Grup Şimşek

Even though things in music may seem quiet simple, it doesn't mean that this is the real truth, things can be actually much more complicated than they appear... It's the skills and the talent of some bands that are responsible for this kind of... misunderstanding, and Grup Şimşek are definitely such a band. The way that the guys cover traditional Turkish songs in their debut 4-track EP "Nem Kaldi" is just unbelievable and -as mentioned before- they make it look so so easy (but it isn't). Their boldness and their phenomenical ease in this accomplishment, makes the whole thing look even more valuable and greater. The members of the band come from six different countries and once again music was the unifying element that made the frontier lines dim and fade. Their lineage lies among Turkey, Germany, Sweden, Italy, France and England, with Turkish Derya Yilidrim responsible for the vocals. And this was the first thing, Derya's voice, that took us by storm when we first came upon Grup Simsek's music and their beautiful song Nem Kaldi. A 5 minute masterpiece with an ecstatic divine melody accompanied by an oud, in which us Greeks automatically sense our Eastern roots...

Although Grup Şimşek is a new band that have just released their debut EP, their work can be already regarded as very important and worthy, as the multicultural quintet put in their basket so many music styles, ranging from folk, jazz, funk and psychedelia, bringing them in 2017 and make them sound so fresh and innovative. In the absolutely interesting and illuminating interview they gave us, Graham Mushnik and Derya Yilidrim refer to words that make us feel extremely touched and nostalgic for our Minor Asian roots. Baglama, oud, lute and poetry create a magic psychedelic mix that 100% deserves your attention and listen. That's all from us, here are Graham's and Derya's words for The Basement. 


The Basement: Hello guys, so happy to know about your band and host you on an interview. Such a wonderful EP ! Please, introduce yourselves to us.
Graham: Hi! Thanks for hosting us! Grup Şimşek is a very recent project, the EP is our first ever recording. There are 5 of us in the band: Greta Eacott, Andrea Piro, Antonin Voyant, Derya Yildirim and Graham Mushnik.

The Basement: Your origins aren't the same for every member. Where do the members of the band come from ? How did you meet and start playing and composing music together ? 
G: Whoof! It's quite complicated: Derya comes from a Turkish family based in Germany, Greta is half English half Swedish, Andrea is Italian, Antonin and Graham are French! Antonin, Andrea and I (Graham) are old buddies and we've been in various projects together for nearly 10 years (Catapulte Records, Orchestre du Montplaisant)... It was a festival in Hamburg, Germany, that brought us all together. We were invited to take part in music and theatre collaborations with Hamburg-based artists. Derya was one of them. When the festival (called "New Hamburg") was over, we decided to continue playing together, despite the fact that we were all based in different countries.

The Basement: When did you start the band and what is the meaning of the word "Şimşek" ?
G: The New Hamburg festival took place in October 2014. For a year and a half we only met 2 or 3 times and still had our old New-Hamburg name "Intercommunal Orchestra". In 2016, we recorded our first EP after a short tour, and changed our name to "Grup Şimşek". It's a play on words with Derya's last name: "Yildirim" means "thunder" and "Şimşek" means "lightning"...

The Basement: Where was the EP recorded ? What about the production, who did it ? Let us know more.
G: There is a tradition in our label Catapulte Records: most of the music is produced by us. Antonin and I have always been recording and mixing our music ourselves, we've also recorded other bands for the label. In my hometown Chambery (French Alps) there is a nice studio that we often use for this purpose. It's called Larsen Studio, and it's been a great tool for a lot of underground music labels from my area - kind of family business! We use a mix of vintage and modern equipment, and try to look for a natural sound. Most of the instruments are recorded in "live" situation.

The Basement: Was there a central idea behind this EP ? You maybe wanted to bring folk music back to the foreground ? 
G: Well, I guess the main idea was to make "Şimşek" versions of songs/poems we really love, and combine those with original ideas as we were starting to write music for this project. The Anatolian Folk element is very important in our music of course, but it isn't the central point of focus.

The Basement: What are your influences ? What you've been listening to when you were younger ?
G: I grew up in a musical family... listening to lots of Afro-american music (Jazz, Soul, Funk...) and lots of 60's Pop, Psychedelic stuff... As a teenager I loved film soundtracks and I also started to listen to pop music from across the world through friends of mine...

Derya: I was born in Hamburg and grew up there. My parents are turkish. When I was younger we listened turkish music at home. Of course ... because my family is turkish and they always miss their hometown in Sivas (turkey). My parents supported me in my musiclife - always. So I think my inflience is more from the support from my parents and the music we listened all togehter at home.

The Basement: In your EP, we can spot music genres as psychedelic and folk. Can you specify the king of music you write ? I saw the term "Anatolian Rock", in one press release of yours.
G: Mmmh, we don't really see ourselves as a "Rock" band... but of course we are influenced by the Anatolian Rock movement that sprung in Turkey in the 70's: lots of great artists such as Mogollar, Selda Bagcan, Baris Manço... I think Grup Şimşek is more open in terms of music genres... we like to experiment with all sorts of influences outside the strict "vintage Turkish" style... Actually those artists that we like were musically very open too!




The Basement: Whose idea was Aşık Mahzuni Şerif's "Nem Kaldı" re-imagination ? This is an excellent Turkish folk track. Tell us more about Mahzuni. What do the lyrics describe ? 
G: I think I came up with covering "Nem Kaldı", but it's actually Derya who introduced us to Mahzuni Serif's wonderful work! We actually knew many of his songs without realising he'd written them. He was very influencial in Turkey in the 70's, as he was an "Aşık", a poet-songwriter with an important spiritual role, and a critical eye on society.

D: Yes it's excellent! Mahzuni tells in his poem:

"Nem Kaldı" means "What I have left". The lyrical identity, which in Mahzuni Serif, is very lonely.

He asks himself, what I have left in this world. 
"What I have left,  except my silly (not working) head/brain.
What I have left, except two tears they poured down my face."

In the last verse he tells:
"I am Mahzuni Serif und if I would climb a mountain.
Than I would meet a hunter, who shoot a deer.
Dear hunter, load your rifle and shoot me.
What I have left, except an injured chest."

The lyrical identity is most of the time, the poet himself: like Mahzuni Serif. One of the important and famous poet in turkey. These important poets they mentioned by the other people: Aşık. (Aşık Veysel, Aşık Mahzuni Serif)
They usually write melodies for their poems, and they sing their poems with a turkish lute: Baglama. Mostly the lyrics tell about love, yearning, homesickness, foreignness and social problems/situations.

The Basement: Are you satisfied with the final outcome ? What more can we expect in the near future ?
G: it is a lot of work, and the process is quite slow, if you think of how far apart the bandmembers live! We are happy with the EP considering how new everything was to all of us. But of course we are eager for more creative time and recordings! We might release a single after the summer, but we would also love to make a full-length album, although it is still early to talk about it!

The Basement: Where do the members of Grup Simsek live ? Do you make a living through music ? Is there free time for you and how do you spend it ?
G: At the moment: Berlin, Copenhagen, London and the South-East of France! Not all of us live off music, but music is n°1 priority to all Simseks I think! 
When there is free time... more music haha!

D: I just moved to Berlin and want to spend my time for my lute, Baglama. I have a very nice theacher there "Taner Akyol". I try to live as a musician and work not only as a performer in my other bands. I work with children and teenegers, in different kind of project and work in schools. And actually Im studying "To become a music-theacher" ... haha

The Basement: Do you listen to new music ? Propose us any artists you think we must know about.
D: Of course. I like all kind of music styles - the different way to think and play music!

G: Yes! Check out a Swedish producer called Joxaren, and a Romanian label called Future Nuggets... interesting modern stuff with Eastern heritage! 

The Basement: Are you going to play in any gigs or be on a tour ? 
G: Yes for sure! We will be playing in Germany, France and Switzerland throughout spring and summer... quite a few festivals are inviting us. Hopefully we'll come to South and East of Europe soon too! 

The Basement: Any long term plans ? What are your ambitions for the band?
D: For the next time we plan some tours as Graham Mushnik said in the last answer. There is no long term plans yet. Of course we want to write new music/songs and be together and have nice time togehter :) 

Thank you Grup Şimşek !


Nem Kaldi EP

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