The ancient Turkish city of Istanbul and its intoxicating nightlife has been the natural habitat of the ISOLATE crew for many years. Alican Yuksel, Murat Uncuoglu and Ali Egesel have each earned their industry stripes hosting, promoting and soundtracking parties across the city and beyond. With their Isolate parties they have regularly brought the finest DJ talent to town and in just the last few months have hosted nights and label showcases with Solomun, Amé, Sandrino, Keinemusik and Lehar & Musumeci’s Multinotes imprint.
Twelve months ago they took the plunge and launched the ISOLATE label, initially as a platform for the music from their local group of artists, but also now having featured music from Italian producers Ivory and Enzo Elia and Portuguese/German Rafael da Cruz. Alican’s own ‘Rosybar EP’ marks the labels first birthday and with a successful ADE showcase also now under their belts, ISOLATE are preparing for an exciting 2020.
Decoded caught up with Alican to discuss the label’s first year, Istanbul’s nightlife and to get a personal guide to his home city…
Alican, we know you play a key part within Istanbul’s club scene. Can you tell us a little about the City’s nightlife history and your involvement over the years?
Istanbul has a long and rich history which goes back to the early ’90s, with really good clubs that might be considered as very forward-thinking at that time, even in Europe. I started going out in the early 2000s and involved got involved in the nightlife business around 2005-2006. First I started out making music and released my first records around that time. I then began to DJ all over the country, but I think the most important moment for me was when I joined the management team running Indigo – a legendary club in Beyoglu – the heart of the city.
Being part of the team that created one of the most popular nights on the City, bringing many of the world’s biggest DJ names at that time to the club, was a truly amazing experience. I was also one of the resident DJs and played countless nights with so many amazing artists. That experience taught me so much and really helped me improve my skills as a DJ, and made me who I am today.
Your ISOLATE label, also the name of your current party brand and launched with friends Murat & Ali, has now just dropped its 5th release, your own ‘Rosybar’ EP. Was it always the plan to launch the Record label? What have you learnt in this first twelve months and what are the future plans for the label?
We are very close friends and have always had the idea of expressing ourselves through the music, so launching a record label was always the part of the plan. We were just waiting for the right moment. Launching a label sounds easy but it is not. There are so many different factors and variables that you have to try control. You need to have a prospective plan in place and of course, good music is the key. I believe that we started out in the correct way. We made sure that we had a lot of music, all created by our crew, ready to start this adventure.
For the near future, we are planning more ISOLATE nights in different cities across Europe. We recently enjoyed a successful label showcase at ADE, where we got play The Crane. That was a great night. So to all of your readers, I would say keep an eye out for an ISOLATE party near you soon.
On the label side of things, we have a number of exciting releases lined up, some from our crew, but also some very familiar names in the scene. We can’t give anything away right now, but we’re super excited for 2020.
How strong is the current crop of Turkish electronic artists and are there any names we should keep an eye on?
We see and hear new music from fresh and exciting new Turkish artists every day, and the scene is really growing. Personally I am super happy to see this because people have recognized that creating your own thing is the key to success.
Two producers that are exciting us right now and we think have a bright future are Jaffer and MFY. Award winner Jaffer has a radio show here in Istanbul and has released on Syncopate and Muak. MFY (Mert) is another name we recommend keeping an eye on. He is also the head of Inndroom studios – a community aims to find new talents and teach them how to be successful DJs/producers.
You will hear more new Turkish artists from our label soon too!
How would you describe Istanbul’s nightlife to a stranger?
Surprising, sometimes weird (in a good way) but super fun! People are very passionate about hearing what artists are creating. So that makes it a very free and open space for artists and also for the crowd. Istanbul is a city that never sleeps, one can easily find a place according to their likes for partying. In the same night, you can find a big techno party in a huge venue or go into a small drum & bass club in the heart of the city, or go up to a rooftop bar to enjoy the beautiful view of the city, with good house music. Lots of choices and amazing vibes. Come and try it for yourself!
Record Shop / Music Store:
Zihni Muzik – Is one of the oldest record shops in the City. You can easily lose hours inside and it’s perfect for digging for surprise finds especially old Turkish music.
Analog Kultur – Is a favourite for those looking for a more electronic selection. It featured at #046 in The Vinyl Factory’s ‘World’s Best Record Shops’
Cafe / Restaurant:
Karakoy Lokantasi – I am a huge fan of this restaurant and for me, it’s still the best place to have delicious seafood & meze.
Bar / Drinking Spot:
Alexandra in Arnavutkoy – Is one of my favourite places when looking to enjoy nice cocktails. It also has a stunning view of the city.
Club / Nightspot:
Module – Is has a very good sound system and excellent acoustics. It’s also dark, which creates the perfect atmosphere for getting lost within the music. We have been holding our Isolate nights here this year and have welcomed the likes of Adriatique, Amé and the Keinemusik crew.
Salon IKSV – For those of you who like something a little different, just between Sishane and Galata, is Salon. It offers jazz, classical, rock and alternative music concerts.
Museum / Sites / Cultural Activity:
Istanbul Modern Art Museum – It’s the first museum of contemporary and modern art in Turkey. Moved to a temporary space in Beyoglu. Great for checking out the exhibitions from local & international artists.
Dot – Is an independent contemporary theatre that is currently located on the top floor of Kanyon shopping complex for, but also hosts events in different locations. One of my favourites.
Favourite Spot To Soak Up the Views / Go for a Wander:
Galata Tower – Has one of the most beautiful views of Istanbul that you can see the Bosphorus, Oldtown, Halic etc.
Running/jogging by the Bosphorus starting from Bebek. The views are amazing and it’s one of my favourite things to do.
You can buy the latest release on ISOLATE, ‘Rosybar’ here.