Fri, 11 Sep 2009  /  6 Comments
We caught up with the Turkish DJ/producer for a brief chin-wag ahead of his appearance at secretsundaze
We felt very strongly that after numerous appearances on the ever-green Vakant imprint, DJ gigs the world-over and a mix for CD for wildly popular Berlin venue Watergate, it was about time we plugged a gap in our knowledge, and found out what was on Onur Ozer's mind. The Turkish producer has not exactly been plastered across "planet press" since putting out those first ethnically infused cuts back in 2005, so ahead of his appearance at secretsundaze this weekend, we decided to track Ozer down to talk clarinets, back-to-back sets and The Caretaker.
I wanted to start by asking you about growing up in Turkey. You were born in Istanbul, correct?
Yes, I was born in Istanbul and have lived most of my life there. One-and-half years ago, though, I moved to Berlin. For me, Istanbul is a very big city. It has many worlds inside. Because of this, I had a very rich childhood.
You say there are many worlds in Istanbul.
Yes, it's very mixed up because there are so many cultures. You see people from all around the world there because it is a passage from Europe to Asia. Because of the geographical location, it's a meeting place for many different parts of the world. And, if you see this around you every day, you automatically have a different view of the world.
How did you originally find electronic music in Turkey? Was it immediately available?
Yes, of course. It wasn't as popular as it is in Europe, but I remember being inspired by the music from the '80s and '90s. Commercial people like Depeche Mode, Kraftwerk and Pink Floyd—who had an electronic and ambient side to their music. And, more than that, I was in it somehow. I don't know exactly where it came from, but I had an interest early on in electronic devices—maybe it was my interest in the music.
Were there many clubs when you first started going out to hear electronic music?
Yes, there were many when I started. It was better back then, but I also haven't been back to the city in almost two years. So it's hard to say. My friends say that it's not bad. But it's not good. Always in the middle.
Is there a certain sound that is dominant?
In electronic music, it is mostly our
music. Three or four years ago, it was UK progressive house. But, then, that was over. And then minimal became very popular. One of the best clubs in the city is called Indigo.
When did you first find out about Vakant? You seemed to have released almost exclusively on that label.
It was about five or six years ago. We met business-wise back then, and we soon became friends. I never meant to release exclusively on the label. My last release for them was one year ago , the limited VALT record, right around the time that I was moving from Istanbul to Berlin. And, since then, it has taken me a long time to get settled with my paperwork, building my studio and everything else. But finally these things are done and I've been ready in the studio for a while and I will soon release things on other labels and also for Vakant in near future.
You performed live with a clarinet player a few years ago. Are you still performing live? Do you have more plans to do things like that?
Yes, that was a very long time ago. It was a one-off for a festival in Berlin. I haven't done many things like that because, in the end, I don't think playing live is for me. I want to continue in the way that I got here, which is DJing.
It just wasn't very much fun. To me, a live act could be fun if i can do this with another person together. Or three people. In those situations, you can make it all with analog stuff and have a lot of fun. Instead, I was taking my computer with me, and not having very much fun at all. It just wasn't working.
Speaking of working with people, you seem sometimes to DJ with different people, back-to-back.
Yes. I find it so much fun. When two people are spinning, it can be a spontaneous action that suddenly happens. You will often play like you haven't played before.
I was very curious to know about a song on your upcoming Cocoon compilation, mixed for their Green & Blue event. You finished it with something from an ambient artist called The Caretaker. Where did you
run into that?
Ah, yes. [laughs
] This track is one of the biggest tunes I heard this year. My friend turned me on to it. And right after I heard it, I got in contact with Caretaker to let him know how much I liked it. At the same time, I started to play it in the club at the end of my sets. It always got a great response. He was very surprised to hear from me. [laughs
It seems like you do sometimes these types of unexpected things, where you combine acoustic and electronic elements.
Yes, of course. It's very nice to have these elements doing opposite things. One part can be aggressive or emotional or whatever while the other part can be something totally different. And when you hear them together at the same time, they bring up a lot of different feelings. I think when you are confused on how to react to something, it is a bit like magic. The thing is to make sure to use each in precise amounts. You need to find the meeting point of the two frequencies.
What kind of instruments do you use?
It's all synths. I will program them so that it sounds like another instrument or something else. I've never brought an instrument into my studio, because I don't know how to play them. [laughs
] But I am planing to add some real drums and percussion.