“Each stage is a different experience”

We spoke with Yusuf Saglamlar, who’s been in the music industry for a long time, about his music career that spans from Izmir to Istanbul. We are used to seeing Saglamlar perform in community events as well as professional music organizations.

“Each stage is a different experience”

Please, briefly, tell us about yourself. 

I was born in Izmir, on April 24th, 1977. I went to Jewish Orphans Primary School. I completed my high school education, in Izmir. 

How did your interest in music begin? 

Passion for music is probably genetic in our family. My grandfather used to play the violin. He was very interested in classical music and Turkish classical music. Unfortunately, I did not meet my grandfather. He had passed away before I was born. 

When I was in primary school, I used to sing in school performances. In 1989, my cousin had bought himself a keyboard. That’s when I got interested in playing the keyboard and soon after I bought a keyboard, for my own. This was the starting point of my music adventure. In middle school, I used to play the keyboard in class. 

Since 1989, I’ve been playing keyboard instruments. I became a professional in 1994. In 1990’s I used to sing French, English, Spanish and Italian songs at Izmir Liga ( A Jewish community center) with other musicians. This helped me a lot for improving myself. 

How did your Istanbul adventure start? 

On October 1994, I got accepted to Istanbul Mujdat Gezen Art Center to study at either Turkish Classical Music or Popular Music. I chose Popular Music. That’s how my Istanbul adventure started. In 1997, I started performing at clubs in Etiler. This went on for a long time. 

How did you continue your education? 

In 1998, I got into Bilgi University to study Jazz on a scholarship that covered half the tuition. However, I couldn’t complete it. The next year, I got into Marmara University Department of Music Education. As my major, I studied contrabass for a year and a half, then later studied vocal training for two and a half years.

What about your professional life? 

Since 2001, I’ve been playing the keyboard for Kubat and Yonca Lodi (two Turkish pop singers). In 2005, I started performing with Enbe Waltz Orchestra. Also, I accompanied Hakan Altun, Pamela Spence, Yildiz Tilbe, Nadide Sultan, Ege and Metin Arolat on stage for short periods of time. Later, I created symphonic hymns project with Hakan Aysev. I did all the symphonic orchestration work. From time to time, I continue performing alongside no-name singers on stage. 

What language are the songs in your repertoire? 

I have a rich repertoire consisting of songs in Turkish, English, Spanish, Italian, French, Greek and Hebrew.

As far as I know, you are also performing in events organized by our community…

Yes, I’m performing at important events alongside Buket Bahar, Cenk Rofe, and Ediz Bahar. I do the orchestration and write down the musical notation. For almost six years, I’ve been also working with İzzet Bana, Group Nes and Estreyikas d’Estanbol Chorus. 

In the summer, I’ve seen you play the keyboard at a wedding in Neve Salom Synagogue. Can you tell us how that happened? 

On Sunday, June 11, 2017, for the first time at a wedding ceremony in Neve Salom Synagogue, a live orchestra performed. I did the whole orchestration.

From time to time, for our members of our community, I do the musical infrastructure and arrangements for important celebrations such as bar-mitzvah, bat-mitzvah and weddings. 

On June 10, 2017, I created all the music recordings and mixes at my studio for the musical play “Living with Her” put on stage by Goztepe Culture Association at Fulya Art Center. I continue creating jingles, arrangements and demos at my studio. My recommendation is that theory, technique and soul should be go hand in hand in music. 

What style of music do you enjoy? 

I don’t distinguish between styles. I listen to them all, because each style has something to teach. Due to the geography we live in and the multiple-cultures in our country, you must have knowledge on all music styles. For example, Mediterranean music, Southeastern Anatolian Music, Easter Anatolian Music, Aegean Region Music… All these styles are unique. Because of my job, I know all the styles.

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