This month’s Carhartt WIP Radio show is brought to you by Zozo, the DJ, party organizer, radio host and music collector from Istanbul, known for experimenting at the fringes of dance music. Her colorful selection of grooves are often eclectic and experimental, while incorporating the melodies and rhythms of her country’s rich musical history.
Her approach is further underlined by a focus on community, with music acting as a tool to build bridges between different groups, and functioning as a “a voice that will bring to life the importance of the values and emotions we tend to leave in the modern world”.
That same ethos has seen Zozo occupy a number of roles within her field, acting as the musical director of spaces such as Hush and Luzia in Istanbul, collaborating with Lyon’s Macadam Mambo community, and holding a residency at the Berlin club Sameheads, which hosts innovative underground talent from around the world. Additionally, she is a member of the electronic music and art collective Les Belles De Nuit from Zurich, which frequently supports women and queer artists. As a DJ Zozo has been behind the decks of renowned clubs like Panorama Bar in Berlin, Contact in Tokyo, and Salon des Amateurs in Düsseldorf, while also regularly playing festivals like Atonal and Dekmantel Selektors.
For Carhartt WIP Radio Zozo prepared a mix that features the music of her peers, including the likes of Swedish leftfield downtempo duo Kanot and Greek act Anatolian Weapons, as well as some new music from Berlin’s Sameheads label and LIO Press – a new adventurous label from Barcelona, ran by DJ Alicia Carrera. When we asked Zozo about the vibe of her show, she replied: “The mix is like driving into a sonic sphere, a free flow with friends. Mystical, esoteric, dubby, peaceful, free and fun. Hopefully, it feels like a holiday!”
Hey Zozo, you are a DJ, radio host and passionate collector of music, how did you first get into music?
Zozo: By listening, going out and communicating.
You are living in Istanbul currently. Have you always lived there?
Zozo: I was born and raised in Istanbul. I could never leave here. When I was younger, I used to live in the States (New York) and the UK (Nottingham) for a short period. For education and work. Now I am still here. Greetings from Istanbul!
What was the music scene in Istanbul like before covid?
Zozo: It was already struggling. The last six years have been very rough with our economic and political climate. We witnessed a lot of difficulties and an economic crisis with a conservative government ruling the country for the past 20 years. So, there has been an erosion of values and serious change in culture. The Gezi Protests, bomb attacks, social tragedies, deep ignorance, never-ending patriarchy etc. So, we are like the little units of communities who are dancing around the fire of music or culture or friendship, trying to stay sane, have fun and take care of each other.
What do you think the music scene will look like after the pandemic?
Zozo: I don’t know. But the fire of music is still burning, and we’ll do our best.
What is your relationship with Berlin, where you spend time every now and then?
Zozo: Berlin is Berlin. Sometimes it’s like my second home and sometimes it’s a place I only want to go in summertime.
You are also closely linked to the free-spirited club Sameheads in Berlin. How did you come together?
Zozo: Let me quote Genesis P-Orridge: “There are small units of communities for people who agree with each other about how to live and to support each other. They share their resources, they spread their ideas through events, through writing or through whatever medium they can find. And they set up small autonomous units that are dedicated to different ways of living where it’s about sharing, generosity, loving, compassion, kindness and all the things that are destroyed by capitalism and totalitarianism.” For me, Sameheads is such a place, such a community. A special one for me. It is like best friends with whom I have so much fun in any circumstance. It's a place we don't want to leave. I first went there to play in 2015 and from that time on, we clicked immediately, realizing that we are Sameheads! Ha! I started to play there frequently and had the chance to release one of their cassette series. And in time I became one of their residents. Before this corona madness started, I used to curate seasonal events with like-minded artists. Adding to our professional relationship, the crew became my friends that I also often communicated with personally. I’ve also had the chance to host some of the people I met there here in Istanbul.
What are your opinions on the international party and club industry? And what are your views on DJs traveling in our times?
Zozo: If we call it an “industry,” it’s a big program and marketing. Back in the days, dance music was new and unregulated, whereas now it has turned into an industry. Obviously, everybody including artists, promoters, and governments want to have their share of it. But if we say “communities” and if we can enjoy and support these community-based platforms, radios, clubs, festivals, it means a lot to me. Before covid I was already thinking that it was not sustainable to live and travel like that all the time. Physically and mentally, it can be stressful for me to travel on and on. Even if I love travelling, it’s different when you travel to two different countries, over three nights on a weekend. And of course, I am getting older.
The mix is like driving into a sonic sphere, a free flow with friends. Mystical, esoteric, dubby, peaceful, free, and fun. Hopefully, it feels like a holiday break!
You also play music by friends and people you know. Did you ever think about doing a label?
Zozo: It’s always a pleasure to play music from friends. I've been surrounded by an inspirational environment. And yes, I’ve always thought about doing a music label. But before Covid-19 I did not have any time or energy. When I found some energy again, I started planning slowly, step by step. Now I think it’s time. I am working on it and you will hear it soon probably. The idea is to collaborate with friends on a musical and creative path. The music is the root but there will be side dishes as well. Right now, I am working on the first release and future releases with artists like Xam Xavier (Timuçin) and Barış K, DJ SoFa, Tolga Baklacıoğlu and Employee. The first release is an amateur bedroom pop recording from the 2000s in Istanbul. Things worked a bit slowly because of uncertainty and pandemic romance let’s say! It's supposed to come out in April or May, but it seems we’ll all have to wait a bit more. I am trying to enjoy the process. It’s educational. No rush.
What can you tell us about your Carhartt WIP Radio show?
Zozo: The mix is like driving into a sonic sphere, a free flow with friends. Mystical, esoteric, dubby, peaceful, free, and fun. Hopefully, it feels like a holiday break! I imagine myself driving to the south and stopping wherever we want. These stops can be at friend's places, who are the producers of the tracks I play in the mix. Anyone can jump on the car... not sure a car will be enough for all of us, so let's drive a caravan. I will stop by you as well! Your bell might ring soon! But I am dreaming of warmer weather with a lot of cacti in the landscape. So, we are all enjoying the trip, watching day and night. Flowers blooming, appreciating the spring.