Interview: 123

123 are among the most fascinating rock groups in Turkey. Recently, they’ve released a new album called “Anja”, which you can find on Spotify and Deezer. We asked the Istanbul band’s drummer, Berke Can Özcan, to tell us more about 123, their new LP and their favourite Turkish musicians.

“I met Feryin in a cover band, and Burak on a ship, back in 2004”, says Berke Can Özcan. “We became close friends and a trio happened: rhodes, bass and drums with electronic beats. We improvised over loops all at 123 BPM, that’s were the name comes from. At first we didn’t want to make albums. It took us 4 years to release the first LP, the idea of an album came real slow. The first one we did, “Aksel”, was something way too different from what we’ve been doing as we kept changing the style. But it wasn’t intentional.”

“We’re not a very busy band with big tour schedules. But we don’t have day jobs either. Some of us teach music, one of us works in a classical orchestra, we also run a record label. So basically we find our way out. It’s cool to hold on to music while trying to make money. The situation here is a little difficult, I guess it’s the same everywhere. Many bands, few venues, it’s not easy – but it’s OK.”

“Our new album, ‘Anja’, is heavier. It’s more rock’n roll. We have new members: Arda on guitar/trombone and Seçil on vibraphone/percussion. So the sound is bigger too. There are both English and Turkish lyrics. Our singer Dilara, she’s half Swedish and she was raised talking a lot of English. So the lyrics come out as she likes. Simple as that.”

“There are also some guests on the recording, like Norwegian trumpeter Gunnar Halle. Most of the album was recorded live in studio, without click tracks, pretty much like we were on stage.”

“There are many talented musician friends around. To name a few: Gevende, Yasemin Mori, Korhan Futacı & Kara Orkestra, Hakan Kurşun, Farfara, Ceylan Ertem, konstrukt, Portecho, Serdar Ateşer, Replikas… Turkey’s location makes the variety of sounds richer of course, but in times like this – I mean the world getting smaller with the help of the Internet – it doesn’t really mean anything.”

“Our favourite Turkish song could be ‘Kar yağdı’ by Hakan Kurşun. It’s nothing new, but we love it.”

To learn more abour 123, visit their official website or their profiles on Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. You can also check out Berke’s personal Twitter.

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