A conversation with Hunter Hunt-Hendrix on her philosophy system for Sprout.
Welcome to the wonderful world of Altın Gün, where traditional Turkish music meets the deliciously psychedelic sounds of the ‘70s. Kitsch, joy, and reverence form the backbone of this rising Amsterdam-based band. Bassist Jasper Verhulst offers a glimpse into their refreshing perspective.
How are you?
Great! Really excited about everything that’s happening with the band.
Does it feel good to have the new album out?
Yeah, but to be honest I see us more as a live band than an album band. What we really are is a folk band. We started this project because we wanted to play standards and traditional folk songs live. You know, our singer, saz (a stringed instrument), and keyboard player, Erdinc—his parents are Turkish and he grew up with this music. He wanted to start a band like this for forever. And so did I. When everyone in the band finally came together, we made it possible.
…that’s something I like about Turkish music. It has a certain kitschy-ness.
You guys really show how versatile folk is—that it can be psychedelic and funky.
Thanks! Well, we didn’t invent the style: it was really popular in Turkey in the ‘70s. Just like how folk rock was popular in the UK during that time. Bands like Fairport Convention were taking traditional English music and playing it in their own style, with the sounds of that time. The same thing was happening in Turkey. To combine that traditional music with ‘70s psychedelia funk rock influences—I think it’s a really nice mix. Really unique.
I heard Altın Gün means Golden Day. Why that name?
I thought it would be appropriate to have a name that’s positive but also slightly kitschy, because that’s something I like about Turkish music. It has a certain kitschy-ness. Take Bariş Manço—he was one of the biggest rock stars in the ‘70s, and his repertoire was mostly in the same style as ours. Just playing traditional songs in a funky, psychedelic, ‘70s kind of way. He was really extravagant, with loads of gold rings on his fingers. We’re not gonna dress like that [laughs], but I think that kitschy-ness is cool.
What’s your dream for the band?
We just want to keep playing our music for audiences all over the world. What I like most, which we never intended, is that a lot of Turkish people are really happy and proud of what we’re doing. We’re also introducing a lot of people to Turkish music. I’m not saying that we do it the best, or that we invented something new, but I think in a world that makes it hard to be optimistic, the least you can do is create something that makes people happy.
Altın Gün performed at Down the Rabbit Hole Festival 2019. Subbacultcha has proudly produced this years Down the Rabbit Hole festival guide for the fifth time, available here.