An Eclectic Musician

by on Tuesday, 27 October 2009 Comments
I was born in 1975 in Bursa, the fifth most populated city in Turkey, but I have been living in Istanbul for the last 20 years. I started playing the guitar when I was eleven years old and took private lessons on guitar, jazz theory, composition, and performance within an ensemble. I graduated as an industrial engineer and continued my education with a Master’s degree in sound engineering and electroacoustic composition at the Music for Advanced Studies Department at Istanbul Technical University. Currently, I am working on my doctorate degree at the same institution where I have had the chance to study theory and the practice of sound engineering and electroacoustic composition with accomplished American professors. I have always been interested in the recording process, and started recording my demos when I was fifteen years old. Since then, I have recorded and released three solo albums in the United States and accomplished various other projects all around the world. I have received numerous prizes for my works from international competitions such as Luigi Russolo and MUSICA NOVA; I have also participated at prestigious contemporary and jazz music festivals like Huddersfield, Futura, Nuit Bleu, Sonorities, Visiones Sonoras and Akbank Jazz Festival. My album “Altered Realities” has been included in the “Best albums of 2007” in the All About Jazz, Textura and Cyclic Defrost magazines.

Meeting Luo Chao-yun
We have a common friend Otto Castro from Costa Rica. He is an electroacoustic composer and I have known him from the 2007 Sonoimagenes Festival that took place in Buenos Aires. When I listened to some of her performances on her MySpace page, I was very impressed. I thought it would be great if we could record together. I was not sure if we would be able to finish an album in such a short period of time, but when we started playing together at my studio, I became convinced that we could record some great things. Because I respect the far Eastern way of life, philosophy, aesthetics, art and culture in particular, I was very much impressed by her. The way she communicated with me through music and the musical space, allowed me to have incredible improvisation. I have never seen and heard such a thing. Also, the way she listened during the recording session at the university studio was something to watch. It was as if her soul traveled to another dimension at that moment.

Before collaborating with Chao-yun, I was not very familiar with Chinese traditional music, but I knew the works of composers such as Tan Dun, Ge Gan-ru. I have definitely enjoyed the sounds of instruments like erhu, ruan, and guan. The playing techniques, the timbres of some of the traditional Chinese instruments resemble the traditional Turkish instruments. So even though I do not have a thorough background about Chinese music, a general idea of the aesthetics and the timbres has been in my subconscious.

About the CD recorded with Luo Chao-yun (CD released with Renlai Monthly n.65)
We recorded for three days at my studio. I played the electric guitar with live electronics. Then, we recorded for a day at the MIAM studios, where I played the prepared piano on some pieces and electric guitar on others. We did not discuss anything before these recording sessions, and we did not know what would happen and I loved that feeling. It forces you to listen to the other musician much more deeply. In our case, I think this approach worked really well.

Future projects
I have received a commission for a new electroacoustic composition based on the soundscape of Istanbul , which will be premiered at the Novelum Festival in November. Another project that I am excited about is a new musical theatre/opera commissioned by the Bregenz Contemporary Festival, that will be premiered in fall 2010. Also, I will start composing for two new feature movies in November. I am about to finish mixing the duo albums that I recorded with Elliott Sharp, British percussionist Pete Lockett, American accordionist Michael Ward Bergeman, American saxophonist Neil Leonard, and American guitarists Bill Walker and Craig Green. Also an ambient album with Robert Scott Thompson will be released around January 2010. Lastly, I am recording new material for duo albums with Per Boysen, Leo Abrahams and my upcoming solo guitar and live electronics record.
I have not been to Asia unfortunately, but of course I plan to come. A tour with Luo in China, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan would be great after the release of this record.




Erdem Helvacioglu

I was born in 1975 in Bursa, the fifth most populated city in Turkey, but I have been living in Istanbul for the last 20 years. I started playing the guitar when I was eleven years. I graduated as an industrial engineer and continued my education with a Master’s degree in sound engineering and electroacoustic composition at the Music for Advanced Studies Department at Istanbul Technical University. Currently, I am working on my doctorate degree at the same institution where I have had the chance to study theory and the practice of sound engineering and electroacoustic composition with accomplished American professors. I have always been interested in the recording process, and started recording my demos when I was fifteen years old. Since then, I have recorded and released three solo albums in the United States and accomplished various other projects all around the world. I have received numerous prizes for my works from international competitions such as Luigi Russolo and MUSICA NOVA; I have also participated at prestigious contemporary and jazz music festivals like Huddersfield, Futura, Nuit Bleu, Sonorities, Visiones Sonoras and Akbank Jazz Festival. My album “Altered Realities” has been included in the “Best albums of 2007” in the All About Jazz, Textura and Cyclic Defrost magazines. I have different projects going on now, notably participation to a festival in France in November, a release of an ambient album around January 2010.

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