"Sub City 2064" album was Editor’s Top Three CDs in Guitar Player magazine’s september issue of 2010.


Fourth Dimension Magazine Summer 2011
ERDEM HELVACIOGLU interview 

- I guess the “Black Falcon” album that you have released with Ros Bandt is your first album released in Turkey. As an artist producing since the beginning of the 2000s, do you feel excited about this release?

Yes that is right, although I have released five albums so far, “Black Falcon” is the first one that has been released in Turkey. The “Altered Realities” album which has been released in New York has been imported to Turkey by AK Muzik in 2008. On the other hand, “Black Falcon” has been officially released in Istanbul by the Turkish record label Pozitif. The album definitely has a special meaning for me. I regard the album as a synthesis of all the aesthetics, techniques that I have used on my previous works. Both Ros and me regard the “Black Falcon” album as a special world music work that has influences of ambient, electroacoustic, contemporary classical and modern jazz. On this album, Ros played the intrument called the tarhu and I played the electric guitar and controlled all the live electronics. We did not use any other instrument and any other sound source. This restriction along with the minimal performance of the instruments have resulted in a subtle but emotionally very powerful album. 

- You do many collaborative projects. Could you tell us about the collaborative projects that you have released recently and the works that you plan to do in the near future? 

The “Sub City 2064” album that I have done with Per Boysen has been released in Sweden in April 2010. This album has been included in the “Best 10 albums of the year” list by Blogcritics magazine. Some of the other artists included at this list are Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson. The album has also been chosen as the “album of the month” by the Guitar Player magazine. This is a futuristic album that tells the story of a city built under the ocean in 2064 and it includes the aesthetics of many different genres such as ambient, electroacoustic, dub, electronica, industrial and orchestral. The harp and electronics album that I have done with Sirin Pancaroglu has been released in June 2011 by the British label Sargasso. Besides these works, three new albums will be released in 2011, one of which will be released in August by the Sub Rosa Records. I am working on the final mixes of various albums recorded with artists such as Ulrich Mertin, Bill Walker, Jeffrey Roden. I will be working with Joe Mardin, the son of legendary producer Arif Mardin, on a special contemporary music project in 2011 and 2012.

- In the meantime, as far as I remember you have also been working with the vocalist of the band Cardigans.

We have been talking about this project for sometime with Nina Persson and her film composer husband Nathan Larson. We have started recording some demos and basic ideas in New York in November 2010. I plan to go to New York again in the fall of 2011 and try to finalize the project.

- Could you tell us more about your involvement with the Timucin Esen project?

Timucin is a close friend of mine whom I have known for a long time. I have been enjoying his songs and his vocal style. I am the producer and the arranger for the album. On this record, we have tried many different guitar sounds, have used special fx processors, drum machines and I think we have come up with a unique electronic rock sound. Besides being the producer and the arranger, I have also played the electric guitar on some songs.

- Do you see yourself as a local musician who has gained success internationally, or as a musician who has limited fan base here but is rather happy to be working abroad? 

This is a hard question to answer. I do not think that this has only one answer. I guess I experience both conditions in everyday life. There have been times where I have felt like a local musician from Istanbul and also the opposite. The interest towards the “Black Falcon” album has shown me that I am not stuck in a restricted community in Turkey. A lof of people told me that they had begun to enjoy electronic music because of this record. It is really wonderful to share this enthusiasm here in Istanbul.  

- You have a background in electronic music while on the other hand a lot of your works have an organic, acoustic feel to them. Is there a balance between them for you?

I have started playing the classical guitar and then my musical interest has turned towards rock n roll and electronic music. It seems that a clean guitar sound is always in my subconscious. I rather work along the lines of the project and I do not want to lock myself to a certain aesthetic. Although I like heavily processed timbres and sounds, at times a clean guitar tone coming from a Vox amp could be really inspirational and interesting.

- Isn’t this switch between genres and aesthetics difficult for you?

Actually this switch of mind set between different genres and aesthetics is not difficult for me. I have been involved with different projects at the same time through my musical career. I have found that it really improves me as a composer. I can work on an abstract electronic piece, while producing a rock band or writing a classical music work. I can try a new mixing technique that I have learned from an electronic piece on a rock song or I can try a new microphone technique that I have discovered during a classical music production at another piece in a different genre. Also working on different projects at the same time improves your production quality and gives you a fresh prespective on things.

- Finally, what does a sonic idea mean for you?

Within the musique concrete, any sound can be presented and treated as a sonic object. I feel more comfortable within the soundscape composition genre as a composer. For this genre, the environment that the sounds have been recorded at, the meaning of that specific place for the composer and all other parameters have an importance for the final sonic composition. The composers related with this genre do sound processing as much as the sound needs it in a way, nothing more and nothing less. For example, a minimal processing after a five minute unprocessed section may have a very powerful effect on the audience. Because of all these points, I enjoy the works of Canadian composer Hildegard Westerkamp very much. My work “Memories on Silent Walls” presented at the Istanbul Biennial is a good example of this aesthetic.

www.erdemhelvacioglu.com
www.myspace.com/erdemhelvacioglu

Interview by Okan Aydin
RELATED DISCOGRAPHY

Black Falcon