Sertab Erener celebrates 25th anniversary in music
Cenk ErdemSet to mark her 25th year in music in 2017, Sertab Erener, one of Turkey’s biggest pop stars, continues to come up with new material, recently releasing her new album “Kırık Kalpler Albümü” (The Broken Hearts Album). The album of love songs has a largely acoustic approach with simple but deeply felt lyrics.
Erener recently shot her second music video for the song “Olsun” (Let It Be), which has lyrics penned by fellow singer Can Bonomo and music by Emre Kula. Kula’s powerful arrangements grab the listener throughout the whole new album, which Erener confesses is one of her deepest albums to date.
As her career turns 25 years old next year, Erener has built up an iron bond with listeners in Turkey. Throughout her entire long career, many of her songs have accompanied our heart breaks, and her latest album is no different.
Ahead of Erener’s 25th year in music, we talked about her many plans to celebrate, her new album, her songs, her latest projects, and more.
Your new album, The Broken Hearts Album, is full of break-up songs. Can we also say it is a kind of “purification of heartbreak”?
Coming up with a concept album is rare and also very hard. When I made up my mind about recording this album, I had no such idea in mind. But throughout the process, in the middle of the work, I realized that all the songs had a common theme. Everything just happened like that. All the songs focused on the same emotion and the same status: Breaking up. This spontaneity, without pursuing a plan, means a lot to me. It would be lovely for people to listen to this album and get rid of their heartbreaks, comforting themselves.
The album’s acoustic approach is as sincere as the lyrics. How do you describe the album as a whole?
There was a need to record in line with the fragility and simplicity of the lyrics and music. Emre’s high-quality music arrangements, without losing the melodies’ power, made sure that we didn’t waste any of the emotion in the songs. That is all thanks to Emre. This is one of my deepest albums, with the most acoustic approach.
These songs also feel like you recorded them at the highest level of self-awareness.
Over time, when you really advance in your career, no matter what you do you start to become clearer about leaving behind all the show and getting into simplicity with a deeper sense. This is the only album I’ve listened to again and again even after recording it.
You are so sincere on stage in live performances, just as you are on the album. Can we say that now we have a Sertab Erener who has purified her heart, accepted all her emotions and freed herself?
I love the recording process in the studio but for me the loveliest part of singing is being on stage. What really impresses me all the time is the way you share more than the number of the crowd with the audience. Experiencing all kinds of emotions together, shifting from one emotion to the other, feeling like I’m doing the best thing I can to express myself in the best way while singing. These are the happiest moments I experience in life. That moment when you’re experiencing the now is just like meditation, eliminating the concept of time and letting you become more transparent in the most genuine way. Maybe we can describe it as being a kind of drunk: The moment you lose yourself and start to feel oneness.
Which song do you think is the most broken-hearted song on the album?
I definitely think the most broken song of the album is “Olsun” (Let It Be). I’m in the midst of shooting the video for the song. I hope we, as a team, can make viewers feel such broken emotion through the visuals.
On the album you sing a song by Yıldız Tilbe for the first time ever. This song “Aşk Beni” (Love Me) is a surrender to love. How did you fall for the song?
Yıldız and I had our first opportunity to work together. We both are happy with the results and I hope we will do more together. What impresses me about the song is the way there are so many different parts that the song travels through. It’s like a kind of unique progressive pop song.
The musician Soner Sarıkabadayı also penned song on the album, “Şiirin Bir Üstü” (Above a Poem), which has a Flamenco flavor with its arrangement and your interpretation. Do you love Flamenco as much as you seem to?
Countries with similar kinds of geographic patterns, with similar seasons and climates, have a very close cultural make up too. All Mediterranean countries have similar characteristics. Even our history is closely connected. I observed how that connection is real on my visit to Andalucía. So we always feel close to Flamenco, Fado, and Sirtaki music. Especially in our pop music in the 1990s, many singers came to the scene with Spanish influences. I also had songs with these influences on my early albums, so I’m connected to this music. Next year we are even planning a world tour with an important Flamenco musician, and I am already very excited about this.
You always make us feel like you have a spiritual side trying to understand your inner world and your emotions. How would you describe yourself?
Trying to understand life and myself have always been my real motivation. Life is all about sharing. It’s about communication. It’s about creating. I would describe myself as someone who is always craving knowledge, love and life itself.
You will celebrate your 25th year in music in 2017. I read that you’re planning to release a Greatest Hits album. What surprises are in store?
I want to do so many things. One of them is to release the Greatest Hits album. I have picked 35 songs that I want to reinterpret and rerecord, as I feel myself at that moment. I am also writing a book and I want to finish that. The book is about lifestyle, health and sports and it talks about how we can stay young, beating the ageing process over years. As I mentioned before, we are planning a world tour. What’s more, Emre and I are planning to establish a music company in a partnership. This company will aim to release the albums of musicians who want to produce music to reach listeners all over the world. There’s also a new band that I am part of which is producing songs in English, and we will work on its upcoming album next year.
Have you ever envied a song from any other singer?
Of course, there are many songs that I love so much and wish I could have sung. There are even some songs that made me feel like I wish I could have them myself.
There’s still a huge fan group in Turkey who watch the Eurovision Song Contest, even at times we are not taking part in it. Do you still follow Eurovision as our Eurovision winner from 2003? Do you still feel excited about it?
Unfortunately, we have largely given up the entertaining old habit of following Eurovision as a country. I still follow it, and if I miss the show I immediately try to learn about the top performers and the winner.
The most flirtatious song on your new album “Kime Diyorum” (Who Am I Saying It To?) is an absolutely crushing song. What is your favorite love song from over your career?
I guess there is no specific song that I can describe as my favorite love song. Sometimes any song can move forward for your feelings according to your current mood.