Musical Chats with Olcay Bayır

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: 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!


CHECK OLCAY OUT HERE:

REVIEW: SIX the Musical (Arts Theatre London, West End)

Rating: ★★★★★
Quick Summary: A #MeToo era statement musical filled to the ruff with riffs, harmony, and Renaissance puns.


Six the Musical is the newest musical based on historical events to hit London. The six wives of King Henry VIII join together on stage in a Spice-girl-esque concert to inform the audience on all the grievances they have against their shared husband. In a competition to crown the leader of the band, each queen has a solo song to show the audience how they suffered the “biggest load of B-S from the man that put a ring on it.”  Through each song we get a glimpse into the personality of each queen, and also the personality of Henry VIII even though he never appears on the stage. 

 

T H E    S H O W 

Now, there is no doubt that this musical is founded in feminism. Six women, standing on stage and demanding back their independence, as well as proving to the audience that there is more to them than just being married to a famous man.
This sentiment, however, takes a while to get to. At first, it seems the show will not pass the Bechdel test – yes, there’s more than one named woman on stage talking, but all of their conversations are about a man! Or so it seems, until the penultimate song, Katherine Parr’s “I Don’t Need Your Love.” Finally, we hear one of the queens stand up and say “Henry… I will never belong to you!” and tell the audience all the other amazing achievements of her life that were nothing to do with men. She tells us to remember how she was a writer, helped women to independently study scripture, and got a woman to paint her picture. This makes the show less of a preachy feminist statement, but more of an observation of how we are remembered once we die, and how society should change to see women as more than just a wife. 

 

T H E    C A S T 

The cast of Six consists of the six wives, and four musicians. 

Jarneia Richard-Noel makes her off-Westend debut as Catherine of Aragon, and you cannot tell she is a rookie. She oozes confidence and is great at directly addressing the audience, which fits well into the format of this show.
Her song is followed by Anne Boleyn, played by Millie O’Connell, and their characters are polar opposites. While Catherine of Aragon is refined, O’Connell’s Boleyn is always up for a good time, and also hilarious. Natalie ParisJane Seymour really comes alive in her solo song, where she showcases her effortless top range and whistle tones, as well as her discerning stoicism. 

Having seen the show twice, I have seen two different Anna of Cleves’. The first time, I saw Alexia McIntosh, a graduate of Birmingham School of Acting, and she Cleves as a  ballsy, fiery character, perfectly happy to live it up in a palace in Richmond. Her comedic timing was excellent, and really sold the song. The second time, we had the alternate Anna of Cleves, Vicki Manser. The characterisation was completely different, but no less excellent. Manser brought cheekiness and equal hilarity to the role, often looking to the audience as if letting them in on a joke.
Then, Katherine Howard. Howard was beheaded for her promiscuity but Aimie Atkinson, who takes on her role in the show, shows the audience a different side of the young queen. An insight into a story that would now be considered a part of the #MeToo movement, Atkinson takes us through the highs and lows of being a “10 among 3’s” in the Tudor period. Atkinson is sassy, quick-witted and vocally flawless. 
Finally, we have Catherine Parr, “the one who survived.” Parr is played by Maiya Quansah-Breed, who brings peace, soul, and wisdom to the role, essentially acting as the mature leader of the group bringing them all together to celebrate their independence and female badassery. 

 

To conclude, the whole show is lovably corny, but at the same time a very sharp commentary on modern day society. Marlow and Moss use the framework of Tudor England to construct a show that cleverly makes you think about how you view women in our society, 400 years later. On the other hand, Six is also a feel-good, uplifting night out that makes you laugh and dance along in your seat. It really is a show where you can take whatever you want from it. A British musical in an entirely new format that pushes all the right buttons; there’s “No Way” you should miss this show. 

 

Rosie x