Interview with Orçun Sünear on Sattas

Sattas: Promo Pic, with singer Orçun in the Middle.

"Music that reflects the rhythm of the heart is bound to move the people"   
Reggae has definitely landed here in Istanbul. As I have often harped on about in this blog, this year has seen some suprisingly big names performing all over the city’s clubs and arenas, as well a surprise announcement of not one, but two Sirenfest reggae festivals based on the Baykuş Beach on the Black Sea coast of the European side.

Sattas have been one of the regular features throughout this burst of activity. Formed in 2004, the band’s popularity has risen dramatically in the last year, which has seen them perform on Turkish television shows and feature full-page articles in the national music press. In June, Sattas released what is celebrated as Turkey’s first reggae album.

Despite the band’s hectic schedule, I got the chance to pin down the enigmatic, if relentlessly humble lead singer Orçun ‘Leo’ Sünear, to ask him about the the band, it’s success, and the burgeoning reggae scene in Istanbul.

It is fair to say that reggae isn’t hugely popular in Turkey, but in spite of that, it is the group’s major influence. How did that come about?
Sünear: We discovered it thanks to Bob Marley. After that, we imbibed countless documentaries and books and things like that. We love this music, it’s incredible, and we are going to carry on with it. However, we are still in the learning process and we have a long road ahead.

In your opinion, does Reggae fill a void in mainstream music here in Turkey?
Absolutely. Music that reflects the rhythm of the heart is bound to move the people. There are a lot of artists who sing pop, under the guise of rock, but their music has all started to sound the same and it definitely needs a different flavour. I don’t want to do down the many great original artists who are out there too, though.

These days Sattas are getting a lot of attention. When you first started did you expect to become this successful?
Of course we didn’t expect it, but anyway, we don’t see ourselves as successful right now – we are just ourselves. We are not in a position to look down on, or even across to, anybody else. Just to have a good amount of concerts and good reviews makes us feel great.

The group’s style comes straight from Jamaica – but are there artists who influenced or encouraged you here in Turkey?
Neşet Ertaş really influenced us, along with lots of other great people. Of course we were born and raised here, so it has definitely influenced us and we will see these influences develop whilst doing the same music. Our music won’t be an imitation though – we are definitely going to stick to the rules of reggae and we don’t want to go outside this framework.

As we’ve already mentioned, this year you have been rather busy. Do you think your success owes to the greater popularity of reggae in Turkey in general, or was reggae already popular?
We have certainly had an effect, but people have started to share reggae all over the place. More people started coming to concerts (other than ours) so of course we’ve had an effect. Before us there were people listening, playing and performing reggae, but now the number has increased and we are taking a share.

Up to now, what has been your proudest moment as a band?
Releasing an album. To release a reggae album in this country gives us a lot of pride.

What are your goals in the next year? Are you thinking beyond Turkey?
Going abroad is our wildest dream. We are doing our best to bring this about. We are getting good reviews from abroad. Jamaica, England and Germany especially excite us. Obviously these countries are very important for the reggae scene.

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