Saturday 6 July 2019
Turkish singer dreams of freedom in her magic fusion of contemporary rock and Turkish folk

Gaye Su Akyol has established herself as one of Turkey’s most compelling young voices and most exhilarating sonic explorers. Her work as a singer-songwriter, producer and audio/visual conceptualist (she’s an accomplished painter, too!) simultaneously navigates the storied past, the hyper-connected present and the unscripted future.

When the 33-year-old musician visited Roskilde Festival last, in 2016, it was part of a long tour lasting 18 months. At the end of that, Gaye Su Akyol and band went straight into the studio to record their latest album, İstikrarlı Hayal Hakikattir (translates to ‘consistent fantasy is reality’). Perhaps that’s why it really crackles with a great live energy!

And when she takes a live stage, she really works wonders, appearing like some sort of skewed pop star wearing silver boots, shorts and cape. But appearances aside, she – along with an impressive guitar band – play experimental sets that fuse traditional Turkish and rock influences. To this is added a dash of electronica and local stringed instruments including the oud, bağlama and cümbüş. Akyol’s voice is a mesmerising thing, deep and plummy enough to shake trees and stir hearts.

The Turkish singer’s music includes powerful pleas for freedom of speech. Working out of a country where the oppression of free expression is standard operating procedure, Gaye Su Akyol’s music is a much-needed outlet, even if she disguises some of her messages in metaphors.

Gaye So Akyol was on the cover of Songlines in November 2018, and her name is popping up on various ‘end of year’ lists (including The Wire and PopMatters), so the world is definitely pricking up its ears to the magnificent sounds of Gaye Su Akyol.