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İşin Ustası Olmak: İskender Paydaş

Musician, producer, arranger, composer, and lyricist… İskender Paydaş was introduced to music at a very young age and even started playing drums at the age of only three. He’s one of the names that has shaped the music industry in Turkey with his productivity, discipline, and creativity

Your father was a conductor so music has been a part of your life from an early age. Do you think you’d become a musician if you were born in different conditions?

Yes, but I cannot deny the great advantages of being the son of a conductor. I was born into the world of music. But I believe that one is born with their talents, like a complete package, so I don’t think it can be acquired with time. So, I think I’d be a musician if I was born to a different family. Maybe I would have started a bit later on in life than I did, but still, I would be a musician.

You studied piano at the conservatory and blended this classical background with various genres. You also studied Latin, anthropology, and philosophy. Do you think your works are influenced by these disciplines? Can we say that your music brings years of education to life?

The education I received might have built a foundation but what really affected my musical career were life experiences and my desire to learn. Actually, my musical talent motivated me to take an interest in various artistic disciplines. I’ve always been interested in plastic arts, painting, and literature even though I never have officially studied them. I believe different artistic disciplines nurture each other. For instance, my studies in anthropology and philosophy immensely helped me in defining my music and making sense of the world. I deciphered the influence of classical music on my own by a quote by Ümit Eroğlu, whom I love dearly and think he is unaware of his influence on me: “The music we create -pop, jazz, and rock-; is a scaled down version of classical music. Make it bigger and, if our music is good, we’ll arrive at classical music again.” After that, I strived to establish a balance between these scales. That’s why I’ve always been inspired by classical music and great rock and pop bands who feed on classical music. I still use this method. Every song I make, especially the arrangement and the composition, is a smaller version of classical music. This is important to me.

Where do you place theoretical education in terms of becoming a master?

When it comes to being a master, I believe it’s all about being on the field and then studying theoretical knowledge in order to learn from your mistakes. I’ve always done the reverse and was shaped by it in return. I didn’t read books and learn theory before taking the stage. I was first “beaten up” on stage and then studied theory to understand why I made a mistake and how I could avoid it later on. When I was back on the stage, I would have new mistakes to deal with. I came back, made mistakes, and studied theory in order not to repeat them. I did it in reverse, and this has become my personal method. It worked for me; I don’t know if it’ll work for everyone, but this also is an option. First, I put myself on the stage, and then, I study and learn from my defeats. Then, I go back on the stage.

Who’s your biggest inspiration and in what way did that person influence you?

My father, Muhittin Paydaş, is the biggest inspiration on my career. I’d like to include a few more names. Kayahan was like a teacher to me. It was always his remarks in which I found an analysis of why I was inspired by certain things. He was a good storyteller and I tried to imitate the way he worked, especially with such discipline. So, in a way, I also saw his lifestyle as an example. Other inspirations from Turkey would be prominent names such as Atilla Özdemiroğlu and Ergüder Yoldaş. Internationally speaking, I’ve always been inspired by some bands, including Led Zeppelin and The Police, in terms of arrangement and composition. Looking back, I think I was impressed by the right people. Years later, I came to realize that the people who inspired me were inspired by the Beatles. I saw how this interaction throughout fifty, sixty, seventy years enabled them to influence one another. I doubt that most of them are aware of how much they inspire me. That’s what I meant when I mentioned Atilla Özdemiroğlu and Ergüder Yoldaş. But Kayahan was my mentor; he shaped me in many ways.

What excites you nowadays? What makes you do your job and still love it?

As I said, I started adapting classical music to pop and followed the reverse process to create my music. I’m very happy about that. We reinterpret my pop compositions as symphonic or rock with a classical orchestra and perform them at concerts as “expanded” versions. I’m thinking about a way to express the music in my head and make it more “magnificent” without reducing it to a few instruments or making cuts. I’m currently busy with that and it makes me really happy. It’s a great motivation for me.


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