Bozcaada Jazz Festival took place for the first time between 28-30 July. What turned out to be a jazz vacation for us festival-goers could have been followed by a lot of blood, sweat and tears. Instead, hard work, meticulous effort and thankfully laughter followed. This festival, which was organized by young people who are passionate about what they do, was a risk to be taken, but it reached its audiences and was shared just like any job well done.
Jazz concerts usually take place in big cities, in concert halls and indoors in Turkey, and there isn’t any other example of an outdoors festival with a focus on jazz as far as I know. There are many outdoor rock, electronic and some mixed music festivals in Turkey. There are jazz concerts which take place outdoors or in parks, but Bozcaada Jazz Festival is a new concept in a sense that it presented jazz in an outdoors festival format and it took place in a resort town. Even though there were some problems due to the islandfolk’s rejections to the initial venue, the organizators changed the venue in the last minute and avoided possible tensions. I believe everyone is happy with the results.
The festival took place in Ayazma Manasır on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings with a program that included various styles of jazz. Most of the participators came from other cities and the peaceful atmosphere of being outside the city dominated the venue. I believe that in addition to listening to jazz, a getaway of three days was also attractive to many. The audience lay down on the cool grass after a day of sea and the sun, there were those who swayed their bodies with the rhythm of the music, and probably due to the magical nature of this rare atmosphere, the musicians performed incredibly. The sound was crystal clear (I should salute Kerem Tüzün, who was the production manager) and the sweet breeze of Bozcaada summarize the festival pretty well. You can watch the short version of this below.
Bozcaada Caz Festivali ilk senesinde yepyeni bir festival deneyimiyle böyle geçti. ?Seneye tekrar görüşmek üzere. İyi ki geldiniz!Tüm paydaşlarımıza ve sanatçılara teşekkürler,Avek Otomotiv, Audi Türkiye, Kendine Has, The Story of Seven, June Pub, CPMistanbul, Just, Sigorta Teklifleri, Bidolubaski.com, Two:ThirtyFive, Gaia Dergi, PowerAppŞenova Ülker, Meltem Ege Official, Çağrı Sertel Music, Lycian Herbs, Korhan Futacı, Suzin Gökçen Akalan, Jülide Özçelik, Ediz Hafızoğlu, Ulku Aybala Sunat, Nilüfer Verdi, Selen Gulun, Lara Di Lara, Holler my Dear, Elif Çağlar-Muslu, Önder Focan, Şallıel Bros., STUDNITZKY, Maden Öktem Ersönmez, Songs From A Breeze – Ferit Odman, Engin Recepoğulları, Volkan Hürsever, Bulut Gulen, Baris Dogukan Yazici, Mehmet Cem Tuncer, Ercüment Orkut, Asena Akan, Volkan Öktem, Sarp Maden, Ersönmez Alp, şentürk öztaş, Deniz Taşar, Işık Üstündağ, Ozan Musluoglu, Erkan Zeki Ar, Tayfun Polat, Coskun Akmericbozcaadacazfestivali.com#bozcaadacazfestivali
Bozcaada Caz Festivali paylaştı: 14 Ağustos 2017 Pazartesi
We chatted a bit with the organizators Gizem Gezenoğlu from Pavli, Murat Sezgi from Kabak&Lin and Doğukan Çokşeker from Allturca Productions on Sunday before the program started. To what extent were they able to realize their dreams? What kind of experience was it for them? What are they planning?
They all seem satisfied with the outcome.
GİZEM GEZENOĞLU – The participation is great, feedback is great, both from the audience and from the musicians. Therefore we are happy with the results. We are really excited, because this is our first year and due to the fact that we were able to make our dreams come true.
I wonder, whose dream was this and whose idea?
MURAT SEZGİ – It was actually a common dream. Doğukan and his company happened to want to do such a thing for a long time. We were putting similar things in motion, we have jazz festivals. Gizem is an old friend from the busicness. When Gizem joined the Pavli team, it isn’t clear who said what to whom, it probably was a common idea. Then the idea of a festival started to form, everybody had similar visions. We wanted to make an outdoors event, just like a rock festival, but focused on our esteemed jazz musicians and this was the result.
DOĞUKAN ÇOKŞEKER – We didn’t actually have a solid plan, we all had a dream. We realized we all shared that dream but we focused on the details after being asked “What is different about you?” during a sponsorship meeting. A young soul, open air, a different experience in Bozcaada that embodies jazz. The more we thought the more we realized that our dreams converged. The starting point wasn’t ‘let’s do such a thing because it would be successful’. We chased after a dream, and then it attracted attention, it didn’t necessarily do so. Maybe that is the reason for the energy and satisfaction of the people here.
DÇ – Everyone is so incredibly sincere. We didn’t aim for something. We didn’t focus our workpower to bring people here, we worked very meticulously but we were only chasing after our dream, I think people can feel this sincerity.
Pavli Çamlığı (Pine Forest) was the planned venue but the people who live on the island were concerned about the fire hazard and the damage the ecosystem of the area could suffer if this were to become a traditional event. This worry is due to an event that happened 20 years ago when a projector fell over and caused a fire during a movie shooting, causing the animals living in the forest along with the trees. We were able to reach a consensus, changed the venue and moved to Ayazma Manastır. I asked the organizators about this process.
GG – There were some concerns among the islandfolk. We tried to tell them our side. We have been doing this for a long time, we planned everything out and worked on the operational details but the only way to reach a consensus at that point was to change the venue, which we did.
DÇ – We took all the precautions, and even though we thought there was more unease than needed, we heeded to the pleases and were sensitive to them. There is a common anxiety that is passed down from generation to generation about the event that happened 20 years ago. It was still an open wound and we saw that and acted accordingly.
I stayed with a friend who lives on the island, and they told me there were concerns about the damage the habitat could suffer, what do you say to that?
GG – We do not believe that a music of this volume could hurt forest creatures. There probably was a misunderstanding. It is a big forest but part of it is used as a recreational area, and the festival was supposed to take place there. We tried to convey that. It was going to be in an area that people already had an access to.
MS – If you went right now, know that there are 4 people grilling stuff there.
DÇ – There is always a grilling fire going on there. We would have 24 hours surveillance there and use 20% of the area and surround it with fences.
MS – I think something else happened at this point. There was more than anticipated attention to the event on the social media. The festival gained 34000 followers on Facebook, whereas others have 8-10000. Of course, those who are not well versed about this circle thought something like Woodstock was to take place. This attention that made us so excited became a disadvantage at that point. There are some points we thought were unfair, but the compromise and the peaceful atmosphere we reached through it make us happy.
You don’t seem to be at a disadvantage by moving here.
DÇ – It is a pleasant venue, and we tried to make it even more so. We mainly managed to do so but we worked on the other venue for 6 months. We only worked on this one for a week.
Do you think you would receive this kind of feedback in Istanbul?
MS – There are so many events happening in Istanbul and the audience has a lot of options. I want to change the perception that this genre and these musicians belong to a certain class and city. I would prefer to organise the next event in Tekirdağ instead of organising the best event in the world in Istanbul.
GG – This was one of our starting points. Both the sector and us observed a need to move outside of the city centres. Population and businesses started to move out of the cities, becoming more easily accessed and shared, and this makes us happy.
Another attractive element was to combine the festival with the idea of a vacation, was it not so?
DÇ – I converse a lot with the members of the audience. A lot of people came to Bozcaada for the first time for this event. Five out of ten people say this and they are very happy. They really like Bozcaada and this is a source of great happiness for us, all our efforts have seemed to reach their goals.
MS – You get into a rather weird mood one day after your arrival here. These relaxed people spend time here and music seeps into their souls. I see that even in myself.
GG – The fact that this event is taking place on an island increase the concentration on interaction here.
MS – Let me take that one step further. I didn’t speak to the musicians yet but I am almost sure this concentration reflects on the stage as well.
DÇ – We were really stressed out about the venue change but it is easy to manage stress here because many of the hardships of the city don’t exist here. There is no traffic, there are no security concerns. Many of the things that pressure us in the city cause no problems here.
What did this year teach you?
MS – We have lessons to learn from this year regarding line-up (festival program/artist procession). Lessons about the required time and location. About the team, about what we could do better. More support to receive to get bigger. These kinds of events always receive a serious government support everywhere else in the world. I live in Berlin, look at the posters, about 99% of the events are supported by the government. Are we still achieving this without the support? Yes. Would we be able to do even bigger things if this support is received? We can really provide incredible experiences, we are still very young.
DÇ – We will put in th necessary applications. We have a whole year ahead of us. Government institutions, private firms, I believe we could receive much more support. This is a national event, what we need to do is to bring this to the global arena. We have 2 bands from Central Europe, even though this is only our first year. Our next step will be to bring more European and American artists next year and help the festival to receive international media attention this way, becoming an international jazz festival. To promote Bozcaada, Turkish jazz music and musicians and most importantly Turkey. This is our aim. We will make the necessary applications with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. I am hopeful for 2018. Our goal is to expand the event throughout the island. I am hopeful about the ministry, because local managements, both the district governorship and the municipality, support us immensely. They visited us, saw the venue. They are very happy, everybody is smiling. Their aim is to expand the organization as as well. Maybe some other smaller venues or simultaneous events… We will increase our capacity as we expand throughout the island, but there is this; the island already has its own capacity. We shouldn’t disturb the comfort level of the island. We shouldn’t distress the hotels, artisans and local managements. We will continue on with this level of control.
There were musicians from different generations in the program. Masters and prospective young musicians shared the same stage. There were avant-garde, funk, fusion, latin, electronic, vocals, instrumentals… We watched some serious performances. Of course, everyone can comment on the program, but how appropriate is it to talk as an outsider? First of all, no matter how amateur it might be, a festival program is inevitably made with the balance of supply and demand in mind. It naturally reflects the taste and experience of the organizators. If it has some sort of a mission, then it becomes an incredible experience. I think that the real trick is to create a balance among these. I ask the organizators how they prepared the festival program.
MS – We wanted this festival to emphasize the jazz values of our country. We will not become a festival that pays 100X to foreign musicians whereas local ones only receive 1X. We wanted to plan the days differently. Each of us suggested bands and then we all gave our opinions about them. We already have similar likes, we already worked, and even grew up with, some of these musicians, so planning out this festival with them wasn’t hard.
DÇ – We really wanted there to be masters and representatives of the new generation together. We wanted there to be names at the top of their careers, those who represent us overseas, as well as those who have just started out on their career and promise much hope, those who we believe in and enjoy listening to. Everyone here makes different organizations and work with a group of different musicians. Everybody has their own perception and experience, we combined these. We were really democratic; sometimes too democratic to the extend to tire us out. We worked meticulously, spared much time to this but the resulting work was deliberately woven. It is this way for us, I hope the same applies to the members of the audience and our toils weren’t for nothing. Seeing how these two days went, yes, things are going well.
MS – When you organize concerts one by one, you have to sell tickets and fill out the capacity for those, but in such organizations as these, you can include names you really enjoy, even those the listeners might not run to buy tickets for. This is a great dough you can play with.
GG – One of the things we enjoyed the most was playing with it. We didn’t want to create a headliner hierarchy.
MS – You have already seen on the posters. There are only dates and names. There are no big or smaller fonts or bolds.
You can see the festival program on bozcaadacazfestivali.com
What are your final words on this?
MS – There are some very experienced people involved in this who have been by our side. This became something like a jazz fair. There are organizators from the sector, venue owners, bookers. We had an idea this might happen but it is really moving to see this all in action.
GG – We started out by wanting to distribute the events to various venues. The events will expend throughout the island, maybe islands, in the upcoming years, but we won’t stay in a single venue. Maybe increase the number of the days, the concerts, morning activities… This is what we aim for. Let the people be in a constant state of excursion and discovery, let them be involved.
Maybe they will turn this into a jazz vacation that includes travel and accommodation plans in the future, similar to many other examples worldwide. They say that they might think more on this. It would be a big operation but it would be a great idea if they receive the support they hope for.
DÇ – I am happy with the results. I think we got enough exposition. Now it is our jobs to manage this. We did something crazy, I always encourage people to do crazy things, increase the number these kinds of initiatives but with the same sincerity. I am not talking about people doing patchy jobs with financial concerns. Everyone should work meticulously without losing that energy, without losing hope. There are times when we feel like we aren’t in a good period as a sector, but we organized this event despite that. We didn’t have any financial aims, we pursued arts and our dreams, and something came to being as the result of this. Now we will strengthen it, that is where we stand. Sincere initiatives should increase, people should be chivalrous, government institutions and private firms should support such events. Somebody should take these risks, nobody gets somewhere by simply sitting and waiting. Taking a risk, doing something and then standing behind that choice and growing.
So you are saying that you filmed a pilot episode.
DÇ – Yes, You can’t sell 13 episodes without filming the pilot first.
One last word from me. I will then let some of the musicians, journalists and friends from the business speak for themselves.
The excitement of the young people I spoke to, the amateur spirit contrasted by their professional approach are moving. The result also is, for the first of its kind. My wish is for them to keep on going with the help of the experience they have gained this year, while keeping their mission and sincerity intact, for the festival to get bigger and permanent. I think that the Ministry of Culture and Tourism would want to support this festival, keeping in mind its contributions to the island tourism and the possibilities of promoting Turkey through culture. Am I being too romantic?
Good job ladies and gentlemen. Those who are in sight, and those who are in the background.
Zuhal Focan – Jazz Dergisi Editor-in-chief
Bozcaada Jazz Festival is the open air festival we have been waiting for. Many of the European festivals I have researched started out in places like Bozcaada. Pori, Marciac, Umbria Jazz Festivals are the first ones I can think of. Bozcaada has been really successful despite the fact that it was their first year. Everything from musician choices to stage and sound arrangements were cleverly organized. The only thing I disliked as an editor was the logo and color choice in the poster. Yellow and white damper the visual comprehension. I would have hoped for a more colorful logo. I am excitedly waiting for the second year.
Eray Aytimur – Music Journalist
I was really excited when I heard Bozcaada Jazz Festival was being organized because I thought that an organic venue like Bozcaada and jazz would go so well together. However, we heard that a resistance against the festival organization has formed as the process went on. Following my article in Hürriyet newspaper, it was a short article which looked into the musical aspects of the topic I wrote as a music journalist, the feedback I received showed that this resistance fed from the grudge and hatred that surrounds Turkey in general, and was not specific to the festival.
All in all, I was greeted with a warm atmosphere as soon as I stepped into the festival venue as the festival’s designated writer. The musicians who came together in a place such as Bozcaada were happy. The audience who came together was happy. Excuse my saying but the local shops were happy. The organization team is not new at this, they have been doing this internationally for years, so they were able to go on without making us notice any hitches. The team was always smiling and helpful, and it was evident they were having fun while working. The sound was almost perfect, experienced Kerem Tüzün took that part upon himself and let us hear the music we like in a compact way despite the size of the venue. I cannot speak for the specifics of the line-ups, since As played this year, next year it will be Bs, what matters is for the festival to persevere. I will open a parenthesis for the MÖE concert, as someone who spent her youth in the 90s Beyoğlu, I went back to my Peyote days in İmam Adnan Street, to our pogo seances in Captain Hook and to my underground trips at Kemancı Alt Kat. They played incredibly.
Pavli is a really cute venue, but the fact that it was far away from the festival area prevented some really great DJ sets from reaching bigger audiences. It would have been a more interesting experience to listen to them throughout the day at Ayazma Manastır. I participated in Volkan Öktem’s drum seminar, and spent a good time with the question and answers. Maybe the same could be done for the other instruments. They need to work more on their expression, if not on announcing the festival itself. It was a five star organization when all things are concerned. May there be many more.
Volkan Hürsever – Musician
Many thanks to everyone who has worked on this first edition of Bozcaada Jazz Festival. The young and dynamic team worked perfectly when transportation, accommodation, stage and sound systems are concerned. The bands I have listened to during the festival played incredibly well and the crowd listened to our music until the late hours and didn’t leave us alone. As long as there are brave and studious people like these, Turkish jazz will persevere. I wish for the continuation of this event.
Şentürk Öztaş – Musician
There was an endless sea of people on the grass when I stepped on the stage. It was an incredible joy to come together with musicians and music lovers in such a romantic atmosphere. The story of this festival apparently goes way back, I learnt about this later. It is a dream that matured in 5 years. When such compromising and brilliant people come together, it was inevitable for the arts and creativity to shine through in every aspect of the festival. 1st Bozcaada Jazz Festival was perfect, I congratulate the whole team and wish them the best.
Şenova Ülker – Musician
Bozcaada and the world of jazz created miracles in this amazing setting. This festival, which was created from scratch, is a great gain for jazz and these incredible jazz musicians. I congratulate the organization and Bozcaada teams from the bottom of my hear. They calmed our souls and freshened out breaths.
Korhan Futacı – Musician
I think Bozcaada Jazz Festival is the result when good wine and food, vineyards, wine houses, roads that can fit only one car, wind and sea come together with good music. It was a great pleasure to perform during the first year of this festival and to spend time in the magical atmosphere of it. Our friends who organized the festival didn’t have a hard time conving us from staying for an extra night to join in the closing party. I believe that the jam session that took place at Pavli should become a festival tradition. Thanks to all those who put in their efforts!
Elif Çağlar – Musician
It was a great and hopeful experience from its start to its end. I think it is very important that this took place in open air, in a special island like Bozcaada with a rich history and nature, as well as the fact that it took place through an independent initiative in such a meticulous way. This kind of initiatives should be supported, continued and increase in number.
We should support one another and create new excitements together despite the fact that we have limited movement ability. We saw a good example of this in Bozcaada. It gave us hope.