"No one is an artist unless he carries his picture in his head before painting it, and is sure of his method and composition."
Claude Monet (1840 - 1926) French artist
worldbeatcanada radio: The world makes many demands on us, but so does the soul. The time comes in every life when the noise from outside must be silenced so the soul's voice can be heard. Inbar Bakal celebrates the release of her debut album, Song of Songs, a deeply spiritual but post-modern recording that bares her soul in light of the dichotomy of her life, from ancient and disparate traditions to war and peace. Inbar joins us from Southern California. Welcome to worldbeatcanada radio. What's the latest on the wild fires down there?
worldbeatcanada radio: Western pop has spread its influence around the world, but if it has one weakness, it’s that its roots are so shallow, left to its own devices it’s doomed to repeat itself. Anatolian pop on the other hand digs deep into the ancient earth in the world’s original multicultural mosaic to enrich western influence with the traditions of the Balkans, central Asia and the Middle East. Sertab Erener and Demir Demirkan are two of Turkey’s most celebrated artists today and we’re very fortunate to have Demir Deirkan on line to introduce their latest project, Painted on Water.
Thanks for doing this, Demir.
Demir Demirkan: Thank you very much for inviting me!
WBC: The cover graphics on this album are stunning. Very cool tattoo on the back of your head by the way, something I may consider. The title refers to the art of Ebru. Can you tell us about that and how it relates to this project?
DD: Ebru is a form of art where the artist makes a painting on water, specially treated water. They treat the water with some kind of oil to make it a little bit thicker and then the drop earth colours on to it and start drawing. Because the water is thick it holds the painting. Then they put a certain kind of paper on it and the paper is printed with that painting.
WBC: So it transfers.
DD: Ya, it transfers on to the paper and then you can actually use it as a marble paper, you can write on it or you can just hang it on the wall as an art form itself. Nowadays I think it's mostly made in Turkey and Iran but I believe its real origins are in China, from thousands of years a go. Ebru actually means 'face on the water' in Persian.
WBC: And how does that relate to this recording project?
DD: It's a visual complement to the music, but deeper than that. The philosophy behind it is, if you paint something on the water you know you’re going to lose it. It's not permanent. So, it's reflecting the impermanence of life, basically, which is an element of Sufi culture which you can actually find in Taoism, Buddhism, Hinduism, all the ancient wisdoms.
WBC: You and Sertab have a long and successful history of collaboration. How did that come about?
DD: It was 12 years ago. I used to live in Los Angeles and then I wanted to return home to Istanbul. Sertab was actually well known. She made her second album and became a hit as a pop diva. She's classically trained and she was performing for big audiences. I was back, producing an album with a different singer and actually, it was love at first sight, Cal! It all started with love. Then, we started dating and we got together and then we started making music together. We've made a lot of records, seven so far and we also made the song that won the Eurovision Song Contest in 2003. I don't know, but I think if you put love in front of everything you have a great outcome!
WBC: You are also passionate about Turkish tradition in your music. Can you explain how it colours what you do?
DD: You can't really say Turkish culture. You have to call it Anatolian, because Anatolia has been a land that a lot of nations have passed through and are still living on. Some of the tunes we picked up, the elements probably date back a thousand years or so. It's very rich if you think about it, because of the cultures that passed through the land. You have Arabic, Balkan, some Russian influence, and you have Islamic influence and a lot of African influence ... it's very rich. When ever you get stuck in music, like you said in the opening; if you dig into western music the roots don't go very deep, but if you dig into Middle Eastern music the roots go seriously deep. If you're really acquainted with the culture and you grew up with it, you can actually understand it and relate to it and use it to relate to the western ear.
WBC: worldbeatcanada radio is on the pod with Demir Demirkan. His new recording with the haunting voice of Sertab Erener is called Painted on Water. Life is like water and you put the colours onto it. Read other fascinating insights from our guest at painted on water dot com. New Yorkers will have the good fortune of seeing them perform on Central Park Summer Stage. That should be an experience, Demir.
DD: The whole thing is called Istanbul Live. Two other artists are performing also, and we will be performing as Painted On Water.
WBC: You mentioned that Turkey is like the world’s great intersection, where cultural influences have passed from all over. Do you think that as places like Canada become more and more multicultural, global sounds will play and increasing role in Western popular music?
DD: Global sounds have already started doing that. I didn't even know there was this big of a world music scene in the United States. We moved to New York in January (Sertab and I). We still would go back and forth to Istanbul but we rented the place here where we're living now. It was unbelievable to us the music scene has so much world music in it. There are more global acts than acts in popular music right now it seems. I think people have gotten really tired of listening to manufactured music, and they want to explore new textures and new artists and new sounds. And, I think those artists are doing a good job of it as well.
WBC: I'm so glad you share that with us because it's truly the way I feel as well. Al Dimeola brings his world sinfonia to the Vancouver International jazz festival this year. He also appears on your album as a guest along with Trilok Gurtu. Did you approach these gentlemen or did they come to you?
DD: Oh no, we found them. What we wanted to do, Cal, is to have the greatest players perform our music. This has two reasons: One, because they're already great and if they play two notes it's already music! Two, we wanted to relate to the western ear. These people have been all over the world for so long, they know what the listeners relate to whenever they want to express a feeling. So, whenever they play your music, they actually interpret it in a way which is closer to the western ear and that was the main reason. So we approached Dave Weckl for drums, Al Di Meola for some of the guitars, and Trilok Gurtu for percussion, Alan Pasqua for keyboards, Kai Ekhardt for bass and actually, we recorded a lot of stuff with Mike Stern. It's not on the album but we're probably going to release it through the internet. He really contributed a lot but we just couldn't put it on the album. So, these were the people we worked with.
WBC: We’re going to cap this interview with a track from the new disc which features some beautiful guitar work by Al Dimeola called Love We Made. Can you give this an introduction?
DD: Love We Made is based on a Turkish pop song, probably written about a hundred years a go. It's a song about the Dardanelle War actually ...the Gallipoli War. The lyrics are not an exact translation but they reflect the idea. We had Al Di Meola play on it and we're truly grateful for that. Phil Galdston wrote the lyrics for the song.
Demir Demirkan was interviewed by Cal Koat on June 16, 09 for worldbeatcanada radio