Tarkan is Confused

Interview conducted by Mehmet Tez


Ozan ColakogluTarkan's producer and music arranger since the very beginning, Ozan Çolakoğlu explains the dilemma of a new album, the songs "Sezen Aksu scrapped" and the type of album he thinks would really suit the artist

Ozan Çolakoğlu has been with Tarkan since his first album. Today he is one of the few people Tarkan consults on music and entrusts to produce his albums and arrange his compositions. He called me after reading the article I wrote last Saturday, criticising the new album Tarkan is working on. I offered for us to meet face to face and to listen to his side of the story. He graciously accepted my invitation. He responded to my questions as honestly as he could. After chatting for an hour, I came away with the impression that he is someone who really cares for Tarkan and wants the best for him. I want you to read the things he says about Tarkan here with that in mind. I don't want the tone of our conversation to be misunderstood and for him to be placed in a difficult position.

What is the "Sezen Aksu didn't like the album, Tarkan binned it" affair all about?

It's not true that Sezen Aksu didn't like it. It wasn't binned either. I must say this first up front. It's really difficult for me to make a Tarkan album.


There's a huge expectation. There are fans that expect him to do what he has done before, and there are those people waiting for him to do something new. It's really difficult to strike a balance between the two. I've never been the type of person who thinks he should just "use whatever global trend is currently going" as you wrote. I have never made a decision by myself. Tarkan always plays a part in the project with his valuable opinions. By joining our ideas together, we try to find a common ground.

But Tarkan's album Metamorfoz (2007) carries signs of the latest trends.

Tarkan wants to be free from his "allaturca" identity. And that's his choice. I hold no bias against any genre of music. This is a choice about Tarkan's stance as an artist. For instance we listen to the old albums together. He says to me, "Look these albums aren't nearly as allaturca as I thought".

"By the release of Metamorfoz that music had become dated"

Is this why Tarkan can't meet the high expectations he's created?

It stems from confusion a little as well. And if Tarkan is confused, naturally it affects me, too. For example, since 1997 there is the 10 year saga of an English album...

What went wrong there?

The project was very disorganised. It was what Ahmet Ertegun wanted. When I joined Tarkan in America in 1997-98 there were a lot of producers, musical arrangers, composers in the project. In time they all left one by one, they disappeared.


They were dissatisfied probably.

By whom?

Tarkan or Ahmet Ertegun. Or maybe both together. The longer it took, the less fun it became. The music was right for that time, but when the album was released it was at least 2-3 years behind musically. For Tarkan that was the last album's problem, too. By the time the album was out, that music was old.

Are we talking about Metamorfoz?

Yes. I have some problems with Metamorfoz, too. I never want to make someone do things for the sake of following the latest musical trends. But there comes a time when you're forced to do it. You're put into a position where you have to try and make things fit together.

So what about the album you're working on now?

We wanted all the songs on the album we're working on now to be of a certain form. There were 7-8 pieces from before. A new song arrives for instance very different from the previous ones. It confuses the mind. We discarded the songs that didn't fit the new form.

Do you believe they shouldn't have been discarded?

No, I think it was right. When I started the project my thought was this: Tarkan has entered his mature period. Me too. Let's make an album with beautiful melodies, with beautifully presented acoustics. It's never been about Justin Timberlake, fashion, trend and the like. For me that's what Tarkan should be about. He's in New York at the moment. I'm going to talk with him when he returns. We need to stop chasing after musical trends. Let the newcomers do them. It suits them more.

"What's important is what he wants"

Let's return to the real issue. Who binned what?

We started recording. The songs we had were good, but they were very allaturca. Tarkan came to me one day, "I don't feel like singing these. I don't want this allaturca stuff," he said. There were 1-2 songs of a different style we had done before. "Let's go back to them," he said. So we did. Later we met with Sezen Aksu to complete the songs we had done together. In music for me she and Onno Tunç are the best. We let her listen to what we had. Sezen wrote lyrics for them, too. Then she said "Do you really want to make these songs?" And Tarkan said, "I think we've really given up on them too." And when Sezen said, "You have no need to do such allaturca vocals or tunes any more," things took on a new turn.

What did Sezen Aksu suggest?

She suggested that we continue with similar songs that we'd done with her to complete the album. We had already talked about Tarkan to do this anyway. We felt at ease. And we had that 4-5 songs like that anyway. The album hasn't been binned. We have 9 songs already.

The allaturca style songs Tarkan sings are really popular. For example he was always idolised by the young, but when he gave an allaturca concert at [public broadcaster] the TRT, he conquered the hearts of their parents, too.

Yes he has an amazing range, he sings beautifully. He was even going to do an album like that.

But the path you take in this album is going to be a different one. Doesn't this sound contradictory to you?

Of course it's contradictory. But what Tarkan wants is important.

"I ask for a large fee when I do a job I don't want to do"

- I don't really like the current things going on in the name of music. If I could I'd stay away from pop music completely.
- For example when a pop singer comes to me and says "Do two of our songs, too" I ask for a very large fee. Because I really don't want to do it.
- There was an offer from one of the great singers and I didn't accept it. But I could have made a lot of money from that job. But I did Nil Karaibrahimgil's album instead.
- Currently I'm doing Gülşen's album. It could come out October-November. There are a lot of good songs that remind me of what I call Turkish pop's golden era, the eighties.
- I don't have pop music roots to be honest. I played drums in rock groups, I always listened to rock music.

"The offer to do an album for Tarkan came on the bus"

The year was 1990. My business partner now, Barış Büyük (keyboard player for the disbanded group Badluck) meets Tarkan's then manager Alpay Aydın on a bus. Seeing a long haired youth, Aydın asks "Are you a musician? There's a kid called Tarkan, we're going to make him an album. Do you know anyone that can record a song?" Barış gave my name. We met, and talked. We made the album. After it's release everyone started calling us anyway. I suddenly found myself in the world of music arrangement. Something that I had looked on as temporary became my life.

"I don't want others to listen to the songs"

My meeting with Tarkan was a long time ago. My first arrangement job was with Tarkan. But still he is the most difficult person to work with. He is too involved. He has set up a recording system at his home, he records his own demos. This creates problems for me. Because it means that I'm in a situation where we have to do everything together. And I don't like to get the opinion of the people close to the person I work for. I don't want them to listen to the stuff we work on. I want to deal solely with the singer.

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