An Interview With Ekin Fil

August 8, 2011
By Brad Rose

Ekin Fil first came to my attention through the always-excellent Root Strata label and her cassette Language.  Operating out of Istanbul, Fil’s Turkish roots, while not an overpowering influence, are certainly present in her songs.  Throughout, Language is a fractured and beautiful exercise in ghostly melodies that hang on just enough to make a lasting impact but then quickly disappear.  It’s one of the year’s best tapes and promises some truly great things going forward.  I can’t wait to hear what’s next.

First, tell us a little bit about how you first got involved in music and when you started writing and recording your own songs.

There is no specific time interval actually but as far as I am aware of myself, I have been into music.  In first grade I would make up imaginary pop songs, then in adolescence they became rock songs.  I’ve constantly been in and out of bands and have bought instruments.  I was always serious about making music though.  But I think as I grew up, the music I make kind of grew up too.

How have you been inspired and influenced by your environment and where you live?

I think as with every other big city in the world, Istanbul is also too crowded, stressful and is a tiresome place but on the other hand there’s something that feeds people who are into creating & making things.  Istanbul stands on a very sharp ground on which past and present, modern and traditional and lots of other edges mingle with each other due to both its geographical position and its history…it exists within a very rough reality.  I think this effects my relationship with music and with life very deeply.  In fact, the desire to create a space where I can set my spirit free forms a silent and deep connection to the overall cosmos, I feel.

The first work of yours I heard is the Language cassette on Root Strata.   How did that come about?

In 2009, I opened up for Grouper’s gig in Istanbul.  We met there.  After that I sent two songs I’d made to her via e-mail and she said she wanted a friend of hers to listen to them too if I was OK with it.  And guess who that friend was?  It was Jefre.  I was utterly honored and happy.

When I listen to Language, there’s this darkness throughout the album – it’s almost desolate.  Is there a central theme that runs through the album?

Actually when I weaved the songs together as an album, I tried the idea that they were in a language I also do not know, and wanted to let them stand/be on their own.  This idea shaped the songs.  That’s why the title is “Language.”  I also think that it’s a dark, raw and a bit alone… that may be the central theme to it.

One thing I really liked about Language is how the first song, “Ima,” is composed with synthesizers while the rest of the songs are primarily built around guitar and voice.  Yet, to my ears, “Ima” sets the mood perfectly…it really caught me off guard.  Why did you choose this for the first track on the album?  Was it a conscious decision to open the album with a song that was so different than the other songs?

“Ima” means “clue” in Turkish…I may have thought of it as an intro to the album, yes, but for me it does not stand at a different place than other songs.  At least emotionally…

Do you have plans, going forward, to incorporate more synthesizers and electronics into your songs?

I have tried making songs with them in the past.  And actually I have also expoited them as much as the guitar in this record too.  I don’t think I will make another album all about electronics or I will totally abandon them.  But again, I really cannot foresee these kind of things.

What role does tension play in your music?

Tension and concern are always waving hands to me in life – I have never been a completely peaceful person.  These kind of feelings are somehow part of my every day life and I think they have found their ways to crawl under my subconscious, too, and show themselves that way in my songs.

What do you have planned for the future?
I have started experimenting on new stuff, very slowly though.  And there will be a few gigs in autumn…

What are some of your favorite albums you’ve heard this year?
I’ve been listening to Fabric’s “A Sort Of Radiance” album lately.  I like it a lot.

Any closing comments?
Thank you very much an much love from a really hot Istanbul.

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