long hours of rehearsals. I even recorded chords on cassette tapes and played on them tirelessly. I treated each of these cassettes as if an individual.

The first group I played for was called E-5. Very pleasant times, I remember... We had a democratic environmen­t; each member could speak freely... Unfortunat­ely it did not last. Then came the period of Bulutsuzlu­k Özlemi. It was the first solemn experience for me. We had the chance of playing with the late Asım Can Gündüz for a couple of months. As he was older than us we mostly followed what he had been saying. Nejat Yavaşoğull­arı of Bulutsuzlu­k Özlemi was older than me. He used to intervene with someone in the beginning; we used to have a conflict as far as music was concerned. I am against stuff like that... Because one inevitably ends up with 'I am doing what I am doing. If you want it like that, play it yourself like that and spare me the trouble then.' So, I cannot say that I was left alone. It is okay to have a leader in a band but each member should be given the means to exist on his own and bring in a vision to the rest of them. This is how things work with the great bands abroad. When I left

the band, I was sort of happy as I would make that environmen­t that I have been dreaming of for myself. And then I met Cem Aksel, and the French bass player Patrick Chartol. We came up with good stuff together. In addition to this, to me, being alone in music is a high and respectabl­e place. For instance, musicians are relatively at ease in a band when there is more than one leader around. Because when this is the case and if the guitarist is sick that day, it is okay for him not to play that day as their music would not be affected. The fewer the band members are the more the hitches offend the eye. So, my very first group was made of three people, something that I believed would help me improve myself. Only after having made a few albums like that, I dared reduce the number to two, that was, Sinan Cem Eroğlu and me. I do still have recordings there. Of course, being alone is the hardest. 'You grab your saz, play it now and make it good'. Going solo is a way of seeking a solution that.

One can tell Akın Eldes' solos clearly even in a song that is listened to for the first time. Recently, we see you sing at the concerts you give for your Tek Başına album. So, can we say that Akın Else is going to sing and play for the audience?

Absolutely... The first reaction of my son Akıncan was like this: 'Dad, I don't believe that you waited this long for singing!'

Until now, I tried and tried hard to convey feelings by playing the guitar. I do not know why I did not write lyrics. I was lucky enough to meet people who were good at writing lyrics like Nejat Yavaşoğull­arı, Bülent Ortaçgil. Maybe that's why. Now, I have discovered that lyrics are also there for expressing things. What matters is, as you asked in your question, to catch a nuance of your own, one that belong to you and is specific to you, through lyrics, feelings and tunes. Surely, that requires working on it. I played and sang at IF Beşiktaş on my own, too. Oh, it was awesome. When I sing people sing along, that is incredible. Imagine the satisfacti­on twice as good if the lyrics were mine, too.

Otherwise it gets on my nerves if some of us plays selfishly.

In an interview, you said 'My guitar sings'. What is the source of your music, where do you feed from?

When I play along together, I am the kind of the person who thinks music as a constituen­t of a whole. Some written tunes can be played in all cases but sometimes especially when you are playing as a band, the way the musicians play and the way they take part in 'the talk' does matter actually. I play by listening. I listen to each member from the drummer to the bassist, the keyboard player, if there is any, the vocal and the rhythms, so I make a common ground for myself to lean on. In my opinion, this is very important. Otherwise it gets on my nerves if some of us plays selfishly, you know. A common ground is important for me.

Our meeting point is at your favorite cheesecake café. Let's talk about your taste in foods then. You have traveled a lot in Turkey and in the rest of the world. Is it correct that you have prepared a book now that your taste in food is not confined to mere curiosity?

Yes, I started writing a book about what to have and where. They are not fancy restaurant­s but mundane, modest and not-yetdiscove­red places that serve impressive foods. I was into it as much as I could spare time from the concerts and tour guiding and then I noticed I weighed 110 kg! Estimating the hospital and medical expenses close at hand, I thought 'the cake's not worth the candle', so I quit. I have an unfinished notebook for it. If it comes out somewhere I can give it to my son Akıncan so he continues, who knows? He likes travelling, too. This is a nice and interestin­g topic, right. We are after taste in music and in food.

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