However multifaceted an artist may be, how many and varied his activities, he nevertheless remains a single entity. This seems to hold in the astoundingly complex case of Mercan Dede
who, at first sight, reveals at least multiple personalities: active on the world and traditional Turkish music scenes in which his virtuosity on instruments like the ney and bedir is much in demand, he is also involved in techno and electronica as well as composing, producing and DJing. He lives in Canada, was born in Bursa, has travelled widely in Europe and North America and played in dozens of concerts around the globe. He’s a member of three groups—the Mercan Dede Trio, the Secret Tribe and the M.D. Ensemble. He works with musicians from spheres as distinct as pop and classical music, jazz and renaissance music, folk and rap! He admits he’s hard to classify and declares himself both a mystic Sufi and a cosmopolitan musician. Finally, born Arkin Ilicali, he would make a name for himself as DJ Arkin Allen, but is now best known as Mercan Dede, in which persona he has released nine solo albums and won numerous awards (BBC 3 Awards, Womex 2008, World Music Charts).
His story: he fell in love with the sound of the ney aged six, when he heard it played on the radio. He studied and experimented with photography, marble lithography, poetry, journalism, music, and he worked as a librarian, barman and art teacher. He changed his name in 1995 and released the album Sufi Dreams
, which led to his featuring in a German documentary and gaining wider recognition in Turkey. At his first public appearance, the audience were expecting someone elderly, as ‘dede’ means ‘elder’ in the Sufi tradition. The high point of his career to date must be his collaboration with the emblematic choreographer, Pina Bausch, and the vocalist Susheela Raman. When music purists accuse him of breaking musical and philosophical taboos in his treatment of traditional music, he replies: “The heart of Sufism lies in its contrapuntal nature. Everything coexists with its opposite. I prefer the man who follows his heart, wherever it may take him”.
: electronics, ney, bendir
Oray Yay: perküsyon
Cafer Nazlıbaş: kemane, cümbüş
Tanju Yıldız: bağlama
Burak Malçok: ney
Ergun Senlendirici: clarinet
Ceyhun Varışlı: whirling dervish
Omer Alper Altun: tour manager