• Kornelia Binicewicz

My first digging day in Istanbul

Updated: May 24

Let’s start from the beginning. It was 2015 when I came to Istanbul for my one-month digging trip. I know what you are thinking now - 30 days of digging in a city like Istanbul sounds like a dream. And it was a digging paradise.

I wanted to explore female music from Turkey. I can tell you now; I did know little those times. My head was packed with names like Bariş Manço, Erkin Koray, 3 Hürel, Cem Karaca, Kardaşlar, Kurtulan Express, Özdemir Erdogan. Other diggers and music explorers searching for the psychedelic music from Turkey, curated my musical taste for Turkish music before I came to Istanbul. I knew some music from Turkish female singers - Selda, Kamuran Akkor, Füsün Önal, and Ajda Pekkan. Not much for such a big country.

I was ignorant, but I was hungry and very enthusiastic. My goal was to explore music created and performed by Turkish women. Luckily I had some money to spend. After leaving my job in Krakow, I took my savings from my secret box and decided to spend it mostly on records. Those days Turkish 45s and LPs were not cheap but reachable. Looking back, I wish I bought much more back than, considering how expensive Turkish records are now.

Since day 1, I was exploring local record stores on the Asian and European side of the city. Since I was focused on music performed by women, almost all the record shops were good to dig in. Nobody was asking for female singers before, so I had a lot of stuff to explore. I stayed on the Asian side - in Kadıköy, and it was my most explored area of Istanbul.

The essential thing in the digging experience is meeting the right people on your way who could happily share their passion for records with you. I was lucky to meet excellent record sellers who were my first guides into the sound of Turkish music of the 70s. I managed to understand what I am looking for mainly thanks to Aslı Bulat from Vintage Records and Volkan Özboz from Dip Sahaf.

All around the world, records are sold together with antiques, somewhere between garbage and curiosities. It is not different in Istanbul. In Kadıköy you can find several record stores on the street called Eskıcı Sokak (Antique sellers street). The location was a real paradise – I can’t forget Hamit Plakcı’s selections of LPs, which was just stunning; if you spent several hours in one of the shops, you could be rewarded with amazing gems and hectolitres of fresh tea. I get access to a secret room on the top floor of one of the buildings. Mustafa – the record and turntable collector, invited me to this magical place, his time machine where he kept all his treasures. I spent many hours listening to Safiye Ayla, Müzeyyen Şenar or Kücük Nezihe Hanim, the singers of early times of the Republic of Turkey on an old Victrola turntable. This night and the music I learned about opened my senses and guided me towards my taste of Turkish music. And it was only the first day of my digging trip.

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