Tuesday, 9 September 2014

INTERVIEW: Listana


Listana are a progressive symphonic metal band from Istanbul, Turkey.  We recently featured their debut EP Unveiled on Femetalism and the band then agreed to answer the Femetalism questions for this great interview.

Can you tell us how Listana got together?

Our meeting up is an ordinary story: Internet forums, Facebook, the search for missing members … The extraordinary part of the story unfolded when music sort of transformed our lives: we ended up being great friends who shared everything and endured hardships together. Just to give an idea about how important the group turned out to be for us: Fulya and Alp ended up falling in love and getting married.

Can you tell us a bit about each member of the band?

Music is unfortunately not a day job for most Listana members, the only exception being our young drummer Ozan, who is still a student. We have two instructors and two engineers among us, so there is plenty of stress involved in our daily lives, especially when you live in a big, chaotic city like Istanbul. Our vocalist Fulya, who was originally our keyboardist and a Roland artist teaches musicology at a university. Ali holds a PhD on mathematics and is very much into midi and keyboard programming besides his university job. The engineers are our guitarist Alp and bassist Tolga: one is a genetics engineer who establishes research labs, the other is a computer engineer who writes codes. Ozan is studying international relations, but these days he spends more time in the studio than at the university. Music brings us together, we’re happy to have it in our lives.

Where did the name Listana come from?

We choose the name "Listana" for an alternative reality of Istanbul, where we just be cool and make music and forget about traffic and personal life and responsibilities. The name originates from an Amin Maalouf novel and has a quasi historical-fantastical feeling to it, but still rings very close to Istanbul. It is a place, in our minds, where fantasy reigns supreme, without the inequalities, gender roles, pain and suffering of real life.

How would you describe your sound?

Ours is a simple, clean sound of a single-guitar without backing tracks, plus some adventurous polyphonic textures. As a matter of fact, soloing appeals very much to us. Since our music emerged in time from the endeavor is to assimilate whatever we see as good music into our sound world, it is quite eclectic. Each of the four numbers on the EP are different from each other: the opening track “Birth of a Dream” has a symphonic-power sound, “Hasret” is oriental-progressive with hallmark modulations and time shifts,  “The Legend of Hellespont” has an epic atmosphere and the most personal “Elveda” is very classically symphonic metal.

Your EP Unveiled was released in 2013. Can you tell us about the EP?

All lyrics are written by Fulya, our singer and keyboardist, she’s also done a lot of arranging and composing for Unveiled. Our ex-bassist and dear friend Kaan laid out the foundations of the two English numbers, and both Alp and Ozan contributed to their own instrumental writing. Alp wrote all his own solos and all the guitar work of “Elveda”. In terms of themes and discourse, there are epic themes, a lot of dream/alternative reality stuff and some personal reflections in the songs. The beautiful album art was created by Ismail Kemal Çiftçioğlu and Gaye Kunt, and the promo photos are by Tara Arseven.

You are currently working on new material and planning a full-length album. What can you tell us about this?

It seems we will be proceeding towards the direction of Hasret, the new songs we are working on have a deeper progressive vein. Before the album we will be releasing an English single at the end of September. The album will be a concept album that explores Istanbul, this time from the eyes of historical women who have left their mark on history. There will be seven tracks and an intro. We are hoping to begin recording it next spring, but we intend to look for a label this time, which may extend the release period.

What motivates you to make music?

Essentially we see ourselves as amateur musicians and all we wanted in the beginning was to develop our musical skills further by playing covers. We love spending time with our instruments and the band is the perfect outlet for this love. Each of us have our own motivation certainly, but it converges in our desire to create something memorable and endurable together. There is a Turkish proverb that describes the satisfaction of this: “Leave behind a pleasant ringing under the sky when you’re gone”

Which artists have influenced you? 

Initially all we wanted was to play some music to challenge our skills as instrumentalists, so who better than Dream Theater and Symphony X and Kamelot and Angra and all those fantastic bands to look up to? Each of us have their own favourites as well. We like the candor of playing everything live, all bands with a world-class live performance would be a role model in this aspect.

What do you enjoy most about playing live and which Listana song do you most enjoy playing?

We love the feeling of the sweet lethargy after a successful concert, when listeners come and congratulate, and you are sweaty and tired but could still go on forever to play. Our current favourite is actually the newest single we will release at the end of September, it is fun to play with its intertwining layers.

If anything was possible, who would you most like to tour with and why?

Probably Dream Theater and Symphony X. They are both the biggest influences for us. We started with covering these bands and try to create our music with the help of their musical style. Nevertheless, a female-fronted band like Stream of Passion or Delain or Lacuna Coil would surely be better for us in terms of audience.

Inspired by a recent guest article on Femetalism, I am interested in finding out more about the metal scene in other countries. Can you tell us about the metal scene in Turkey?

Well in Turkey we have limited opportunities to have some live shows. It is also very hard to get significant progress because everyone is trying to compare your band with larger, more established bands with international careers. Here we have a lot of good performers and groups, but in order to have some shows you need connections. If you have good and strong connections you will have the chance to play regardless of your stage skills.

To go abroad is often on financial grounds not possible for many bands. There is a thriving audience, though, especially for visiting bands. This summer was especially rich in terms of metal festivals, with major artists like Metallica, Aerosmith, Manowar, Dream Theater and Megadeth playing for thrilled audiences.

So what’s next for Listana?

Right now we are recording a new single and in 2015 we are coming up with a full length album. We hope to have a tour in Europe next summer. There will be local shows, of course, whenever opportunity presents itself.  Of course, the more publicity, the merrier, thanks for helping us out on that matter!

Many greetings from Istanbul, where past and present, dream and reality, order and chaos, East and West hug each other☺

Many thanks to Listana for their time talking with Femetalism.  We are really excited by the prospect of the new single and a new album next year and of course would love to see Listana in the UK sometime soon. 

Check back soon for more information on the release of the single later this month.

You can take a listen to the Unveiled EP on Spotify.



Or you can watch the video for Elveda:



Follow the band on:

Facebook

Originally posted by Emma Sheridan on Femetalism.