Hi Burak, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
I’m doing pretty good, standing somewhere between the record release and the world premiere of Hermes; quite excited to finally share these nine fresh-squeezed songs with you music-lovers around the globe.
Can you talk to us more about your latest single “LYRE”?
The album is created around one particular character; the Greek God Hermes. I will now sound as if I am wearing thick glasses. 🙂 One of the beliefs in Greek Mythology is, that Hermes invented the musical instrument Lyre, which is a small, harp-like plucked instrument. Long story in short; Hermes seized and cut up the tortoise and used the hollow shell, along with reeds, an ox’s hide, and strings of sheep gut, to make the first seven-stringed Lyre. He offered his instrument to Apollo and Apollo, later on, gave it to his son Orpheus, the God of music. Lyre became some sort of a symbol of musical share between those immortal Gods and the story behind it, became timeless. Now I take off my glasses. 🙂
Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
All of the nine songs in this album were created with tons of inspiration of Hermes and Greek mythology. Maybe because I was born in Istanbul, I have my own relationship with ancient histories and myths. With Daniel (Mulder), the creative director of Hermes, we wanted to take all that ancient information to form a modern tribe for our society today. We imagined an untouched territory, in which Hermes was traveling alone. We imagined a dream-like deserted planet, where foreign creatures and elements were producing unheard sounds and distorted melodies. We wanted the listeners to enter a new world of hidden traces of ancient times and an unknown, futuristic realm. I prefer to stand still and close my eyes while listening to the album.
What made you want to go for a VR experience for the visuals of the track?
Since the project was already developing deeply visual, Daniel and I were both excited about the idea of discovering further methods of story-telling by trying out the latest technology. Virtual reality brought the world of Hermes to our eyes in such exquisite and wild manner. I personally always enjoy the most recent hi-tech and tend to adapt fast to the changes within the technology that surrounds us. But without an artistic touch, all that complex applied science and the machinery stay rather dry. It becomes even boring after a while. I believe it is a fascinating time for artists to experiment with all kinds of robots and electronics to discover further tools in expression. Iris van Herpen and her 3D printed dresses are to me such an inspiring example to the subject.
How was the filming process and experience behind the video?
Enes (Özenbas) the director of the Lyre video was tempted by Daniel’s artwork. The imagery in the booklet reflects, how we imagined the Hermes landscape. At that point the album was not only about the character Hermes, but also the abandoned planet, that Hermes was traveling through. Enes took this visual information into the next level. He has a unique way of working with virtual reality, especially in terms of coloring, layers and environmental data digits. We completed the film in such marathon; in two and a half months and the days were long and intense. But we all knew, at the end, it was going to be what we wanted to take out of that complicated monster technology.
The single comes off your new album HERMES – what’s the story behind the title?
Hermes is quite an edgy mythological character to start with. He is the God of the thieves, the protector of the travelers. He can move between unknown territories, where others cannot. I think of this album as a choreographic sound installation. There is a cold, large industrial architecture and the gentle sounds move in it like a dancer; elastic, hypnotic. I hear Hermes moving as sound in these songs.
How was the recording and writing process?
To be honest, quite messy in some days. There were too many layers in the creative process. I composed both acoustic components and the electronic library of sounds more less parallel. Then we recorded the instrumental channels with Christian Jaeger in Berlin. With the ensemble (Musica Sequenza) we spent a considerable amount of time practicing the micro-tonality and the ancient Greek modalities. This was the 4th time we went in the studio with Christian, so he knew my musical taste, my expectations and my ensemble’s way of playing very well, which made the recordings convenient. Afterwards, we moved to the postproduction with two producers of the album; Van Rivers in New York City and Alejandro Mosso. Later on we developed the remixes with friends and colleagues; Hernan Cattaneo, Matthew Herbert, N’to, Rodriguez Jr., Magdalena and Philipp Sollmann (Efdemin). I never worked before on a single project with so many producers and sound artists together. These were significant times for all of us to remember.
What was the selection process like on what exotic instruments to use on the album?
My orchestra Musica Sequenza is a specialist on period music; renaissance, baroque and classical. We perform on historical instruments of the 17th and 18th centuries, such as harpsichords, gut-stringed violins, archlutes, violon. I myself play the baroque bassoon. We wanted to extend the orchestration this time with few other authentic ancient gadgets. I invited the sounds of Lyre, crystal flute and Persian percussions to the album. These fragile instruments became powerful throughout the dialogue with the electronics. And electronic music became sensitive and vulnerable after getting in touch with these ancient instruments. This to me was a pure cultural exchange, which freed the music from any genres and labels.
What made you want to go with this rare gear?
I write music with any kind of material since I was eight. Toys, bassoons, synthetics. After a certain time, nothing seemed unusual to me to compose with. An instrument being invented a thousand years ago, does not make it automatically irrelevant to our ears today. It is rather our own choice to left them behind and unplay them. When we compare baroque violin with gut strings with a modern violin with steel strings, we cannot say that the modern one is better. They just have different sound approaches and different sound results. I consider the past centuries and the inventions of those times as relevant as the ones of our days.
How your upbringing has influence your writing?
I work hard when I work. I make time and room for creative stuff to come out. I inform my family and friends, that I won’t be around. I shut off my cell, the internet and I write music from the inside, introverted. I don’t let any other kind of light to enter the cave from the outside. I like to listen to myself and to the music that runs in my head. There is a thin line between the outside world to be an inspiration to us and to be a distraction to us. I rather prefer to have as few as possible contact with the outside on those creative days. Once the work is written, a very social way of working begins; producers, performers, PR directors, managers, record labels, promoters, agents, venue directors, festival directors, audience. The invisible baby, which was created in a hidden cave, becomes all of a sudden a global public property.
What role does Berlin play in your music?
I like my studio in Berlin. I have 7 bassoons, a 20th century Bösendorfer grand-piano and some technology attached to them. There is a park right outside the building. The green all over the city plays a big role in my relationship with Berlin. Otherwise I suffer, for example in big industry cities with 50 shades of grey. I start immediately to miss the 50 shades of blue of the Istanbul Bosphorus. Both our labels’ Sony Music and Neue Meister offices are based here, so are the players of Musica Sequenza as well as our PR director Juste. I have close friendships here, which grew organically after living here for 14 years. This combination makes me somehow very Berlin. But I’m hardly in town, so I have to write a lot of music on the road too. I believe, Berlin doesn’t make my music any different, but it comforts me big time on my breaks, when I’m not writing music.
Where did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?
Inside my head. I get new ideas when I read or work out. Running in the nature clears my head, so I can make space for new ideas. I regret, I stopped meditating few years ago. After a good meditation I often feel new ideas bubble in my stomach. I write poetry sometime. And sometime I use them in my music. I decided to sing the vocal parts of Lyre, even though I am not a singer. Perhaps this made it easier for me to sing. After all, who could judge me as a singer, when I was not even a real one.
Any plans to hit the road?
Yes, we are preparing now for the World premiere of Hermes on June 7 and 8 at the Karavaan Festival in the Netherlands. After that, we are going to one of my favorite houses; Borusan Istanbul for Hermes’ Turkey premiere. We will visit Handel Festival in Halle, the Bach Festival in Schaffhausen and many others.
What else is happening next in BURAK’s world?
I’m working on several new projects at the moment. Opium will premiere in Switzerland in 2020, so will Morphine in Halle. I’m also writing my new album Devas, which is the following episode after Hermes, belonging to the same trilogy. I am looking forward to the summer, spending some quality time with friends and family. Days without spending good time with the loved ones are incomplete to me.