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01.02.2019 | Words by: Benjamin Rogerson

In advance of his set for the upcoming weekender, I caught up with Konduku (Ruben Üvez) on a crisp, sunny winter’s afternoon in Amsterdam. We talked about the influence of his Turkish heritage; splitting his time between DJing, producing and photography; and the role these creative outlets played in bringing him peace over recent years. After focusing on music production recently, with various rhythmic releases on the label Nous’klaer Audio, he was eager to get his eye back to photography.

Konduku: “You lose that way of seeing when you don’t use it. That appreciation of the small things. If you look to the side of this room, you can see the way the sunlight passes through the window onto the plants. When I haven’t been thinking much about photography I lose that vision, the ability to see that, but right now I feel the urge for photography is coming back to me.”

Q: How come you’ve been taking a break from your photography?

A: I tend to focus on one thing at a time, and it’s been mostly music recently. It comes in cycles. When I was studying, I used to produce music to distract myself from written exams and my thesis. I’d also studied photography for a few years until last summer, so it felt like a good time for a break. It had become a focus of mine since my father passed away 6 years ago. It allows you to see some beauty in the world, when you can notice the small things. That had worked for me as a kind of ‘self-therapy’ during this difficult time.

Q: Did you ever find a way to combine your music and photography into a performance?

A: “My master’s graduation project last year was a 3 piece installation which represented the journey I went through after dealing with loss. Going from initial loss in the first piece, to a reflection of my own transience and being in the second, towards acceptance, accepting that you can’t control everything and generally trying to see the beauty in the small things around us in the third and final piece. I had a working title which I kept in mind as I was working, which also became the final title for the project: ‘When mountains decay, dust remains’. I actually wanted to use the music I produced in this period too, but I wasn’t allowed.

Q: And in your music releases?

A: The artwork on the cover of the Emerald Island EP late last year was mine. As was the centrefold artwork on the Kıran album before that. One of the images there was a long-exposure shot of a Turkish night sky. I’m half Turkish, much of my family are based there, and I visit every year. The album name, Kıran, is also the name of a hill my family’s house was situated on, in the upper side of a Turkish village, Avanos in Cappadocia, where my grandparents used to live.

With Nous’klaer, we’re also working on a sub-label, with a 5-part Konduku release series to go out. The first was Emerald Island, and the second, Gegek, will come out in Feb. Each release will have a photo of mine too. So by collecting multiple records, you also get a 5-part photography collection. Working it into these releases has been the first step in putting my visual art alongside my music somehow.

Q: Wil your music this weekend be like your releases? Could you describe the kind of things you like to play?

A: Well. {Long pause} I like to play kind of deep. Not deep as in ‘deep’, deep as in ‘flow deep’.

As you can see I have a hard time finding the words to describe my music... this happens in my music production as well, like with the track titles. I sometimes just pick a working title and it’s difficult to know in which way it will relate to the track, or if I will even use it in the end. For the upcoming Nous’klaer release I had the working track name ‘Gegek’ (English: weweird) for fun, which in the end I stuck around with. For club music in general, I feel the music itself is much more functional, it’s not really necessary to portray a deep concept in the title cause in the end it just needs to work on the floor.

I have to bring some nuance to all the track titles, because it’s not all gibberish or just fun words. Sometimes there is a more personal / deeper meaning to a track title, for example, on the same Gegek EP there’s a track called YTK which is a track I dedicated to my nephew Yetkin, who died last year. Or Uzaktaki ışık, meaning distant light. I just don’t throw concepts around, and I think the track titles have more of a personal meaning to myself than others can understand. It was also a little different with the album, as Kıran did have more of a concept to it.

Q: I get that, I sometimes read a track name like ‘singularity’; where I guess the producer wants to portray to the audience some kind of deep sci-fi concept from theoretical physics. When in reality ...

A: Yeah in reality it’s just banging techno with bleeps.

Q: Exactly! If words don’t do it for you, do you feel like it might be easier to represent music through imagery rather than words?

A: Potentially. I actually once did a photo series for The Ransom Note where I represented each track from my Kiran album with an image. When I flick through my records I also tend to remember the album artwork and that’s how I remember things, rather than the track title.

Q: I have to admit you did lose me a little, what did you mean by ‘flow deep’ when you described your music?

A: I like my music to have a groove. I tend not to use a lot of melodies, more drums, rhythms. I like to let the tracks overlap and play together for a while, so the set feels more like a continuation. One deeper flow. When I play it’s more about creating a certain atmosphere/level, rather than sticking to a certain genre.

I also feel there’s a lot of hard ‘banging’ stuff out there. Right now people want to play harder and harder it seems. Be noticed more and more. I still play harder at a club, but I want to make sure it’s in a groovy way, danceable. Washing over you. More flow. Hypnotic.

You can catch Konduku’s grooves at Het Weekend on Sunday. His set runs from midday until 3pm.
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