“Back then, when I learned to play the guitar, I only wanted to be heard,” Bákayan shares, a soul whose journey from a child with a guitar to a notable electronic music visionary sums up a story of passion, patience, and cultural amalgamation. German-born, Turkish producer and vocalist, Burak Akkaya, known as Bákayan, is characterized by a deep commitment to artistic integrity and a philosophical connection to his cultural roots.
Bákayan’s latest release, the ‘Fireflies‘ EP, is a great expression of his artistic journey. With its deep, entrancing sounds, this EP shows Bákayan’s ability to blend nostalgia and dance floor dynamics seamlessly. The Safar Love in Mykonos Edit of the EP is particularly noteworthy, offering a captivating experience that exemplifies Bákayan’s unique style. Reflecting on this, Bákayan tells, “The sight of Fireflies was a magical event for me since I haven’t seen Fireflies since I was a child… I immediately put my notebook out and started to write about it.” This glimpse into his creative process unfolds an artist who finds wonder in the simplicity of nature.
In our interview, we delve into Bákayan’s songwriting process, what led him to electronic music, and how his dual heritage shapes his music. We also discuss his collaboration with Max from Groove Shack on the Neowl EP, released under Marginalia, highlighting their mutual inspiration and creative spirit.
photography by Nadine Beer
Hey dear Burak! The new year starts well for you with your debut on Stil vor Talent with a three-track release called “Fireflies”. It was inspired by the sight of fireflies in the mountains of Turkey. Some years ago I experienced this sight in the Austrian forests, it was so magical. Did you immediately think of an idea for a track?
Thanks a lot for the kind words, it’s very much appreciated. 2024 has started well indeed. The sight of Fireflies was a magical event for me since I haven’t seen Fireflies since I was a child. Actually it was a creative retreat in the mountains, so I’ve been working on tracks and lyrics already. Fireflies happened through a sweet, spontaneous encounter with these beautiful creatures. I immediately put my notebook out and started to write about it.
How is your usual song writing process, like your best place to write music and how long does it usually take you to finish a song until you are satisfied?
I do not have one specific way of writing music. Mostly, during the day, I have some ideas in my head, which I immediately record on my phone and put into the Ableton Project when I get to the studio. “Doppelganger” on Marginalia for example includes the very first audio recording (vocals) that I recorded on my phone. I love to do music in my home studio, which is why I put a lot of effort into making my safe space comfortable in terms o furniture, lights etc. Personally, I don’t like creating music while I’m on the road touring. When it comes to finishing projects, this really depends. I have releases where the end product took 8 hours, other ones with 40-50 hours. I think especially if you include vocals, which for me is very intimate to share with the world, you often tend to lean towards perfectionism – at least in my case.
“My artistic vision is something I always prioritize… The only important thing is to get a fair share and that the label I work with is sharing the same values and vision.”
Back in December and together with Groove Shack you released the Neowl EP on the Barcelona based label Marginalia. What has been on of the most inspiring thing that you can take out of this collaboration?
Max (Groove Shack) is not only an amazing artist but a lovely, inspiring human being. We got in touch after Oliver Koletzki played both our tracks back to back in one of his sets in Amsterdam. Since then we connected and have been working on numerous great projects together.
How much would you compromise your artistic vision against working with a top label?
My artistic vision is something I always prioritize. As a person doing art, in my opinion, this should be something that you always place first. I never thought about fees, royalties etc. The only important thing is to get a fair share and that the label I work with is sharing the same values and vision. I’m thankful that so far I have only collaborated with labels that have been an enrichment for my career.
You taught yourself playing the guitar as a child. Was there a desire back then to become a singer/ songwriter?
To be honest, back then when I learned to play the guitar, I only wanted to be heard. It’s never been the plan to be a songwriter a singer etc. It just happened. Happened because the people received the message I was sharing – my love for music.
And what led you to electronic music?
I was always into house music, back then it was rather chilled Deep House, as the musical range I listen to is huge. But when it comes to electronic club music, I have to be very honest and mention that it was an event back then in 2018 at Katerblau in Berlin. It was love at first sight, the music, the people, the vibe – I loved everything about that night. 2 weeks later I bought a DJ controller and a few weeks after that started with music production. Crazy how experiences like this can change your whole path – in a very positive way.
“Growing up with both German and Turkish influences is a privilege… I love to combine sounds from different worlds together…”
What are your fondest memories about growing up in a small quiet place in the South of Germany and how has this place shaped you as a person and artist? And what role do your Turkish roots play in this?
Weiden in der Oberpfalz is a beautiful small town near the check border in the South East of Germany. I still love to be there, visit my parents and my childhood friends. It gives me the perfect balance, which is important in our scene. I enjoy every moment being there. Turkey has a very rich culture and growing up with both German and Turkish influences is a privilege which I’m very thankful for. My parents are very traditional even though they love Germany. When it comes to influences, I think you can hear my cultural background in every project of mine, either in terms of Turkish vocals or sound elements. I love to combine sounds from different worlds together, this is what I stand for as Bákayan.
You are based in Berlin now. On one side of course this provides more opportunities as an artist in your field, on the other hand I also find that it´s easy to get lost in distraction here. How do you manage to stay focused?
It’s very important to mention here that I moved to Berlin when I already knew what I wanted my path to. Of course I enjoy the city and everything that’s part of it but I can discipline myself very well I’d say. On top of that I’m touring from time to time which also gives me a sort of time out from this city. As of now I’m very happy to have my base here – let’s see when I’m ready for the next adventure in terms of living.
“I’m the happiest when I make people smile. Cause you never know what people are going through in that very moment.”
The biggest obstacles so far concerning your career, and how did you deal with it?
Patience. This is really something I struggled with at the beginning of my career. It’s a character trait that you have to embrace as an aspiring artist. Do what you love and do your best; find your path and things will happen on the way.
How do you recharge energy best when you are not working?
I love the spend time with friends and family. On top of that I enjoy cooking, reading, listening to music and doing sports a lot. On top of that I also enjoy raves – it inspires me everytime, especially clubs like Berghain (Panorama Bar). This is why my sound evolves a lot.
What is your main vision as an electronic artist and as a private person for your life?
Make the world a better place. May sound cheesy but it’s simple as that. I want to have a beautiful influence on people. Even if it’s just a smile that somebody gives me on the dancefloor while performing. Being an artist comes with a great responsibility. I’m the happiest when I make people smile. Cause you never know what people are going through in that very moment. I love contributing to this beautiful scene. In private, I just want to be a pleasant human being to spend time with, this counts for everyone I spend time with, not only my family and friends.
Do you have any New Years Resolutions?
Great goal! Best of luck with it, and thank you for sharing your time and thoughts with us!