Subtempo Guest Mix 037
London-based Circassian-Turkish electronica producer from Istanbul. Releases on Injazero & 7K! Runs Injazero Records. Grad student in electronic music at Guildhall.
Hi Siné, first of all, thanks so much for doing this mix for us.
Thanks so much for inviting me.
I’d like to start by asking what tools did you use to create this mix.
Is there a theme to this mix?
Yes, all of the tracks are by experimental and ambient artists from Turkey. There is a wealth of talent from this geography and I’m really glad I was able to feature some of them in this mix.Sinemis is Siné's new ambient and experimental project, one of the multiple creative outlets for the London-based musician and label-boss.
You are originally from Turkey and are currently living in London, correct?
Yes, I am from Turkey and have Circassian heritage. I was born and raised in Istanbul and moved to London in 2012. However, as I can take work with me, I still spend a lot of time in Turkey.
What drove you to London?
I wanted to be in the middle of a thriving music scene, meet new people and international artists, network, learn production, work at a UK label and enjoy everything this invigorating city had to offer. Of course, Istanbul can also be very stimulating but nowhere is quite like London when it comes to the culture and arts scene. During my first year in London, I went to a show every single day. One night, I saw one song at the start of a show in South London and caught the last song at another one in the East. I am a little better at planning now thankfully!
And you are currently a grad student. What do you study?
I am doing a master’s degree in electronic music at Guildhall. I also did an MA in Culture, Media and Creative Industries at King’s. Evidently, I love being at school, it gives me so much energy being surrounded with talented young artists. Sometimes I do feel my age though - the other day, security tried to sign me in as a teacher.
You maintain strong roots with Turkey, right? I saw that in a lot of your posts you write in Turkish… Do you go back and forth much?
I spend almost half of the year in Turkey as the nature of my work allows it. I have a lot of friends and family there. Rather than doing frequent short visits, I stay for extended periods of time. There are things and people in this beautiful country that are really valuable to me. Turkey certainly has its issues that I’m hoping will change for the better but there’s also a lot of good alongside the bad.Besides her music projects Sinemis and Villette, as well as running Injazero Records, Siné is also studying a masters program at Guildhall College in London.
How’s the music scene there?
I can really only talk about Istanbul as that’s the city I resided in. Istanbul went through periods of thriving and periods of difficulty. At its best, it was amazing. We watched so many amazing artists thanks to the forward-thinking promoters and the fans who made it worth their while. We saw Nils Frahm, Ölafur Arnalds and a Winged Victory for the Sullen at the 150-seated capacity venue Salon IKSV a decade ago, thanks to Bengi Ünsal who is now the director of ICA. In 2007, the National was onstage at the 400-capacity venue Babylon, thanks to Eilf Cemal. One of my best festival experiences ever was Radar Live the same year, one of many events Murat Abbas put together, who I learned a lot from.
Some of the best club nights I experienced were in Indigo Istanbul, anyone I could think of in dance music played there. The better promoters also took a chance on emerging local talent too. It would be impossible to name everyone who came and went through Istanbul. I was so lucky to be a culture and arts reporter at the time. However, in the past decade especially, the culture and arts sector have been hit hard due to the economic downturn, terrorism, discouraging government regulations, the pandemic and the increasingly polarizing political climate. This is a very long topic and deserves a lengthy discussion so I’ll leave it at that but one thing is certain, Istanbul is definitely unique and will never fail to amaze.
I’ve always wanted to go, it’s certainly on my bucket list. How do you think the political climate influences the music industry there?
The political climate is no help to the music industry. First of all, the actions of the current government have been very damaging for Turkey and unfortunately, been influencing some foreign agencies and artists in a negative way. People are not their governments; they may well disapprove of their actions, stand against those actions and may be the victims of those actions themselves. Circassian-Turkish journalist and writer Ece Temelkuran recently said “many of us know the excruciating shame of being represented by the worst of us” – which is true for the millions of people who didn’t vote for this government. Sadly, not everyone is making that distinction. There have been instances in the past where some international artists either outright refused to play in Turkey, demanded extravagant fees or cancelled their shows. That upset their already disenfranchised fans more and made a difficult situation worse. Government limitations like unreasonable curfews, extraordinary taxes and bans, terribly fluctuating exchange rates also hit the event organizers hard. This is an ecosystem and everyone in the industry gets affected. Life is not easy for local underground artists, especially if you are outspoken about your views. The left-field culture and arts sector is surviving somehow despite the difficulties but would be in a different place if it got adequate support and encouragement or else, at least a steady environment to operate in. There’s a lot to say on this topic but I’ll stop here.Siné's indie label, Injazero Records, has proven to be a mainstay in the ambient and experimental community, with releases from the likes of KMRU, Hinako Omori, and more.
You run a flourishing indie label, Injazero records, of which I’m a big fan. I think I first discovered it through the Steve Gibbs release, and it’s just got stronger over the years. LTO, Matt Emery, Snowdrops, and now the amazing KMRU… I’m a proud owner of the record in wax by the way. You have created something very special. Tell me a little about why you started it and what the ethos of the label is.
Thanks so much for the kind words. I have always wanted to work at a record label and did an internship at FatCat for a year as part of my studies. Afterwards, I decided to start my own record label, although I have to mention that I got valuable assistance from a good friend who went on to launch Phantom Limb. The idea was to release music by artists who truly inspire us, be conscious of design and create a very clear visual aesthetic as well. Injazero is practically a non-profit, in the sense that everything the label makes stays within the label to support the releases. I am also giving more thought to sustainability. The label made donations to plant 342 trees in the UK and Turkey last year through Tema and the National Forest. We are also rethinking our manufacturing process. We are looking into pressing vinyl from recycled plastics. All our sleeves will be from FSC-certified paper and the vinyl 140 grams rather than 180. We will keep on planting trees in an effort to offset our footprint. On a different note, a lot of the designers, publishers, photographers, press agents we work with are women but I am really hoping to have more women and gender minorities on our roster. We recently covered the annual education cost of a girl in Turkey through the charity Çağdaş Yaşamı Destekleme Derneği and we’re working to provide a similar sponsorship in the UK, which I am hoping materializes this year.Sinemis at one of her favorite synths, the Moog Sub37.
How are you finding running a label in 2022?
Rewarding but difficult! Running an experimental and ambient label is challenging at the best of times and with the pandemic and Brexit added to the mix, it certainly hasn’t got any easier.
Do you think labels still hold an important place in culture?
Definitely. On the one hand, it is positive that a lot of artists can now embrace a more DIY approach if they want to and be in complete control over their output without the need of a label. I see more and more artists self-releasing these days and doing really well. On the other hand, there is just so much music out there, the curation of the label has also become more valued than ever. Especially if you are a small indie with devoted fans... From the artist’s side, there’s a lot of admin involved in managing all aspects of a release and having someone else take care of that for you, can be really valuable in saving the time and headspace necessary for creativity. The label would also cover expenses that can be very costly like manufacturing and is worth working with if there’s a fair, artist-friendly deal on the table.
You are also a producer and artist yourself. First as Villette, and more recently as Sinemis. Tell me about the two aliases. Do you still produce under both? What drove you to get started under a new name?
I come from a dance background and Villette used to be a more beat-heavy electronica project. Throughout the years, I found myself producing more ambient tunes which didn’t really fit with that project and I wanted to separate the two. I also started using more and more traditional instruments from Turkey (which are of course also found in some other cultures). The Turkish ney flute in particular is at the core of everything I have done as Sinemis and using a name so unrelated as Villette didn’t really feel right for this. My name Sine is short for Sinemis, a Circassian name and there’s also the name Sinem in Turkish, so it seemed like the perfect fit. Villette is not dead though and I’ll release a collaborative EP this year with that project.Siné's studio has no shortage of outboard gear and synths, giving her recordings a whole lot of analog tone.
I saw you included an unreleased tune from your Sinemis project. Any plans to do a release sometime?
Yes, hopefully an album later in the year but these wild vinyl manufacturing times that are now between 8-10 months and some health issues have left me behind on plans.
You are also a journalist. What sort of things do you focus your writing on?
Sadly, I haven’t been doing any journalism work for the past five years as the label kept me really busy. I really miss it. I also used to be a sports reporter for half a decade on NTV Spor. I ran a music blog called Indie UK for a few years and wrote for outlets like Dazed, Time Out Istanbul, Apple Music, BBC Turkey, the Ransom Note, Billboard Turkey...Most of these were interviews with artists and reviews. After a weekly radio show called Untitled on Turkish station Radyo Eksen, now I have a monthly on Resonance Extra.
Last question. How do you find the time to do all these things? When do you sleep? [laughs]
Haha I didn’t but now I do! I used to multi-task and overwork but life has thought me otherwise. This undue importance put on being constantly busy is very counter-productive. I recently read ‘Can’t Even: How the Millennials Became the Burn Out Generation’ by Anne Helen Peterson, which helped me understand the systemic order in which we are made to feel uneasy if we are not in constant work mode, ending up severely anxious and burnt out as a result. I try to educate myself, change my mindset and try to look after myself better, as I have had a few health warnings in the past, including a recent surgery. I’m aware that a lot of people may struggle to find the time and energy for self-care in a long and exhausting work day but it’ so important. I am really grateful that I can make that time now and hope that everyone can make their well-being a priority as much as they can.
Well, thank you Siné, it’s been a pleasure.
The pleasure is mine. Thanks so much for featuring this mix and the considered questions.
- Mehmet Can Özer - Siyah Kalem Dansı [A.K. Müzik]
- 2/5bz – Anadolog [Sub Rosa]
- Başar Ünder - Down the Road [Süpersonik]
- Gorali – Overcast [self-released]
- KAOSMOS - Hello I am Space [self-released]
- Zeynep Ayşe Hatipoğlu – Maersk [7K!]
- Reverie Falls On All - Eta Carinae [Sub Rosa]
- Okay Vivian - İnci Ol [IA]
- Y Bülbül – Txalaparta [Pingipung]
- Volkan Ergen & HVO Orchestra - For Rain [Ateş Erkoç OÜ]
- Ece Canlı – Sopromago [Lovers & Lollypops]
- Erdem Helvacıoğlu - Sliding On a Glacier [New Albion Records]
- Alper Maral & Mert Topel - Osilatör 1 [Müzik Hayvanı]
- c / a [w/ecolagbohrsac] - Knowledge [prophecy, millenarianism and personal destiny] [self-released]
- Tuna Pase & Barkın Engin – Rest [self-released]
- ZS ZS - Rolling Machine [Robonima Records]
- Cevdet Erek - El-Fokurtu [Subtext/Multiverse Limited]
- Kerim Safa – Maerd [Clinical Archives]
- Ekin Fil – Pisces [Possible Motive]
- Ipek Gorgun - Le Sacre I [Touch]
- Koray Kantarcıoğlu - AC RU 29, Pt. 1 [Wounded Wolf Press]
- Jtamul – Rahatla [Objects Limited]
- Raw - Innate [Transferans]
- Cenk Ergün – Proximity (excerpt) [self-released]
- Sinemis - Sonsuz [unreleased]
- Meczup - Sworn Mother [DijitalDagit.im]
- Tsu - Across Coffee World, Above Honda [Who Are We Who We Are]
- KOO - Bölüm 1 [Transferans]
- Akkor - Işık [self-released]
- Pullahs – Playa [self-released]
- Elif Yalvaç - Under the Aurora 1 [NNA Tapes]
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