"Eleven Short Stories" album has been included in the "BEST ALBUMS OF 2012" list by KONTRA PLAK, the coolest record shop in Istanbul.

Jonathan Wilson Designs Interview July 2011

- Growing up in Turkey, how did you get your start in music and what initially drew you to it? Were your first encounters with traditional Turkish music or was it popular music?

My initial start to music was the popular music of the 80s. I have been a big fan of 80s hard rock bands and 80s synth-pop music. The big sonic world and the great production quality of the bands such as Duran Duran, Depeche Mode, U2, Van Halen have really inspired me to play the guitar and to think more about music technology. I remember writing letters to the fan clubs of various bands asking which pedals and fx processors their band members have been using for the album productions. It seems that I have always been a fan of interesting timbres and good sound quality. Although I have always heard traditional Turkish music in my life through radio and music television, it has never been my main interest until recent times.

- What was your very first instrument?

My very first instrument was a cheap classical guitar. I have started playing when I was around 11 years old. My first electric guitar was a very bad Japanese copy of Gibson Les Paul.

- In your work, you tend to embrace the best digital media has to offer while at the same time utilizing natural and manually induced sounds (as opposed to canned library sounds). Do you see sound design as something that goes hand in hand with musical composition?

I do not like using library sounds for creative music. I think they are good for jingle type mainstream styles but not as good for album work or interesting film music. Sound design, texture and timbre are one of the most important elements of contemporary music in my opinion. We can see this phenomenon everyday in our musical lives. The best example of this is the sonic difference between the current film, pop music and the works of the 50s and 60s. In today’s music world, a unique timbre is as important, if not more, as a good melody. I love the combination of a great playing on an instrument with the advanced sound design. For me that is the best of both worlds. 

- Is there a body of work (a particular album) that you feel best embodies your scope as an artist on all levels? How would you define your work if you only had 20 seconds to do so? 

It is not easy for me to define my work since I compose in many different genres. But what I can say about it is that it is cinematic music with a combination of the latest innovations in sound design and hybrid instrument technologies. “Altered Realities” album is based on the unique use of live electronics with the special software Audiomulch and acoustic guitar while “Wounded Breath” is based on contemporary sound design and electroacoustic music on of which all sounds were created with softwares such as Metasynth, Soundhack and Audiomulch. “Sub City 2064” is a combination of sound design and hybrid instruments while the “Black Falcon” album is based on the subtle use of hardware electronics setup and world music. 

- Tell us about your latest work...

I have finished recording three new albums that I am very proud of and excited about. “Resonating Universes” is a 60 minute work for ceng (Turkish harp), concert harp, electric harp and electronics. It has been released by the prestigious British record label Sargasso. The harpist on this album is the acclaimed Turkish harpist Sirin Pancaroglu. The other album “Timeless Waves” will be released in August by the Belgium label Sub Rosa. This is a 50 minute work based on the sounds of Togaman guitarviol, sine waves, various analog pedals and hardware fx units. The third album is a work that I have done with the American sound artist Bruce Tovsky. This is an album of Togaman guitarviol, electric lapsteel and live electronics. It is a very cinematic album and I think it presents the capabilities of the guitarviol and hardware-software electronics setup very well.

- We live in a brave new world of technology. For instance, you and I became connected through the specialty instrument I built for you (The GuitarViol). Yet a world away (Istanbul and Los Angeles - and unbeknownst to each other at the time) we contributed tracks to the same video project! (Borderlands). What are the chances of that?  It seems in some ways borders and distances have become nonexistent to some degree through cyber-technology and digital recording media. Global collaboration in this industry Matrix seems to have no borders. How important is physical location to you in the business?

It is really interesting and wild that we are on the same video project! Physical location in our business has lost most of its importance. With the Swedish composer Per Boysen, we have released the album “Sub City 2064”. We finished the whole album without seeing each other at all. We have recorded material in our own studios in Stockholm and Istanbul, then edited and mixed the whole project through the internet. But on the other hand, I think it is still important to meet people face to face before starting a big project. Also for certain projects and aesthetic like the contemporary film music and sound design you need to be at certain cities like London, NY, Los Angeles for some part of the whole year. That is where you will get your new inspiration and connections.

- And finally, you play TogaMan GuitarViols. Where do these fit into your life as an artist? I imagine it is quite a conversation starter when you do live performances from Istanbul, Turkey to looping festivals in Santa Cruz California. How did the GuitarViol wind up on your radar and was bowing a guitar something you attempted before? 

Togaman guitarviols have been the most inspirational instruments that I have played in a long time. I have always been interested in the sound of bowing and I have tried that on electric, acoustic and classical guitars, but have never been happy with the results. Togaman guitarviol has completely changed that. It is not just a great instrument for film, theatre music work but also works great in commercial music formats as a great alternative to actual quartet recording. Other thing that I like about the instrument is that it is not just a bowing instrument; it is also great for percussive sounds, responds to overdrive beautifully and has a great electronic part to it. I use high quality preamps like the Millennia STT-1 and Grace Design M-101 with it and the sounds I get are so transparent and amazing that I nearly do not need to do any eqing during the mixing stage.

- Thank you for sharing with us and your time! 



Jonathan Wilson Designs Interview July 2011Jonathan Wilson Designs Interview July 2011Jonathan Wilson Designs Interview July 2011Jonathan Wilson Designs Interview July 2011