Guitarist and composer Efe Demiral released his second album “Uyku Pansiyon” in January 2019 three years after he released his first solo album “Inside Out”, which he recorded and mixed mostly at home. The compositions and arrangements in the album belong to Demiral just like his previous one. The artist, who is a graduate of Istanbul Bilgi University’s Music Department, is actively taking part in many projects like Can Kazaz, Barış Demirel – Barıştık mı, Simge Pınar. Efe Demiral plays the classical and electric guitars in the album and is accompanied by his trio mates Eren Turgut on the bass and Mertcan Bilgin on the drums and cybals as well as Tamer Temel on the sax, Gunnar Halle on the trumpet, vocalist Deniz Özçelik and drummer Berke Can Özcan. The album, which carries the Bilgi Music Label, consists of 9 original Efe Demiral compositions. The compositions are peaceful and witty, just like Efe himself. His musicianship is really mature and the harmony he achieves with his trio is incredible. I got to ask Efe about “Uyku Pansiyon” and things I was curious about his first album during his first Jazz Dergisi interview since we live in the same neighbourhood. May his path lead him to success, and I hope we will continue hearing his name more in the upcoming days with his personal project.
Your first album “Inside Out” was a solo album. Solo albums usually are done in the later years of one’s career since they require more mastery, you went the other way around. You released a solo album first and then an album with a band. Why?
Yes you are right, my career started the other way around but I don’t think Inside Out is a ‘solo guitar album’, at least that’s my opinion… There is no particular reason, I didn’t know many people with whom I can make group music with when I wrote pieces for Inside Out. We played some of the pieces in Uyku Pansiyon (October, Üç Gün, Mavi Ağaç…) with a sextet arrangement in 2014 for a couple of concerts. The reason I worked on an album like Inside Out is because I got familiar with music that focuses on sound and atmosphere and diverged from band music in that period, I want back into my shell in a sense. The rehearsals for Inside Out were really fun. I spent a lot of time with the albums of musicians like Stian Westerhus, Fennezs, David Torn, Eivind Aarset 3-4 years before releasing Inside Out. Eivind Aarset’s Dream Logic album especially changed my whole musical outlook since that period.
How did you meet your “Uyku Pansiyon” trio?
We came together with Mertcan (Bilgin) in Can Kazaz’s band. I met Eren (Turgut) when I went to one of Barış Arslan’s trio concerts. We became close friends. They are the musicians who pushed me to play as a trio.
You guys get together and play at least 1-2 times a week. How does this affect your playing? I am sure it helps you improve.
We see each other at least once a week and play concerts with Simge Pınar and Can Kazaz as well. We touch upon my music sometimes during their soundchecks. We generally do not have a problem when it comes to meeting; they are both willing to take any opportunity to make music, they do not delay things. Our dialogue develops as we play together as well, I hope it will develop much more in the future.
How did the album progress? How many days did the recording take?
I think we went about it the opposite direction once again; instead of playing concerts with a band in small or big venues and reflecting that maturity to an album, we played the pieces right before the recording sessions or even on the day of. All the pieces were ready but you can realize that this might not have much meaning when you get on with recording them in a studio with the band. Of course, you have to know the melodies, the tensions and the entire structure but the musicians aim to bring together what each individual sees in that music in a different plane in the studio. The good thing about letting the music boil and cook is to file off the tough corners of this goal, to not limit yourself with the music played. we opted for a medium-rare doneness for this album. It had its own pros and cons…
I think you enjoy playing your own pieces during your concerts, or do you play jazz standards as well?
I don’t have a vast repertoire of jazz standards, I might even know more about recent musics and musicians. We sometimes play 1-2 jazz standards during concerts.
Where does the title “Uyku Pansiyon” come from?
I came across this motel name while walking on a street in Bodrum. I remembered it for many years thinking “What is this? What a great name”. It is a motel that you only go in to avoid the loudness of the outside, only to sleep, just like suspended chords that we want to experience in our lives; it reminds me of taking a mandatory break from our loud lives. It became a luxury to be able to experience the quiet and isolation we put ourselves in during sleep in our daily lives, to experience and prefer these silent moments. Uyku Pansiyon reminds me of a dystrophic life style that brings together people who prefer silence and calm; we live in an era when this became an abnormality when it should be normal.
You take part in projects that aren’t related to jazz as well and you have a busy schedule. How do these musics affect each other? How do they nurture each other?
I dug myself into that hole by sharing my monthly schedule the past 3-4 years and gave the impression that “Efe is very busy” but we now joke about this among friends I play with: “I am really busy right now drinking tea at home…” I will announce here: I am not really busy. We play together with Can Kazaz and Simge Pınar as well as Eren and Mertcan and we influence and develop each other but I don’t think they nurture one another. Maybe this would be a different situation within the same genre.
What did you have in mind as you wrote the pieces with the trumpet and saxophone? Did you decide after the compositions were formed?
All the arrangements and instrumentalization were things I had in mind while writing the pieces. All of them were pre-designed and internalized ideas.
What do you recently listen to?
I listen to Hedonutopia – Yakamoz Sandalı among the recent albums released in Turkey, I think it is a powerful and lyrical music. I listen to Ercüment Orkut’s latest album ‘Persona’, Cenk Erdoğan ‘Fermata’, Yürüyen Merdiven ‘Yok mu, Var’ among the jazz catalogue. I listen to a lot of things from international artists, I listen to all the new albums released by ECM Records to give a summary. I listened to Mathias Eick’s Ravensburg album over and over again in the past year. Aaron Parks’s latest album ‘Little Big’, Khurangbin, Big Thief, Alice Phoebe Lou and guitarist Julian Lage are all on my radar.
What does your album concert schedule look like? Where can we listen to your project?
We’re playing ”Uyku Pansiyon” on the 3rd of July at the Istanbul Jazz Festival’s Vitrin Tour concert series.