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On the Eve of Jazz On Campus: Evrencan Gündüz

Blog
On the Eve of Jazz On Campus: Evrencan Gündüz

01.10.2018

 Evrencan Gündüz will be performing for university students at the 28th Akbank Jazz Festival’s Jazz On Campus concerts. As the festival approaches, we sat down with Gündüz to talk about everything from the process of creating his music to the albums that inspire him. 

Interview: Cem Kayıran

‘‘Even though a person on the other end of the world might not understand our lyrics, he/she would still feel what we feel. Love is a universal language.’’

What are the features of Jazz On Campus concerts that excite you the most? Were you able to attend any campus performances in the previous years?

I am really excited about meeting the younger generations of this country and sharing my music. I also would like to take a moment to thank Akbank Jazz for providing an environment that is perfect for me to enjoy my work. There are a lot of people at the universities that either know our music and us or not.  To get together with all of them, as if for the first time, and giving a concert as writing a story of us getting to know each other, sharing my music with them… It is going to be very beautiful.

Last year Jehan Barbur traveled the universities, giving great performances. I was very happy for Jehan back then, and I am very excited that I get to do the same tour this year.

You are known for giving performances with different formations and set-ups. What kind of a formation are you planning for Jazz On Campus? 

We will be bringing love and peace to earthlings with my old-time band Uzaylılar. We will be performing our compositions as well as various funk and rock’n roll songs with some blues influence that are worthy of Akbank Jazz Festival.

On your website, you say that you want to be one of the best jazz and blues musicians of the world. As a musician who accomplished a lot in your early twenties, where do you see yourself in ten years?

In ten years I see myself as not only a local musician but an artist with a global following, going on stages all over the world and performing to audiences, no matter their numbers are. I would like to convey messages of world peace and love, to do my job with joy. Also, I would like to keep my bonds with Turkey strong, supporting the upcoming young generations.

You released your second EP, Mevsim Çiçekleri, last month. Compared to your first EP from two years ago, what were some of the differences in recording and production stages between the two albums?

I did the arrangements and compositions for both albums. I am very happy that I successfully released my first album at the age of 21. That was a very exciting process with lots of new experiences. By learning from the first album’s experiences and realizing my mistakes, I could enter the process of production for the second album with a more planned and ready mindset. Since I wanted to develop my musicality, I thought about adding new instruments and I invited new musicians to my band to enhance my music. Also, in this album I find my lyrics better in a literary sense. All in all I am happier with my album and songs.

You could say that the first album is more alternative music. Of course, I designed my melodies simpler, repetitive and accessible for people who are not so used to alternative music. In my second album, I did not have such worries. I thought my fans were ready for this kind of music, so I let go of my worries and focused on my music and lyrics more. The reactions were overwhelmingly good.

Is there a new album on the horizon? What are your plans for near future? 

To be honest there is more than one album on the horizon. But I don’t have an idea when they will be ready. I will just continue producing. I feel ready to create and share – when the time is right. Because I have a lot of songs… The only thing I have to do is to produce and share them at the right time and place. Of course, we plan to release singles without making my fans for too long.

What are some of the albums that you listen to over and over during tours without getting bored?

We memorized D’Angelo’s Live in Stockholm album. I think we all learnt what groove and band harmony is from D’angleo. Especially, Pino is a great bass player and D’Angelo leads the band perfectly. Also, I listen to PJ Morton’s live album Gumbo with great pleasure. In short, I am all about organic music.

We see you collaborating with musicians from various genres and do duets often. If you could choose a musician from jazz history to write a song with, who would that be?

It would be great to compose with Nat King Cole. If we could also include Zeki Müren, that would be amazing. I think they are two people from two different continents with similar feelings and souls. I think their naiveté and the elegance of their heart would bring their music together. Can you imagine? It would be awesome.

If you were to define your music to someone who never heard it, what adjectives would you use?

If I were to use one adjective, it would be ‘‘universal’’. My name means universe in Turkish – of course that is not the reason why I choose this adjective – but I am very happy to have my name being incorporated in the definition of my music. Even though a person on the other end of the world might not understand our lyrics, he/she would still feel what we feel. Love is a universal language. I think we are able to make all the living beings in the world and the universe feel better. This is why ‘‘universal’’ is suiting for my music.

Can you tell us a bit about your thoughts about Akbank Jazz Festival and your past experiences? Are there any concerts that you attended and couldn’t forget?

I took the stage once before at Akbank Jazz and people of Kadıköy didn’t leave me alone. The Moda Stage venue was packed and there were people even at the stairs of the space. I was so surprised. Our first song was from Al Green and to be honest I couldn’t do the solo, because I was so excited. So I asked for support from the audience to help me with my nerves, and they thought it was funny. But having such an audience listening to you with total silence creates a positive tension for any musician. So I thank them for giving me that experience. It was one of the most delightful performances I have ever had. Also Bebek Şenliği, where my band ‘‘Uzaylı’’ became ‘‘Uzaylılar’’, and it was the perfect date to do so: 19th of May (Turkey’s National Youth and Sport Holiday) 

What are the five jazz and/or blues album that inspires you the most?

Amy Winehouse - Frank
PJ Morton - Gumbo
Jimi Hendrix - Band of Gypsys (live concert album)
Nat King Cole – The Greatest Hits
Marvin Gaye - What’s Going On

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