- Text by HUCK HQ
BaBa ZuLa have been bewitching Istanbul’s underground music scene for the last two decades. Entrancing audiences with their eccentric poetry and kaleidoscopic soundscapes, the psychedelic four-piece have managed to spearhead their own kind of revolution; dragging the traditional Turkish saz into the 21st century, and shattering stereotypes that surround middle-eastern music.
This incredible legacy has made them the subject of a new Boiler Room documentary, Istanbul Psychedelia: BaBa ZuLa. The seven-minute short, premiering exclusively above, is an exploration of BaBa ZuLa’s geographical roots, with the group taking viewers on a road trip around their Turkish hometown.
“In the western world many people including music critics think we are Arabs,” frontman Murat Ertel tells Huck. “We don’t talk Arabic and our culture is very different. Turkish music and culture is deep and wide. In the past, Turkish people were shamans and then were forced into Islam. Still in Turkish culture, you have strong shamanic influences as can be exemplified in the saz; the main instrument of Turkish folk music.”
As well as revealing their own unique view of Istanbul, the film gives an insight into BaBa ZuLa’s humour, warmth and radical creative vision.
“Despite having visited Turkey before, getting to know it through the eyes of BaBa ZuLa has added a new layer to my knowledge,” explains director Martina Piazza. “The band’s history is deeply rooted in the geography of Istanbul, a city at the crossroad of different cultures, religions, ethnicities and languages; in this time the situation is very tense. Artists and intellectuals are not free to express their views and live in a state of fear.”
“BaBa ZuLa’s message is certainly one of resistance and constant evolution, a pretty apt reminder for people all over the world.”