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The Spin: Istanbul's Jam Is Yalin's 'Ah Be Kardesim'

Summer deserves its own soundtrack -- for the beach, for warm nights and for the road. But don't worry if your travel budget is tight: This summer, All Things Considered and NPR Music will take you on a global journey through music. We're checking in on DJs, musicians and writers for the songs that define summer in some of the world's most vibrant cities. We're calling it The Spin.

Istanbul, Turkey's liminal position straddling both the European and Asian continents makes it a hotbed for all sorts of different people and crisscrossed cultures. On top of its deep historical roots, the city's cosmopolitan mystique has helped it become a destination for hopping nightlife. Gul Tuysuz is a freelance writer in Istanbul, and the song that sticks in her head after strolling through the city's bustling main street -- Istiklal Avenue -- is Yalin's "Ah Be Kardesim." The song has a fun, electric, danceable beat worthy of a summer hit, but its sound is unmistakably Turkish.

"It's using really traditional Anatolian rock rhythms," Tuysuz tells All Things Considered host Michele Norris, "so it makes you want to move in a different way -- in a Turkish way -- as well as making you jump up and down."

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Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

And I'm Michele Norris.

Last week, we began a new series for the summer called The Spin. We're compiling a global soundtrack for the summer months and talking to musicians and writers about the songs that define the season where they live.

This week, we're moving from the clubs of Spain to a city that bridges east and west - Istanbul, Turkey.

(Soundbite of music)

NORRIS: Istanbul sits on two continents, Asia and Europe. Its two halves divided by the waters of the Bosphorus.

Gul Tuysuz is a freelance writer who grew up in Istanbul, and she says while the Bosphorus remains the heart of the city, to hear the music of Istanbul, you simply need to head down the city's main corridor.

Ms. GUL TUYSUZ (Freelance Writer): The main street in Istanbul, Istiklal (unintelligible), Istiklal Street, has a series of bookstores and cafes that are all sort of blasting their own music. And sometimes for a treat, for some reason, all of the cafes and the bookstores get together and decide that they're going to play one song. So you're walking basically a kilometer-long avenue and you're hearing the same song at different parts of the street, and it's really interesting and it gets stuck in your head sometimes.

(Soundbite of song, "Ah Be Kardesim")

NORRIS: So tell me about one of these songs that's gotten stuck in your head.

Ms. TUYSUZ: Well, it's called "Ah Be Kardesim." It's, oh, brother, basically.

(Soundbite of song, "Ah Be Kardesim")

YALIN (Singer): (Singing in foreign language)

Ms. TUYSUZ: It's got that pop sort of catchy, summer, I want to dance, I want to throw my hands up in the air kind of sound to it, but at the same time, it's using really traditional Anatolian rock rhythms in it. So it makes you move in a different way - in a Turkish way - as well as making you just jump up and down.

(Soundbite of song, "Ah Be Kardesim")

YALIN: (Singing in foreign language)

NORRIS: Gul, help us out with the lyrics. What are we hearing?

Ms. TUYSUZ: The story is basically about this guy who is saying, you know, you look at the mirror, you see yourself, and so love the mirror. The radio puts on a song and it's your song and be happy about that, but at the same time, it's saying the woman you fall in love with ends up being somebody else's, you know, that's just your luck. So it's basically taking what's coming your way and making it your own, basically, and so it's a happy song in a way.

NORRIS: A happy song for a guy? It sounds like he lost the girl.

Ms. TUYSUZ: Yeah, it does sound too happy for someone who lost the girl...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. TUYSUZ: ...but it's the way that Turkish music works. It might be sad, but you're still happy because there's music.

(Soundbite of song, "Ah Be Kardesim")

YALIN: (Singing in foreign language)

NORRIS: Tell me about the singer.

Ms. TUYSUZ: His name is Yalin, and this is his fourth album. And I'm actually really looking forward to it because I'm going to be going to his concert tomorrow for this particular album.

NORRIS: If you wanted to see him live, where would you do that?

Ms. TUYSUZ: It's in an arena called Kurucesme. It's a beautiful, beautiful summer music arena, actually. It's right on the Bosphorus. So while you're getting your dose of the concert and you're watching on stage the singer, you can also sort of look to the side and see Asia and the whole Bosphorus with the lights, and it's beautiful. I've had a lot of summer romances that started there, let's say that.

(Soundbite of song, "Ah Be Kardesim")

YALIN: (Singing in foreign language)

NORRIS: Gul, sounds wonderful. Thanks so much.

Ms. TUYSUZ: You're welcome.

NORRIS: All the best to you and good luck at the concert.

Ms. TUYSUZ: Thank you.

(Soundbite of song, "Ah Be Kardesim")

NORRIS: Gul Tuysuz is a freelance writer living in Istanbul, Turkey. And if you're in the mood for more music from Istanbul, Gul has compiled a playlist for us. You can find that music and follow our travels all summer at nprmusic.org.

(Soundbite of song, "Ah Be Kardesim")

YALIN: (Singing in foreign language) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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