Artist Profiles: Baba Zula

Baba Zula

Baba Zula was founded in 1996 by Levent Akman (percussion, rhythm machines, toys), Murat Ertel (saz and other strings, vocal) and Emre Onel (darbuka, sampler, vocal) in Istanbul, was joined by Oya Erkaya (bass guitar, vocal in 2003.

With its specifically unique sound created by melding traditional Turkish musical instruments with electronic elements, Baba Zula has brought a brand new dimension to Turkish Folk Music. Baba Zula’s music is basically an amalgamation of recorded natural sounds with both traditional and modern acoustic and electronic musical instruments, a culmination of disparate electronic effects. Starting out by improvisations, later fixed into musical elements which make up their music such as theme, tune, style and sound, reached through recordings and rehearsals, the group has carried this method of ‘defined improvisation’ into concerts, movies, theatrical plays, use of video, slides and films, prepared by the additional members who have joined forces with the core group in its live performances.

The group, which from the very beginning has shown great interest in featuring guest musicians and players in concerts and albums, has been accompanied by stars such as the Thracian Selim Sesler (clarinet master), the Canadian singer Brenna McCrimmon (specialized in Balkan folk music), Fahrettin Aykut (drummer), Tuncel Kurtiz (movie star and player), Ahmet Uğurlu (movie star and player), Ralph Carney from San Francisco (saxophonist) and the diva Semiha Berksoy (first Turkish opera singer and painter).

Baba Zula’s debut album, ‘ Tabutta Rovasata = Somersault in the Coffin’ (Ada Music), including the original soundtrack for dervis Zaim’s first movie with the same title about a car thief who returned the cars he stole to their owners and fell in love with a peacock, was released in 1996. The album also includes four songs in which the movie stars Ahmet Ugurlu, Tuncel Kurtiz and Aysel Aydemir contribute in vocals.

Their album, ‘ 3 Oyundan 17 Muzik’ (Doublemoon) comprising music created for the plays ‘ The Little Prince’ by Antoine de Saint Exupery, ‘ Frog Tales’ by Arnold Lobel and ‘ Kitchen Accidents’ by Perihan Mağden, was released in 1999. Apart from a number of other artists, Ralph Carney, Brenna McCrimmon and Selim Sesler have also taken part in this album as guest stars. Baba Zula, who has also made the music for the film ‘ Renkli Turkye = Colored and in Turkish’, directed by Ahmet Cad#rc# and about a movie mechanic falling in love with an ex-pornstar, has also taken stage in Britain and Macedonia. Baba Zula also opened Manu Chao concert which took place in June 22 during Efes Pilsen Summer Festival.

Levent Akman and Murat Ertel of Baba Zula were invited to Cologne, Germany to perform with two German musicians Gerard Doeke and Norbert Torzik at the Mediteranneen Film Festival on the 6th and 8th of December

In April 23, Baba Zula did a concert at the Festival of ‘Printemps de Bourges’ in front of fifty thousand spectators.

Zen, Baba Zula members former band (Levent Akman and Murat Ertel) received the ‘best original score’ award for ‘Dokuz / Nine’ (Turkish Cinema Writers Association) and Ankara International Film Festival in January 23.

Their third and latest album ‘Psychebelly Dance Music released in May 23 was mixed and mastered by the British musician and producer Mad Professor who previously worked with Massive Attack , The Orb, Lee Perry and alikes. Their fourth album ‘ Duble Oryantal’ which is released on Doublemoon Records by the end of May 25, is again mixed and mastered by Mad Professor

The band played at Roskilde Festival on 3rd of July, 24. The band also appeared in the Golden Bear award winner, film director Fatih Ak#n’s new documentary on the sounds of Istanbul, played and recorded with Einstuerzende Neubauten’s Alexander Hacke.


Tabutta Rovasata – Somersault in the Coffin (Ada Music, 1996)

Uc Oyundan 17 Muzik (Doublemoon, 1999)

Psychebelly Dance Music (Doublemoon 2003)

Duble Oryantal (Doublemoon 2005)

Dondurmam Gaymak, soundtrack (Rh Pozitif, 2006)

Kökler (Doublemoon, 2007)

Gecekondu (Doublemoon, 2010)

34 Oto Sanayi/Do Not Obey (2014)

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music and progressive music for many years. He founded the websites and Angel produced several specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music and electronic music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World, Lektronic Soundscapes, and Mindchild Records. Angel is currently based in Durham, North Carolina.


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