Mercan Dede believes that when you put electronic sounds together with hand-made sounds, you can create a universal language, capable of uniting old and young, ancient and modern, East and West.
It’s a bold claim, but the Turkish-born, Montreal-based musician/producer/DJ has the career and the music to back it up. He will bring his internationally acclaimed live show to Australian shores in 2017 with performances at the inaugural ‘Bohemia’ event to be held at Collingwood Town Hall in Melbourne on Sat 4 Mar, Adelaide Fringe Festival’s Garden Of Unearthly Delights on Wed 8 Mar, Port Fairy Folk Festival from 10-13 Mar, Oxford Art Factory in Sydney on Thu 16 Mar and Tanks Arts Centre in Cairns on Fri 17 Mar.
When he takes to the stage with his group Secret Tribe, Mercan Dede gravitates to his turntables and electronics, occasionally picking up a traditional wooden flute (ney) to float in sweet, breathy melodies, while masters of the kanun (zither), clarinet, darbuka (hand drum) and other instruments ornament his grooves. Together, they spin magical, trance melodies to match the whirling of the group’s spectacular dervish dancer, Ceyhun Varışlı.
This contrast between electronica and classical or folkloric arts cuts to the core of the Sufi philosophy that guides this one-of-a-kind artist. ‘Those things are not really separate,’ says Dede. ‘The essence of Sufism is counterpoint. Everything exists with its opposite. On one side, I am doing electronic music. The other side of that is this really acoustic, traditional music.’
Dede doesn’t just bring in any traditional sounds and sights as adornment to his techno beats. His collaborators might come from any tradition, any country, any generation. ‘When I choose a musician to work with,’ says Dede, ‘I need to be connected with them in terms of personality, heart-wise we say in Turkey. We should have a similar energy and feeling about life. The second thing is they need to be done with the technical part of music. Once they’ve done that, you don’t need to worry. They can play anything not from mind but from soul.’
Both as Mercan Dede and his alter ego DJ Arkin Allen he has performed at diverse events in almost every corner of the world. In 2005 he became the first Turkish artist to reach #1 of the world music charts. Under 9 different names he has released more than 100 singles world-wide. Mercan Dede, Arkin Allen, Blueman and Poundmaker aside, he still keeps 5 other names secret even from his own management and family; believing that nothing should stand between sound and the ear, include the artist himself.
For 20 years Mercan Dede has offered his extraordinary music and stagecraft to audiences worldwide, feeling that its inclusive spirit carries a profound message of understanding and reconciliation. He says ‘The Sufi poet Rumi has a very good saying: ‘If you are everywhere, you are nowhere. If you are somewhere, you are everywhere.’ My somewhere is my heart. I try to figure it out. The rest, the hype, the trends, they are not important.
Whether as Mercan Dede with his Secret Tribe or dj Arkin Allen with his tribal trio, he is rightly recognized as one of the most creative and unique artists in the electronic and world music scenes today. Uniting people from different backgrounds regardless of their age, cultural background or personal differences, Mercan Dede never fails to impress with the captivating sounds and explosive energy he creates on stage.
Saturday 4 March | Melbourne VIC (Tickets)
‘Bohemia’, Collingwood Town Hall, 140 Hoddle St, Abbotsford. Also feat. Archie Roach, Ross Daly, Vila Navio, Bashka, and DJ Systa BB.
Wednesday 8 March | Adelaide SA (Tickets)
Garden of Unearthly Delights, Adelaide Fringe Festival, East Terrace, Adelaide
10-13 March | Port Fairy VIC (Tickets)
Port Fairy Folk Festival
Thursday 16 March | Sydney NSW (Tickets)
Oxford Art Factory, 38-46 Oxford Street Darlinghurst
Friday 17 March | Cairns QLD (Tickets)
Tanks Arts Centre, 46 Collins Ave, Edge Hill
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