Having discovered his musical niche relatively late in life, Mehmet Aslan has shot to great success over the course of just a few years. The Berlin-based DJ and producer is now very busy indeed, carving a new path on the cusp of House and traditional Turkish folk music. He has seen original releases and edits on labels such as For Disco Only, Huntleys & Palmers and HIGHLIFE and has recently launched his co-owned label Fleeting Wax. We caught up with him to chat childhood inspiration, latest projects and life in Berlin!
For those who will get to know you for the first time, how did you start in music?
There is a story that when I was five years old and I saw a toy in a shopping mall, I started to cry and shout “I want a ton-a-ton.” My parents didn't get what I was crying for until I pointed to a toy tape-recorder with a mic (exactly this kind of a thing). Anyway, after a long abscence I somehow got into spinning records and started playing with music.
Was it always your intention to blend your Turkish roots in your sound?
No. It happened by accident when I had a Turkish sample with me in the studio with Dario from Alma Negra. I thought, why not use that sample? That specific track got picked up by Ata from Robert Johnson and after that I realised something must be right. And finally there was something I could really relate to. So I started to dig more into Turkish music, and a whole new world opened to me..
Recently DJ Broadcast named you as one of the main actors in the disco revolution of the Middle East, alongside Baris K and Red Axes. How would you like to see this evolve?
I think there is kind of a trend going in this direction but it's important that we bring something new to this, taking it away from the cliché of oriental sounds and creating new hybrids. It's a tough comparison, but sometimes I see parallels to how Funk/Disco evolved into House in Chicago in the eighties. It should be a transformation process.
What would be your dream collaborations?
If you had the chance to time travel in any point in history, where would you go and why?
Back to the day when my parents bought me that toy to record music: I would stick to making music earlier.
We’ve read you had an adventurous start in Berlin. How’s the city warmed up to you?
Oh yeah I made big way from my humble beginnings and have a warm and cozy flat now - gentrificated neighbourhood included! Anyway, it wouldn't have been as easy if the Renate family were not here, love them!
Would you ever consider moving to Turkey to further your sound?
I've actually been thinking about that for a while, since the link to Turkey gets stronger and stronger. But besides the sound I'm interested to learn more about Turkey in general. I just hope the political situation gets better soon, I'm just thinking about that right now...
Do you have any future projects you could share with us?
There are few remixes coming up: for the Romanian Band Steaua De Mare, a collaborative remix with Baris K for Khidja and more edits on different labels. But the most exciting news for me right now is my label Fleeting Wax which I start with Miajica, my friend from Basel who is one third of the Alma Negra crew.
The first release is coming out in a few weeks and we have a German, Italian and Turkish edit on the first one. We will also dedicate our future releases to exploring new talents and bands.
What shall we expect from your set at Discosodoma?
Hopefully I can make some people discover music they never heard before.
Looking forward to it! And finally, disco is?
Catch Mehmet Aslan on Saturday 12 September at Discosodoma at Dalston Superstore from 9pm-4am.