The story of The Badau started four years ago with a family of three in the Yeldeğirmeni district of Kadıköy, which has recently turned into an art scene. This family grew with each passing day, first with employees, then with musicians and then with its regulars. Today, they are in their new branch, located in Akasya Shopping Mall in Acıbadem. It has an area of its own and a much larger capacity but maintains the small jazz club feel they set out. They have taken their name from the French word ‘badaud’, meaning a person who stands on the street and watches a show / event. They have found the meaning of the word appropriate to both their guests and themselves. I have only been once at the first Badau, but the hospitality and care were so intense that now, I’m here to get to know this family. I wonder their stories, their excitements, the difficulties, and what they dream of.
We start with the owner Eren Noyan. For those who do not know, he is also a jazz singer. We’re going to the night the idea was born.
One night we went on stage with a team of 7 at a jazz venue in Kadıköy. At the end of the night, they paid us 5 TL each. So I said to the owner, “If you told me, ‘I have no money, will you play for free?’ I would come running but what is 5 TL for god’s sake?” I said to myself, “I’ll open a place, a very small one, but it will pay musicians a fee. Even if there is no audience, and if the musicians do not want to make music because of that, they will be given the agreed fee.
I have seen it with my own eyes. They made the musicians eat and drink, hosted them them without making them feel bad about the emptiness of the place.
– One of the most important parts of the Badau is to be able to eat with musicians around a table. We are a jazz joint. We cook something, we eat together, then we go on stage, we make music. One day, the person who makes you this meal, can serve you tomorrow. The next day you can cook the food as the person who eats it.
Indeed, most of the Badau employees are musicians. The owner is a jazz singer, chef pianist, floor manager double bass player, business manager guitarist, service worker percussionist. When they are invited to the stage, they take a break and run, sometimes they come up with their aprons, sometimes they clear the tables as they descend.
At The Badau, they share life through jazz and gastronomy.
To be honest, we can’t handle the jangle, so we lose money constantly, but we love something very much, not because we know it, just because we love it. We love to host people.
Yeldeğirmeni, with its 30 people capacity, was Turkey’s smallest jazz club; the new Badau is the biggest opened in Turkey. The capacity is 650 people standing but they don’t intend to use that fully. They are after quality, not quantity. They can accommodate 200 people in a seated order. “Accommodating 650 people here is just a myth,” says Eren Noyan, “this is jazz we’re talking about for God’s sake, we are grateful if we can collect 200 people!”
We go back to the story of the venue, what happened on the way to Akasya from Yeldeğirmeni?
What we were planning for our first daughter in Yeldeğirmeni was to have a small venue for ourselves to hang out, have our musician friends play and the jazz lovers come and listen but the place attracted an interest above its volume. At the end of the second season, we were able to meet one-ninth of the demand. It’s a beautiful thing to some extent, but after a while it becomes unpleasant. That was one reason to look for a larger venue and another factor was that unfortunately we could not get reciprocation for the synergy that we tried to create in Yeldeğirmeni neighborhood. Some people were unhappy about our existence and filed complaints. Imagine a business, open only 3 days a week, serving only 5 hours a day, and to maximum 30 people, it’s a commercial suicide. Although we had legal permission until 2:00 a.m., we were finishing the music at 11:00 p.m. out of respect to our neighbours, but all efforts were made to ensure that we did not survive there. I’ve been paying rent for my little daughter for five months, even though it’s closed, because I have to keep her alive. This place is not made with money, but with people working without being paid when it’s necessary. Otherwise I’m not an investor, I don’t have that power.
While they were searching for a new location, they first thought of Halil Aga Mansion in Kadıköy but then they gave up because of the obstacles due to the fact that it was a historical monument. While brooding on, they were informed that Zuhal Music in Akasya Shopping Mall has moved out. After the idea of a historical mansion, Eren Noyan did not warm up to the idea of moving to a shopping mall at first, but the Akasya administration tempered him with their modesty and trust. They came up with a feasible proposal that allowed him to realise this project because they found what was created in Yeldeğirmeni valuable and wanted to be a part of it. Then he thought, “We need a large, undivided space. It has a 24-hour parking lot, you can come by subway or Metrobüs, there are cabs at the door and a valet service, it has no security problem. After all, we want to do something for jazz in Turkey, why not in a mall?”
Eren Noyan began to adopt this idea slowly but had a prerequisite for accepting the proposal. “By saying yes to us, you will accept us invading you. I don’t want your client; I will build a place where my client can come. Are you ready for this?” They said this was what they wanted.
In the jazz community, there are people who say weird things about us opening this place in a shopping mall. I recommend that they first understand the philosophical dimension of jazz and see what we are trying to do. We came here to convert one of the castles of the modern world. They want to transform, that’s a good thing. I’ve been struggling for years, so come and support me, don’t get mad at me. First understand what I’m trying to do, don’t be ignorant.
You’re not the one who’s going to tell this, you’re going to continue doing what you’re doing and whoever understands this will be a part of it, who doesn’t won’t.
What is The Badau’s approach to programming?
We never look at how famous a musician is, we look at whether he is a good musician. One can be 19 years old, a very good musician, he comes to play here on a Saturday evening. Someone else can be doing this for 40 years, but he’s not a good musician, he cannot play here.
What’s the criterion for that?
The criterion is neither the reaction of the audience, nor the occupancy rate, nor the turnover of the evening. The only criterion is that the owner is not a shoemaker.
How decisive are personal tastes in programming?
None at all. There are a lot of gigs that I don’t like at the Badau. I don’t listen to them at home but that doesn’t mean they’re bad, they just don’t appeal to me.
At the new Badau, they continue presenting young talents as before. Eren Noyan finds this very valuable.
I can count at least 20 musicians, who are very much sought after today and who performed at the Badau for the first time. I was given that chance, so why shouldn’t I?
Lastly, I ask Eren Noyan what they intend to do about cooperations and sponsorship. These are vital for such venues to be able to continue sharing their reality without compromising on their dreams.
I wouldn’t want to ask for any support myself as I have a certain freedom here. I want sponsors to take part in this with their own will. I’d like them to have a little vision. There is a good stage here and a very serious investment. There’s a guy here who says, “Throw me a pinch of salt, I’ll make you a cauldron soup,” and this guy doesn’t plan on getting rich from here. No one has to accredit me; they can see me as a tool.
What he says requires vision, that’s for sure. We live in a country where culture and art investments are made by ‘copying and pasting’ and sponsorship is transformed from supporting arts and culture into advertising.
Walk with me. Take the risk, I’m taking this risk in my tiny state, you’re a big brand, why can’t you? I’m going to keep doing this as long as I can. If I have to, I’m going to open a meatball restaurant to finance it.
We chat with Zeynepgül Atsız, who is responsible for the booking and programming of the venue.
She says that they are trying to make it a place where musicians can express themselves comfortably. It is already a Badau tradition. They are trying to create a musical colour scale in the weekly program. They both follow new projects and evaluate the demands. In addition to popular projects, they take care to include instrumental and male singer projects that cannot find themselves live performance spots easily.
Özgür Salıcı is the floor manager. I ask him what differs this place from the others.
This place is real with all its fights and negativity as well as all the good and beautiful sides and by not being a commercial project. If you do something about art, being real is a very dangerous and difficult thing. Art is presented to people in the processed and manipulated form of truth, but to me art is real when it is presented through a spiritual world as life itself.
Sıtkı Sırtanadolu. He is one of the two business managers of the venue, a musician and one of my Aura Records partners. Twenty years ago, while working together, he was more visionary than us and decided to limit his involvement in the music business as a musician, and now I wonder what got him back to the grindstone. He hasn’t run a venue before, but it’s actually a kind of job that suits him well. Apart from having experienced many venues due to being a musician, he is a person who has gusto in the fields of music, sound, food and presentation that are the keystones of a restaurant / jazz club, and has strong social skills. Eren Noyan’s sentence about him supports me. “Sıtkı has such qualities that, he creates added values more than people who have been in this business for long”
I wonder how he got involved and how he is feeling about it.
A year ago I helped them determine direction in their search for this new formation, and then I decided to take part in it. I was attracted to the fact that the Badau, in my opinion, is an organisation with unprecedented dedication and subtlety that includes both jazz and proper gastronomy, and their ability to model it as a whole in a commercial sense.
Sıtkı’s top priority is to clarify that this place is not just a jazz club, he always emphasises this.
This isn’t just a jazz club. This is a cafe-restaurant opened at 12. We have a day menu until 7 in the evening. A menu of Badau interpretations of more common tastes which can be consumed a little faster for those who only have lunch breaks. After 7, the evening menu comes into play and we define this menu as ‘fine food’. In addition to a la carte selections, we also offer a tasting menu of fusion delicacies from our kitchen. We serve dinner from 7 to 9, and after 9:30 we become a jazz club. This is primarily a restaurant; we want you to taste these dishes. We offer refined dishes but we are not an elite restaurant in terms of our price policy.
I ask him about the sound in the club. He says that they have made the sound design and equipment selection together with and under the supervision of Hakan Kurşun.
We worked to get maximum results with minimum cost. The budget recommended to us at first was 5 times that. With a clever design and equipment selection, we achieved a result that we were very pleased with. The sound inside, wherever you go, walks with you like a 3-D. We have a digital mixer, controlled from the IPad, and so is the light. We have the infrastructure to get a live recording here. I think that there is an environment to comfort musicians as well. The 7 x 3.5 m stage has a space for 7-8 people to fit comfortably and there is enough backline and sound system.
Yahya Dai, who sits at the same table with us, sipping his soup quietly attends the conversation.
I wonder what he thinks about what was created in the new Badau, he knows the old one well.
The old Badau had a very homey, ‘family and friend’ atmosphere with unprecedented warmth and sincerity that both musicians and customers felt. At the beginning, we were all worried about the shopping mall concept. However, it has its own space in the back, from the moment you walk in; you don’t feel like in a shopping mall, you feel in a quality jazz club.
In my opinion, what gives this place its spirit is them enjoying the work they do and getting pleasure out of sharing it. They grow by touching and sharing.
I hear a similar expression when I ask Sıtkı.
Personal touch, that’s my summary. This venue has always touched people while in the old place. Here, too, we have expanded the area, but the same personal touch continues, on a slightly larger scale, with the spaciousness it should be. Very different people come here. Our regulars and the residents from around here, but the environment is so comfortable that it is as if people have come to each other. One comes in jeans, one in a suit but they all meet in a common sense, they share the same table and chat. Nobody gets lost here.
This must be possible with the touch of the Badau people.
We talked a lot about this when we moved here; we needed to keep this personal touch. It can be said that this spirit is a little scattered due to the width of the place, but everyone tries to keep it alive. Freed from his kitchen duties, Eren is able to touch many more people; I welcome our guests at the door, Özgür, ZG (Zeynepgül Atsız’s nickname) and of course Güliz who is already in the center of customer relations. People know our names; we get out of here like a family.
The family of three is growing day by day. I recommend you to take part in them. Go, see, taste, listen, and smile.
The Badau Akasya
Akasya Shopping Mall, Çeçen St. 25, 34660 Acıbadem
532. 306 43 34