ISTANBUL - Rock singer Aylin Aslım has a new album and little tolerance for nonsense. She says she’s ’still not in that accept-everything stage. I hope I never get there.’ With a concert this Wednesday in Istanbul premiering her third album in stores next month, Aslim’s songs have earned acceptance from some 200,000 listeners online
Rocker Aylin Aslım will premiere songs this Wednesday in Istanbul from her third album set for release in May. She describes "Canını seven kaçsin", meaning "Run for your life", as "tougher" than her first two outings. It deals head on with what has been going on in her own life, she told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review. "And the lyrics about women’s issues are even harder." Though tough in lyrics and process, the sound comes off melodious and moving, as on "Böyledir bu işler" and "Olduğun gibi". On several songs, the hard rock edge of her years past has gone through the pressure washer and emerged mature and fluid.
The first single to be released is a critique of authority called "Sen mi?" which she translates as "Are you going to kill me?" This past week she wrapped the filming of the video for "Sen mi?", the album’s first single to be released in coming weeks.
No stranger to turning up the volume on songs unpopular with authorities, Aslım’s 2005 song "Güldunya" seemed to touch a censorship nerve for exposing the depths of violence. Turkey’s state-run umbrella of radio and television channels, TRT, banned her song, which focused on a real murder of a new mother at the hands of her own family, a case known as an honor killing. Participating in a Hürriyet-sponsored "No to domestic violence" campaign through an album and recently sold-out concert, Aylin was pleased that the organizer chose her song "Güldunya" as its name and a song on the album. Redemption seemed to knock twice; on singing "Güldunya" with Turkey’s all-time queen of pop, Sezen Aksu, in the March concert, she said it was "like a dream come true."
Many of the songs on "Canını seven kaçsin" are about love and relations, some of which focus on "assholes who take advantage of or oppress the women in their lives," she said. One is about a guy who tried to talk her into wearing slightly more conservative clothes onstage. "He didn’t even have a real job and he dared to patronize me about my work. And he was recently back from living in the U.S. for 10 yearsÉIt was a great inspiration," she said, laughing. On another song, she addresses a rich guy trying to oppress his girlfriend with his father’s money.
Album with nothing to lose
Describing the making of her first album, she called it ’desperate’ and the second ’ironic’. "This one would be ’angry’," she said. "I would like to think I’d be less angry and calmer now," she added smiling, "but it’s hard when you see it’s so difficult to change things like women’s issues and human rights. I’m still not in that accept-everything stage. I hope I never get there." The album’s sound and content give the listener a sense that Aslım has nothing to lose, creating an intimate connection with the listener that feels like she is confiding in them. Therein lies the maturity. If the number of listeners to the songs on myspace is any indication, she’s made nearly 200,000 connections so far. "I’ve always taken risksÉ in the lyrics I write, but I’d say there’s more courage in this album." Aslım feels fearless in part because she says she knows nothing sells well in this world. "I’ve never made a penny from an album," she said. "Everything I’ve made has come from concerts." She said she had a sense of needing to be acknowledged on the second album "that was underlined". "I don’t have those kinds of barriers now."
Acknowledging the music industry all over the world and in Turkey as male-dominated, she said, "I came to a point when I couldn’t take it anymore." Being a female artist makes the industry even harder, she added. But it’s more than a gender issue. "The music industry here is like a premature baby. The royalty issue is a mess; there isn’t even a proper performance hall for a rock show" and men in prominent positions represent the worst of the need for connections to powerful people, she said.
"You have to agree with what they do and what they say; otherwise you’re marginalized as an arrogant angry feminist. If it were a properly developed industry, maybe your music still wouldn’t be the first concern, but it certainly wouldn’t be the last." While Aslım doesn’t hesitate to articulate her point of view in public on subjects ranging from women’s rights to the government’s cavalier attitude leading to more violence in the streets, she has had to confront ignorant views from the media doing the asking. Journalists, even female journalists, often ask Aslım if she has been a victim of abuse herself. Her answer is usually the same: "Do you have to have a big problem in your garden to care about the environment?"
Recently when one of the country’s top talk show hosts, Beyazit Öztürk, invited Aslım onto his show to talk about domestic violence against women, he told her she was being "too harsh" when she said men need to take more responsibility for the problem. He said abuse is not so much something caused by men but rather a human issue. Aslım disagreed on the air, later telling the Daily News that it was "so inappropriate of him to say we shouldn’t see domestic abuse as men’s problem."
Other stages, partnerships
Late last year she was invited to perform in a World Music Festival in Holland. "The music was great," she said of hearing other performers. In Istanbul she has performed with Orient Expressions as well as world-famous Turkish folk singer Sabahat Akkiraz and emerging rapper Ayben.
She gave her time and energy gratis last year to a Turkish multimedia project for kids. Rock Sınıfı, or "Rock Class", which involved a CD, videos and an interactive Web site with games, songs and lyrics. Aslım said she liked working on the project for kids, especially one with its wit and character. Her raw, throwback song "Madde" became a video that was wildly popular with the under-13 set.
Aslım performs live this Wednesday, April 22 at 9:30 p.m. at JJ Balans Performance Hall on Balo Sokak in Beyoğlu.
23 TL. Her album "Canını seven kaçsin" is set for release in early May. New songs can be heard at www.myspace.com/aylinaslım.