Born in Istanbul in 1996, Baba ZuLa features founding members Levent Akman (spoons, percussions, machines, toys), Murat Ertel (electric saz and other stringed instruments, vocals, oscillators, theremin), as well as darbuka and percussion player Özgür Çakırlar, Periklis Tsoukalas (electric ud and vocal), Melike Şahin on vocals.
Baba ZuLa go to great lengths to provide their fans with a unique live show experience. Their ritual like performances are a mixture of disciplines of art, often featuring belly dancers, elaborate costumes, poetry, theatre and live drawing, delivering viewers a tantalizing audio-visual feast. By mixing oriental instruments such as the darbuka, electric saz, and spoons with electronics and modern sounds, BaBa ZuLa creates a sound all their own called istanbul psychedelia. While a ney can represent the past Sufi-Islamic tradition, and a clarinet is the symbol of the music of the Turkish gypsies-an electric saz together with a wooden spoon can serve as musical compass to Turkish musical roots going as far back as pre-Islamic, shamanic times, through Anatolia reaches all the way up to present-day Istanbul. Despite sounds that might initially come to mind when one hears a phrase like “Oriental Dub”
Baba ZuLa’s music is in fact Psychedelic Istanbul Rock’n Roll that rolls in a way that westerners haven’t heard so frequently since the late ’60s rock epoch.They are the unrivalled masters of 21st century Turkish psychedelic music Baba ZuLa share their legacy with us through their music, a music born out of Istanbul and influenced by the memories of Istanbul passed on to them from generations past. The group, which from the very beginning has shown great interest in featuring guest musicians and players in concerts and albums, has been accompanied by stars such as the the Canadian singer Brenna MacCrimmon (specialized in Balkan folk music), Alexander Hacke (Einstüerzende Neubauten), Fred Frith (Henry Cow, John Zorn ), Jaki Liebezeit (Can), Dr. Das (Asian Dub Foundation), Hüsnü Senlendirici (Clarinet ), William Macbeth (aka Bill MacBeath bass) and Ralph Carney from San Fransisco (saxophonist who worked with Tom Waits and B52′s) and the diva Semiha Berksoy (first Turkish opera singer and painter).
Baba ZuLa’ s debut album, “Tabutta Rövasata = Sommersault in the Coffin” (re-released by Kadraj in 2006) includes the original music score for Dervis Zaim’s first movie of the same name released in 1996 about a car thief who returns the cars he has stolen to their original owners and falls in love with a peacock. The album also includes four songs on which the movie’s stars Ahmet Ugurlu, Tuncel Kurtiz and Aysen Aydemir contribute vocals. Their album, “17 pieces from 3 plays” (Doublemoon Records ) comprising music created for the plays “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint Exupery, “Frog Tales” by Arnold Lobel and “Kitchen Accidents” by Perihan Magden, was released in 1999. Apart from a number of other artists, Ralph Carney, Brenna McCrimmon and Selim Sesler have also taken part in this album as guest stars. Baba ZuLa has also made the music for the film “Renkli Türkçe = Colored and in Turkish”, directed by Ahmet Çadirci. Their third album “Psychebelly Dance Music” released in May 2003 was mixed and mastered by Mad Professor who previously worked with Massive Attack, Lee Perry and the like. Their fourth album “Duble Oryantal” which was released on Doublemoon Records in May of 2005, reunited them with mix-master Mad Professor, Sly & Robbie and Alexander Hacke and reflects the culmination of years of fearless musical adventuring, and as usual there’s a talented and eclectic supporting cast on board for a share of the bounty.
On 2007 release, “Roots”, Baba ZuLa return to their original format as a trio. Only old friend vocalist Brenna MacCrimmon can be heard on one song. The group also show off a new perspective on their trademark sound “oriental dub” on 3 dub mixes courtesy of the group’s first trip to Japan in the Spring of 2007, where they befriended a Japanese sound engineer. Traditional Turkish influences on the album include works by important composers and lyricists in the history of Turkish music, such as Neset Ertas and Pir Sultan Abdal as well as analog recording techniques courtesy of Turkish engineer Mehmet Ates. BaBa ZuLa has released their latest album Gecekondu last autumn. They are recording at their own studio in istanbul as always.
Baba ZuLa have composed several mood-setting pieces for the silver screen over the years, their most recent release is an original score for the film “Dondurmam Gaymak”. The band also appeared in the Golden Bear award winning director Fatih Akin’s film “Crossing the Bridge” that explores the sounds of Istanbul and also provided music for the film by recording with Einstüerzende Neubauten’s Alexander Hacke. Their albums have been chosen among the top 5 albums by prestigeous music magazines in turkey from 2003 on, the latest being Turkish BİLLBOARD magazine awards for the last 10 years of Turkish music where they won 3 awards for the top ten instrumental albums and also topping the best film music award with their soundtrack album DOordurmam Gaymak. They got many awards for the music they composed for films and theaters , the latest being the prestigious Ismet Küntay Award for the best theater music of the 2008 season.
Baba ZuLa have turned up the volume and energy levels at festivals and clubs such as the memphis in may festival(orpheum theater,memphis), Sofia Film Festival (Bulgaria), Taormina Film Festival, Berlinale, Shibuya Club (Tokyo), Klinkende Munt Festival (Belgium), If Club (Ankara), Ost Club(Wien), Venn Festival (Bristol), Arezzo Wave Festival (Italy), Sodren Theatern (Stockholm), Images of Middle East (multi-city Denmark tour), Peyote Club (Istanbul), Cologne Triennale (Germany), Gezici Film Festivali (Kars), Wagenhalle (Stuttgart), Printemps de Bourges (France), Junges Theater (Bremen), La Mar De Musicas Festival(Cartagena), Şimdi/Now Festival (Berlin), The Boost Festival ( Amsterdam), Paradiso (Amsterdam), Fabrik (Hamburg), Theatre de Chatelet (Paris), Bee Flat (Bern) Mediawave Festival, (Hungary), Universiade 2009 (Belgrade) the Venice Biennial (italy), Berlin Zoo (Berlin), Roskilde festival(Denmark), Vega(Copenhagen) Crimson Club (Kadiköy), Gypsy Festival (Drom,New York), Chicago World Music Festival (Martyrs-Chicago), Carling Academy (Islington-London) The Cedar Club ( Minneapolis), Babylon Club (Istanbul), Kumanova Jazz Festival (Macedonia), Half Note Club (Athens), Vooruit (Gent), New Morning Club (Paris), Karaburun Festival (İzmir), Haci Bektas Festivali (Nevşehir), Rock Tatili (Foça), Roll Performance (Diyarbakır), Babylon (Istanbul), Fusion Festival( Germany), Ammarras Desert Festival (New Delhi, Indıa), Paleo Festival (Switzerland), Ozora Festival ( Hungary), Flow Festival(Finland), Les Escales Festival (France), Ancient Trance Festival (Germany), Ekşi Fest (İstanbul), Resistance Festival (Greece), Fan Fest ( Romania) Musicaves (France), Sesc (Sao Paulo, Brazil), Re Re Riga Fest (Latvia), The Spirit of Tengri Festival ( Kazakhstan) Chillout Festival (Turkey), World Beat Festival (Tokyo) Shibuya Club (Tokyo).