One of the best vocal albums I have listened to recently was released by Çağıl Kaya. Kaya, whose attitude towards life has been a source of admiration for me, said “Şimdilik Herşey Yolunda” (“Everything is Okay So Far”). The lyrics and compositions in the album belong to Çağıl Kaya, except for Selmi Andak’s “Ve Ben Yalnız” and “Deli” written by the band mor ve ötesi. As Çağıl Kaya becomes more and more prolific in her song writing, the album is enriched by the contributions of Ercüment Orkut, Eylül Biçer, Tamer Temel, Matt Hall and Cem Aksel. We conversed about her with “Şimdilik Herşey Yolunda” album with Çağıl Kaya, who has always expressed herself perfectly.
You have a line that says “Böyle her şey iyi gibi, ne zaman ölsem” (translates as “Everything seems okay as is, when should I die”). The name of the album is “şimdilik herşey yolunda”. Is it possible that you are focused on the temporary and conditional nature of things being okay and of the state of wellness?
I think the word “wellness” isn’t an ordinary one for me. This is why I take people’s wellness wishes very seriously. I am similarly and intensely affected by the concept of “badness”, which has unfortunately taken root in our lives despite our efforts not to use it in our sentences. It is almost impossible to talk about the permanence of the state of wellness in a world like this where hatred can be so fundamentally felt and experienced. I am most bothered by our silence that lingers in spite of the conditions that surround us. We can silently watch and accept them as long as the cruelness and unfairness do not reach our households. Unfortunately these things are never as far as they seem… This is why I think we are all, and that includes myself, unsuccessful in trying to elongate our state of wellness, and some might see this as a bit pessimistic, and we avoid the inevitable by saying “everything is okay so far”.
Your unique sound is organic, smooth, in which improvizations are within a structure while being open, just like it was in your first album. However, it seems like the humor in the first album has given way to the clouds. What kind of a state of mind gave birth to this album?
I think the feeling of pessimism that I just mentioned has wrapped itself around my life since the release of my first album. I wonder, I try to figure out why I feel such a strong feeling of anxiety and I always find hopelessness is the answer to this question. The burden we shoulder these days is so incredibly heavy, I think it is crushing me beneath. Actually, the humor in the first album is still present in this second one, because it is still in me, but I think it is a bit hidden this time around. Maybe I grew up a little, I got calmer. There is a bizarre war going on in my head against my hopelessness, I think the music I try to create emerges at the end of this fight. Ultimately it is a problematic dilemma; the songs are nourished and formed by the feeling of hopelessness, and after they are created, this feeling makes way to an intense state of hope and happiness, it is hard to describe…
“Nefesimi tuttum” seems like a sequel to “Biraz İştah Biraz Açıkhava”. The latter was an R&B piece, “Nefesimi Tuttum”, on the other hand, is a piece with surprising vocal fluctuations and the aromas of Far East; a piece that has entrusted itself especially to the piano against the emphasis on the notion that “this album is first and foremost a vocalist album.”
I didn’t actually set out to make a sequel, but when you put it like that, I think they feel similar. I think the integrity and texture of the music played as a whole is more important than the performances of a singer or any soloist. This is what I feel and look for in the music I listen to. Of course, I am more experienced now compared to the first album and maybe I was more courageous with more pieces in this album. But this situation is just an element in the band’s performance. In this sense, Ercüment Orkut created something wonderful with this piece on the piano as he did with the other pieces.
The distribution of the responsibilities and contributions among the accompanying musicians is right on the nose.
I think that has to do with the arrangements. We decided what kind of an album this would be together as a band since the rehearsal process. We collaboratively worked on the roles of the vocals and the other instruments. Therefore, the aim of the resulting music was to create a whole with all the elements from the beginning to the end. In this sense, I would like to thank Cem Aksel, Ercüment Orkut, Matt Hall, Eylül Biçer and Tamer Temel for bringing the music in my head to life and for their huge efforts…
“Ve ben yalnız” is a piece written by Selmi Andak, one that is known as it was performed by Sevinç Tevs. You have courageously owned this piece that we are so used to hearing through her interpretation, without deforming it. These kind of situations are a bit risky. You could have fallen to the traps of being entirely different or entirely the same. But there is a healthy distance between your interpretation and Tevs’. How did you prepare for this piece?
I think Sevinç Tevs’ voice is one of my favorites. Unfortunately we are able to obtain such a small amount of her recordings, but I am always really moved when I listen to her. ‘Ve ben yalnız’ is the first piece I started singing in my concerts right after the release of the first album, with Tamer’s arrangement.
In this sense, it makes me incredibly happy to sing it right afterwards, but of course it also comes with big responsibilities. I like new music and experimentation, that’s why I stay loyal to the original melody and atmosphere of the piece, while playing with the rhythmic structure with the influences of the New York piano trio sound. I sing this arrangement with excitement and happiness.
The love Tamer and you, and also I, feel for the dark streets of the Second New movement. You greet us with Turgut Uyar inspired ‘Soluk’ here. It is easy to find your allusions to “Islaktı Tütünlerle Sülünler” in the lyrics. I think you are inspired more by the depression or tension of “Ellerimde bir çalgı” when the tenseness of the music is concerned. What kind of feelings did these poems stirred in you and gave birth to ‘Soluk’?
The lyrics start out with “Soluk soluğa çarpan bir kapının önünden geçtim az önce, ağaçlar çaputlara bağlanmış hikayeleri çok eski” (“I just passed by slamming door, short of breath, the trees are tied to tatters, their stories old”). ‘Soluk’ is about intertwined women, men, trees, tatters, empty beds, defeats, inevitable stories in history filled with expectations, its fights, its continuous and conflicting days. I believe the musical tension is created by these along with the lyrics…
I think I can sense the influence of Latin jazz in “Aksi” through the guitar rhythm, though we aren’t really used to it in your music. It reminded me of Susana Baca’s “Valentin”, I love that piece as well. But it reverted but to Çağıl Kaya music as we know it about 2.5 minutes in. Was this planned?
Yes, this piece has a strong Latin feel when the rhythmic elements are concerned. Following the first part, dense with the vocals, it changes with the piano solo and goes back to the start. This was thoroughly planned.
After seeing “Aksi” (“grumpy”) as the title of the piece, I thought “Here comes another practical joke by Çağıl” but you meant the word as a reflection. Why did you pick this as the title?
Just as you said, its emerging point is the love of my life. I wrote this piece for my favorite grumpy person. I felt like I am giving an interview to a tabloid when I put it like that. Viewing the piece as a whole, I use the word ‘aksi’ in both these meanings. A man or a woman who has a delicate soul, who is mysterious, occasionally angry, mostly right, and always grumpy.
You included the cover of Duman’s “İstanbul” in your first album and MVÖ’s Eurovision piece “Deli” in this one. Possibly depending on which music genre the listener is more used to, sometimes these covers attract attention to the original versions of the pieces. What do you think?
‘Deli’ is one of my favorite mor ve ötesi pieces. I think the arrangement and interpretation ended up being entirely different from the original. The same applies to the cover of Duman’s ‘İstanbul’ in the first album. I can say that both are almost transformed into new pieces except for the lyrics. I have to thank Tamer for his arrangement. He always manages to dream of and conjure up what is more and different than the currently existing version, both in ‘Ve ben yalnız’ and ‘İstanbul’ and I am really very lucky. We listen to the first part of ‘Deli’ in 9/8 while the original is in 4/4. It takes us to a deeper place in the world it creates in its outro. I don’t know if it has the same effect on the listeners of these bands but we are really happy with the result.
“Saatler 12’de durdu” (“the clocks stopped at 12”) … The number of days we don’t wish to remember, but at the same time would dry our hearts out if we forget, are increasing in our lives. We are all aware of things that are happening, but it is hard to talk, to write, to live or to die. Do you ever get worried that one day you won’t be able to feel anything other than pain, and would not be able to create anymore?
I can say that I breathe in and out with this worry in my mind… I think I turned into a different person the day of the Suruç explosion. My faith in humanity was destroyed. I cannot stand the fact that 33 hopeful young people, who only wished to make children happy, were so violently murdered and that nothing has been done about this until today, and what’s more, that the pressure on those who survived and their families are still ceaselessly ongoing. Unfortunately this cruelty didn’t start with Suruç, neither will it end there… As you said, “talking, writing, living, dying, everything is hard.” The only thing I can do as a musician for this heartache is to remember. Because we are prone to forgetting. We forget so fast, and go on with our lives as if nothing has happened; we think just because it didn’t happen directly to us that it doesn’t affect us. On the contrary, all the hopelessness we feel today, the worry, the heartache, the unexplainable tears in our eyes, our intolerance, anger; these are all because these unfair things are actually being done unto us. We didn’t go through them directly but their residues piled up in our hearts and took over our souls completely. That is why ‘the clocks stopped at 12’. This is my moment of silence for the lives lost in Suruç…