LP HMS 042
Fractured Air : Interview With Ekin Fil
Turkish solo artist Ekin Fil has been carving out some of the most breath-taking and beguiling drone pop explorations these past few years, inhabiting the deep, ethereal dimension of Grouper's Liz Harris and navigating the deepest depths of the human condition in the process. On the latest opus Ghosts Inside – released earlier this summer on Los Angeles imprint Helen Scarsdale Agency – an undeniable catharsis permeates deep within these recordings: fragile vocals shimmer gently amidst spare elements of piano notes or reverb laden guitar swells, creating utterly hypnotic drone pulses and far-reaching shoegaze deconstructions.
The opening ripples of bass piano notes of "Let Go" hang in the air- an ocean of sadness and despair pours through like pockets of light. Heavenly harmonies loop forever on the achingly beautiful lament "Like A Child," belonging somewhere between the sonic sphere of Grouper's Ruins and Sarah Davachi's ambient gem All My Circles Run. The introspective sound unfolds heartache and helplessness. Gorgeous swells of echo and delay drift majestically beneath Ekin's soft-like whisper on ‘Episodes' before the sparse piano ballad ‘Simple Past' depicts decay and isolation. The radiant light of hope forever lies at the aching core of these deeply moving explorations, reminiscent of New Zealand's Birds of Passage or Sweden's Demen, for example, where the beating human heart serves the undying blood-flow.
The album's centrepiece "Before A Full Moon" echoes the timeless spirit of This Mortal Coil and the singular 4AD sound. Ghosts Inside is a gripping journey through the pores of the human heart.
Interview with Ekin Fil.
Congratulations on the stunningly beautiful new full-length Ghosts Inside, a deeply affecting batch of beguiling songs. Please discuss the making and recording of the latest record and the space and time in which these recordings bloomed from? I particularly love the addition of piano to the sonic canvas, which further heightens this ethereal, far-reaching dimension.
Ekin Fil: First of all I would love to thank you so much. Though I would have some predictions, I'm not a person that knows how the album will turn out before starting to work on it. That period was terribly monotonous and static and I think it shows on the short and repetitive melodies in the album.
There is an undeniable catharsis permeating deep within these new songs where Ghosts Inside contains pockets of glimmering hope amidst the shimmering darkness of decay and isolation. An immersive quality is forever inherent in your music that emits a healing nature to the recordings. I'd love to gain an insight into your studio set-up and the instrumentation used?
EF: Ghosts Inside consists of keyboard based tracks mostly whereas my previous releases were dominated by guitar. The emotional affect caused by this difference apparently is more direct with the listeners or may be more sincere? The instruments were basically a keyboard and a guitar with reverb and delay pedals for my vocals.
I feel the duo of "Before A Full Moon" and "Fin" forms the vital pulse and gripping heart to the new record. The way in which your voice blends so magically with the drone soundscapes of guitar (former) and keys (latter) creates such a hypnotic, timeless voyage into the pores of the human heart. Can you discuss the writing and construction of these particular songs?
EF: I think the songs you mentioned are the songs that most resemble my previous album because the new album contains fewer guitar based songs. Nevertheless although they differ structurally, they may not sound very different within the whole atmosphere.
Making music feels like such a natural process for you. I would love for you to discuss the inspirational figures and musical voices (from growing up in Istanbul to present-day making music as Ekin Fil) and how soon did you realize the importance of music in your life?
EF: May sound a bit cliché but music has been a part of my life from very early on. But when I think about it now I see that I may have wanted things to be under my control with my relation to music. I want to play and sing as long as I want, whether i become a 'musician' or not. Maybe I could not find any other way that i'm comfortable with within certain conditions.
I did not grow up in Istanbul, it was more like an urban town in the borders. Somewhere you can call more conservative. It was really difficult to reach and find the music, the books, things we were curious about there. I think all of these difficulties kept me from romanticizing stuff and kept my ego from getting bigger. What I mean is music was a part of my growing up as a person and i want it to be that way always.
The addition of piano instrumentation on penultimate track "Final Cut" or album opener "Let Go" forges a striking immediacy and beguiling atmosphere to the sonic sphere, reminiscent of Grouper's Ruins LP for instance (a lovely parallel exists between both albums). Were the piano-based songs written (and recorded) at the same time frame as the more guitar-based songs?
EF: Keyboard has been a contributing element in my previous guitar based tracks too. This time I just switched the balances leaving the keys alone and sometimes just letting guitars company them in a subtle way. All the songs in the album belong to a same period in my life. Actually I can't say I can play one certain instrument better than others, I just use the one I feel I need and be content with it.
You have quickly amassed quite a wonderful discography and have developed your own rich musical identity across the years. Where do you feel you will explore next and what plans and collaborations do you feel you'd like to visit next?
EF: I hope and plan to play at other European cities after my show at Le Guess Who festival in November. We also plan to release a tape if we can around those dates too. Then new tracks and records and may be a split album.
Lastly, what records are you heavily immersed in of late?
Kendrick Lamar's DAMN, Joanna Brouk's The Space Between, Abul Mogard's Works, all Washington Phillips, Kate Carr's The Story Surrounds Us are the records I have been listening to a lot lately.
interview by Mark Carry