Imran Ayata and Bülent Kullukçu perform parts of ‘Songs of Gastarbeiter’ at Dash Cafe: Songs of The Migrant Worker.

Imran:

So it’s her birthday. It’s her birthday… Her birthday…

Do you have this habit to sing? I don’t know…

Maybe you start to sing and we try to start. No, they don’t want to sing. Why don’t they sing? This Brexit people they don’t sing.

Bülent:

You’re right we’re in the country of Brexit

Imran:

Brexit People unite. Why are they leaving, these people?

Bülent:

First of all we have apologise for our bad English.

After the Brexit we don’t need it anymore.

Imran:

Oh look at that.

Bülent:

What will be then the common language? I think Scandinavian… Danish…

Imran:

I think it’s very interesting.

Bülent:

Oh Italian would be good.

Latin…the old common language.

Imran:

I don’t know… do you know Bavarian people?  You can hear his accent. He has this Bavarian accent

Bülent:

I’m Bavarian but the English know Bavaria for Oktoberfest and bratwurst and beer so… there are a lot of English people.

Imran:

Okay let’s start. We only have one hour and normally we do this show in four to six hours. We are like Fidel Castro people we need a lot of time but these people asked us to do this in one hour so therefore we do a very compact version.

And what we do is we invite you to a kind of a musical journey in which we try to give you an idea how you could understand and also rewrite history in sense of what an impact and influence migration has in a country like Germany because there’s a very, let’s say old fashioned way in Germany to talk about migration which is – “we ask the people to come, they should stay in Germany work and then leave the country.” –

This concept didn’t work out and what we do is like sixty years with music and telling you a lot of things hopefully.

Imran:

Let’s start with this kind of welcoming you…

[musical performance]

Imran:

Lights on.

Bülent:

The songs of the Gastarbeiter.

It was a example of how it sounds.

Imran:

Yeah. That was a song. I don’t know… Is anyone here beside my classmate… who is able to speak German or understand German?  So that was funny wasn’t it? Yeah. Thank you.

You have to tell this Brexit people why it was funny. This guy singing…”Jam Kerja”…he’s not been a Guest worker. After the coup in Turkey in 1980 he left the country and came to Germany.

Bülent:

He was very popular in Turkey.

Imran:

He was the godfather of Anatolian rock music and he sought for political asylum.

And he started there a band named…” “ .. You are laughing right?  …” “ ….

This Brexit people don’t understand why it’s funny but they will learn in 55 minutes they will learn everything because we are doing basically edutainment right.

Bülent:

Yes basically.

Imran:

Basically edutainment. “Jam Kerja”  recorded songs in German and this is why we kind of ,you know, left the Frankfurt School people.  We started not with the guest workers, instead we started with the king of Anatolian rock. Talking about guest work in music, there is a godfather, you know Godfather right? yeah okay. This is an interesting audience.

Bülent:

The English know godfather.  In Germany when we come to this point…We say Godfather…- “What?”-

Imran:

Why father?

Bülent:

Yeah both… why God? Why father?

Imran:

There is people saying why not godmother? Which is not wrong.

We have to explain the movie…you know, the movie….Don Corleone.

Yeah they know Don Corleone.

That’s good. Yes.

And …” “… is the godfather of Gastarbeiter music as far as we are concerned, right? Why is that so?

Bülent:

Because he was the first one who take terms in German with his music.

Imran:

And what else? are we doing like school?

What else Bülent?

Bülent:

What else?

Imran:

Yeah. What else?

Bülent:

Okay what else… He was the first rap musician.

Imran:

Yes in a way he was…  In the 1960s he was mixing up…

You know this is one reason for the Brexit, they even can’t manage things like that.

There is a reason for this Brexit…

Bülent:

Bring it to Frankfurt.

Imran:

And…you know… he mixes up the languages in the 1960s. He’s doing music in English… in a mixed up way. We don’t talk we just listen to it and then they would get funky and groovy these people here… Maybe we should offer them alcohol, it would help.

Bülent:

I think they’re drinking…Everybody is drinking.

Imran:

They have to drink wine I guess…
[Musical performance]

 

Imran:

So we only have 60 minutes so we have to skip…

Bülent:

So we have to skip…

Imran:

We can talk and just go on…

Bülent:

So the next one of our artists…

Imran:

No no no no,  not this one.

Bülent:

It changed?

Imran:

Yeah it changed.

Bülent:

Ah yes… ” “ …yes

Imran:

You know when we are doing this show people are like – ”  Are you only with this boys and with these old man, aren’t there important female musicians? “-

And that’s not the reason but one of the reasons. The other reason is that, you know,  on the one hand you have this godfather and then you have the Nightingale of Cologne. And … “ “ …. was in Cologne because of a cooperation there, where he should work. He went there , FORD,  you know FORD? This American brand of cars. He started to work there and said – “No I don’t work there with this bad conditions “-  and he started to go on with music. And she is the Nightingale from Cologne.

Bülent:

It was the nickname.

Imran:

Yeah. Everyone knows her…

Bülent:

Everyone knows her…

Imran:

You know the Turkish peoples they can’t say Köln . They always say “  Koloon.”…

Let’s listen to …” “ ….

Hey , they are laughing…

Bülent:

Yeah. You’re a funny guy.

Imran:

Yeah!  It worked!

Bülent:

So what happens ?

[Musical performance]

Bülent:

I think I will do a remix of this song.

Imran:

Yeah. You’re thinking all the time. Yes, you should do a remix.

Bülent:

So the next one is …” “… …” “… is very special because he  was the first one who texted in German. Yeah. He placed Turkish tunes and texted in German.

Imran:

Why that?

Bülent:

Listen to what he says about this. Again again. Yeah.

[… “ ….  Speaking ]

Bülent:

So now we listen to the special sound of him. So he’s the Johnny Cash or the blues player of the Turkish tunes of the gospel like the music.

Imran:

Yeah , “ Die zeit hat immer Zeit” . Explain this.

Well you know this is very interesting because  this guy, you saw him explaining why he’s doing the songs in German. That was recorded in the 1970s,  I guess. In that year he was like a very young guy. And he came from Turkey to Germany and he started to play this Turkish instrument …” “….And he was very good in that and then he started to sing in German. Which was at that time very new and very special. And that make him become a bit, not popular but a few German journalists saw him singing and performing in German and he was invited to a very famous TV show in Germany, again in Cologne.

And that was a very important TV show. I don’t know… was it on Friday or Sunday? I mean you’ve been in three years I guess at that time. Right?

If you’d been in the 1970s you were very young…

Bülent:

Ten yeah… 9, 10…

Imran:

So it was a great show. And you know in this show he did such a funky song you can’t imagine… And these few people who understand German will immediately understand why we both fell in love with this song.

Yeah and we tried to find this guy for the album. I think one of us should say… it’s like for the audience…

Bülent:

He tried to reach him and he found out the website of him.

Imran:

He had his own website which was spectacular because no one knew this musician.

Bülent:

With a email address. And we wrote him and  waited weeks and weeks and nothing happened.

Then I said – “  Hey try it with the Facebook Messenger “ –

Imran:

Facebook you know…A t that time we didn’t know about this Turkish people…They are crazy…They have been crazy at that time with Facebook. And I wrote him and within twenty five seconds he wrote back and we were looking for this guy like six month or something.

And we asked him like – “ Yeah look we are doing… We are planning to do an album and we love your song.” –  And he said – “which one?”- I said – “ Ah do you have that much? “- And he – “ I have a lot.” And then we said – “we love deutsche freunde… German friends…” That’s why we call this chapter       

“ German friends”  and now listen to German friends at this TV show.

[Musical performance]

That’s so fantastic. You know the whole history of the first 20 years of migration in one song.

Bülent:

You know, you have special sound also.

Imran:

Very special sound. You have academics working like ten years for a dissertation just to write this story. And these guys puts this in one song. So we asked him – “Do you have the master? “ –  

Bülent:

And he said – “ no “ –  And we asked him – “ why not ? “ –

He said – “  OK it’s under the sofa of my ex-wife…” –  

So we said – “  where’s the sofa?”

Imran:

He said –“ where’s the ex-wife?”-

Bülent:

No no… The sofa was important…

Imran:

And we said – “ Ok , then go to the sofa and take the master and send us”.

Bülent:

He said – “ It’s not possible to go to the ex-wife where the sofa is,  maybe.”

Imran:

No , he said clearly it doesn’t work because she’s not keen to talk to him right?  Yes. It was a separation, a difficult issue. Yes I know that.

Bülent:

Then we had the idea “  okay let’s record this song again with the musicians. It’s the same musicians.” And so you said “  OK it’s a good idea” – and we called old colleagues and they said –“ OK it’s a good idea.”

We had a studio possibility in Köln, and here you see the old colleagues. – “ This is the studio boss. There is the master by himself.”

[Musical performance]

Bülent:

So that was the first thing that we had to complain, to him, because he sings… lovely German friends… and the original was only German friends.

Imran:

We were very Stalinistic and we said – “  no way lovely Germans…”

Bülent:

German friends… not lovely. And he accepted this. So yeah. OK. So… They had no notes and they arranged it out from this YouTube video that we found.

Imran:

And the funny thing is they came together like 30 years afterwards and they were like- “ What was this song about?  Play it again.”

And at that time the song on YouTube had like 50 or 60 clicks or something.

Bülent:

Not more, yes.

Imran:

And then they said – “  oh this is very bad arranged. Who did that ? And then they started to rehearse.

Well and now you’re asking  – “ how the song sounds today ?  and it sounds like this.

[Musical performance]

Bülent:

So he made it . So the rest you can hear it if you buy the C.D..

Imran:

So we are very bad in this marketing thing…

Bülent:

I have one cd with me but it is in the hotel room.

Imran:

Really?

Bülent:

Really,  I had it in my bag.

I can go now to Kensington near Hyde Park. Very lovely place.

Imran:

They have taste. Yeah.

Bülent:

They have a few guest rooms. Cold rooms..

I have a heater in my room and you?

Imran:

So you’re privileged.

My you’re a superstar. No he’s like a theatre dj, everything.

I know you know this had more attention as we expected when we published this C.D.

It was in all kind of media and television et cetera. And the main question especially from the journalists was- “  these Turks these guest workers what they are singing about? “  You know there’s all these nervous people. They don’t understand the language even if it’s Germans,  strange German, and then they are like nervous – “ what they’re singing about our country and about our ourselves ? “

And um that’s why we subtitled it by the way for you. And basically the songs in the first years are about work. You know the work, the circumstances of work, which were very hard very tough circumstances. It’s about racism and it’s about the life in factory and also about everyday life.

How many minutes do we have now?

Bülent:

We have 30 minutes

Imran:

Oh 30 minutes…. Let’s go. Hurry up hurry up. All right let’s listen six minutes to the first songs in the  1960s and 1970s about the life in “ Germany”

[Musical performance]

Bülent:

These Gastarbeiter , they were very chic

Imran:

Yeah. Very cool.

Bülent:

Okay. On the other side the families who stayed in Turkey and they’re also complaining… What happened to him when the son and daughter who are working in Germany and don’t send money back and never called the family. Find a new love…

Imran:

And you know this is very unfair because the coolest music about guest workers live was produced in Turkey. Very cool songs.

There is one that is for me like the Bob Dylan of Anatolia … ““… who had this phrase …” “… Is it bitter home?  I don’t know in English we translate that way but… very cool song and you will immediately hear what we mean by it.  And there is the other one, a very famous one …” “ … who sings about the life of guest workers in Germany and produced in Turkey.

Listen up.

[musical performance]

Oh that’s interesting. Now you just read and you don’t hear anything.  “ Alemania , bitter home, you didn’t smile at anybody.”

Bülent:

It means  that was not only Turkish Gastarbeiter , they were also from other countries like Greece, ex Yugoslavia,  from Spain, from Portugal from Tunis and so…

So we have a little medley here .The Italians were the first ones who came. So if it’s clear for everyone… so Germany did contracts with discount rates to get from the worker to work in the factories different places in Germany for construction and so on. So they installed, in these countries,  offices where the people come and asked if they can go to Germany so they get a health check-up and then they will send it to Germany. And in the first step before they come to Germany they had the contract with the factory.

Imran:

And when this project was launched in Germany there was very often formulated critique to our work which was- “but you put only Turkish musicians on your album?  “- and that had not any political reason. We both thought it could have been easy for us to find this Turkish music because we thought our parents were listening to this music and we know a lot of people who are musicians but it was a hell because it took us like three years to put one album together. And since then we’re working on the volume 2  with this, you know, music from all over.

Bülent:

One of the reasons… well also… that in Germany there was two labels. Turkish music labels like

…” “…and …” “ … and they bring out this music and they sold millions of records  beside the German music market . That was much easier for us to find

Imran:

It was not that easy. Don’t tell them that it was easy…It was very hard…

Bülent:

Yeah it was hard but there was more records and the songs of the other countries.

Imran:

Yeah it was very hard.

Bülent:

There was home recording on the cassettes.

Imran:

Now let’s have a sneak preview. In fact a maybe in some day there will be Songs of the gastarbeiter – volume 2

There will be music like this. Hopefully it works. Now I’m quite nervous. Does it work ?

[musical performance]

Imran:

Nice lady Di. Look, Lady Di for these British people.

Yes you see a lot of different styles of music. A lot of countries and also all dealing with the racism with migration and resistance against circumstances in society but told and performed with music. Right?

These British people… Are you aware of Kobane? They could invite us again and then we talk about Kobane. And one important question is – “where on earth was this music performed?” You know, we showed a small piece of German television but that was very seldomly.

So the main place for this music was Weddings. Ever been to a Turkish wedding in London?

How was it?

In Hamburg?  I think in Hamburg…What was offered for eating? Huh.Turkish people and  Kurdish people a lot of eating… drinking?

No alcohol.

Bülent:

Nowadays weddings…

Imran:

Now there’s this post dictatorship thing. Ever been to a Turkish wedding? We come to that but let’s play very funky guest worker music from the 80s and 90s.

[Musical performance]

Imran:

This is very interesting. Watch this. Turkish wedding. This guy is. Having a party. He’s marrying someone

[Musical performance]

Imran:

The first guy who wrote about this project was not a guy in Germany. It was a guy in Turkey. And he’s here. Tom ..”…  He wrote the first thing about this project. That’s true. And we integrate this only for you Tom. Are you touched? Great!

[Musical performance]

Imran:

The only reason why I’m really sad , not that I married someone just Imagine a party with these guys…You didn’t marry ?

Bülent:

No

Imran:

Think about this darling…

Bülent:

In Hamburg

Imran:

You know in the 90s we had a lot of racist attacks in Germany after the reunification. So there was a tremendous racist attacks on people with migrants refugees etc…And at the same time it came up what they called the so-called German Turkish rap music etc. So the rap is in a way a really a changing moment because now it’s lot of about resistance and about trying to find a new language against these racist attacks.

And in this next five or six minutes I don’t know how many… let’s say six…

Okay five or six minutes you will get an impression what the sound of the 90s in the migrant communities was, which is very different to Britain because in that time you know it was not really cool in Germany like , we didn’t have bands like corner shop or Asian Dub Foundation so that was very for the German mainstream it was really like a new folkloric and exotic thing.

This is interesting. The first rap song in Germany is from a band named Islamic force and they performed it in English. Listen up.

[Musical performance] – Islamic force and rap

Imran:

But you know rap music it’s about like, you know,  yeah…

Okay let’s come today.  As we started ,you know we started like in the fabric halls, people singing for they own more and more thanks to the worldwide web the grandchildren of the Gastarbeiter workers, they are superstars on YouTube for example or on Facebook. So nowadays in Germany, you won’t understand this, do you know …” “…the German people know him. He’s a social democrat.

Bülent:

A new Hitler.

Imran:

No. Don’t say that. He’s aware of his country.

Bülent:

No, he says a lot of things so we can title him as a new Hitler.

Imran:

He’s really aware…

Bülent:

Aware that the nationalism goes away from Germany.

Imran:

He is very aware of these Arabic people coming to the country having sex with German people.

And he brought up a book with what really changed the discourse in Germany. So we have really a new form of nationalism again in the discourse. And we have as you might know…you have this…

What was this guy…?  This Brexit guy Faraj? Faraj Where is he by the way? He’s in Brussels.

Yeah we have now our own fascists. They are called …””… We don’t need you. . And in this country now we have very interesting form of musical expressions and we will end up with this grandchildren of the Gastarbeiter.

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