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Utkucan Eken - Composer

Interview

1- Who were your first music teachers and how did they influence your future decisions?

During my secondary education I’ve played cello in the Fine Arts School Orchestra and also I was in the Choir. Ali Ilhan Akyunak was the conductor and we gave concerts in many cities in Turkey such as Ankara, Bursa, Kayseri, Kastamonu and Izmir. In our repertoire there were also re-arrangements of some classic rock songs like Bohemian Rhapsody from Queen. This influenced me a lot and I tried to arrange other classic rock songs for the orchestra and choir. Creative thinking has always been a very important part of my character, since my childhood. So, I really enjoyed composing and arranging songs. Then I tried to record my compositions on the computer and that leaded me to the doors of composition and music technology.

2- Is your family musical?

I am the only musician in the family.

3- You completed your BA Honours in music technology and composition at Yıldız Technical University in Istanbul. To what extent did the environment and professors there lead you to where you are now?

I found the chance to work with many valuable lecturers in Yıldız Technical University such as Prof. Ruhi Ayangil and Assoc. Prof. Koray Sazlı. The interdisciplinary education approach of the faculty helped me to widen my vision. I studied from classical music theory to jazz theory, Turkish music to contemporary music. Discovering the wide range of the music world from different practises and theories was like improving and extending the colours on my palette as a music producer. On a music technology basis this diverse study fields also inspired me a lot. I wrote my graduation thesis about influences of music technology on music and sound. Mustafa Kemal Karaosmanoglu was my thesis advisor and his contrubitions made me to achieve to write on this complex subject. Also I’m thankfull to Assoc. Prof. Alper Maral for his additions; both in my musical and intellectual visions.

4- What was your first ‘big break’ in the commercial world of music production / composition?

After my graduation I started to work for Film and TV projects. I had the chance to produce Sonic Identities for some well-known TV channels in Turkey. Beside that I produced music for documentaries, TV show opening titles etc. Every step was of course really important for me on my burgeoning career but the trailer music for the Snow Pirates movie was the most exciting one for me. On this project I collaborated with Sonat Dursun who is a Turkish actor and musician. The film has been screened at the 65th Berlinale International Film Festival. They were all important achievements to me but I believe the “Big Break” is still on its way and I keep on working to get come across with it.

5- The ‘Inner Deeper – Stories’ recent personal music project clearly has an introspective element, possibly a parallel journey to your life. Does the inspiration for these come from your own inner-self?

Absolutely. Playing piano and composing on my own is like a meditation to me. Most of the times I find myself playing and thinking on the piano, trying to explore and transmit my ideas and feelings through the keyboard. For many years I wrote little pieces and songs at these musical meditation sessions of my own. Then one day I wanted to bring some of them together and make an album because they were like a little pieces from the story of my life, and they were all from my inner-self. That’s why I wanted to name this project as “Inner Deeper”.

6- You are currently continuing an Audio Production MA Programme at the University of Westminster. How is this progressing?

Pretty intense but exciting. We are concentrating on Music Production, Sound Design and Music for Film and Animation. The programme covers a wide range of audio production disciplines. But I think it fits perfectly to my aim. Because I like to work both in the production of music and producing for the screen. That’s really exciting to work and improve your knowledge on both fields as a music producer. I also like to work interdisciplinary and I think that’s why I like to work for the screen as well. Supporting a secene’s emotion, controlling the tension with the power of sound and music is priceless.

7- Do you still play a musical instrument for pleasure?

Yes. I play piano. Also I play keyboards, synthesizer. It’s like another world to me; I spend most of my time in this ‘Other World’. Beside that I play cello, guitar and bass guitar.

8- Who is your favourite musician and why?

I think I’m really a tasteless listener. (In a good manner) I mean I listen a wide range of genres from Electronica to Jazz. Always more than one musician comes to my mind from Stockhausen to Steve Reich, Miles Davis to Bobby Mcferrin. Nowadays I listen keenly the Mehliana; Brad Mehldau and Mark Guiliana’s Jazz duo, which is so creative and inspiring. But anyway, if I have to say just one name from these dozens of names than I think it would be the father of music: J.S. Bach. Because all of these musicians that I mentioned before started to explore the music with Bach and they all studied his music.

9- How do you balance your study, performance and leisure times? What are the biggest sacrifices?

If I need to sacrifice something, generally I sacrifice the times for sleep.

10- From the nature of your work you collaborate with a wide range of producers and artists. Does anyone from these creators stand out for you especially?

Indeed. For example, my personal music project Inner Deeper is already a collaborative music project on its own. We recorded the first two songs of the first EP with Aslı Yazan from Istanbul. She sang the Voices and The One Inside. Her voice is so naïve and beautiful and she performed great. I look forward to work with her again. Hence there will be some other collaborations as well.

11- Do you have projects in the pipeline you would like to share with us?

I’ll participate on “B Side Project” which is an international collaboration project for artists and producers. On this project the artists are randomly paired up with the producers to work together. Also I’m planning to put the Inner Deeper on stage after the official release of the first album in 2016.

To return to Utkucan’s profile:

submission October 2015