Mustafa – Istanbul, Turkey
In the same trip to Istanbul, in my search for record collectors and vinyl, I came across Bengi Berksoy and her beautiful shop in Taxim, the modern part of Istanbul. Her shop is located in an old school shopping bazaar, with a variety of second hand shops, book shops and old posters and memorabilia.
Bengi welcomed me to her shop and showed me a few pieces of her private collection. We listened to some Turkish Funk and some more Psych records, and most importantly she connected me to one of her favorite customers, Mustafa.
Mustafa collects mostly Turkish music with a strong affection to a specific artist, The Transvestite artist Zeki Muren. I was lucky to be accompanied with my friend Aytac and his writer friend Cagil.
Since Mustafa speaks no English, we have decided Cagil, who’s a talented writer and a journalist, should write this article and interview Mustafa. It was a great and unusual experience for me, letting someone else do the talking and asking the questions. so here it is, the story of Mustafa. Enjoy!!
Turkish Retro Delights, Tea Cups, Cigarettes and Mustache – A Perfect Turkish Experience
Words by Cagil M. Kasapoglu | Photos by Eilon Paz
At first glance, it seemed to be quite unexpected to match a classy collection and a former Turkish truck driver who would invest on rare records just for his own pleasure. But Mustafa and his overwhelmingly rich shelves proved the opposite!
All the records he owns would probably be well enough to provide him with necessary finance to improve his living conditions however, the life long journey he took to obtain the records will no way be evaporated with money!
“I can sell my collection with only one condition: To start a new one!”
The first vinyl he picked out of his wooden shelves was indeed his favourite record. A psych track of Anatolian rock king, Baris Manco and his track named “Daglar Daglar [Mountains Mountains].” Unlike many other Turkish versions of this specific record, Mustafa obviously owns a unique German edition dating back to 1970s.
This particular one has indeed a special meaning for him.
“I used to sing this song with my wife and son, while driving across the mountains on our way to Istanbul.” For a late comer immigrants like Mustafa, Istanbul is of course all about the obscure mountains at first which soon turn out to be a “golden soil.” But Mustafa’s longing for his homeland is mostly faded by the retro delights of Baris Manco and his touchy lyrics referring to the challenges that a life bears for lovers!
Other rare records that he has of Baris Manco are the ones he arranged with the Belgian band Les Mistigris’ “Big Boss Man” and “Baby Sitter Quelle Peste” which is not only unique with its content but also its rare cover picture of Baris Manco with his bare figure whose moustache and long hair had long been legendary marks of his popularity.
While Baris Manco’s Anatolian rock tunes were echoing in the room, Mustafa had already passed to consume his second pack of cigarettes and his fifth cup of tea.
The vinyl records were clearly not the only retro pieces in this basement. The furniture, the carpet and the empty wine bottles kept from 1970s were all setting a perfect scene drawn from old Turkish movies in which Mustafa would definitely have played a leading role with his “charismatic” mustache. Mustafa’s fidelity to his mustache is actually derived from his fidelity to the first record he had listened when he was only 12 years old. Ever since his passion for Yildiray Cinar whose disk was the first sipping black circle introducing him into the majesty of vinyl world doesn’t seem to be eroded at all.
The very moment he gets hit by the pang of melancholy is when Yildiray Cinar’s psych- Arabesque tunes circle in the room. That’s also when his goose bumps become hardly unremarkable.
Apparently Yildiray Cinar was long sharing Mustafa’s solitude in his humid basement, with the loyal company of a tea cup and a pack of cigarette, and that’s when he’s been talking to his moustached idol, well, mostly to his appearance on the cover of course. “I’ve been waiting you for 25 years, now it’s your time to wait me till I get a cup of tea before we re-join.” With his thin mustache placed in between his sharp nose and thin lips, combined with bold, dark eyebrows, Mustafa looks like a genuine copy of his idol, Yildiray Cinar whose fame as a Turkish folk music performer was climaxed during the 1960s and 80s.
As a committed vinyl collector and Anatolian rock admirer, Mustafa continues to display his favourite albums of other popular psych-rock singers as he calls “National rock heroes”: Erkin Koray and Cem Karaca.
The variety of his collection clearly proves that he is not only into Anatolian rock and psych funky tunes, but also a loyal admirer of Turkish classical music.
The tangible vivid sound of a vinyl combined with a bit of Arabesque lyrics about love and a pack of cigarette is all what Mustafa needs to dive into his melancholy and let his tears drop, which set the case only for the records of Zeki Muren: “Turkey’s Sun of Art”.
Zeki Muren was the most prominent singer of his time with his unique treacly way of singing and his over-sized high hills and glittering stage costumes. Always dressed in a sublime perfection and wore a highly remarkable eye-liner, Zeki Muren’s pictures on vinyl covers are no different than of his stage performances. Mustafa’s dream is to complete his collection of Zeki Muren but before taking a deep breath from his fag, he fetches a longing sigh. “He’s the only one I can’t afford to afford…”
Staring at the bulk of records dispersed in the room, our eyes get caught by porn-like funky covers of Ajda Pekkan, the “Superstar of Turkish Pop.” With a sense of self-pride and self-worth Mustafa says that her records were the most expensive ones he had bought from the flea market.
Apparently some desires such as the long-life passion of vinyl collection are not definable with money for Mustafa but more with a sense of pride and ultimate existence he feels in the presence of his rare records. When it’s time to leave our never emptied tea cups and dusty tunes behind, Mustafa doesn’t hesitate to express his enthusiasm with half of his mouth while the ashes of his fag spread around… “For the first time in my life I feel like reborn and discovered. I hope my passion will be spread to other Turks as well.” His wishes on spreading the vinyl passion to Turks are indeed favourable, well honestly, as long as they don’t all come up with a moustache…
Once again I would like to thank Cagil and Aytac for making this story and helping me around.