Bashka: the urge to merge traditional music with an electronic twist

Bashka incorporates traditional instruments mixed with non-traditional influences… It’s a balance of East and West, electronic, acoustic and traditional.”

One of the coolest things about the era of modern electronic music is the samples that are used; it's now quite common to listen to a produced track that incorporates samples of traditional Latin or European music to really amplify the sound. Although, in the case of Melbourne-based band Bashka, the traditional soundscapes are created through the use of intricate instrumentation to truly enhance their electronic experience.

Featuring members of Unified Gecko, a primarily traditional Turkish band from the '90s, Bashka aims to flip what Western audiences know of Turkish music by making it an eclectic mix of hip hop and funk, as explained by the group’s founder, Murat Yucel.

“Unified Gecko was a live band in the '90s and we played mostly traditional Turkish songs with reggae and funk elements. Bashka is more electronic based and is mostly original tunes with hip hop elements,” he says.

“Bashka incorporates traditional instruments mixed with non-traditional influences. I use a lot of live samples and Ableton to do live effects and we also use saxophones and traditional instruments. It’s a balance of East and West, electronic, acoustic and traditional. We do try to show two sides of everything.”

With the group’s 2016 release Fihi Ma Fihi being nominated for Best Global or Reggae Album at The Age Music Victoria awards, Bashka have gone on to amaze crowds worldwide with their unique blend of exotic Turkish-based electro and are now preparing some new material to be premiered at this year's WOMADelaide festival.

“Being a musician for a long time, you like to keep rolling all the time,” Yucel says. “You want new things, new sounds and new music. So since the first album we have actually written a lot of new songs and we are preparing a new set for WOMADelaide. Some songs from the album will be played but the new style of us playing will be incorporated so it will be something new for the crowds.”

Touching more on the new material, he continues, “The advantage of the electronic side of things is that it helps flow; it gives you much more versatility. Sound-wise we are now aiming for a much bigger sound. We also chose a set that is progressive and eases people towards the end when it explodes, so, we are actually building a set with the new sounds and a lot of energy.”

To strengthen the link between Eastern and Western musical influences, Bashka also incorporates an MC who acts as an interpreter of sorts to Western audiences.

“We do talk about what the songs are about between each other so his rapping parts are always relevant to the song and act to describe what the Turkish parts are saying. But our music is very collaborative and interactive; it's not just one style. It's very natural, we don’t have one formula that we apply, it's a bit more progressive.”

With their first acclaimed album already under their belt, Bashka aims to release their follow up within the next three months. But, until then, it’s only the lucky few attending WOMADelaide who get a sneak preview of the new material. If you are headed along, you won’t want to miss it.

Bashka will perform as part of WOMADelaide 2018, held from Friday March 9 until Monday March 12 in Botanic Park, Adelaide.