Having spent the last six years playing a mix of electro-pop, lo-fi and dark music in a variety of settings in Turkey and abroad, Kim Ki O* is now one of the hottest names in Istanbul’s indie circles. On March 10, they will be sharing the stage in The Salon IKSV with American band Tune Yards. Kim Ki O’s latest record Dans was released on the Dutch label Enfant Terrible. But who are they? The recipe is simple: Ekin Sanaç, 29, on synth and Berna Göl, 28, on bass guitar; both of them also sing in Turkish. Mashallah met them and spoke about Istanbul.
What is Kim Ki O?
Berna: Kim Ki O is a band about Istanbul. About the city and its inhabitants.
Ekin: Everything we do is related to Istanbul. If we weren’t playing music, we’d be doing something else, but it would still be about the city. At least that’s how we see it. Istanbul is a spiritual place for both of us.
Were you born in Istanbul?
Berna: Yeah, both of us were born and have always lived in Istanbul.
How did you meet?
Ekin: In primary school.
Berna: We were in the same school, in same classroom, from the age of 11 to the age of 18.
How did Kim Ki O start back in 2006?
Ekin: We both wanted to make music. It’s just great that we did this together.
Berna: We hadn’t met for quite a while, when we bumped into each other in the street. The first thing we said was “Hey, let’s make music together!” We started right after that.
What is your favourite area in Istanbul?
Ekin: I quite like Kadıköy, which is where I live.
Berna: Same for me, Kadıköy would be my favourite place. But to tell you truth I don’t like Istanbul. I would prefer living in another place but it’s just not happening. In my opinion, everybody in Istanbul is like a prisoner of the city.
It sounds like a love/hate relationship.
Ekin: Right, but after a while, the feelings of love fade away.
Berna: And now, we’re heading towards hatred.
Ekin: That’s why we are making music.
Do you know any nice proverbs about your city?
Berna: There’s nothing nice to be said about Istanbul, except maybe the clichés about its “soil and stones made of gold”. (this is an expression used in the 50s by migrants from Anatolia to express their belief in a better life in the city)
Ekin: And “The last exit before the bridge”!
Your favourite restaurant in the city?
Berna: Kutu, a vegetarian restaurant in Kadıköy.
Ekin: That’s actually my restaurant, but OK, a bit of advertisement doesn’t do any bad!
Berna: Oto Yıkama (located on the backside of the mosque on Istiklal Caddesi/Ağa Cami, across the taxi station, on the second floor). It’s a meyhane where people drink rakı. As far as I know, the restaurant doesn’t have an official name. But the lower floor used to be a carwash place and everybody now calls it Oto Yıkama (car wash). It’s kind of a secret place.
Your favourite night hangout?
Your favourite means of transport in Istanbul?
From where to where?
Ekin: Anywhere! It’s just about walking to reach your destination. I don’t like the ferry.
Berna: I don’t like the ferry anymore either. I used to like it because you could smoke cigarettes on the deck, but now that’s forbidden.
Ekin: Yes, you could smoke on the deck. And on top of that, it was cheap thanks to the Ferry Pass (Vapur Kart). Now, taking the ferry has become very boring.
The place you hate most in Istanbul?
Ekin: Mecidiyeköy and Maslak.
But there are nice malls there…
Ekin: Yeah well, that’s actually what I hate it.
The ugliest building in Istanbul?
Ekin: That’s a tough call, there are so many.
Berna: Down Taksim and İTÜ Campus, there’s the Ritz Carlton hotel which is really ugly.
Ekin: There’s also the new court house.
Berna: True, that’s actually the building I hate the most in the city. The biggest court house in Europe. Ugh!
During what period in history would you have preferred to live in Istanbul?
Berna: In the 60s or 70s. The times of my parents.
Ekin: Me too.
Because of politics?
Berna: Politics, music, all of it. In those times people used to live closer to each other. Relations were stronger.
* Kim Ki O can be translated as “Who is s/he anyway?”
Translated from Turkish by Gregory Dziedzic.