Name: Sine Buyuka aka Sinemis
Occupation: Producer, founder at Injazero
Current Release: Sinemis' debut album Dua is out November 11th via Injazero.
If you enjoyed this interview with Sine Buyuka and would like to stay up to date with her work, visit her official website. She is also on Instagram, and twitter.
To keep reading, take a look at some of our interviews with artists from the Injazero roster:
[Read our Heinali interview]
[Read our Halina Rice interview]
[Read our Mike Lazarev of Headphone Commute interview]
[Read our Peter Gregson interview]
When did you start writing/producing/playing music and what or who were your early passions and influences? What was it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?
I started writing music as a child and took piano lessons early on, but I could never get into sheet music so eventually I just gave up. Music kept taking over my life though, I was obsessed.
[Read our feature about the piano]
I spent a significant chunk of my early adulthood in Turkey without the Internet so I did not have a lot of sources to draw inspiration from as far as international music went. I made do with what I could.
When I listen to music, I see shapes, objects and colours. What happens in your body when you're listening and how does it influence your approach to creativity?
I either listen to music with analytical ears and a curious mind on a sheerly musical plane. Or I forget everything and my mood shifts, my heart takes over my body on an expressive plane, if to go along with Copland’s planes of listening.
Both ways of listening can be rewarding but I’d rather evoke emotions in people and take them on a journey, rather than make them wonder about the technical details of my production. That prevents me from getting lost in detail.
A lot of very skilled producers hone to perfection, which can sometimes make things a bit too sterile or contrived. I tend to try to ‘correct’ everything, but I have learnt to let go now if I believe I managed to convey a feeling with a particular song.
How would you describe your development as an artist in terms of interests and challenges, searching for a personal voice, as well as breakthroughs?
I come from a dance background and all I wanted to do was minimal techno for a while.
However, running Injazero opened up a new world for me and with time, as I lived longer in the UK, I became more nostalgic of home and increasingly got drawn to the musics of my homeland and the Middle East. I wanted to combine sounds from the East and the West, using instruments that belong to two different musical traditions, very much like my hometown Istanbul.
Tell me a bit about your sense of identity and how it influences both your preferences as a listener and your creativity as an artist, please.
My great grandparents from both sides were exiled from their homeland during the Circassian genocide and were taken in by the Ottoman Empire in 1864. I was born and raised in Turkey but my heritage was always a part of my daily life whether it be the food, the music or the language, so I feel Circassian and Turkish at the same time.
After having spent a decade in London, I started feeling more and more drawn to the ancestral musics of the geography I grew up in. So, I have a renewed appreciation for traditional instruments of the region.
I have strongly wanted to integrate these time-honoured instruments into my own work as I aged and spent more time away abroad, which I did plenty with the ney flute in Dua and will keep doing so more heavily with its follow-up.
What, would you say, are the key ideas behind your approach to music and art?
Sincerity. I do not take strategic decisions about art. It may or may not be to your liking but it’s very important for artists to be true to themselves. I think when art becomes a vessel for something else, people can feel that, and the result is never as affecting as it could be.
When art is for art’s sake, the passion and the magic pass on to the listener.
How would you describe your views on topics like originality and innovation versus perfection and timelessness in music? Are you interested in a “music of the future” or “continuing a tradition”?
I don’t think these concepts are necessarily mutually exclusive. I’m not sure perfection is the best word to use here either. Something very innovative when released can become timeless instantly. I am very much interested in making music of the now and the future by finding innovative ways to integrate musical traditions into current practices.
For instance, I will next be looking into how I can implement the microtonal Turkish maqam system on a modular synth and re-imagine some traditional Turkish classical songs.
Over the course of your development, what have been your most important instruments and tools - and what are the most promising strategies for working with them?
Well, I use my beloved Moog Sub 37 heavily in my music and not just for my bass lines. I think the biggest surprise was discovering a vintage analogue modular synth in one of the studios at Guildhall where I do my MA in electronic music, a Roland System 100m.
I think the best way to get the most exciting results from a modular synth is to not have a plan and be more improvisational than analytical, patching cables and turning knobs here and there to see what sounds they produce. I also got into using the Granutalor heavily in my production, even for sounds that do not sound granulated.
It’s a great tool to take a piece of audio I like and turn it into something quite different.
Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work, please.
I wake up quite early to walk my adorable pom Janok, which has done wonders for my mental and physical health. I make myself coffee straight away, watch the news and then get on with label work for Injazero. It’s usually in the afternoons and evenings that I can find the time to make music if I can.
I try to see as many gigs as possible too as they can be very inspiring. But sometimes I just need and want to be glued to my couch.
Could you describe your creative process on the basis of a piece, live performance or album that's particularly dear to you, please?
Sorry I will have a couple for this. The Field’s Looping State of Mind and John Talabot’s Fin were very dear to me when I first started producing dance music.
The first gave me lots of ideas and inspiration about loop-based and organic sounding ambient techno and Fin taught me valuable lessons in how to set a specific mood and create a scene with very clever sound selection and design. Jean Michel Jarre’s Equinoxe is also very important to me and an album that loosely inspired the track “Gazel”.
More recently, Saba Alizadeh’s Scattered Memories is an album I haven’t been able to stop listening to.
[Read our Jean-Michel Jarre interview]
On the live front, I saw Mario Batkovic and James Holden play a few tracks together last year at Le Guess Who and it blew my mind. It felt very natural and improvised too which made me question what I wanted to do with my live show. It made me realize that I didn’t want to be one woman behind a laptop and I started working with an amazing musician called Jan Hendrickse who joins me onstage with his ney flute.
Listening can be both a solitary and a communal activity. Likewise, creating music can be private or collaborative. Can you talk about your preferences in this regard and how these constellations influence creative results?
I think there is a place for both. Dua was a very solitary album because I was home-bound for a while and I needed that solitude to heal.
However, with my other project Villette, I decided to jam with a good friend without any prior plans, we got into my studio with both our gear and had the best time together. We absolutely loved what came out of the collab too, which we will soon release.
When I personally get along with the other person and have a level of trust, I get the best results. I find remote collabs much less fun than actually getting in a room and jamming together with someone else.
How do your work and your creativity relate to the world and what is the role of music in society?
This is a grand question. Music is an integral part of society. It can be a catalyst for change. It can be a healing tool. It can be so much.
With Dua, I wanted to create soothing, healing sounds that helped me too. With the upcoming Séma EP, I want to take the listener on a meditative, mystical journey and introduce them to a sound world that is not at the forefront of Western media.
Art can be a way of dealing with the big topics in life: Life, loss, death, love, pain, and many more. In which way and on which occasions has music – both your own or that of others - contributed to your understanding of these questions?
I don’t know how I would have dealt with my recovery if it were not for the process of making Dua. I have also witnessed my boyfriend lock himself up in his studio, making an album day and night while grieving a tragic loss in his family. I saw how music became a healing tool first-hand on both occasions. To me, it is as essential as clean air.
Art and Mourning: The role of creativity in healing trauma and loss by Esther Dreifuss-Kattan is next on my reading list to better understand the power of artistic expression in transforming loss and trauma into survival.
How do you see the connection between music and science and what can these two fields reveal about each other?
Music is scientific, isn’t it? You could look at sheet music like a mathematical equation if you wanted. Synthesis is science, it’s physics.
There is a whole field that is called sound engineering. Science and music are intrinsically linked to each other.
Creativity can reach many different corners of our lives. Do you feel as though writing or performing a piece of music is inherently different from something like making a great cup of coffee? What do you express through music that you couldn't or wouldn't in more 'mundane' tasks?
For me, making music is incomparable. But it is possible to bring creativity to anything we do.
Add a bit of cinnamon to a cup of coffee, make beautiful foam art on top and there you go, it becomes a creative endeavour. Colour and style your hair in an extraordinary way and there you have hair art. Paint your nails like a painter and there you have nail art.
Music is vibration in the air, captured by our ear drums. From your perspective as a creator and listener, do you have an explanation how it able to transmit such diverse and potentially deep messages?
I will have to point you towards Daniel J. Levitin’s fascinating book This is Your Brain on Music for a much better explanation than what I can give.