Altın Gün: Presenting Turkey’s 20th Century Musical Heritage

With the release of their first album ‘On’ in spring 2018, the Turkish/Dutch psychedelic rock band known as Altın Gün (Golden Day) has been rapidly gaining momentum and in the past few years they have made themselves a prominent feature on the stage of world music with their mesmeric Turkish vocals, punchy bass riffs and the use of saz and synthesizer. To date, the band has released three albums and have toured extensively throughout Europe, The USA and Turkey whilst their fanbase transcends across many different countries and cultures.

In the recent years that Altın Gün have been playing and producing the unique sound that they have become famous for, the band has been able to share a significant part of Anatolian culture with the rest of the world through the origins of their music. Some listeners may not know it, but many of the songs found in Altın Gün’s three albums are reinterpretations of Turkish folk and rock songs predominantly from the 1960-70s which is often referred to as a ‘golden age’ in Turkish music. Some of their most well-known singles and the entirety of their third album ‘Yol’ have been taken and reworked into a more electronic, contemporary yet still traditional sound from famous Turkish singers and poets of the mid and latter half of the 20th century such as Erkin Koray, Neşet Ertaş, Aşık Mahzuni Şerif and Aşık Veysel. The band even released their own version of the theme tune to the movie series ‘Hababam Sınıfı’ (The Rascal Class), a product of the ‘Yeşilçam’ Turkish film industry which had been prominent in Turkey during the same years as many of Altın Gün’s musical influences, with much adored Turkish actors from Kemal Sunal to Şener Şen playing leading roles in many productions. Below are links to a few songs which Altın Gün have reinterpreted along with their original versions.

Altın Gün – Yolcu
Altın Gün – Kara Toprak
Altın Gün – Cemalim
Neşet Ertaş – Yolcu
Aşık Veysel – Kara Toprak
Erkin Koray – Cemalim

When asked about the origins of the band, Dutch bassist Jasper Verhulst said that after listening to an album by the 1970s Turkish singer Selda Bağcan he wanted to bring back this sound and play it live for new audiences. Whilst for Merve Daşdemir, one of the bands vocalists of Turkish descent, many of these songs had been an integral part of her childhood and she is very proud to be able to spread this part of her cultural heritage with the rest of the world. When the band’s second album ‘Gece’ was nominated for a Grammy award for the best world music album of the year the vocalist made a statement saying,

‘It’s so nice that this musical heritage has been recognised. For me, it was Aşık Veysel and Neşet Ertaş who were nominated.’

Below is an interview with both Jasper Verhulst and Merve Daşdemir speaking on this subject on TRT:

One thing that I personally find fascinating is the cultural make-up of the band. ne half is of European descent and has simply fallen in love with this style of music from another culture whilst for the others of Turkish descent, this music is nestled deep within their cultural being and it brings them great joy to spread this part of their cultural heritage. By doing so, Altın Gün has revived a golden era of Turkish artistic talent and has shared it with the world and I for one am very much looking forward to their next release.

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