Turkey is attending with a rock band that’s popular with the young generation.
mor ve ötesi was established in January of 1995 by Kerem Kabadayi (drums), Harun Tekin (vocals/guitar), Derin Esmer (vocals/guitar) and Alper Tekin (bass) – four close high school friends – in Istanbul, Turkey.
Their first album ‘Sehir’ was recorded and mixed between August 1995 and January 1996. It was released in June 1996 by Ada Müzik, a record label known for hosting and championing local talent with an edge and originality who would venture into unchartered musical and lyrical territories. On the album, the first single ‘Yalniz Sarki’ and it’s corresponding video garnered some popular interest and the album received critical acclaim. 1997 was an important year for the band. It saw their first show outside their hometown at ODTÜ (Middle East Technical University) in the capital Ankara – the educational institution typically known as a political hotbed. It was also the year the first line-up change took place with Burak Güven replacing Alper Tekin on bass. In 1998, the band began working on their next album while maintaining a residency at the influential local rock venue Captain Hook. The album Birak Zaman Aksin was recorded by their long-time school mate and sound-engineer Volkan Gürkan. After the process, Derin Esmer left the band and was replaced by Kerem Özyegen on guitar. The album was released on March 1999, once again, by Ada.
In early 2000, mor ve ötesi took part in nationwide anti-nuclear campaigns, and supported the cause with various concerts and appearances. In July, the band recorded a song, ‘Sen Varsin’, to be included on a tribute album for the legendary Turkish protest singer Bülent Ortaçgil. They closed the year with their most important performance to date, opening for Placebo on their first appearance in Istanbul on December 9. The third album ‘Gül Kendine’, their most proficiently crafted work to date, was once again recorded and produced by Volkan Gürkan, and released in December 2001. The promo tour for the album was also the band’s first proper nationwide tour, and the closing concert in Istanbul drew upwards of 5000 people. Receiving wide critical acclaim, the show was regarded by the media as a “musical treasure” and an “audio-visual extravaganza”. It was clear that the band was now in a new league, in both an artistic and popular sense. In 2003, mor ve ötesi joined in various anti-Iraq War activities by artists from many fields, and composed the anthemic ‘Savasa Hiç Gerek Yok’. The song was performed in Ankara on March 1, along with fellow musicians in front of a rabid crowd of 100.000 people.
Having played their part in worldwide anti-war efforts, the band was once again in the forefront of the national rock scene. In May of the same year, mor ve ötesi released an EP called ‘Yaz’. Its opener, a rock style cover of the popular 1990 classic ‘Yaz Yaz Yaz’ became the country’s summer anthem. The band followed this single’s success with another nationwide tour which saw some unprecedented attendance numbers. In Autumn, the band started writing their next album while working on the soundtrack for a film called ‘Mustafa Hakkinda Hersey’. A song from this soundtrack, ‘Bir Derdim Var’, was also to be the third single from the forthcoming album ‘Dünya Yalan Söylüyor’, and brought the band the prestigious Altin Portakal (Golden Orange) Award at the acclaimed International Antalya Film Festival for Best Song for a Motion Picture. A new producer, the renowned bass player Tarkan Gözübüyük, was chosen for the album, and work began in January 2004. Following the most crafted production in the band’s history, the album hit the stores on May 1, 2005 and attained incredible early sales figures. Supported by the first single ‘Cambaz’, the album took off and got on track to become a two-times gold selling rock album. The song received huge airplay from both TV and Radio stations. The second single, a cover of the idiosyncratic singer Fikret Kizilok’s ‘Sevda Çiçegi’, further expanded the album’s popularity. The third single, the aforementioned ‘Bir Derdim Var’, was not only arguably the most popular rock song to date in Turkey, but was also championed as Song of the Year by musical authorities and fans alike. The commercial success of the album – which reached 250.000 units in sales – was complemented by a very busy and expansive touring schedule, as well as a fourth video single for ‘Ask Içinde’
By then the band had played about 150 shows since the release of the album, sharing its songs live with large audiences nationwide, and the experience enabled the band to become a rock-solid live performance act. The fifth and final video from ‘Dünya Yalan Söylüyor’ was made for the closing song ‘Uyan’ and it ranked at 3 on MTV’s World Chart Express. The video was re-edited from an animation created by Andrei Khrjanovsky in 1968 which was shelved by Soviet censors when it came out. Mid-2006 saw the release of the band’s fifth album ‘Büyük Düsler’ to huge critical acclaim. The downfall of their record label Pasaj resulted in the transfers of both the band and the album to their own record label Rakun. The band’s promo tour of the album in May 2006 took them in front of roughly 250.000 people in 11 cities. The first single off the album was ‘Sirket’, followed by the ballad ‘Küçük Sevgilim’ which featured Turkey’s famous female singer Sebnem Ferah on guest vocals. The concerts continued with some high-profile big city shows as well as some in smaller towns. Meanwhile the album was named “Best Album of the Year” by RollingStone and “Best Rock Album of the Year” by Blue Jean magazine. The closing single and video of the album was ‘Ayip Olmaz Mi?’, and the year’s final recording was a cover version of “1945”, a popular song by Turkey’s well-known composer, the late Onno Tunç. It was released amid big popular praise on a tribute album to the man. On the stage, mor ve ötesi continued to headline major festivals and shows in Turkey. To name just one, it opened up the international Radarlive 2007 festival which was host to twenty-nine foreign acts and headlined by Marilyn Manson, James and Groove Armada. mor ve ötesi also did a special acoustic performance for MTV Turkey at the niche Istanbul club Ghetto which was aired as a special broadcast by the network.
On the international arena, the band played fifteen sold-out shows in Germany between 2004 and 2007 in cities like Berlin, Bochum, Köln, Stuttgart, Frankfurt, and one in the Netherlands (Amsterdam, Paradiso). The end of 2007 came with the band’s nomination on two major issues – first as a candidate for “Best Band of the Year” award by Powerturk – the country’s foremost music television network – and second as Turkey’s candidates for the Eurovision Song Contest that will take place in Belgrade, Serbia in may 2008 – an event highly regarded and deemed very important amongst the Turkish population. Currently, the band is in the studio recording demo songs for the contest, the final versions of which will be released later in the year. Meanwhile, four unreleased songs from the aforementioned acoustic concert are going to be presented alongside other Rakun recording artists on a special label promo CD which will be included with the February issue of RollingStone magazine. mor ve ötesi eyes 2008 as a year of action and opportunities to take their already-brilliant career further to reach new territories and wider audiences.