With great early success as an international music blogger, Istanbul-born Elif covered all the major festivals as a writer until, after learning how to produce and mix music, she switched from ligging to playing as a DJ four years ago.
As a producer, her first release on Anjunadeep (2019) made her an instant favorite, and her mixes from Anjunadeep 'Edition' are always a huge hit.
She also used blocking to be creative: she released the impressive "Entanglement" on Stil Vor Talent and "Moonspell", her debut on the A Tribe Called Kotori record label, and reached the hearts of her listeners with melodic and deep live broadcasts.
We've had the pleasure of talking to her about her latest and future releases.
Hey Elif, it is a pleasure to have you with us. How are you? How did you start your day?
Hello, thank you! I’m at the airport in Istanbul, waiting for a flight. My day started quite early 😴😴😴
How has the last year been for you? Personally and creatively? Looks like you've been keeping busy!
Indeed. This past 1, 1,5 years has been a very interesting time for most people I know, including myself. I spent a few months in full lockdown in Istanbul, where I started live streams and looong studio sessions, finished my first EP, learned cooking, watched so many shows, I still had time to rest, go inwards, work on myself which was beautiful. I have traveled for work even before I was a DJ so stopping and being in the same place for a long time was so nice for me. Being able to go on tour after all that isolated time was extra special. I stayed longer in the regions, times of covid, so i avoided doing a lot of in-and-outs but spend more time in the areas which is something I really missed after I started my journey as an international DJ. Now after quite some time I am back in my home country, upgrading my studio and ready to put all those inspirations into my music until next time I hit the road.
Cast your mind back - how did you first become interested in music?
I was always interested in music. I never remember a time I wasn’t interested in music. I started singing and playing some keys in kindergarten. Then I remember getting ready for conservatory exams and actually not making it. That was not easy to handle for me as a kid. After that I think I made myself believe that I was not musically talented and stayed in the ‘listener / consumer’ safe zone for a long time even though my life evolved around music. After I graduated from architecture school I started writing a blog about music and festivals, I even started to manage an indie rock band and we toured internationally. I have worked with many festivals and I traveled the world for music even before DJ’ing. But I always believed I wasn’t an artist!
Were there any mentors or people in your life who helped you become familiar with music production and DJ sets? What were your main influences?
As a matter of fact yes! I remember when I first started DJ’ing, a DJ/Producer, who I met at a festival I was working for, unders, now my good friend Duncan, was mentoring me. We used to exchange long e-mails and he was the one to tell me to start producing my own music. He even introduced me to one of his best friends, Camiel, founder of lessonsinlive.com who is an amazing Ableton teacher. That’s basically how I got into electronic music production. I am always grateful to both. My early influences and inspirations has been artists like Mira, Dixon, Oliver Koletzki to name a few.
How has your relationship with your own sound evolved until you came to your latest releases?
When you first start producing, especially if you have been DJing before that for a while, you already have a somehow sophisticated taste on music, yet you need some time for your abilities to catch up with your taste. At least that’s what has been happening with me. You still make music, because you have to practice and get better but it takes a while to produce a track that you can not wait to drop at the peak of a gig for example.
For me the first lockdowns were the time where I could really dedicate a lot of time and focus on music production without touring. I finished my first EP during that time. I still take mentoring classes, workshops etc whenever I can because you never stop learning.
I am still proud of my earlier tracks but I have a different relationship with the more recent ones <3
Where do you think your sound is going?
My sound is definitely evolving, it’s inevitable, because I am evolving as a person myself. I never aimed to play a certain sound or BPM because that’s what the audience will be expecting from me. I believe I have to be really vibing to the music I play so I can make people dance with it. I honestly don’t know where my sound is going. It feels like answering a ‘where do you see yourself in 5 years’ kind of question. I don’t want to know. I am enjoying the journey
You have a new track coming on the Stil vor Talent compilation, can you tell us more about it?
Oh, I love that track. The team at Stil Vor Talent told me about this special 300th release that will be a 3 part compilation with all the Stil Vor talent artist and invited me to contribute with an unreleased original.
I was actually on tour in Mexico and I had a few days off and the deadline was approaching. A good friend of mine has a nice studio space with lots of gear. And there was a Roland Juno 60 that I never had a chance to play with before. I first loved how it looked, it called my name like ‘hey Elif come here play with me’ and then just started jamming with it. It sounded so good that the initial idea of the track was laid down in one session. The next day I wanted to try using the vocal booth and for the first time I ended up including my own voice in a track of mine. After 2 days in my friends studio I already needed to be back on the road so I kept working on the track on the go on my laptop and then I have a fellow artist from Spain, Marat Mode, mix it down for me. We have worked on a collaboration before, Koan for Harabe Nightmares II compilation, so he already kind of knew my taste and preferences.
I obviously fell in love with that synth. So the track is called Juno. I love playing it a lot and I cannot wait for the release <3
Could you describe the concept and rationale for De Harabe Nightmares II?
Harabe is a Turkish label founded by a good friend, a fellow producer who started as Anatolian Sessions and now also producing more my vibe of music with his new alias Adhafera. I believe he’s doing a good job with the label and he invited me to compilate a VA for it. He releases two VA’s each year, ‘Daydreams’ and ‘Nightmares’ . I personally like to play darker music so I decided to start working on the next Harabe Nightmares compilation.
I invited fellow producers whose work I admire personally to contribute to the compilation. Of course not everyone could do it but I am so so happy with the ones who did.
What advice would you give to yourself at the start of your career, with the experience and perspective you have now?
The start of my career isn’t very far away. I did many other things in my twenties and started DJing in my thirties. I am super happy where I am. I had to live everything I did to have my experience and perspective I have now. So the only advice I would give would be ‘Enjoy the ride’.
Elif ‘Juno’ will drop on Stil vor Talent’s special compilation ‘300: Part 2’, pre-order it here: