Interview: Ipek Gorgun

“Our legacy is trash.” When we look at the world and what we leave behind, this aphorism is scarily insightful. It comes at the end of the press release for Perfect Lung, the collaborative album from Ceramic TL and Ipek Gorgun. Gorgun is a multi-faceted artist. As well as making chilling ambient and electroacoustic music released on Touch, she’s also a poet and photographer, and is pursuing a Ph.D in Sonic Arts. Her album with Ceramic TL (David Psutka AKA Egyptrixx) is built from a barrage of sounds and comes by way of the latter’s Halocline Trance label. Delicate minimalism bounces off liquid synth patterns, while searing drone and field recordings meet plaintive wails. Its theme is “accidental music”, sounds falling where they will, however they may. An international affair, it was recorded in Psutka’s home Toronto, and in Ankara and Istanbul, where Gorgun is based. We caught up with her to discuss her studies, how this project came about and what “accidental music” really means.

How’s it going? What have you been up to lately? “Hey lovely to meet again, Aidan! Been quite busy, finished two LPs, joined Alberi’s mini-album with a Mendelssohn rework and also took place in a compilation by Colour8 Recordings. And finally passed my qualifications and began writing my thesis.”

How did you and David [Psutka, Ceramic TL] first connect? “RBMA put out this cyber-installation project called “Shattered Streams” last year, and I was one of the participants. Luckily for me, David was also involved in the project, he reached out to me and we became good friends ever since. At some point when we were talking about making music, he sent me some of his improvisations, suggesting we should do a track together. When I listened to the whole thing, I felt like there was so much more than a track – a variety of themes, each having a unique character. So we began exploring this potential and ended up with album.”

You made a mix for Bandcloud (my mailout) last year and featured a track from his 2011 album on Night Slugs (one of my favourite releases of that year) – was this a coincidence or were you already friends/collaborators? “Well the first time I’ve heard of David’s work was through a Resident Advisor mix made by Logos a couple years ago, and after that I’ve become a listener of his works both as Egyptrixx and Ceramic TL. I think his 2011 album, Bible Eyes is pure magic. And when putting out mixes, I make sure to select tracks that have left a strong impression on me. So, mine was a choice regardless of our friendship.”

Was this music a result of collaboration in person or did you share music online? “It was all online, based on sharing more than 100 gigabytes of stems and mixdown files, and communicating via email, instant messaging and Skype. We did not have the chance to meet up somewhere between Canada and Turkey to work together, so we made sure to keep in contact at all times and exchange ideas.”

Can you elaborate on “accidental music”? “It was kind of our strategy while working on this album. It’s about embracing all the mistakes, glitches and clumsiness while making music and regarding these ‘accidents’ as involuntary and intuitive responses to our own practice.”

There are so many parts to this album – is it a challenge to the listener to find what makes sense to them? “We were both aware that the material was very colourful and opening up to so many ideas. So instead of forcing it to become monolithic, we preferred to stay open to the possibilities, both in terms of sonic palette and composition. I don’t think this would be a challenge to the listeners, even though I don’t find myself at the authority to speak on behalf of their experience. But also as a listener myself, I find it interesting to discover new layers and patterns while listening to music.”

Tracks and titles like “We Lack the Clout the Decision Isn’t Ours to Make, There Was No Crusade After All” are intriguing, moving from one idea to the next in an unbroken stream. Where did the titles come from? “I think in CTL works there has always been a core environmental narrative as a starting point while developing themes. So the tradition went on when we were doing the collab, and each of these titles somehow refer to the position of masses under heavy environmental challenges accompanied by political developments that affect our lives. It’s surprising and quite disappointing how crowded we are, when compared to decision-makers, and yet we remain so vulnerable.”

Who has the perfect lung? Does it exist? “As a chain-smoker, I can say that I don’t have it, but I assume David does as a non-smoker (laughing). However, it keeps existing as an ideal representative of a full breath, something that changes your whole existence once you breathe the air in with awareness, and something that is subliminally marketed under the category of wellness in a world literally coughing up polluted air.”

You’re pursuing a doctoral program of Sonic Arts – can you explain what that entails to our readers? As briefly or with as much detail as you’d like! “It seems like each institution has its own way of approaching Sonic Arts. The Ph.D. program at ITU-MIAM (Istanbul Technical University-Center for Advanced Studies in Music), involves a wide range of classes covering both theoretical and practical application of sound studies. To sum up, we are mainly working on electronic music composition and history alongside research including form analysis, music cognition, audio programming and multimedia design.” Where do you see yourself upon its completion? “I assume a Ph.D. candidate never sees herself anywhere until the study is really over, as the whole thing feels like trying to move through frozen time.”

What’s the plan for 2018? Or do you have one? “We’re talking about touring with David, and I will also be releasing my next album on Touch.”

Thanks for taking the time to answer these! “My pleasure, take care!”

Ceramic TL + Ipek Gorgun – Perfect Lung is out on November 24. Pre-order here.

Aidan Hanratty

Dublin ...