Dengbêjî, the job of a dengbêj, a storyteller – lit. A ‘Soundteller’ – is the tradition of oral expression, which, as the only path to the survival of a language facing extinction under oppression, formed the foundation of traditional Kurdish music.
Many melodies sung in this tradition belonged originally to women. For Kurds, deprived of any written sources, this poetic artful style of lyrics and rhythm by the dengbêj was a unique method of preserving their language and culture to this day. Although it was mostly women who, for instance, lamented the loss of their sons and husbands in endless wars; expressed their love, joy, longing, and suffering through such songs, it was always men who carried these works over to the dengbêj Divan (assembly). Due to religious and traditional restrictions and judgments, women could only raise their voices behind closed doors, silently. Kurdish women fought countless battles to exist in many fields inc. music, successfully getting their voices out from behind those closed doors and deaf walls.
(Text © Sakina Teyna)
Identities are complex and fluid and manifest flexible ways of belonging. In my musical spectrum, techno meets Anatolian sounds. A binary vision of an occidental vs. oriental world is not aimed to be created, but both cultures are embodied and become interwoven, and establish a connection to my own identity.
Music as a means of resistance and healing.
My music has a forensic, political, and metaphorical approach. By digging into various music archives I collect lost pieces, that are part of the historiography of the middle eastern region.
I am searching for sounds to create visions of the future, this process constitutes my artistic material and my own sound. By seeking the past in archives, an imagination of tomorrow and so the NOW is getting shaped into hybrid music. Acquiring ascriptions and deconstructing them in the musical process, as a collective improvisation process, is a musical approach. This is a method of relating to the ancestors, to a collective memory, and tells also an a-linear historical narrative.
The music has a political message. One way of bringing the political into music is the technique of sampling. With this method, I also take sound snippets from external sources and incorporate them into new musical compositions.
The sound is hybrid, it includes archival material in a conceptual way. I try to move elements together from my ancestors and from archival music, but also to add my individual take on sound and from my own heritage, for example in the music genre „dengbej“.
To contextualize the music in a new way, I take elements of the folkloric and put techno to it, so it gets a new vibe.
I use “oriental” in many forms. It’s not easy because there’s a tension between reproducing the oriental cliches, this patriarchal and white male gaze, as well as an empowerment to say that I understand “oriental” not as geographical, but also in this theoretical discourse.
_ Seba Kayan