For 12 years, Ipek Gorgun filled the role of bassist and vocalist for rough-edged post-rock group Bedroomdrunk. These days her musical pursuits lean a little more towards the academic. Raised in Ankara, Turkey, she studied as part of the Redbull Music Academy in 2014, affording her the opportunity to support Ryoji Ikeda in Tokyo for his ‘Test Pattern [n°6]’ show. Most recently, she enroled at Istanbul Technical University, studying on their Sonic Arts doctoral program and in March, she released Aphelion on Touch, a label that has played host to some of contemporary electronic music’s most notable artists, including Mika Vainio, Fennesz and Jacaszek.
Where Aphelion looked to the outer reaches of electronic music, featuring meditative resonances, science-fiction style sound design and crescendo distortions, her most recent project opts for a different tack. Written in collaboration with David Psutka aka Egyptrixx (operating under his new guise Ceramic TL), Perfect Lung acts as a dazzling kaleidoscope of synthetic abstractions; lively dulcet tones and reverberant chimes conjuring vibrant anime-reminiscent landscapes.
With the album released in late November, we invited Ipek to contribute to our ‘That Time When’ series, to discuss some of her most memorable gigging experiences, from converting to punk in the late ’90s to throwing a bar of chocolate at Blixa Bargeld…
I was 15 years old and slowly warming to punk rock by listening to a lot of Riot Grrrl stuff. However, I was especially interested in New Model Army (NMA) as I felt their sound and lyrics extended beyond any definition I had at that time for punk rock. I was not going to officially learn what post-punk was until I turned 17 years old.
It wasn’t very often we’d have international bands in Ankara, so the NMA gig was a huge opportunity for me to hear music outside the local scene - it was also my first ‘real’ concert experience.
Long story short: I made a fake pass to enter, NMA blew me away (I still get goosebumps thinking about it), and the next day I shaved the sides of my head and got myself a mohawk, lifted a spiked dog leash from a pet shop to use as a choker (our local shop was only selling heavy metal t-shirts and pins that year), drank my first vodka and fell in love with a skinny punk boy two months later. Hello adolescence!
This is the concert that I threw a bar of chocolate to Blixa Bargeld. Oh my god. He asked the audience for a cigarette and everyone threw theirs to the stage. I had left my pack at home and chocolate was all I had…
Blixa read the brand out loud with a perfect Turkish accent (“Dido sütlü çikolata”), laughed and threw the chocolate back at the audience. A month later I wrote to a local forum that I was the one who threw it, and a girl texted me saying she had the chocolate and she’s keeping it. We met, drank some tea and ate it.
It was their Perpetuum Mobile tour. Even though I have a deep affection for all of their pre-Ende Neu era, I loved every second of Perpetuum Mobile as well. And when it comes to Neubauten, maybe it’s not a matter of era. It’s a matter of getting deeper into contemplating different layers of humanity, nature, existence, technology and the universe.
I knew from the documentary ’Liebeslieder’ about the extremes they go to in live performances. This time they did not literally set the stage on fire as they almost did once, but yeah, metaphorically it was on fire. The bagpipe-compressors, tubular bells, vibrators on guitars, chains on cymbals and Blixa’s one-of-a-kind growls and screams… I witnessed it all, and was amazed by how they explored the possibilities of instruments. It was one of those lecture-like gigs, and I never wanted it to end.
Well I can’t remember the name of the venue, but I sure as hell remember every moment of that concert. As I’ve said before, Riot Grrrls warmed me to punk rock. I was more of a Daisy Chainsaw fan than Queen Adreena, but when I heard they were in town, I had to go. The band was amazing as well, with their best line-up including Crispin Gray, Melanie Garside and Pete Howard.
Katie Jane Garside has been one of my all-time heroes. To me she’s more than a brilliant, unique singer with a voice to die for. She’s also an amazing performance artist, a poet, a sailor and a daydreamer. Garside on stage is a combination of all these, and I was struck by how fragile she seemed and yet how strong she was, drawing all the energy in the room, digesting it and throwing it back to us. We surrendered and gave a piece of ourselves to Katie that night. But she gave it all.
Well it was my ‘go’ moment when I first heard of Courtney Love calling all the girls to pick up a guitar and start screaming. So I picked up a bass, taught myself how to play it and worked with a band called Bedroomdrunk for 12 years as a bass player and a singer.
My second ‘go’ moment was when I heard Tim Hecker live in a deserted building in Karaköy - Istanbul, which was transformed into a club for a two-day electronic music festival. Bedroomdrunk was going to be over in a couple years, I was about to apply for the doctoral program of Sonic Arts, trying to learn how to use Ableton and Max MSP, but I lacked the confidence to get deep into composition on my own.
I discovered Tim Hecker’s work back in 2006, and somehow his music led me to Fennesz, Stephan Mathieu and Oren Ambarchi as well. Hearing him live was something that I had been waiting for for quite some time. The building was so old we thought it might collapse. Then he started playing and we thought it might really collapse. Witnessing his crazy skill of mixing and improvising is something else, but what impressed me beyond that was the amount of control he maintained even at the loudest, heavily distorted parts of his performance. On the one hand, he was letting it go and making the sound feel alive, but on the other hand, he was sculpting each moment carefully. It was a type of mastership that I’m still trying to improve as a young composer.