For a long time I have been fascinated by Turkish psychedelic and rock music. The first time I heard the music of Barış Manço, Cem Karaca, Moğollar and Erkin Koray, the expressive, melancholic vocals played against funky basslines, spirited percussion and fuzzy guitars, accompanied by traditional Turkish instruments such as the bağlama or the zurna, were a marriage that sounded very organic to my ears. Also known as Anadolu rock, or Anatolian rock, this music appeared to be the lovechild of Turkey’s rich musical heritage and the global explosion of pop music of the late 50s. The elements of a pop song fused with Turkish folk melodies and instrumentation – that’s Anatolian rock in a nutshell.
Hugo van Heijningen aka DJ Soulseek – co-founder of Red Light Radio and front man of Firestone and White Slice, blends it up for the 4th entry of our Mix Series. Our editor Ocke Weeda tracks him down in between his flights for a little chat.
Hey Hugo, how’s it going? What are you up to these days?
All good here, thanks. Lots of cool things already happened in 2017. Our trips to Sao Paulo, New York and Austin were crazy! So many Red Light Radio collaborations are coming up too, like the World Minimal Music Festival, 20/44 Belgrade, Intonal Malmö, Online Radio Festival, Lentekabinet, Farr Festival, Dekmantel and more to come. We’re also busy with opening a Red Light Radio support shop next month! Busy but good!
As co-founder of the Amsterdam-based Red Light Radio and front man of the bands Firestone and White Slice, music is obviously a big part of your daily life. Can you tell us where this love and passion for music come from and how it all started?
My father always says my visit to Pinkpop in 1996 changed my life. Haha, he might be right! I started singing in punk bands since I was 14 years old and I’m still screaming. I love making music and just can’t get enough of getting blown away by other people’s music. I enjoy bringing people together, so I’m in the right place at Red Light Radio. Super stoked that I can now also tour the world with the station, and I’m happy I won’t have to carry amps and drum kits to every venue no more.
We noticed that your work days are not the usual 9 to 5. Speaking of which, you’ve just been to the Texas SXSW festival with the Red Light Radio crew. How did that come to be and how was it?
We travel a lot and every year we do more and more trips. It was actually already our 4th time at SXSW in Texas. RLR has an international following; less than 30% is from Holland. People around the globe like what we do and like working together. All these trips are collaborations with local partners. Besides all the travelling, it’s pretty much 9 to 5 though; I have a family too.
We haven’t seen many mixes from you in the past. Is there a reason for this?
I’m not a DJ and I don’t like to DJ. I like music and I like SSFB, so this time I gave it a try. Still don’t like it, haha.
About the mix: there are a lot of different genres of music floating about; is this what DJ Soulseek stands for?
DJ Soulseek stands for the big DJ career my RLR partner Orpheu is trying to make everyone believe. I think the name is great, but the man DJ Soulseek should work harder to make this happen. I hope people like what I selected for this mix; it’s stuff I like and has the type of energy the SSFB Festival stands for. Lots of different music, with some experimentals.
Speaking of diversity, Red Light Radio and other musical institutions have released waves of the unknown upon the public, thereby inspiring a new generation of DJs and selectors to go broad. Should specialism be discouraged or…?
Specialism is what is most important; it’s the drive that makes people go deeper, I think. And that’s what we try to share and support with our platform; go a little deeper. But you can go deep in multiple genres and styles, and that’s what people do more and more it seems. I like that!
Looking back on the 7 years Red Light Radio has broadcasted various transmissions into the world, the institution has become quite the name. Where are you guys heading in the future, and has there been a shift in the norms and ethics surrounding the station over the years?
I think it’s just a bunch of music lovers trying to share good music and connect with likeminded people as much as possible. The Internet made our world smaller and easier to get in touch with everyone. I think we’ll keep doing what we do, because that’s still relevant and a lot of fun.
Red Light Radio is also part of the upcoming World Minimal Music Festival. Any insider tips you can share with us; acts we don’t know about that we should definitely check out?
We’re really happy to be part of this edition again. Unfortunately I can’t make it myself this time. I would suggest checking out all you can. I’m most bumped out about missing Phurpa, since I’ve been trying to get them to Amsterdam for a long time and this time we finally made it happen and I’m not there. So go see them on Friday and make me jealous.
And lastly, you’re leaving for Tokyo in a few days. What’s the first thing you’ll do when you arrive?
I’m actually at the airport right now on my way to Osaka. The first thing I’ll be doing is having ramen soup with my mom, who will be joining too! It’s gonna be rad!
Have fun and thanks a lot Hugo!
Godhatesdisco – Nimoy
Andreas Hofer – Untitled
John Cravache – Jacksonville
Alva Noto – Uni Acronym (feat. Anne-James Chaton)
Foot & Mouth – I Want My Mummy
Poligam – Grunz
Bene Gesserit – You Can Dance It If You Want
Ralph Carney – Closet Bears
Devo – Auto Modown
Elektro-Dschungel – Al-Hoceima
Edits du Golem – Ula Y’Ugadey
Design A Wave – Snake Face
Alek Lee – Sfarot
Ciccone Youth – Macbeth
Adolf Butler – Holland
Coven – Coven In Charing Cross