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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Tarkan: Looking Behind the Name [1]

S.B. from Germany writes:

My random thoughts [after] I listened to the [BBC London radio] interview a couple of times ... I'm sure [are] colored by my own feelings and what I want to project onto him whether valid or not ... [but] to me:

He is very soft-spoken and thoughtful. Seems that he really is giving thought to her questions and not just snapping back a response ... [but he] does not come across as a hard-nose bully professional. Not at all pushy, meaning he let [DJ Ritu] lead the interview. He really comes across as an innocent that is just making music and wanting people to like what he does.

Very passionate about his music and very much wanting people to like him and his music and validate his work. He wants to be himself with his fans while on stage. Wants his fans to enjoy his music and the time with him. That he wants that validation that they like him....the real him...not a fake presentation. Seems he wants to be liked... "don't have to like my music... but please like me."

I just got the impression that it is a good thing that he has Bilge [Öztürk - his girlfriend since 2001]. That he needs that confident and support. Seems very alone.

I came away more confused and thinking "who is this guy?" He seemed to not know what his next move was in his life or his career. One has to wonder just how much [Ahmet Ertegün]'s passing affected him. Is he really that lost with out the guidance [Ertegün] gave him?

In the interview, it appeared he no longer has the hunger for the super-stardom. But if someone should just happen to come up and offer him an opportunity well... he might take it. I wonder how much he is leading the way with these iPod and Internet download opportunities with these different companies? Or are they approaching him just to use his name in selling their product. And what if he no longer has that drive for super-stardom? Is that so wrong? The man is pushing 40. He spoke several times of living on a farm with animals and nature, having a family and home and roots. Maybe the quest for these other things is more important to him now. Maybe he sees being able to now have those things as the payoff for all his work these last 10-15 years. Like I said before, I just came away thinking it is good he has Bilge and that she is there to be that confidant.

Seems to have mixed feeling about [his English album "Come] Closer". Wanted to do it but that is was not a big hit but hurt how people/critics pounced on his "failure" but says himself he may have contributed to the failure ... why didn't he promote it more? If it wasn't right then why put it out? Was it a case of "well its already been 8 years so we have got to release it" ... I bought and played it quite a bit it but I want to hear him sing in Turkish. I'm sorry but some songs just do not translate well and lose what makes them special. I wish instead of re-mixing "Closer" for another English release he would record it in Turkish. I would love to hear the song "Touch" sung by him in Turkish.

Read Mark Mayhey's article "Letting Go of the Dream" >>

[He also seems] really troubled by the press and maybe doesn't understand why they are negative to him and still doesn't know how to handle or respond to it. Sort of like "what have I ever done to make you dislike me so".

I guess overall he just comes across as not confident. Very unsure of his next step and if that next step is the right one.

He talks about pressure several times [in the interview]. Seems torn between doing his music, the work, the fans and being able to just have a home somewhere and do things that "normal" people take for granted.

I just left the interview feeling it's a good thing he has Bilge.

And last but not least... speaks English with a really cute accent.

In part I agree with some of your views about the BBC radio interview, but overall I think he was just being polite and nice, and we don't often expect that from artists, and so he probably came off as less assertive than usual. Plus, he isn't a native English speaker and may not be as be as confident in it as Turkish, especially if he hasn't spoken it in a while. I'm sure the naivete you mention is something that has always been a part of Tarkan, but obviously, Tarkan is also no Mother Theresa. It would be good to have a "warts and all" documentary in respect to Tarkan, to take a camera and film him secretly at work; to see how he deals with his team in his everyday life - to see what the real Tarkan behind the artist persona is like.

Meeting him up close as a fan, or even just as an objective admirer doesn't do it, either. For that kind of intimacy you need to catch him unprepared, and at his most real - the best part of the BBC interview was when he couldn't answer a question about the English language album, confused himself and whispered: "Shall we cut this?"

In meets and greets and such interviews Tarkan usually prepares himself for the moment, and in my opinion what you see as thoughtfulness - is his actual preparedness. He thinks carefully before he acts or speaks as a self-defence mechanism. It's training that comes from years of having the Turkish press bait him by double-guessing every comment he makes.

Although I don't think he expects all critics to like his albums (as he has commented himself), he does care whether or not his fans like them, because he sees his songs as "his babies" (as he said in the BBC London report) so he wants his fans to love them just as much as he did does. But he is realistic in that he doesn't expect the critics or the whole public to like them, but for Tarkan his fans are in a different place for him.

His fans are human, however, and get affected and believe a lot of the trash spewed out by Turkish media channels, and so the artist ends up not knowing whether when genuine fans are criticising him they are doing so because they genuinely don't like something he has done, or because they've inadvertently become a mouth piece for the editorialising Turkish papers that turn speculation into fact without a shed of proof. People may often disregard an opinion article or a music journalist's piece - but they will usually believe something they read or hear if it is given out in the form of a news report on a prime time news programme broadcast by a national TV station.

It has come to the point where the artist is considering legal action again, and some will understand why. Currently in Turkey he is not being portrayed as the artist that has generated millions in revenue for and rejuvenated the flagging starship of Turkish television the TRT - which should be the national pride of the country but is often seen as playing to an elitist niche that frowns on trash TV - but as a money-hungry tax man stealing the hard earned money from a frustrated Turkish public that is feeling the strain of a dwindling global economy.

And why is Tarkan being treated this way? Well, being anti-Tarkan is part of it - no surprise to find out the TV station that is keeping up the slander is the one that Tarkan had been in talks with for some TV shows that failed to materialise in 2006 - but it is also the nature of the TV industry. If the TRT is going to try and grab prime time figures, then the main TV stations will start to see it as a rival. And whenever they want to criticise the TRT they use the issue of public funding given to the state broadcaster that the private stations don't have as the excuse, by saying to the public through the newspaper channels: "Look what they're doing with the money from your electricity bills".

Not that I'm implying that it holds a special place in the main of the album, but in effect Tarkan's track "Dedikodu" from Metamorfoz is a musical warning to his fans, calling out for them not to believe the gossip in the press and not to allow such celebrity industry backstabbings and critics like Naim Dilmener and Mehmet Tez (who are pushing their own agendas) to drive a wedge between them.

Yet, in my mind he should have hardened by now, and is far more sensitive at criticism than he should be. Even Mother Theresa (I hope people still remember her) had her critics unbelievably, but you block your ears to the malicious jeers, and sift out the good criticism and benefit from that. Conversely, instead of "not caring" about the Tarkan-baiting that goes on in the Turkish paparazzi press (though in the BBC London interview he does admit its the same all over the world) it seems he has decided not to care about certain goals that had driven his musical career, instead.

If Ahmet Ertegün was - as Tarkan admits in the BBC interview - his greatest inspiration and drive for an English language project, then that large factor has untimely gone. With that major backer no longer there, there is no incentive for artists like Snoop Dogg or Beyonce to even contemplate any joint projects. And it's interesting to note that in the BBC interview Tarkan now only mentions Shakira (which had been rumoured before) when asked who he would like to do a duet with.

In terms of the European licensed Come Closer, even though I respect and admire Tarkan as an artist, to hear him say he sabotaged his own album on the BBC London radio show shocked me to some degree. It showed a modem of disrespect for his own work that I thought I'd never hear from him. Being half-hearted will not get him anywhere and luck only goes so far to get you heard in the global music industry. If his songs are his babies, then what was he confessing to on that interview?

If an artist doesn't have faith in an album - even if because of so many extenuating circumstances that forced the English venture to take so long to come out - then how can he expect others to believe in it?

Moreover, I believe for him to say he sabotaged his own album has possibly killed Come Closer off completely. Of course he may re-release, but as you say so perceptively, you can't help feeling that he is waiting for something to happen first.

Post index | End of part one | Part two

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