Written by J.L. Caban
Elif is a tremendously successful DJ and music producer who has taken the industry by proverbial storm all around the world. Making appearances in practically every corner of the planet – Germany, The Netherlands, Mexico, The U.S., Africa, just to name a very few – she has become a musical force to be reckoned with. Originally from Istanbul, Turkey, she began her journey as an influential blogger; that is, until the spirit of the music Gods descended from the heavens and found her, thereafter she becoming one of the biggest names in electronic, techno and house music. Me being somewhat of an “old-head” in the game – DJing at a few hot-spots throughout New York City back in the late 1980s to mid 1990s, I had occasion to work with some of the elite names in the business (Louie Vega, David Morales, Glenn Friscia, along with some others) and I can say with no uncertainty that Elif has placed herself amongst these icons and idols of mine. Elif not only possesses the adroitness to produce unique and original sounds when creating her own tracks, but she has an ability – a gift – to captivate a crowd no matter where she performs… a talent that is no simple feat; however she does this with an extraordinarily facile ease and grace. Having had the pleasure of witnessing one of her performances here in the States – NYC to be precise – I can say, without a doubt, that Elif is the real deal. I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with her for a little Q & A and will share with you, the reader, our little chat:
Q – Thank you for agreeing to sit down with us at Raver Magazine today! It’s an absolute pleasure to meet with you. My first question is, what was it that initially attracted you to electronic music?
A – My pleasure! Since an early age, music has been an important part of my life. I socialized around music, I traveled for music, I started writing a music/travel blog and I was managing an indie rock band. I listened to various genres and what attracted me to electronic music, at the beginning, was the inclination of the heroes in the genre I was listening to in electronic music; I started discovering electronic music through them. One name that pops up is Radiohead’s Thom Yorke. And there was an era where Dixon and Solomun were doing remixes for my favorite indie rock songs and I started to get more and more drawn into electronic music. I started going out to clubs and festivals and fell in love with the culture around electronic music.
Q – As an artist, I’m certain that it isn’t always easy for you to summon ideas for your projects; what is your greatest source of creative inspiration, in terms of bringing forth the ability to produce your own music?
A – There are many sources of inspiration for me. It can be traveling to play music, collaborating with other artists, nature, love, the abundance of tools to create music, the genius of my colleagues and more. And a quote that I heard years ago that stuck with me, and kind of became my motto, is: ’Inspiration exists but it has to find you working.’
Q – Your fans know that you were born and raised in Istanbul, Turkey; has growing up in your beautiful home country helped influence your sounds? If so, how?
A – The music I play is very international. I guess being born and raised in Turkey, in a way, helped me stay away from the super Middle Eastern trend in organic house genre, because the sounds that might be interesting to Westerners has cultural subtexts for me that I do not want to hear or dance to in a club 🙂
Q – In spite of your tremendous success with electronic, techno and house music, I’m positive that you appreciate and enjoy listening to other genres. What is your favorite music in which to listen, and why?
A – I love 90’s hiphop, indie rock. I used to listen to a lot of ska punk and classical rock too.
Q – Is there a type of music you listen to that you feel is under-appreciated… perhaps something that you feel should receive more exposure?
A – It’s a tricky question. Anything could be under or over appreciated; but, I think it’s more about the number of educated listeners. Actually, as the music gets sophisticated, the number of people to appreciate it is not going up directly… proportionately. In fact, it’s a bit the opposite. Mainstream will love simple and catchy and it’s normal; and I think musicians needs to choose between either being super popular or creating something different. There’s always a sweet spot too, and a factor of luck included in this equasion.
Q – Other than yourself, who is your all time favorite dj/music producer? Why?
A – Other than myself? lol 🙂 There are many names I admire and love. My biggest inspirations in DJing has always been Mira and Dixon. The number of producers I love and get inspired by are growing each day. It’s a looong list.
Q – As an international disc jockey, you’ve had an opportunity to travel all over the globe, what are your top three (3) favorite places in the world to play?
A – Berlin – because it’s Berlin and has an amazing electronic music and clubbing culture, and people are very supportive and open to new sounds.
Turkey – because I feel more and more that the crowd in my home country are proud of me and supporting me a lot. My last shows in Istanbul, Cappadocia, Bonjuk Bay, and more, has been super fun!
Amsterdam – the home of TGOB [The Gardens of Babylon] has one of the most supportive communities
… but honestly these are just the 3 places that popped in my mind and this is mostly because of the crowd; but, I really love to play in the U.S., Mexico, India, Middle East, and Africa as well.
Q – For those fans out there that may not know, the music industry is extremely dynamic and meteoric. How do you handle the fast-paced lifestyle of a DJ and producer? What keeps you grounded and centered?
A – Honestly, I’m not always super grounded; but, I am trying my best. Keeping a healthy life style and finding the balance between work and play is very important. I choose my battles, lets say 🙂
Q – “Moonspell” is my all-time favorite track of yours due to the brilliant amalgamation of rhythm, melody, and angelic vocals. What was the inspiration for it?
A – The moon itself 🙂 I produced that EP and track during the pandemic. I had an amazing view of the Bosphorus [the Bosphorus Strait, a waterway located in northwestern Turkey] and had witnessed a lot of moonrises.
Q – Realizing that asking you to single out a favorite of your works is much akin to asking a mother to pick a favorite child, I shall ask anyway: of all your projects, what’s your favorite?
A – I am still growing and learning as a producer, so each new track/remix/colab I make is closer to the sound I play and I love, myself. I love my recent work more than my initial work. I recently made a remix for Australian artist, Uone, and it’s one of my favourites for now. Also my collaborations with Gespona that will come out in 2023!
BONUS QUESTION – If you could sit down for coffee or tea and crumpets with anyone in the world (living or passed on) who would it be and why?
A – 2Pac because I was in love with him growing up 🙂
Elif, thank you for putting your music out into the universe! Your work serves as a conduit to the sublime! I’d like to further mention the release of Elif & Nhii’s newest track, “Hawa,” which is now available for purchase. You can listen to the sounds of Elif, as well as book her for events, by clicking the links below:
Germany / Austria:
Rest of World:
J.L. Caban is a Puerto Rican-American author who was born and raised in the Bronx, NY. His works include ‘Moving On’ and ‘Butterflies in Production,’ both available through Barnes & Noble and Amazon. Rare Jewels – Barnes & Noble – Moving On – Butterflies in Production – YouTube – Web