Doğukan Manço sets sights on being one of Turkey’s top DJs

Doğukan Manço sets sights on being one of Turkey’s top DJs

Turkish musician Doğukan Manço released his single “Binlik Demlik” in June through Manço Prodüksiyon, his İstanbul-based production company that carries on the work of the record company his father founded in the 1970s. (PHOTO SUNDAY’S ZAMAN, İSA ŞİMŞEK)

July 29, 2012, Sunday/ 11:28:00/ ALİ PEKTAŞ

Doğukan Manço, the older son of late Turkish rock legend Barış Manço, is making his foray into Turkey's music scene -- albeit not following in the footsteps of his father, at least genre-wise.

The young Manço is a hit nowadays among Turkish music lovers with his remix project, in which he revisits his father's well-known songs, notably his 1976 hit “Nick the Chopper.”

The remix, called “Binlik Demlik,” was released in June through Manço Prodüksiyon, the İstanbul-based production company Doğukan founded with his younger brother Batıkan that carries on the work of the record company their father founded four decades ago.

Barış Manço was in fact the first musician to remix “Nick the Chopper,” in 1979. Doğukan is now presenting that song with previously unheard vocals sung by his father, enhanced with electronic music elements. The 31-year-old budding musician, who has been disc-jockeying since 2009, says he aims to win one of the top three spots among Turkey's DJs. But he also has one more aim: to convey the legacy of his father to younger generations of music lovers.

In a recent interview in İstanbul, Doğukan Manço spoke to Sunday's Zaman about his remix project and the legacy of his father.

Did you ever dream of becoming a professional musician when you were a kid?

To tell the truth, no. But I have always been keen on disc-jockeying. When I was little, I used to cut pieces from cassette tapes and then stick different pieces together, thinking that I was making my own original remixes. But I didn't know it was called “remixing” then. I grew up literally “scratching” my father's vinyl records.

When did you decide to become a professional DJ?

I had been taking to the stage at events held in memory of my father and different social responsibility projects as an amateur DJ. In 2011, a close friend of mine who was scheduled to perform at a festival in Alanya had to cancel his appearance, and so I replaced him. But for that performance I prepared a special set. I also included several well-known pop songs instead of playing an entire set of my father's songs as I had done before. I played before an audience of 5,000 to 6,000 people and I really liked the experience. I realized there was a strong bond between me and the audience. And at that moment DJ'ing became a career for me.

Did your father ever try to influence you to become a musician?

My father used to teach me how to play the guitar. I also took piano lessons from Mine Mucur. And that was how my basic music knowledge was formed. But I didn't do anything to improve it. I also tried my hand at singing but I guess I'm not a chip off the old block -- I have a horribly bad voice. For instance, I attempted to sing on this particular remix, and we had 22 takes, and none of them was successful. I just wanted to accompany my father in the song, but [my voice] really just didn't fit in, and so I didn't insist.

And how did you come up with “Binlik Demlik”?

I had already been arranging my father's songs for a long time. We established two studios under the body of Manço Prodüksiyon, where we train DJs and make remixes. As it is, this is what we do as Manço Prodüksiyon. This time around we wanted to focus a little more on my father's songs. We started with “Dönence” (Tropic); however, we couldn't achieve the sound we dreamed of. And next we started to work on “Nick the Chopper.” I had a melody in my mind that had stuck there when I was a child. As I was trying to catch that melody, I realized that my father had already done a remix of that song in 1979, with several additional lyrics in Turkish -- that was what had been stuck in my mind. We found a recording of that remix while we were re-mastering some of my father's old records and we took the vocals in my remix from that [1979] version. It was a rarely heard recording. I know this might sound too fantastic, but I felt as though my father returned to create this remix and then went back.

Could we call this a beginning?

Of course. We intentionally released it as a single -- to test the waters, to see how people would react. This is a sensitive issue. Barış Manço is an icon. People reacted to the cover versions of his songs. We thought they might also dislike the remix. However, Barış Manço's music needs to be [reissued] in current popular [music] styles. We received generally positive feedback up until now. The most negative comment I received was, “Couldn't you find other lyrics?” I couldn't.

How would you react if you were accused of building yourself a career on your father's legacy?

Well, if what I'm doing is inheriting his legacy, I think this is my birthright. But that has never crossed my mind. We were not raised that way. We have good judgment. I see Barış Manço not only as my father but as a great figure in Turkish [music] history, and because of that I'm going to do whatever I can to carry his legacy to future generations. … We [at Manço Prodüksiyon] have been working on digitalizing his TV shows for the past 19 months. … These tapes are good for 15 to 20 years at most. They could easily be erased if they encountered a magnetic field. They need to be preserved. Barış Manço is physically absent but his memory will continue to live on in the digital world.

What plans do you have in store for your music career?

My ambition is to become one of the three names in Turkey that come to mind as a DJ. I want to make a name overseas as a Turkish DJ. My father always used to tell us, “Be the best of whatever you are.” We grew up listening to that kind of advice all the time, so we have that kind of an outlook on whatever we do. … At the same time, I race cars, and one of my ambitions is to represent Turkey on an international level as a racecar driver.

So you're also a professional racecar driver?

Yes, and ambitious. In fact, I'm ambitious in both [music and driving]. I'm new at disc-jockeying, I'm just starting to warm up, but I have a longer history in racecar driving. I've been doing it for 13 years now.

You lived abroad, in the United States, for eight years, and you were a radio programmer there.

After the death of my father [my brother and I] were devastated. And when baseless rumors [about my father] surfaced in the Turkish media my mom decided that my brother and I [should] live abroad for some time. Because of those rumors, I became wary of the media and any kind of job related to it, even though I had actually studied media. A [Turkish] family who knew I had experience in radio programming asked me to help them start a new radio station. Together we launched the Florida Turk Radio. I also produced a program for that station called “Biçilmiş Kaftan” (Perfectly Suited).

Why didn't you study music while you were in the US?

My main reason for leaving Turkey was not getting an education abroad. I only needed to go away. It could be any school, any department. The depression [of losing our father] lasted a very long time. We were unsure of what we really wanted to do. But our mother really took good care of us. When my father died I was only 17 -- the beginning of a period in a boy's life when he can really start getting along with his father. Now I often envy fathers and sons who work together in the same business.

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