During my time as Concert Promotions and Marketing intern at Turner Sims (if you’re in the Southampton area, make sure to check out their concert series!) I got to interview a lot of great artists. You can check out my interviews and reviews on the Turner Sims blog, as well as here on The Rosie Word.
I will be uploading interviews in a series called “Musical Chats”, so stay tuned for more interviews with great artists!
I got the chance to interview Anatolian singer Olcay Bayır earlier this year, before her appearance at Turner Sims was unfortunately cancelled due to Coronavirus. Olcay’s fantastic album ‘Rüya: Dream for Anatolia’ was released last year – make sure to check it out here.
We chatted about the story of her album, traditional influences and how performances change from country to country. Enjoy!
RS: Your recent album Rüya (Dream) has many references to journeys in it. What story are you hoping to tell on this album?
OB: In Rüya (Dream) I am telling the stories of my personal experience from the last 4 years, my musical journeys, what I have learnt, feelings I’ve gone through. My original songs reflect this and I also re-interpret some traditional songs with the way I feel and see.
RS: Would you say that your nationality and homeland is a primary influence in your music? Is your writing often inspired by traditional songs?
OB: My main influence is where I grew up and the melodies I hear in my head from my childhood. But one thing I’d like to mention is I believe that culture – more than religion or nationality – provides identity. I’d rather talk about traditions and regions than specific religions and nations. You are you, whatever religion or country you’re from. My main influences are my culture and roots, but every music I hear, every emotion I feel too.
RS: That is so interesting – I love the idea that culture provides identity. Do you feel this cultural identity changes musical experiences? For example do you find that playing for audiences in Turkey is very different to playing for audiences in England and Western Europe?
OB: Very different. How people hear and appreciate music is quite different, and that’s normal. One song is loved by Turkish audiences, and they may sing along to a well-known song, but it may not find the same response from another audience. It’s something to keep in mind when delivering a performance. And of course I need to explain the background to songs to an English-speaking audience.
RS: You have a fantastic group of musicians accompanying you for this concert. How did these collaborations come about?
OB: Many thanks! I met all these beautiful musicians through music making. Some of them I’ve been working with since my first album. Some of them joined more recently.
RS: Does this kind of collaborative process feature in your writing as well as your performances?
OB: I start my songs alone until the song feels complete to me. To build it from there and give it a final shape is always a collaborative process.
RS: And finally, what would your dream day off be?
OB: Being in a cottage in a valley where there is no sound apart from nature itself, away from technology.
RS: Thank you so much for your time, Olcay!