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Interview: Emrah Kocak of THIS IS ALL ABOUT VISION

Emrah Kocak is a classical guitar artist from Istanbul, Turkey that has been working with a number of names in the music industry.

Interview: Emrah Kocak of THIS IS ALL ABOUT VISION

Emrah Kocak is a classical guitar artist from Istanbul, Turkey that has been working with a number of names in the music industry. Additionally, he has been abroad for his education and has his eyes on international collaborations. Lately, he has been under the spotlight with his latest work "Handel's three pieces on guitar", which has received thousands of likes and millions of watches on Youtube. We had the chance of chatting a little about his career, life, and future.

Onur - Welcome! Let's start with the first question. How did your journey abroad begin? How did you decide, how did you adapt to cultural differences?

Emrah- Examinations were also able to participate in the borders of Turkey. However, I was in Athens while I took the exams. I stayed in Athens for about four months. for the exams During this time, I observed life there, met the musicians, and tried to understand their styles. With my first observations, I realized that Greece's general culture and point of view towards classical music are very much alike with ours. However, those working in popular music channels, taking more pleasure they would practice their art. This is without complaint, without counting the hours; they were just trying to make music, which increased its influence on the audience. At the same time, their earnings were more than enough for them to live the lives they wanted. Of course, under those circumstances, I found myself struggling with the question of whether I should pursue a career abroad. The answer to this question was not just limited to Athens. I could think in a wide range from England to Spain. When I returned to the country, I thought about this: "If my instrument was one of the strings; I could not have a better opportunity than developing my own career abroad. However, for classical guitar, I didn't necessarily need to plan a career abroad. " My reason for giving examples of other instruments; For example, to work with the bassoon, one has to enter the orchestra. However, considering the scarcity of orchestras, quota problems, and the limitation of works, hopes for artists diminish. Likewise, it is not likely to be accompanied by a bassoon in a popular culture piece. Naturally, it makes more sense to consider the overseas option due to the impossibilities. In this situation, many of our friends who did not choose to settle abroad or did not have the opportunity have undertaken the task of music teachers. Do not think that it is easier to become a music teacher or to get employment. Similarly, quota problems are encountered in the state staff and the tendency towards private institutions is increasing. Working as a music teacher in private institutions, unfortunately, brings very difficult conditions. This makes the artists offended. With my instrument being a guitar; I think I am more fortunate than other friends in finding a place in the popular culture market. As long as we can perform our art at satisfactory levels, there is no need for me and my friends to go abroad. However, if there is a tour or different offers, we can go back and forth with short-term agreements. Besides, we have many internationally renowned guitarists who have stripped themselves of the market conditions. In these names, we witness the same process; They draw new career plans for themselves by forcing their overseas options. If we summarize what I said; Unless you want to be in the market music or if there is little opportunity to be present, unfortunately, it seems the most profitable for a musician to evaluate the options abroad.

O - Can we argue that artists are happier abroad?

E - I have witnessed life in many countries. I can say they are happy. This is why I cannot say; socio-economic, cultural, political ... There may be many reasons. Yet, they are happy. Nevertheless, I think the effect of being able to study works that are suitable for themselves, their styles and desires and to provide the material they need from them is great.

O - With the rising of digital media, a parabolic increase in globalization has actually been observed. Perhaps the person's residing abroad or domestically has started to lose its importance. What do you think about these digital developments?

E - Digital platforms paved the way for many artists. There is no need to go far back from today, maybe fifteen years ago; As artists performing classical works, after we somehow registered the works, we would look for a company that could sell them. After finding the company, sitting at the table with them, negotiating ... It was a very long and tiring process. Digital platforms have eliminated many of these challenges. We have had our own pages where we can show ourselves, create our audience, express ourselves. This has given us great flexibility, whether it is releasing an EP or an album. We can say that the walls between the audience and the artist were destroyed. With a little more intermediary, the balance between the artist has also changed. The demanding party was no longer the artist, but the agent, which was what it should have been from the beginning. Thus, we are starting to seriously profit from time, so that we can reflect on how to improve our watch, how to reach more people. The companies we are talking about, if they cannot keep up with today, become unable to pass even next to the masses that a single person can reach. Thus, in fact, the effect of our individuality increases. Still, we need people who can keep up with and manage these new trends. As artists, there are times when we need certain directives to reach the right masses. Thus, the opportunity arises for new collaborations.

On the other hand, we have seen how wrong those who think the demand for digital media and classical music is low actually. Water has also been cleared for our friends who are afraid of gaining from this field. The success of one of us, high viewing rates, being the talk of the town; It became hope and even an encouragement for others. Thus, our resentment and bitterness towards the audience passed. With this situation of supporting each other, both our enthusiasm and the quality of our work begin to increase. Most of the gratifying developments have been through digital media.

O - In addition to advantages, digital channels can also bring disadvantages. What do you think about the comments and approaches involving hate speech?

E - Many people are suffering from this situation. From insulting comments to using photos on other pages, the list goes on. In this regard, I think we are a little luckier as classical music artists. The product we offer is in a slightly safer area in terms of its structure and the segment it reaches. We can share our thoughts and get along with those we interact with, within certain respect and love. More aggressive approaches are out of the question, but it is not possible to prevent this.

O - If we talk about your works; You have albums such as "Three Handel pieces on Guitar", and "Mayıs'ın Selamı". How did you work on these works?

E - I started playing guitar professionally in my 20s. My acquaintance with classical music started during my secondary school years with the guidance of my music teacher at Sisli Terakki. When I first started playing guitar, I was performing Turkish pop music in the nineties instead of classical works. Before long, I found myself performing with my friends. When I decided on guitar as a profession, I saw that I had to improve my education in this field. I started my studies with Utku Özkanoğlu and thus I got acquainted with classical guitar works. During this period, I came across a wide repertoire, but at some point, I always wanted to perform the songs I wanted and loved with the guitar. For example, Bach has a great place when it comes to classical guitar. However, although I have always encountered Bach; I felt closer to the performance of Handel or Vivaldi works on the guitar. That's why I started to adapt Handel and Vivaldi works to guitar. Handel, in particular, is a composer who is very different from his contemporaries and has caught our time. Come on today, when you look at a lot of pop music, you can hear Handel's influences, and his works have melodies that match the sound of the guitar. By decorating these works by my standards and artistic preferences; I can adapt the works by feeling the music and telling my own stories through compositions. I adapted eight works from Handel in total but finally decided to display these three works on digital platforms. Instead of publishing these pieces on my own channel, I signed with Siccas Guitars, one of the two very large platforms, and released them under their brand. I completed the distribution and advertisement from other channels completely through equity. We started to have good interactions from all over the world, which made me extremely happy. Playing the works like Emrah, I took a risk, and I am thrilled with the results.

On the other album, I worked on my own compositions and it hit the market in 2016. Even though it didn't receive interaction as well as Handel, I don't think it's time-limited, especially in music. The fact that it has not reached the numbers we want today does not mean that there will not be much more in a decade from now. Nevertheless, I'm most happy with the response from Turkey. I encountered a much larger audience than I expected and realized that they are extremely conscious listeners. This made me have higher hopes for the work I did.

O - And with what works will we be able to see you in the future?

E - There are Granados pieces that I am currently working on, he is a Spanish nationalist composer. Although most of his works are written for piano, their soul is in great harmony with the guitar. There are four adaptations of works that I have clarified at the moment, but I think that with the advantage of being in Turkish pop music, I can choose the pieces that can appeal to the masses. For this reason, I find it right to act carefully. Likewise, I am working on two works by Chopin and one by Fernangasor. Finally, I am concentrating on one of Manuel Ponts' works that I love very much. If I can collect these works, I will continue with a new adaptation. Apart from this project; my studio recordings and hopefully my post-corona concert performances will continue. In particular, I want to continue to develop my presence on digital platforms.

O - So what are your goals for the future?

I want to be able to work with many artists on international platforms, from Beyonce to Maluma. I would like to be a name spoken highly with his art in the world.

O - The most surfaced interpretation today; " You can not." What do you think about this?

E - This is all about vision. I encountered the first unbelievers in the years when I started playing guitar. Since I started in my 20s, I came across many phrases such as your time has passed, you cannot continue your career on the guitar, best of all; return to your own profession! After this age, you cannot enter the conservatory. I cannot claim that they are completely wrong, but I chose to take risks and I profited from this risk.

Especially when you want to create something new and different, the people around you approach it with their negative gaze. Particularly, when it comes to art, we are surrounded by these incompetencies. It's not just a perspective on the people around us. For example, even in the screenings, the artist's living standards and employment difficulties are often underlined. Of course, we face challenges, but this is no different than the challenges of any profession. On the other hand, our people value their artists. I have been greeted with great support and love in all the cities I have been touring until today. This is perhaps the only resource I need as an artist. It is best to continue on our own path without paying attention, it is best to continue to produce.

O - Thank you very much for the interview. We will be waiting for your new albums!

E - Thank you for having me! They are on their way.



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Emrah Kocak is a classical guitar artist from Istanbul, Turkey that has been working with a number of names in the music industry. Additionally, he has been abroad for his education and has his eyes on international collaborations. Lately, he has been under the spotlight with his latest work 'Handel's three pieces on guitar', which has received thousands of likes and millions of watches on Youtube. We had the chance of chatting a little about his career, life, and future.