Pop & Politics (4): Gaye Su Akyol | Turkish rock’s “Anatolian Dragon”

This week on Pop & Politics we are joined by Gaye Su Akyol, an award-winning Turkish musician who has commanded respect in Turkey and abroad for her unique combination of traditional Anatolian music, Turkish classical music, psychedelic rock, surf rock, and post-punk. She’s equal parts Müzeyyen Senar and Nirvana, traditional and bold, rooted and futuristic. In conversation with Kenan Behzat Sharpe, Gaye Su Akyol responds to the recent crackdown on music and creative expression in Turkey. She explains her problem with the concept of “world music” that puts everything not from Europe or North America automatically into the same box. Akyol discusses the challenges that women and LGBTQ+ people face in the creative sectors. She also describes how counter-realities, imagination, and anthropology inspire her approach to politics, from her previous album İstikrarlı Hayal Hakikattir to her new work Anadolu Ejderi.

Gaye Su Akyol is a musician, songwriter, composer, and producer. After working with various bands in Istanbul, in 2014 she released her debut album Develerle Yaşıyorum in 2014. This was followed by her first international release, Hologram İmparatorluğu, in 2016. At this point, she came to the attention of international outlets like Pitchfork and the Guardian. She also began to tour widely across Turkey, Europe, East Asia, and beyond. In 2018, she raised the stakes even further with the celebrated album İstikrarlı Hayal Hakikattir (Consistent Fantasy Is Reality), which was released internationally on Glitterbeat Records. The album brought her to the attention of the New York Times, which released a detailed profile on her work. In 2019, she was chosen as Best Artist at the Songlines Music Awards in England. After the EP İsyan Manifestosu in 2020, she began to work on her next major project. Her fourth album Anadolu Ejderi, or Anatolian Dragon, will be released around the world on November 25.

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