Don Leisure’s Eastern Psyche Mixtape
Where do you start with Turkish psychedelia?
DL: The music is finding new audiences through labels like Pharaway Sounds and Finders Keepers who are reissuing some dope albums. It’s still pretty much for the heads but most people who I play it for really enjoy it. The youngsters over there aren't really into it which is a shame. I've played in Istanbul twice now and played some old Turkish records. I thought, "What could be better? I'm in the area where these guys once walked and recorded.” The first time it went down well with people singing along to these tunes but the second, it went down shit. One young dude even came over and was like, “Why are you playing this old crap!”
What drew you to the records from, and digging in Turkey?
DL: I heard this old podcast Egon did for Stones Throw a good few years back. From that I discovered Baris Manco who I guess is most people’s first exposure to the music. I was hooked on the first listen. I love the fuzziness of it all. I'm a big fan of shitty lo-fi production and Turkish psych is a good place to find that stuff. The way they use traditional instruments in a sort of Western way, throwing it through fuzz boxes and distortion units gets me every time. Finding original Turkish vinyl in the UK is fucking impossible so when my cousin who works for the Foreign Office got posted out in Istanbul for three years, I was like JACKPOT. I guess a bunch of stores there think you are buying for rarity and collecting, and not really for sampling so much. One guy was super confused when I asked him for a price on a $250 Baris Manco LP that looked like a dog had taken a fucking bite out of the wax. He gave it to me for nothing and I've made around four beats off that thing. What also really drew me back there was the people. The record store owners are all real cool and super friendly. They all give you tea when you are digging which is class!
Can you talk about Edip Akbayram & Dostlar and some of the other artists in the mix?
DL: I just know what record liner notes and Wikipedia tells me but I can tell you that he was the fucking one back in the 1970s. Ozan from Deform Record Store recommended me his stuff and I was hooked. I think between myself and Metabeats we have all the 45s of his worth having. I've mentioned Baris Manco already, he is super popular out there even today. One of the main ferry boats that takes tourists from the mainland to the islands there is named after him. The guy went on from making seminal Turkish prog-psych to presenting kids TV and making really bad 1980s and 1990s music. I heard he died shagging his mistress if you want a bit of trivia. There isn't a lot of info about these guys in English. Maybe that’s why I like them.
What do you think of the European and Asian, Anatolian element of Turkey and the culture that is created?
DL: Istanbul is like five times the size of London so you always feel like your scratching the surface. I've stayed on both the Euro and Asian sides now and I prefer the Asian side. There are no tourists there and the record shops are better on that side. You can really feel both continents when you are in Istanbul. Its weird, you'll see something really European but then you'll hear or smell something cooking that is really Asian. It’s a trip! The music is like that too as a lot of the bands were influenced by Hendrix, Zeppelin and Sabbath as Istanbul was on the hippy trail back in the 1970s. All these dudes heard that and fused it with the traditional stuff of Turkey.
What are your food recommendations in Istanbul?
DL: There are strict laws about importing food so the majority of the food there is in season and super fresh. It’s not uncommon for a waiter to say you can't have something as it’s not in season which I think is great. A full Turkish breakfast is a must; eggs, kaymak (clotted cream) and honey, nuts, lots of cheeses, breads, fruits and veg, olives and spicy Turkish sausage called Sujuk. Batters a full English any day.
DL: If you want a high end meal I'd recommend Gunayden in Suadiye Hotel over on the Asian side. Gunayden is a chain of meat centric spots started off by a butcher of the same name who went on build an empire. The spots are all different some more casual than others, some specializing in steaks. The one at Suadiye hotel was unreal. There was no menu they just bring over what you need to eat on that day.
DL: Near the ferry ports and along the Bosphorus River you'll see people selling mussels (possibly illegally). I'd go for some of those as they cost a lira each which is around 20p. The guy just keeps hitting you with them until you say stop, they are served in the shell with a bit of rice and spices and lemon juice. I didn't get ill off em thankfully!
DL: One thing a lot of tourists see but don't go for are the wet burgers. They steam these burgers (bun and all) until they are all soggy and crazy looking but the shit tastes good, especially if you've been drinking. They are really moorish despite looking well fucked up! If your a scumbag like me and you find yourself killing time in the airport departure lounge or there is nothing else open at 2am, try the McKofta burger from McDonalds. It’s actually alright!
Don Leisure is a DJ and producer from Cardiff, Wales and one half of Darkhouse Fam alongside Metabeats. Coming soon: his Turkish re-edits, "Boş Edits."