Istanbul producer Kerem Akdag releases his self-titled debut LP on Dimensions Recordings – the fifth release from the imprint. Already garnering global attention from tastemakers alike, such as Gilles Peterson – Akdag's debut delivers as a mature body of work. Totalling 8 tracks, the production and style throughout translates and feels at home on and off the dancefloor. The woozy beach vibes of 'Sultan' take us right back to Dimensions last summer, while 'Drums Please' fits equally being played in a jazz club than a dark basement. A personal favourite off the record is the opening stepping beats and tropical percussions of 'When I Think Of You' premiered over on Stamp the Wax.
We caught up with Akdag to discuss his musical influences and origins, dissecting his sounds, and his upcoming release on Dimensions Recordings and release party at the brand-spanking new Hackney venue The Glove That Fits.
You began your musical career as a funk and blues drummer – these influences are still very evident in your work. How was the transition from drumming to electronic production, did it make it difficult or help inform your skills?
When I was in high school, I was messing around with the keyboard in the music room which had a sequencer, the idea of being able to record all of my ideas into one place and play them together fascinated me. Few months later a friend of mine gave me a CD of Propellerheads Reason, I started to make beats on it, and I think being familiar with drums really helped me grow quickly and not get bored easily.
Your first break in electronic music was when you won an electronic music competition at just 18. Was it this moment that inspired you to develop a more recognisable house sound, or have you always been interested in House and other forms of electronic dance music?
I actually submitted a neo-soul track to the electronic section. The judges were very surprised but happy at the same time. I think it was a good risk. At the end, one of the judges who was a House music producer introduced me (not in real life) to Theo Parrish letting me know that hip-hop and house music could go hand to hand and really gave me a perspective.
How has being from Istanbul shaped your music, and how would you describe the music scene in Turkey as compared with elsewhere?
I have isolated myself here. There are not many producers that do my kind of music. But there is a scene that’s growing, and It makes me happy that people are starting to appreciate different genres. Being here’ is very confusing. Maybe that’s why I make so many different sounds.
Your recent releases have drawn from many different genres, seemingly infused with elements of funk, jazz and house. How would you describe your own sound?
I have always asked myself this question, “what is my sound? How do I describe myself?” and I concluded that it is very hard for me to pin it down in a few words. Because I like many different genres and different sounds and I take little pieces from them, apply it to my own thing and try to create something that is truly unique.
Your debut album is being released on Dimensions Recordings, and you have played Dimensions Festival in the past. Is this a label to which you would say you had a particular affinity?
Andy Lemay contacted me 4 years ago through Soundcloud. He flew over to Istanbul to meet me, and we started to plan a release. I always knew that this release that I have with his team was going to be something special and I think it has worked out pretty well so far. Playing Dimensions Festival was a dream come true and now putting out this body of work from their imprint means a lot.
The release of your debut album is being celebrated with a party at a new venue, The Glove That Fits. Can you give us the lowdown on the new space and why you picked it for the launch?
This is going to be my first UK show, I’m really excited, and a bit scared, to be honest. I know that The Glove That Fits is a space for creatives and I’m very humbled to be the first act playing there.
What are you listening to at the moment? Can you recommend any obscure music?
Ivan Ave - Running Shoes & Braxton Cook - Somewhere in Between (Swarvy remix) – these two are my favourite these days.