She Past Away is for many people THE discovery of 2012. With their blend of styles and influences rooted in the 80’s and their unique vocals in Turkish, they have created a fiercely modern sound, with a captivating and addictive atmosphere. Their dark and cold sound has become a must play on the dancefloors. We took advantage of their sold-out concert in Madrid on September 28th, to interview the band and get to know more about them. We met not only great musicians, but also very interesting and friendly persons, willing to share their story with us. She Past Away are: Volkan Caner (vocals, guitar, music and lyrics), Idris Akbulut (Bass) and Doruk Ozturkcan (programming, production…).
Thanks to Daniel Olvera for his questions, Depa for the audio, Juan Martinez for the opportunity, a huge thank you to Maria Ortuño for all the help before, during and after the interview, and once again to the band for their friendliness and the amazing show: TEŞEKKÜRLER!!!
First of all, She Past Away, we are very happy to make this interview with you, we like a lot your work
Doruk: Thank you
The first question we would like to ask you is how did you start with this particular project and what is the background of SPA?
Doruk: In 2006 Idris and Volkan formed the band, before that they had a cover band and they were performing, but not as SPA. In 2006 they started performing the songs and they shot the first video “Kasvetli Kutlama” in 2009. In 2009, we released the first EP “Kasvetli Kutlama” and I think you know the rest. I used to play the drums for a while, for 2 years, we did a lot of shows in Turkey between 2009 in 2012. We don’t play shows in Turkey now because there is not enough scene there, but we started receiving a lot of concert offers after making this release on Fabrika Records earlier this year. We were receiving offers before but they multiplied after the deal with Fabrika. Now there are no gigs in Turkey but in Europe, we played in Paris, Gothic Treffen, we played 4 or 5 gigs until now in Europe, and this is our biggest tour for the moment with 7 gigs. We have 2 more at the end of the month, in Germany, and hopefully we will be able to make a South American tour, starting in Mexico, next year. So far we have confirmed for next year: Dark Munich in April, and Castle Party in Poland in July.
Many people will be happy to see you in these festival
Doruk: Well, festivals are great because everything comes in big sizes, bigger sound, bigger audience, everything is bigger basically, but we also like the clubs, because it’s smaller, friendlier, there’s not so much distance between the band and the audience. You catch more people that way, talking, partying. Both festival and clubs are good, in different ways.
We were wondering about the meaning of the name SPA? Can you explain it to us?
Doruk: Well, it’s written wrong, (all laughing)
That’s why we were wondering! Is it a mistake, a play on words ?
Doruk: We made a mistake, and couldn’t take a step back! (all laughing) No, really, SPA, kind of means “She passed away”, as “She died”, but it is a twist, as by saying “past” instead of “passed”, it means that that woman belongs to the past, she’s far away, not necessarily dead. It has a sense of being far away rather than dead, I would say. (They discuss it between them in Turkish) And also, we didn’t want it to sound romantic or melancholic. We wanted a colder feeling.
But that “she”, is it referring to one woman or is it more abstract?
Doruk: Take it more like a “she” spirit, like a ghost, far away, either in the past, or physically away, or like in the “idea” world, like a past memory…
Many people are wondering about Doruk’s presence in the band. Who is the band right now?
Doruk: These guys (Volkan and Idris) were the band at the beginning, I was added on later, because we wanted to make it better on stage. In 2008, when I joined them and we started playing gigs, it was like the start of a more present band. But we don’t believe anymore that it’s necessary to have a drummer on stage to make things more exciting, because the music that we make is cold and dark, and it’s heavily depending on the drum machine sound. We don’t feel the necessity to put a physical performance on stage. We think that it kind of looks cooler this way.
Idris: And it’s also very practical.
Doruk: Because we are 3 people travelling now, I take care of the sound and the backing tracks. Rather than having me onstage not being able to give the outside sound, we prefer taking me out of the stage and be able to have more control of the sound, because it’s really important, the sound. It has elements and influence of a lot of bands and styles, so if the level of the drums is a little higher or a little lower, it makes a huge difference. The guitarist role is a lead in some songs, in others it’s a backing sound. I need to be there to control all of these musical aspects.
Idris: We also travel easily being 3.
Doruk: We don’t want to be any bigger, especially travelling abroad, the smaller the better.
Your influences are obviously rooted in the 80’s, can you tell us what are the main ones?
Volkan: Asylum Party
Doruk: There are lots of names
Idris: Big names that have inspired us: Bauhaus, Clan of Xymox, The Cure, French band Asylum Party, lots of bands, you’ll probably see it during the concert.
Was it easy to have access to this music in Turkey? How did you discover these bands before the Internet?
(Volkan and Doruk speak in Turkish, then Doruk explains)
These guys were in Bursa at that time, in the younger 80’s and there’s only one underground music shop there, that’s how, we got this music, in cassette format, never original releases, and it was the same in Istanbul. There was only one shop in Istanbul at my time, where you could buy underground music styles. They imported one original album and made copies of it.
You have already told us that you don’t play gigs in Turkey anymore because there’s no scene, how do you feel about being a Turkish band that now performs internationally, but not in your own country?
(Idris and Doruk speak in Turkish, then Idris explains) As we said, there’s no scene in Turkey, there’s a little bit of metal music since the 80’s.
Doruk: There’s no real metal scene either, you can’t say that. Maybe there’s a gig every now and then, but you can’t really say there’s a scene. Of course it feels shit not playing in your country, not getting any feedback.
Idris: There they see it as just a personal hobby.
Doruk: And the small audience that we get doesn’t really get the music, they don’t really understand it, they only say: “Oh, you’re like Cure”, because they only know Cure.
Idris: Or Sisters of Mercy
Doruk: Yes, or they say “You’re like Sisters of Mercy”, because they only know Sisters of Mercy, they don’t see all the other influences in our music. There was a small gothic scene, but they were all our friends circles anyway, we know everybody like (counting on his hand and laughing) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5…
Talking about the album, Doruk, you are the producer, tell us how you wanted it to sound?
Doruk: I might be the producer, but the sound comes from these guys (Volkan and Idris). During the production process, we were all together. We’d come together, do the recording, do the mixing, leave it for a while, then come back to it. It’s a teamwork, not my personal point of view. Because I am stronger on the technical side, I helped these guys bring out what they want better. Of course I had some editions, of course I put some of my perspective in it too, but it’s mostly their creation.
When listening to the album, it seems like the intensity is raising all through the album, except for the last track, which is a perfect conclusion, like slowing down. How did you chose the order of the songs? It really works perfect, you listen to one track, and because it’s great you want to repeat it, but the next track starts and you’re already trapped into it.
Doruk: Well, thank you for understanding (all laughing). Because we wanted to make an album, not just put songs together one after the other. We wanted it to sound just as you described it. We want it to be a journey, because that’s what a good album is. That’s the definition of an album. So we really paid attention to the musicality, the flow of the things, and you just confirmed that we did what we wanted, that’s really nice.
You included the full EP inside and it fits perfectly in the whole album
Doruk: Well, as you’d imagine, when we released the first EP, we already had the other songs, either produced or not in their final shape. Tonight we’ll play two new tracks, and I suppose you’ll have a hint of the next album. I think you’ll have the feeling that She Past Away is not changing direction, but getting more specialized in defining She Past Away’s music. So the second album, we are trying to shape up things better, and bringing in more variety of styles, bringing more influences this time.
We’re looking forward to it
Doruk: Hopefully next year.
It’s amazing how you manage to transmit feelings in your song, even with lyrics in Turkish. Why did you chose to sing in Turkish? It’s a surprising choice, many bands chose to change their language to English when they want to reach an international audience.
Idris: Our English is not good !! (all laughing) If we are doing this in English, it’s not sincere.
Doruk: It would be pretentious
Idris: We think in Turkish, feel in Turkish
Doruk: For us lyrics in Turkish make it more sincere, less pretentious, definitely unique
Idris: And we like very much to sing in Turkish
The language helps a lot the music, it’s harmonious but also guttural.
Doruk: This is Volkan’s genius!
Your song “Ruh” is an adaptation of Baudelaire’s “Le Revenant”. Apart from the musical ones, what other artistic influences do you have? I feel you are influenced by horror B-movies, especially in the song “Bozbulanik” it’s a crazy track, it feels like there are bats flying around you!
(They all laugh)
Volkan: Jess Franco! B-movies
Idris: Baudelaire, Lovecraft
Volkan: Spaghetti westerns!
Which bands from the new millennium do you appreciate and listen to?
You’ve been touring a lot during the last year, do you have anecdotes to tell us? And how is meeting your audience?
(They laugh and speak in Turkish)
Doruk: We are messy travelling, we forget things a lot. When we went to Gothic Treffen, Volkan left his guitar pedal in the taxi and it was gone, just before the gig. Anyway we sorted it out. Idris lost his passport the day after (laughing). But we have really good memories usually. First of all, we are really amazed by the people’s reaction. We can see how much they appreciate and understand our music. So for our first time, we share 100% with people, and it’s such a good feeling.
We would like to know which is the song that you enjoy the most playing on stage, that fills you the most?
Idris: Rituel, but we enjoy all of them.
We have enjoyed your Secret Thirteen Mix, do you sometimes perform as DJ?
About the new album, how far is it advanced, when will it be released?
Doruk: We can’t tell, we’re really lazy. 3 to 4 songs are nearly finished, and we started quite a few other recordings, but we don’t really have ideas of the dates it will be finished. Sometime next year, probably the end of next year. (Volkan speaks in Turkish, then Doruk explains) Like the first album, we don’t want to just put songs one after the other, we want to make an album again, so if we want to put like 10 songs in the album, we need to have more, so we can choose between the songs, so… we’ll see
We’ll be waiting…
Finally, would you like to add something for the readers of This is Gothic Rock.com?
Doruk: We’re really happy about the feedback, we feel very thankful for that. We want this thing to grow bigger, and we want it to keep it going as long as we can.