I can see!

August 27, 2013

Ah the days…


Saturday night I had been hoping for a call from Eren, hoping to play somewhere, but nothing came. I felt like dancing… yeah, this here girl is once again dancing in her life, dancing her life too. It is a good thing. A text came in from Chillout: “We are going out, wanna join?” Hell yeah!


Of all places they headed to Kara Kedi. I saw my beautiful friend Maryam she works there. I also met with a few other friends, yes, I am starting to have quite a few friends all over Beyoğlu. We find a table for the Chillout group.


Fast forward to Sunday morning, we had plans for breakfast with friends but things do not seem to materialize… calls yield no answers. We wait for a while we’re getting hungry… OK, says Mica, (My flatmate) what’s the plan now? We decide that maybe we should just go out and grab something to eat. I check Facebook as Mica gets ready: Message from Eren, he’s on his way and, we are playing tonight, double good news! I immediately send a Facebook notice for the gig. At that moment, the door opens, Guvenç and a friend are here, that was not planned but a very nice surprise. Mica runs out to buy börek, I go in the kitchen and cut up tomatoes, cucumbers, melon and peaches and get some olives.


This turns into a nice gathering. Good start for the day. Around 2 PM we all scatter to do what we need to do. Eren said we should play more covers… he said something about the Pink Floyd song Antoher Brick in the Wall so I set out to learn this for the night. I end up working on learning songs until it’s time to go at around ¼ to 10. Another guest arrived while I was working away, an American, I say a quick hello as I gather my stuff to leave for the gig I am a bit distracted and realize that I am trying to put my stuff in this guys’ bag as it is almost exactly like mine…


I head out, it’s dark now, I walk up to Istiklal as magical as ever. I see a face… could it be? I turn around and run towards her… Yes. It is Mar!!! Mar is one of the girls who had “saved” me when we had been severely gassed at the Chillout. We hug, what a joy to see her! She says she’ll come tonight. Seeing her puts a massive smile on my face. I walk by Chill out and tell them about the show. I take the lower road, less crowded… through the back streets, shops, restaurants, Balik passage, the man from a restaurant I used to go to stops me: What happened to you?! We chat for a bit, he tells me to stop by to eat. I have to run… Güle, güle… another big smile on my face.

I get to the venue, I have 20 minutes, I go eat bulgur and chick peas while I organize my set list for the night. 10:30 time to go. Up the 6 floors to Leyla Teras. The place is empty. We had been told: if there is people there is money, no people no money… So I cross my fingers, maybe they will come.


Eren arrives, we set up, wait a bit… I meet this beautiful Australian girl, Alice, she is also singer songwriter and guitar player. We invite her to play a few songs during the night.


I start the set with a song I am working on. It came to me 2 days ago, a 7/4 rhythm and a very sinuous melody… I have to talk about this a bit… Lately I have been spending quite a bit of time working on my poems. Last Monday I sat down to read some of them back, the ones I was working on back in June and I was quite excited to see that they still had power. Sometimes you write things and think it’s the “shit” only to read them back a while later and wonder what you were on when you wrote them.


The other thing I had been doing was to work on a couple of Turkish folk songs in written form (charts) and study and analyze them as my teacher showed me, study the rhythms, the solfege and the melodies. Basically to look at the music from the structural standpoint. I have not really been reading music since college… that was back in Vancouver in … 1990… yeah… so those skills are really quite rusty.


So all this information has been simmering in my mind… Mid-week as I was sitting down with the guitar and thinking of songs and what to play live… and this deserves another “bracket”


Opening of bracket

I have been noticing that the audiences here do not respond to the same sort of music as they do in North America. For one, the tastes are immensely broad. South American, Turku, Pink Floyd, Klezmer, Bulgarian Folk, the lastest pop songs… Live, I have been surprised to see what catches the crowds… it usually is never quite what I expect..
End of bracket
So as I was plunking along navigating towards something rhythmical… “What would Eren like to play on?” Was my creative compass. I did that when I wrote Aventuriere Accidentelle… my French album, asking myself : What would Francois Houle, Jesse Zubot and co. would like to play on? From those parameters I let my imagination run.


It started with some chords… then it came: a beautiful 7/4. I recorded the idea on my phone (yeah, the recording technology is pretty basic at the moment!) to be sure not to lose the idea… Then a melody… for that I thought of some of the Anatolian music I’ve been listening to, where the singers’ voices are like calls to the Gods… Nothing held back…


So back to Sunday’s gig, I started the show with this “in progress” song idea… I let it gallop around, sang some new melodic ideas, brought it up, then down… Eren is playing magic. It feels absolutely awesome to me. When we end, he looks at me and says:


“What was this?”


“My new song.”


“It is Turkish rhythm!”


“Yeah, its starting to work, I’m learning something!”


When we start the second set, I play one song and then we invite Alice to play a couple of her songs. Quite a few friends have showed up and it really warms my heart to see them all. Things started to take a strange turn when a friend of a friend’s friend who had too much to drink crashed into my microphone spilling my drink of Sprite all over my cables and very close to my prized delay pedal… After that he started to hit Eren’s cymbal like an idiot.. then a bass player joined us and it was … terrible. I tried to play the simplest songs but it was a harmonic mess. I played one more song and quit…


Ah drinking… some people just shouldn’t… me, I don’t drink. For one, I can’t play if I drink. For two, I need to keep my wits about myself in this wild Beyoğlu neighborhood. Especially when comes the time to get back home at the wee morning hours after a show. Riding the motorcycle had also instilled this non-drinking ethic. Be clear, be safe. Stay alive.


So one more time, from the sublime to the dismal all in just a couple of hours. I think I like this place so much because it is like a motorcycle ride on a curvy mountain road : you never know what will lay ahead in the next curve but you ride them to the maximum with all your sense on. So alive, so present.


I walked back with what was left of the Chillout crew. I was starving and was going to buy a durum tavuk when Yüksel said he could make mantı for the hungry ones… so we headed to Chillout, and did just that, chill out and eat in the wee morning hours.


I headed back home as the call to prayer was rising from the mosques. Yeah, one more time. Once at home, I started to look for my glasses… could not find them… Where could they be… Then I remembered the American’s bag… crap… I think I might have put them in his bag… which looked almost exactly like mine… Uh ho… not good… I am pretty much blind when it comes to reading.. without them I am helpless… I tried to go to sleep but that stressed me out.


In the morning I looked everywhere thoroughly, no sign of the glasses… When Mica woke up he mentioned that his friend had indeed found a pair of glasses in his bag… and he just flew out of the country this morning…


Need glasses… I went in a shop on Istiklal, they say they could make me a pair in 3 days with my prescription for 150 lira. (roughly $75) not bad considering that the best deal I had gotten was at Costco for $225 and 10 days wait. I went home to get my prescription and decided to walk down towards Galata as I had noticed a few glasses shops… I walk into the first one I see, I ask them and they said 50 lira for regular lenses, 90 for anti reflection glass and 5 minutes wait as they make them there on the spot as you wait… Uh? Really?! So since I am basically completely disabled without them, I went for it… I sat there and while I waited, was offered tea and got acquainted with the local cats. It was a Turkish 5 minutes but nevertheless I was out of there within a half hour with prescription glasses…


Mission accomplished and that is why I am able to write this right now!


I’m now looking at a new week. The last one of August. Hard to believe I’ve been here for 3 months… I’m looking forward to my bağlama lesson this week. We are going to start the “formal” thing, with a study program, homework and I am excited about that. I think that between the study, the gigs and experiencing Istanbul head on the rhythms, melodies, the sounds, the voices, the soul of this place is somewhat merging with mine. My ears and music are evolving, expanding. It is so very exciting. To be able to accept the unknown, accept to start over be a beginner so to evolve. Motion, always. Curves always. Grace and thankfulness, as much as I can, in the face of life.




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