Sunday Sessions 9 - Ipek özsoy

By: Emma Corcoran

Originally from Istanbul, Ipek özsoy is a fourth year International Relations student. She has been involved in Music is Love for the past two years, and she just recently stepped down from her role as president of the society. Her graduating has left us all feeling a little bittersweet, so we were lucky to have had the opportunity to chat with her before it would have been too late!

We recently caught up with the singer-songwriter to cover all the bases: from when she first became interested in playing and performing to how those few initial sparks ignited into a whole-hearted, unwavering passion for all-things music. Oh, and to gab about Tori Amos, of course. Read on to learn more about the development of her music career and what goals/hopes/dreams she has for the future.

An Interview with Ipek özsoy:

ST.ART: Can I start by asking you when you first became interested in music and how your passion developed?

Iö: I could basically sing before I could speak; music has been something that has been in my life for as long as I can remember. I don’t necessarily have that much of a musical family, even though my mom sings as well. I think it’s one of those genetic things that I also picked up. I was always interested in music and wanted to go to music school for a very long time, before I decided to come to St Andrews in the end.

I wrote my first song at the age of eleven, and then I went to a very musical High School. We had a very strong music department; we were one of those schools that competed in High School competitions, our school band toured in Italy when I was fourteen or fifteen… so it has been a major part of my life for a long time, from an early age.

ST.ART: And in school, was your music education entirely singing-based or did you ever pick up any instruments?

Iö I first started with piano. I mean, it was keyboard – it wasn’t a classical piano, because I always thought I was too rebellious for classical training [laughs]. I was too distracted all the time, and I never had enough discipline to stick to one instrument, so I switched from keyboard to guitar and I started writing songs with both instruments. But in High School, I was a singer in the High School band, so it was mostly vocal-based. I also taught a choir in High School, too. I would say I’m more of a vocalist than anything else.

ST.ART: How would you describe your style of sound and how has it developed over the course of your singing career?

IöI was always in the realms of alternative rock and singer-songwriter, so my music is very acoustic, and the genre, I would say, is singer-songwriter. I also really like trip hop and jazz, and my songs vary; they sort of go in between different genres.

ST.ART: It’s very eclectic.

Iö Yeah, it’s pretty eclectic. It always depends on what kind of music I'm into at the moment. If it’s just me and the guitar, the stuff that I produce is singer-songwriter, but when I was in Turkey before university, I was in an improv jazz band, a pop-rock band – it can go into different directions.

ST.ART: So how does that influence your style of songwriting? Where do you draw inspiration for your lyrics?

Iö I guess like anybody else, it’s personal experiences, usually. I was always a part of a large music/musician circle; my friends were musicians, I always knew a lot of people who were interested in the same things, and that’s how I drew my inspiration: I drew inspiration from my friends, sometimes hearing their work, sometimes through collaborations between me and them.

The major peak of inspiration for my music for me was when I went to the Berklee College of Music in 2008. That was when I still in High School. I just get really driven by being in an environment where I know that hundreds and hundreds of people are sharing the same passion as me, and we come together and we make music together and we jam altogether… I just like being in a musical environment like that.

ST.ART: That actually sounds like the perfect description of Music is Love, you know?

Iö True, we do inspire each other quite a lot, and we’re all really good friends. I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s ‘working with your friends’ because I don’t see this as professional work; it’s just a bunch of people coming together to do something that they really believe in. We want to do the best that we can and we want to push the best of our abilities to be able to connect with other musicians and to give people in St Andrews a good music experience, because, at times, it lacks that here. We miss going to gigs ourselves, so we want to bring the good stuff here so that we musicians and as music lovers can also enjoy our time in St Andrews.

ST.ART: Are you currently in the process of writing any songs?

IöYeah, I just finished one last week actually. It’s one of those things – sometimes I have a dry spell and I can’t write anything for months and months, and sometimes, I’m just in a good mood, a good environment, a good atmosphere, and I get inspired. But it depends obviously your mental state as well; when you’re really stressed and when you’re really preoccupied with other things, you just don’t really want to pick up the guitar and write. But you don’t always have to be in a good mood to write, so you can also feed from more negative experiences, too. It really depends on what I’m going through in my life at that moment.

ST.ART: What types of music are you listening to? Are you following any artists or bands at the moment?

IöSo right now, still, my favourite two bands are Explosions in the Sky and Sigur Ros. They’re both actually going to be at Prima Vera in June, the music festival in Barcelona, and I’m dying to go, I really want to book my tickets soon. Apart from that, Radiohead is an all-time favourite; it’s just one of those things. I was majorly influenced by Tori Amos all my life and in my music, too, so I constantly listen to her every chance I get.

ST.ART: Do you have a favourite song or album by her?

IöOh, that’s difficult… when you love a musician that bunch, it’s really difficult to pick, but I’d say her song ‘Winter’. I fell in love with Tori Amos when I first saw a live performance of her singing ‘Winter’, and she’s one of those people who becomes an absolute goddess when she’s onstage; she actually becomes bigger as a person, and it’s magical. I saw her live in Glasgow once, and it was the best night of my life. She plays with two pianos at the same time! I would recommend for anyone to check her out, especially her live performances.

ST.ART: What age were you when you saw her first perform?

IöIt was 2011, so I was eighteen [laughs]. I was actually eighteen, which is pretty ironic, I guess, because it’s like a rite-of-passage; for me, it was like an entrance into young adulthood because it was someone that I had wanted to see all my life. When I lived in Turkey, she came to perform in Istanbul, but I could just never, ever see her for some reason, something came up. Then I saw her in Glasgow, actually, when I was looking at universities and sort of touring around the UK to look at places that I would want to go.

ST.ART: Do you think you’ll continue playing and performing after you graduate?

Iö Yes, for sure. I mean, music has never been just a hobby for me: it feels like it was always something that I knew that I was going to have in my life for forever, that I didn’t need to necessarily choose from. I feel like after going to a music school like Berklee for an entire summer, I just realised that I don’t have to study music to be a musician. That’s when I changed my mind and decided, ‘No, I’m not going to go to Berklee for university; I’m going to go somewhere else. I’m going to improve my other skills and expand my horizons and enhance my vision for the world and not limit myself to just musicianship.’ When you only study music, you can only be a musician, and it can be a waste of your abilities sometimes. I mean, obviously it’s not the same for everyone; some musicians just want to do music and nothing else. I wanted to fulfil my potential in other things, too, but I still want to be a musician and I think I would still love to do it full-time in the future if I ever get the chance to. But it’s a risky business, really; it’s competitive, it’s risky… you either nail it or you don’t. It all depends on luck, too, at the end of the day, so we’ll see what happens.

ST.ART: Do you think you would ever release an EP or an album?

IöYeah, I think I would! I’m not gonna to sit around waiting to be discovered or explored, but after university, I’m definitely going to give it more time to record and maybe create an EP, because I really haven’t had the time to do that in these past years of my life – it’s just been so crazy!

ST.ART: What do you think that would sound like?

IöI think it would sound like the soundtrack of my life: the soundtrack of my youth. By the time I’ll graduate from here, I’ll be twenty-three, and my entire life until that moment will be defined and will be sort of reflected by my music and the songs that I’ve written in he past years, so it will be interesting to see how that all comes together.

ST.ART: Do you ever feel like music infiltrates other areas of your life?

IöThat’s a good question. Well, when you’re very interested in music and when you’re defined as a musician, which is a difficult label, really, because, I mean, I feel like a musician, and I know that I am deep down inside, but, you know, you have to go through a lot of things to actually consider yourself as a professional musician. It’s a very difficult job, and I wouldn’t want to respect really amazing musicians by calling myself a musician, because I feel like I’m still really amateur and still just trying to make it. Everything is a learning experience, really. It’s just there in your life wherever you go: it’s part of every aspect of your life when you know that you’re a musician. I don’t think I would ever be able to focus on anything else or even switch that part of my brain off. Even when I’m working, even if I were to start a job in, I don’t know, a corporate world, next year, I don’t think it would be something that I would have to give up.

ST.ART: You wouldn’t want to have to give it up.

IöExactly, which should be inspiring for people in our positions. A lot of people think that if they were to go down a different path or get a job that wasn’t in the creative industry or if they don’t end up playing their guitar for a year, are they all of a sudden going to forget about it and stop being a musician? I don’t think that’s true. You either are or you’re not. If you’re a creative person, if it’s your passion, then you’ll just take it with you wherever you go.

ST.ART: Is there anything you’d like to add?

IöWhat do I want to add… well basically, I’m going be continuing my role as the President of Music is Love for a few more weeks now, and we have a lot of events coming up, and we’re all very excited about them, and I guess this is just an open call for people to come to Music is Love events and engage with what we do; it’s brought to you by musicians and people who love music, in the best quality that you can find in this town, in my opinion, because I feel so strongly about it. So just come chat to us, come if you want to meet other musicians, if you have a passion for music, if you want to meet more people in general, come! We’re pretty approachable people, so yeah, hoping to see everyone at our events!

ST.ART Magazine