LE BAIN: You've been part of the creative family of Wolf+Lamb and Crew Love, but it feels like you're a singular part. Maybe because your work as an artist goes beyond music, it gives your music even more resonance. Do you agree?
DENIZ KURTEL: Zev and Gadi of Wolf+Lamb have always been very keen on involving art in their events, which is kind of what got me started on making art and gave me an opportunity to exhibit my work from the very beginning. Right after we met in 2005 I started making light installations for their events with a set of LEDs that Zev gave to me, and from there I started making my own projects. Even though I started making music only 3 years later, it became a career very quickly - although unintentionally - and I received more attention for my music than I did for the art installations. So by bringing light installations along on my album tours I was actually trying to channel some of that attention to my art instead of the other way around. But of course it goes both ways, I'm sure my music gains some resonance through my art as well.
The Introspectacular, a light installion by Deniz Kurtel
About your light installations, you said you are trying to recreate little happenings in nature that you used to love to stare at and cherish as a kid. Could you share with us a specific memory of one such ‘nature happening’ that has been very influential to you?
One night my sister and I went out for a walk on a beautiful sand beach, and all of a sudden we started noticing that wherever we stepped, the sand around our feet would start glowing. And when we looked up we saw the whole stretch of the shore ahead of us glow every time the waves hit the sand. Once we realized it was bioluminescence, we started taking sand in our hands and rubbing our hands together and our palms would start glowing! I had seen bioluminescence in water before but it was the first time I saw it outside of water and it was probably the most magical nature moment I have witnessed to this day.
Your installation The Introspectacular is opening this weekend in Berlin after touring the US and Europe. It must have been a beautiful journey to have this art show touring everywhere. What kind of satisfaction did it bring to you? And how did it shape what’s coming next for you as an artist?
It's been quite a long journey with 'The Introspectacular', both physically and intellectually. It was a pretty big project to undertake and maintain, and building a second one in Europe was an insane idea, but I'm happy I did it and it did give me great satisfaction to see that a completely self-initiated and self-supported project has been well-received and proved sustainable as a long-term project. Since I built the first one back in 2011, I have been constantly updating it with new techniques I'm learning. It's the perfect kind of piece for me to develop ideas and apply and test new techniques, which helps me with new projects as well since I use a lot of the same methods for interactivity.
Deniz Kurtel You Know It's True (2012)
Who is your favorite female American artist?
The first American artist that comes to my mind is Missy Elliott, whom I admire not just for her productions, but also for the respect she has gained as a singer/rapper and songwriter and producer through her super talent and hard work in a genre of music that can be pretty male-dominated and superficial towards women.
You were born and raised in Turkey. Who is your favorite Turkish female artist?
For Turkey, I would say Selda Bagcan, who is a folk singer/songwriter and producer who has had consistent output for more than 40 years. She's a very smart woman who started making music in the early 70s while she was an engineering student and her unique expression was extraordinarily well-received not just nationally but also worldwide and she had a very active and successful musical journey in spite of political barriers in the 80s when she was arrested and her passport revoked for her leftist expressions. I feel inspired by her dedication to music, her resilience and authenticity.
Friday, May 22nd, Le Bain presents Deniz Kurtel (live set) alongside Wolf+Lamb. Doors 10pm. The Standard, High Line.