AYA – Forabandit’s UlaI zdemir: We’re companions in misfortune

Forabandit’s UlaI zdemir: We’re companions in misfortuneForabandit, a multinational trio of musicians whose repertoire is inspired by troubadour songs, has been gaining popularity among music lovers — both in Turkey and internationally. The band, which released its second studio album, “Port,” in 2014, features singer and mandolin player Sam Karpienia, singer and baIlama player UlaI zdemir, and the Persian rhythms of percussionist Bijan Chemirani.

Simply put, the trio — which bills itself as a “fertile dialogue between the Occitan troubadour and the Anatolian aIIk” tradition — combines the lyrical traditions of the itinerant minstrels of Anatolia and Europe. Karpienia, zdemir and Chemirani first came together in 2009, in the French city of Marseille as part of a musical project called Sublimes Portes.

Before forming Forabandit in 2011, they performed numerous concerts and conducted workshops in both Marseille and Istanbul. “Port,” originally released in May, was issued in Turkey towards the end of October on the label AK Music.

In November, Forabandit was one of several acts who performed in Istanbul as part of this year’s XXF Very Very French festival. zdemir, also a record producer, recently spoke to Sunday’s Zaman about Forabandit and their music.

Forabandit is not your standard world music ensemble. How did you come up with this concept? We came together in 2009 when a Hatay-born Marseille-based [musician] established a project that aimed to connect musicians based in the port cities of Istanbul, Marseille and Hamburg.

Sam and Bijan were both based in Marseille Sam was making music in the Old Occitan language and Bijan comes from a family of famous musicians. I myself grew up [listening to and performing] traditional Alevi music.

We first came together for a project, but in time we created a band with its own unique sound and energy. Of course we got to know each other in time and had a lot of [music-related] arguments.

What does Forabandit mean? The word “forabandi” means “put aside” or “alienated” in the Occitan language. It also includes the word “bandit,” a concept that explains our musical ambition as a band.

I mean, we were looking for ways to express this viewpoint on poetry and music with a brigand’s attitude. And we made our first album with that theme in mind.

All the songs we have made since then include certain references to that concept. Moreover, stories of alienated and displaced people all over the world were among our major topics of interest.

So the word forabandi has gained a whole new dimension as a concept that also refers to the plight of those people. Your repertoire ranges from Alevi verses to Spanish cancions.

How do you select the songs for your albums? The songs on our first album were generally based on traditional verses or melodies. So it was closer to our initial aim of combining lyrical traditions of Anatolian aIIks and troubadours.

But in time, we wanted to write and perform our own original songs. We especially wanted to [recount] our very own stories in the songs we wrote during our visits to other port cities such as Thessaloniki, Algiers and Beirut for concerts.

And so began the story of our second album It was during that time that we realized we could actually write songs together And then we focused on writing we shared our sources of inspiration with each other which showed us how important face-to-face interaction is. We understood the fact that the tension created by arguments we had while writing a song led to a creative energy.

And we want to continue this way as long as we can. Of course I live in Istanbul and they live in Marseille, but we perform concerts together all the time, which helps us continue as a group and carry on the musical fighting.

In a previous interview, you called your practice “companionship in misfortune.” Is there really a shared misfortune? It would have been impossible for our band to continue if there wasn’t such a companionship.

And if we are to continue as a band, [that concept] will continue to become our foundation. In all the [countries] we’ve been to we witnessed [people] express their search for solutions to similar problems via music.

Lyrics in Kurdish and Persian have also made it to the songs on our second album We may even include Arabic or Armenian verses in our upcoming album But our goal is definitely not one related to putting together a selection of beautiful folk songs in different languages with the idea of [creating] “cultural diversity.” How was the second album received? Our second album was mostly recorded acoustically and it’s an analog recording.

Compared to our first album this one’s more dynamic, self-assured and full of surprises. Frankly, the second album made an even greater impact than our first one.

I guess the fact that we continued with our signature [sound] as a band was one of the reasons. Is it true that there’s a huge difference between your live performances and your recorded performances? Actually all of our songs have certain forms of their own.

Previously we weren’t able to improvise much and step out of those certain patterns. In time, as we got to know each other better and as we gained more experience of performing together on the same stage, we started bending and reshaping those certain forms in accordance with our [mood].

And we also like the fact that this has helped us establish an interactive relationship with the audience. In time they began to be part of the performance on the stage.

So in this respect, we’d always prefer the stage over the studio.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman