Home Interviews Hakan Ozurun [Interview]

Hakan Ozurun [Interview]

35 min read

Hakan Ozurun started to his musical career as a progressive house and trance DJ in 2010. After a couple of years as a electronic music DJ mixing and combining the tracks was not satisfying enough for him, he then started making his own originals and remixes. His originals and remixes found success quickly, earning a place in Beatport's Trance and Progressive Top 100 charts. His style is a balance between deep and atmospheric progressive music, with strong progressive bass lines, combined with airy melodic feelings which can be dark but not depressive, inspiring positively and a decent nest for deep feelings for listeners in that electronic music style. We had a chance to catch up with Hakan for an interview as his debut single on Deep Down Music is set to release later this week. Enjoy!

Hello Hakan, thanks for joining us. What is your current mood and what was the last piece of music you listened to?

Hi Progressive Astronaut family, Thanks for having me this time. I feel pretty awesome, weather here started getting better and feels more like summer now and weather plays a big role on my mood. Right now di.fm ambient channel is playing on the background and previous track was ‘Sync24 - Something Something’, such cool track.

How’s your year been so far? And what are your plans for the coming week?

On the musical side the year going well so far, I have finished 6 originals and 2 remixes this year and probably will be my most productive year till now. And for the coming week, hopefully will be finishing an another original which I have started working on 2 months before. After that probably I will be on vacation.

Can you name five tracks that were important in your musical development and why they are so significant for you?

Armin Van Buuren - Blue Fear, Tiesto - Traffic and some other trance tracks from that era played a big role on me to start more interested in electronic music. Once I first started Djing trance music was my favourite genre. A bit later on I discovered progressive. Kintar, Moshic, Digweed, Sasha, DJ Tarkan and some other artists opened a new world for me called ‘progressive’. Kintar - Oranjestad, Portishead - Roads (Sultan & Tonedepth Remix) and Digweed & Sasha Northern Exposure sets influenced me a lot on my progressive journey.

Talk to us about growing up and living in Turkey, how did it affect your musical taste and the music you make?

I really love my country. Turkey is a type of “all in one” country. Mixed cultures, life-styles, modern city life, natural village life, amazing nature & landscapes and civilizational history. All exists in it and you decide which one you want to live in.

Im 90’s kid and used to listen Turkish pop, rap and rock when I was a child, and I must say 90’s Turkish mainstream music had much more quality than 2000’s and beyond.

I can’t say Turkish music affected me a lot on my musical journey but I do love some of the bands. About Turkey and my musical affection, I have a summer house in south of Turkey at Bodrum and when it is summertime and Im there I feel much more inspired than being in my studio in Istanbul. I think Bodrum gives me the right aura.

The early 2000s was a special time in Turkish electronic music with artists like Yunus Guvenen/Mavi doing amazing things on labels like Bedrock and Silver Planet. Was he an influence on your productions at all? And if not who was?

Yunus Güvenen definitely a proper progressive artist. Used to listen his tracks as well and my favourite was ‘Red Pilot’. But back then I more likely listened DJ Tarkan among Turkish artists.

What are some of your best memories from first going to clubs in Turkey? Were there specific nights or sets that really made you feel you wanted to pursue electronic music?

Yes there was! The first time I went to a Digweed event I got locked into his set and lost myself for 4 hours all I remember was it was a blast. Was one of my all time favourite event. And once I went for a festival where Markus Schulz was playing and at that times Markus was my favourite DJ/ Producer. I lost my 1-week-old new phone during Markus playing but I didn’t cared much and kept dancing.

What are your favourite venues to play in Turkey and why?

Oh boy here comes the truth.. For last 6-7 years I don’t like Turkey’s electronic music scene and the direction it goes. Most of the club managers/music directors or event organizers just thinking about Techno and In my opinion most of the venues does not prioritize the music itself. They much more caring about themselves. Therefore, electronic music industry over here became a Techno monopol. Back in the day like between 2000-2012 there used to be a lot more electronic music diversity and quality. I keep playing here in Turkey time to time but since I deeply love and value to the electronic music and because of the fact that most venues don’t, I don’t want to support these venues by telling their names in this interview.

You have a new single ‘Social Illusion’ out this week via Deep Down Music, tell us a bit about the release and how it showcases your sound.

With the new year in January I have started working on a 5 track mini album project called ‘Magnatar’. These 5 tracks inside this project having a musical relation between them and ‘Social Illusion’ was the first original from this project. I am so hyped about this whole ‘Magnatar’ project and yes first release is coming out very soon with ‘Social Illusion’. In terms of soundtrack has, dance-oriented groove with synth melodies on top, more likely prepared for a festival or open air event starter. Could fit well between 121-124 BPMs.

I think for a lot of artists music allows you to write a sketch of your own personal universe in a way; your travels, life experiences etc. Is this something which is true for yourself? And was there anything specific that inspired ‘Social Illusion’?

My music is most of the time influenced by my dancefloor inspirations, building a proper bassline at first then building the melodies based on my mood and feelings.

I gave the name ‘Social Illusion’ because in today’s world I see lot of people faking their emotions or feelings in their social life. You can especially observe what I mean on social media. And this attitude creates an illusion which leads to socially unreal/fake human interactions. This is something I find not true.

What does your set-up like? Do you favor physical gear over digital? And what studio tools featured heavily in the writing of ‘Social Illusion’?

My studio is setup is something basic actually, I have a Behringer U-Phoria UMC-204HD soundcard connected to KRK Rokit G3 6”s, a midi keyboard by Novation Launchkey49 MK3 to help me with writing melodies, Ableton 11 on Macbook pro, and a Pioneer DJM mixer to test out some Pioneer’s effects during and after production process. Audio Technica ATH-M50x as headphone monitoring. Entry level acoustic treatment in the room and a big screen to manage production process easily.

About the analog gear over digital, I think lately software technologies improved a lot and now there are not much a significant difference between analog and digital. About performing and tweaking your sound of course physical gears adds speed to your production process.

The most used VSTs for ‘Social Illusion’ are Omnisphere 2, Diva, Arturia Pigments and Native Instruments Battery 4.

Deep Down is a label you’ve not released with previously, what makes the label a good home for your music?

Yes this is my debut for ‘Deep Down’ but in the future you may expect more tracks by me on the label.

A good question. There are couple reasons for a label to be a good home for my music. I prioritize these reasons on my releases. First things first I would like to be in a label where other artists releasing music close to my musical taste. Secondly, I would like to be treated more kindly by the label. Unfortunately, these days most of the labels just sends contract and signs tracks, asks couple questions and that’s it, there is not much enough interactions happening other than just signing. I hope you understand what I mean. Mark (Deep Down Music) said he enjoyed my music and wanted to meet me via videocall and first we met each other properly. It was something important. And to be realistic a label should have good promo strategies to distribute your music to be heard more.

The remixer on the project is Dimuth K who has been touted by many as a future star in progressive house. How did yourself and the label come to decide on asking him to remix the single?

Mark was cool enough to ask me which artists do I enjoy most and would love to see on the remix duty. I gave Mark couple names and Dimuth was one of them. I love Dimuth’s productions a lot, he is putting out very proper grooves. Thankfully Dimuth liked the original as well and interested in for the remix. Later he complimented and said he had fun remixing it.

Generally speaking, do you find it more difficult to come up with original tracks than remixing a track from another artist?

Generally coming up with an original is a bit more difficult than remixing a track. When I start working on a remix first the original has to got me. And when I got right vibes from the original, instant inspiration is the reward. So remixing is easier to overcome most of the time.

How much road testing or friend feedback is done before you’re ready to say a track is finished? And who is someone you share your new music with first for feedback?

I do spend a lot of time to criticize my own productions before I say it is finished. I have a music notebook where I take notes of what to change, add or remove for my tracks. Sometimes these notes about technical sides. Like sounding of an instrument has to be like this and that and sometimes the notes are about feeling of the track. Sometimes I spent weeks or months on some certain tracks. Changing things till I get fully satisfied.

Most of the time I’m the only judge about my tracks. At the end of the day we are doing an art form and art forms are relative. For example someone could say kick is weak but someone else could say kick is too aggressive. Every person could have their own ideas because everyone’s perspectives are not same. So most of the time I don’t let other people change my mind about my tracks but of course I listen to all feedbacks.

If you could set up an event with a line-up of five artists of your choice, who would you book and what set times would you ascribe to the artists?

Nice. I would love to play at this event as well, but If you are asking other than me, my dream event should be like this:

21:00 - 23:00 Alex O’rion
23:00 - 01:00 GMJ & Matter
01:00 - 03:00 Hernan Cattaneo
03:00 - 05:00 Guy J

What would be a musical extravagance for your studio you would pay for, if you were very wealthy?

30 square meters studio surrounded by best sound insulations with a spaceship kind of design and 2x ATC SCM200 monitors embedded to the walls.

What’s a book you’ve read or film you watched that has left an impact on you, and why?

I am a huge movie fan and as a movie enthusiast it is hard to decide, but if you are asking the most impactful one I think I will go with ‘Requiem For a Dream’. It affected me in couple different ways. Biggest one is drugs. Shows how some kind of drugs could be so dangerous that ends up with a very bad end.

If you could travel anywhere for one day, all laws and limitations void, where would it be?

If it is literally anywhere for one day I would go to the moon and travel around it. And see the world from out of the world.

What’s a superpower you wish you had and how would you use it?

A some sort of divine power which provides me any knowledge about anything. So I can solve any problem with the right questions. History of life and creation, are we alone in the universe, how far is the doomsday or much smaller questions like should I buy Bitcoin or gold.

In your opinion, what’s the biggest risk you’ve taken and what made you do it?

Mmm, most of the time I’m living with low risk life. I can’t really remember what biggest risk I took. But let me tell you an interesting incident. Years before me and one of my friends went to Uludağ (mountain in Turkey) for winter activities/ snowboarding. We were going to stay for 3 nights and when we arrived there weather conditions was pretty harsh. They said there will be snowstorm for 2-3 days and due to the snowstorm winter activity zones were closed and forbidden. Me and my friend got highly upset about this incident. But my friend convinced me about the weather and he think that this is just a precaution. So we went to the ski zone to try our chance with operator guy who was controlling the chair lifts. My friend said we are special pro snowboarders can you let us go to the top and he gave a good amount of money (I don’t support this kind of bribes). Eventually the guy let us use the chair lift and we reached to the top. When we reached to the top snowstorm got worse we were only able to see 1 meter ahead but we had to ski down since it was the only way to reach back to the hotel. So we started snowboarding and after couple minutes we lost each other with my friend and thank god we knew the way down. After 5 minutes of skiing I realised that the inclination got higher and I thought that I was on the wrong direction. So I sat down, rip off my snowboard and started crawling to 90 degrees of my left for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes snowstorm got a little bit better and my sight got better. Then I saw the place I sat down 10 minutes a go and it was an edge of a 20 meters high cliff.

What is your current favourite place to eat and what do you generally order there?

There is a boutique burger house called ‘X Burger’ close to my home and their ‘X- Burger Menu’ is amazing.

Apart from music, what makes you happiest?

An adventurous vacation to a new place with 2-3 of my best friends.

What does 2022 hold for you? Anything you can share with us?

Yes I can tell about some of my upcoming releases. Three tracks from project ‘Magnatar’ will be coming out on ‘Univack’. We have signed for ‘Magnatar’, ‘Better Than Tomorrows’ and ‘Life Invader’. There is one more track from the album the track is called ‘Simulation’ and will be coming out on ‘Mistique Music’. Actually, the whole ‘Magnatar’ project is now available on Youtube as a mini album mix. Listeners may listen rest of the album from there.

‘Magnatar’ Album Mix:

Other than this 5 tracks project there is an another original that I have been playing on my sets. Track is called ‘Ray Flow’ and we signed with ‘Freegrant Music’. Have worked with ‘Freegrant Music’ earlier this year we have released ‘See You Soon’ from there and liked to work with them as well.

You might expect a little bit different approach to progressive from me for the last quarter of 2022. I have some plans for less melodic but more groovy progressive original projects for later this year. Also in contact with my Turkish colleagues Kenan Savrun and Sinan Arsan for a possible original collab.

Thank you Progressive Astronaut for having me, it was a pleasure. I think Progressive is very underrated these days, amazingly high quality music coming out in our scene for a long time and I believe in very soon progressive will reach to the position that it truly deserves.

'Social Illusion' is available for pre-order now via Deep Down Music: https://bit.ly/3ytJoZ7

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