Beneath a tapestry of stars, in the bustling city of Istanbul, a talented artist named Elif discovered her love for electronic music, architecture, and the infinite mysteries of the cosmos. Her journey began as she traversed the globe, performing and producing her own unique sound that resonated with audiences far and wide. Her music embodies the essence of pure techno, consistently deep and infused with a touch of mystique.
In our interview, Elif opens up about her passions, experiences, and the influences that have shaped her musical journey. And she speaks about the magic of collaboration, the intersection of art and science, her new release ‘Letting Go’ and her deep connection to her homeland’s rich and delicious cuisine.
photography by Vien Tran Van
Your latest EP, ‘Letting Go,’ features collaborations with Stil & Bense and Gespona. How did these partnerships come about, and what was the creative process like working with them?
These two are very different kinds of collabs. I have never met the guys from Stil & Bense in real life. I have been playing their music and they sent me some ideas asking if I wanted to collaborate with them. It was the right moment and I had the time to work on their idea, so I did and made it ours. Collabs are great because you can get stuck and a second pair of ears can always hear things differently and add so much to a track. Also, for someone who’s always on the road, collabs can be as fast as remixes because you have some ideas already laid out instead of starting from scratch.
With Gespona, the process was completely different. We met in real life, played a spontaneous b2b, and decided to make music together. I sent him an idea/structure of a track that I had and he sent me a loop the same week, and that’s how our first two collabs started. With Gespona, we also have the chance to spend time in the same studio physically, so the process with him is always very inspiring, and I learn a lot. We will continue our collabs on different kinds of projects in the near future as well.
‘Letting Go’ marks your return to Stil Vor Talent after previous contributions in 2020 and 2021. What is it about the label that keeps you coming back, and how do you feel your sound aligns with their vision?
Stil Vor Talent is more than a label for me. Oliver Koletzki has been supporting me and my music since the very beginning. I have also been part of their booking agency roster for a while for Germany and Austria and played a lot of label showcases. He’s a big inspiration for me, and I feel honored to release on his label.
“I am an architecture graduate and for me, anything that combines art with science, technology and engineering is just what my brain wants and needs.”
You’re a DJ and a producer. How do you approach creating tracks for your EPs, knowing they’ll be played in your live sets? Do you have any specific strategies to ensure they’ll work well in a live setting?
(Laughs) Honestly, I don’t. I am a DJ before a producer. I didn’t spend endless hours in the studio before I could tour. For me, I was already touring internationally when I started producing. The only uninterrupted time I could spend in the studio was during the lockdowns, and that’s when I made my first EP and got some experience in the studio, but honestly, even then, I was DJing every Sunday from my apartment. Playing 2-3 shows every weekend over 1.5 years nonstop, I believe I have a good understanding of the vibe of a dance floor and also a very specific taste, but I feel like I still need more and more time and experience in the studio for my production skills to catch up with my standards.
I am currently having a transition year, moving to Spain, building a new studio, changing agencies, workflow, and building up a strong team. I intend to plan my tours in a way that I have more studio time when this transition is over.
Where does your love for electronic music come from?
When I discovered my love for electronic music, I was super into indie rock. Radiohead’s Thom Yorke was experimenting with electronic music. Solomun was making edits/remixes of some of my favorite bands. As someone who traveled to go to festivals to see live bands, with a similar passion, I started clubbing, and that’s when I fell in love with the depth, creativity, and possibilities that come with the technology and freedom electronic music represented. I am an architecture graduate, and for me, anything that combines art with science/technology and engineering is just what my brain wants and needs.
“Collabs are great because you can get stuck and a second pair of ears can always hear things differently and add so much to a track.”
In a 2021 interview, you mentioned, “I was born and raised in Istanbul, where I still have my studio, as well as my family and base.” Is this still the case, and how frequently do you visit your home country?
Unfortunately, it’s not the case anymore. I recently moved out of Istanbul at the end of 2022. It was a bit unexpected what happened, but long story short, the currency crash caused a big rent crisis in Istanbul, with rents being 5x in Liras and more than double in Euros. I wanted to keep my base in my hometown, but my landlord unlawfully made me move out, so keeping my beautiful apartment wasn’t possible anymore. This is a bit sad, but also with the current socio-economical and political developments, plus the fear of an earthquake we are totally not ready for, more and more friends and family are moving out of Istanbul.
But honestly, even when I lived there, I was rarely there. And when I could go, I was sometimes so exhausted from touring… I have been there one time after moving out, and it was actually super nice to go as a tourist (smiles). For now, I have no idea about the frequency I will visit. I guess I will see in the next months.
Now I live in Barcelona. I already feel at home there and love it a lot, and in the end, even though it was a bit unpleasant and forced, I think moving out was the right move.
As an Istanbul-born artist who’s traveled and lived in various places, how has your multicultural background influenced your music and your unique sonic path?
I think it’s a bit hard to answer this question, as if I do have influences, those are probably happening unconsciously. But I do know and have consciously always shied away from using Middle Eastern sounds and instruments in my sets and music, which has been a trend in Western countries. I prefer not to play this music and personally don’t think they belong in a club because, for me, they remind me of funerals or weddings, etc.
“Nature is my go-to ‘home’ when I am overwhelmed, tired, or uninspired.”
I love Turkish food! Can you share with us a favorite dish from your homeland?
Turkish food is amazing. One of the things I can be shamelessly proud about my homeland is definitely our food. It has influences from many different cultures where the borders of the Ottoman Empire stretched out back in the day. One of my favorite dishes is called Manti. It’s basically like very small pieces of dough filled with minced meat. Nowadays, it’s also easy to find the vegetarian version, lentils instead of meat. It tastes the same, even better. So, the small pieces of filled dough are either boiled or fried, then plated with some garlic yogurt, red pepper sauce, and spices like dried mint, sumac, and crushed red pepper. Hmmm! Would love to have one right now.
Me too (laughs)! So, you’ve made a switch to a plant-based diet and found it to be a potential creative outlet. Can you elaborate on how this lifestyle change has changed your daily life?
I try to stick to plant-based whenever I have the option. A plant-based diet is super light and filling and comes with a good conscience. You don’t want to take a nap after eating; you have energy. I really hope it will become more and more available globally. But traveling nonstop trying to be strictly plant-based, I came to realize that I had to be more flexible because for some months all I could eat was potato chips, and this was not better for me nor the planet. I also have mixed feelings about meat substitutes. I always try to eat fresh vegetables and legumes. Nowadays, I also eat eggs and cheese.
“I started clubbing, and that’s when I fell in love with the depth, creativity, and possibilities that come with the technology and freedom electronic music represented.”
You have a strong passion for nature, the universe, and the cosmos. Can you share a specific experience with any of these elements that has deeply impacted you, and how that moment has influenced other aspects of your life beyond music?
Nature is my go-to ‘home’ when I am overwhelmed, tired, or uninspired. Being surrounded by such magic always grounds, nurtures, heals, and inspires me. Its resilience, strength, and generosity, and its ability to ‘just be’ above species and time is incredible.
I find an even deeper connection with it on psychedelics like mushrooms. I remember the first time I had such a trip: I was in Thailand and ate a bit of mushrooms. The strongest feeling I had inside that even today sticks with me was being completely one with the universe. I ‘knew’ without a doubt I was part of it and it was part of me. We were the same. I could hear the lights and see the sounds. There was no duality. I have had very powerful experiences with mushrooms and plant medicine, and I don’t think a single aspect of your life can stay unaffected by it.
Cosmos has always evoked my curiosity. I always say if I didn’t study architecture, I’d most probably study astrophysics or computer science. Today, with my super full schedule with music, I can only read and research on an enthusiast level. But finding out about the vastness in micro and macro environments, trying to grasp magnitudes incomprehensibly big or small, always excites me and tingles something inside of me.