On the European side of Istanbul, Emek gives us a crash course in the evolution of Turkish psychedelic music.

Emek Can Tulus – Istanbul, Turkey


nce again we gonna step back in time. About a year ago I traveled to Turkey for a couple of days job. needless to say, I had to take this great opportunity to find some records and record collectors.

I made a brief research before I arrived and found a few excellent young collectors with an interesting eclectic musical taste. in the next couple of post I will feature some great Turkish collectors, New School and Old School. Let me start with the New School.
Here is Emek Can Tulus. A great gentle guy. beyond his knowledge in Turkish music, his taste is pretty eclectic and broad. American Jazz and Soul on one side and Turkish Psych on the other.

Q: Your full name, age and city?
A: Emek can Tulus , 33, Istanbul, Turkey
Q: What do you do for a living?
A: I am an artist & illustrator. I used to be a partner of a record shop (Deform music) but i quit the store business 2 years ago.
Q: What was your first album? How did you get it? At what age? Can you describe that feeling? Do you still have it?
A: The very first vinyl album that I bought with my own money was Jefferson Airplane’s “After Bathing at Baxters” LP. I bought it on flea market when i was 13 in 1990, those were the days most people where trying to get rid of the vinyl albums because the vinyl records were out of time. I was an amateur underground comic fan then and was making some money on comics business. The most interesting thing about that record was the front cover illustration which is a work by Ron Cobb who is a killer illustrator for newspapers in the 70’s. I used to have his album of works and just because it I bought that J.A. LP. I still have both of them the ron cobb illustrations album and J.A. LP.

This is my first record bought my very own money! Ron Cobbs’ great sleeve art attracted me to buy it. Had no idea on the music back then ! Today i still like it.

Ron Cobbs’ german pressed album, bought at the same days with the LP. What a talented guy !
Q: What prompted you to start collecting? What age did you start ?
A: after 1990 I started to collect vinyl, at the times i was mostly buying hardcore punk & grindcore and death metal stuff via mail order before the days of internet. Then i started to dig into Rock, Garage ,Psychedelia to Post Punk and new wave and then Funk and Jazz. I was buying every record that looked interesting to me both conceptually and musically.
Q: Why vinyl?
A: Because the vinyl is very handsome, you can see it, feel it, smell it. It’s something real, not fake like the CD format. I mostly prefer second hand stuff because there is a story behind each record. Somebody created, recorded , produced and manufactured them, then somebody bought them from the market and threw it out or re-sell them to somebody else. That’s the magical point of the obsession to listen or collect vinyl. I am always one step after, when i was start to collect vinyl they were always second hand.
Turkish Psych from early 70’s. Kind of a movie soundtrack with interesting sleeve which shows an historic rebel and poet named “Pir Sultan Abdal” from the 16th century.
Q: Any specific genre? What attracted you to this specific genre?
A: Not really. I am always digging for something original at least something real, something wonderful that players dedictate themselves to create a work of their own with a pure soul. The records I have varies from free Jazz to Grindcore, from Garage-Punk to Turkish Kitch and whatever, you name it. I love Naplam death and John Coltrane in the same time, Neil Young and Jacques Dutronc in the same time. It’s all about the creativity, the energy, the approach to create some sounds interesting.
Q: Can you tell me a bit about the vinyl scene in turkey? What are the most collected genres in turkish music?
A: Late sixties and early 70’s anatolian rock records. This is a combination of rock music with turkish folkloric traditions. Some of them are really killer ones. When they have both the energy of a young noisy rocker and the traditional elements of turkish musical history that deepened in the centuries, there are many good turkish vinyls. Most of the collectors are after these records because they are really rare, especially in good shape. The collectors scene now is bigger than back in the 90’s, but i must say that most of the collectors are after the objects not the concepts. I don’t like the collectors who are looking for the original pressings of the rolling stones or led zeppelin worldwide singles discography . It’s not about the music. They can just go and try to live in the past.
Q: From looking around record shops in istanbul, I noticed that the priced are pretty high, considering the cost of living in istanbul. Was it always like that? Or is it a trend of the last years? Is there much interest among international collectors in Turkish music?
A: The record stores are really expensive because there are not enough records to sell and not enough collectors to buy them. Someone has to pay $ 20 to buy a common pink floyd LP, which is actually $ 2 in europe or usa. There is a very strong interest for the Turkish records on the international market. There is something wonderful in the turkish records, the singles and albums by Erkin Koray, Baris Mancho, Selda just to name a few. Go and type them on eBay, see the results…

George Gruntz – Noon in Tunisia. recorded with some tribal arabic musicians, and released only in germany that record is pure music!

Q: Can you recommend a few record shops or dealers who deal with Turkish vinyl?

A: Zoltan Records

Caferaga Mahallesi, Sakiz Sokak No: 15/d
Kadikoy District / Istanbul
Ph: +905353534157
Deform Music
Turnacibasi Mahallesi, No: 45
Cukurcuma / Beyoglu District / Istanbul
Ph: +902122453337
Vintage Records
Dr. Esat Isik Caddesi, No: 20
Kadikoy District / Istanbul
Ph: +902163302249
Q: Tell me a crazy story over a certain record that you bought / found
A: I called a guy who advertised on the newspaper. I went to the meeting point and there was a black limo. Only the driver was talking to me. I just looked at the records and made an offer. It was the only driver who talks seperately to me and to the owner of the records, that crazy mafia boss. Driver talk to the guy in the limo and got the money to bring him. I got a good pile of Funk records especially an original copy of Blue Ryhthm Combo’s Magumba LP which was pressed in Barbados islands. Killer funky album.
Q: Where do you go today to buy records? Do you do most of it online or do you still go digging in flea markets?
A: Antique stores, advertisements, flea markets and I have contacts of the stores in the city. Suddenly my phone rings and someone says they have some records to sell. I am buying records for about 19 years. I smell well. They smell good. I love records and records love me.
Q: Has record digging changed much in turkey since the online shops started to dominate the market? Or is it still old school?
A: It changed. For me it’s the best buy via cash face to face. I dont like the credit cards buy. But sometimes i have to.

Q: Love, hate, obseesion, passion, pride, joy, anything else… what would best describe the relation to your collection?
A: I am living and my collection lives too. You can make love in the bed and you can make love in the bushes too. It’s your decision. I am not a kind of guy who is proud of to have a collection of ten thousand records. The records and me, we are living together. And if i feel some of the records are unnecessary to keep anymore, i get rid off them. Sometimes i buy some of these records again, haha. Neither the records nor i am proud of each other.
Q: What’s your partners’ reaction to this obsession?

A: She has good taste in music, so no problem with the records. But sometimes she yells at me and says this record sucks if I listen too much to funky stuff.

Groovy instrumental Mod Punk Garage track by Turkish 60’s band named Apaslar, which can be translated in english “The Apaches”. The band took their name from the shadows’ track “The Apache”.
Q: Can you educate us with few corner stones in Turkish Psych/Funk/Jazz music?
* Erkin Koray- Mechul / ve single from diskotur label, never re-released yet. A crazy psyched-out LSD nightmare.
* Okay Temiz-Denizalti Ruzgarlari / Dokuz Sekiz from Yonca label, killer groovy experimental jazz/funk/avant-garde sound.
* Cem karaca & apaslar – gilgamis 7” from Turkuola label, late 60’s moddish instrumental garage.
* Ersen & Kardaslar- Metelik / yine seni tanirim from sahinler label, groovy psyhedelic funk with lots of wah-wah and fuzz guitars.
* Fikret Kizilok – Aybatti from Sah label, a keyboard driven speedy instrumental dance song.
One of my all time favorite Turkish 7″es. “Denizalti Ruzgarlari” by Turkish master jazz drummer Okay Temiz. Strange drum & percussion effects blended with local grooves and moog sounds. Nice sleeve, indeed!
Back sleeve for the very same 7″. Instruments include even an handmade ones named as “Sputnik 5” and “Frog”.
Q: I’m very curious about the evolution of Turkish music and it’s sub genres. can you tell us some more about different genres and it’s leading artists? Can you refer to the Psychedelic era, how come there is so many Psych albums? and the more traditional side, the Arabesque? or Kitsch?

A: Turkish culture has a very strong musical journey during the centuries. The affects of eastern, Arabic, Persian & Indian music blended with local sounds and authentic instruments with the strong supports of black sea region, caucasian and balkan music.

In early to mid 60’s, most of the turkish rock and pop musicians carbon-copyied the western stuff but around the late sixties it seemed there was a new start. Local folk tunes were covered by the young artists with western instruments and arrangements in a unique way. This movement later was referred to as “anadolu rock”. Some major names include Mogollar, Baris Manco, Erkin Koray, Cem Karaca, Ersen and Selda.
More common musical styles like Turkish folk music of many centuries, there is also turkish classical music which remained from the Ottoman empire. it’s urban music and aristocratic, combining elements of Soufi music, Persian music and urban culture of the old Ottoman country. some big names like, Munir Nurettin Selcuk, Safiye Ayla and Muzeyyen Senar.
Arabesque music, clearly influenced by arabic music of Oum Kaltoum, Fairuz and Rahbani brothers. Lyrics are mostly dark and suffering, major figure is Orhan Gencebay.
For the kitsch genre, I can say Zeki Muren is the key figure. He was a an extraordinary performer of Turkish classical music and one of the transvestites loved by the whole Turkish families. In the 60’s and 70’s he was dressing self designed costumes (Drag Queen style) and was highly respected.
Q: Can you name a few records that you like going back to at any time. What makes them so special for you?
Pure spiritual jazz by the great Marion Brown. We used to listen that one with a very close friend of mine who died because of a brain tumor. My friend Ismet who exactly looked like Marion, was telling me “stop playing that album. If not, i will steal it !”
A: I love the music which does not get boring if you listen to it again and again. There are some albums that i listen over and over and feeling as i am listening for the first time. New discoveries everytime i listen. Robert wyatt’s “rock bottom” album one of these ones. Many Coltrane albums in that way. Pink Floyd’s “The Piper at The Gates of Dawn” , Marion Brown’s “Sweet Earth Flying” , banana album by Velvet Underground, both albums by Joy Division, “Ege Bamyasi” by Can, Erkin Koray’s “Elektronik Turkuler” just to name a few…
Our favorite album, “Ege Bamyasi” by Can. Title is originally in turkish, meaning “Aegean Okra”. Never bored listening to this one over and over.
This record is from my father. Autographed for him by the artist in the 70’s. Turkish left-wing political folk.
Q: What is your favorite album art? Any special reason?
A: Oh, there are so many. Maybe it’s just because i am also into the visual arts. Many of the classic Blue Note albums are wonderful stuff but i have to say Donald Byrd’s “A New Perspective” is exceptional because it combines the title and the sleeve in an unique way. Also i love Albert Ayler’s “New Grass” with the upside down close-up photo of Ayler’s beard. The photo inside the gatefold sleeve of soft machine’s “third” album is also one of my favourites, if i would have a chance i wanted to be there, even only my feet are ok. I respect robert wyatt as my he would be my father. Gang of four’s “entertainment” album sleeve still stands very good in the punk rock genre. And a turkish seven inch single sleeve by Ahmet Sezgin, a minimalist kitchy combination of red , white and black. When i get bored, i look at this sleeve and laugh every time.

One of the masterpieces of 70’s Turkish Rock/Psych, “Elektronik Turkuler” by Erkin Koray who still performs and records since 1957.
Q: Album that best makes the soundtrack of your childhood.
A: Lou Reed’s “Metal Machine Music”
Q: Album that scared you in your childhood?
A: Death’s “Scream Bloody Gore” album. I clearly remember i was scared when i listened to that album i was alone at home.
Q: Album playing right now:
A: We just played Nick Drake’s “Bryter Layter” album a few minutes ago. Very deep stuff, it’s a shame his departure was very early.
Thanks gin for visiting.
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13 Responses

  1. Hi Eilon,
    Another fascinating read! I love your blog and have particularly enjoyed the last couple of psych-centric posts. It's both daunting and thrilling to think how much amazing music is out there waiting to be discovered. Perhaps some of your followers might be interested in my vinyl blog which, although not as focused, is very much inspired by Dust & Grooves. Keep those great interviews coming.


  2. Pingback : Mix – Emek Can Tulus – Turkish Psych : Dust & Grooves ~ Vinyl. Music. Culture

  3. Gokhan Turhan

    Great interview. As someone who has lived in Istanbul for over 20 years, let me make an addition/correction to the following comment:

    “The record stores are really expensive because there are not enough records to sell and not enough collectors to buy them.”

    (1) Not enough records to sell

    This is true. Turkish music does not expand to several different genres like U.S. does. We do not have 10s of great Blues, Soul, Funk, Indie, Electronic, Jazz etc musicians. All the city is pretty much after the same 10-20 artists/bands. And those artists did not release thousands of albums in the first place.

    (2) Not enough collectors to buy them

    This is what I wanted to correct. First of all, this is against the demand/supply balance. In fact there are a lot more collectors per person than any other country. Main reason behind that is that unlike US, there are hundreds of bars who are playing only the vinyl records they own so those are the main collectors. Outside of that, all the customers are in the same customer segment. In US, different demographics will have different taste in music. However, in Turkey regardless of their age, everyone is looking for that Erkin Koray or Baris Manco record.

    Also, it’s harder for Turkish people to travel abroad due to visa regulations, so majority of the buyers need to get them from the same stores. Marketplaces such as discogs are a lot less popular.

    Now that Turkish music is gaining popularity thanks to Internet, I would expect these records to get more expensive in the near future.

  4. Paul Moody

    Great collection! Could you tell me what the poster is on the wall? (could you email response please?)
    Paul Moody (England)

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