ÇETİN CEM YILMAZ
Istanbul - Turkish Daily News
If it is all about chemistry, as they say, then that might explain the incredible success of the gloomy Istanbul-based music duo Mira.
The combination of vocalist Miray Kurtuluş and multi-instrumentalist Tan Tunçağ offer bleak songs of sadness and love in their recently released debut record "Eve Dönmeliyim," ("I need to get back home"). But there is another dominant feeling there -- the usual tension between a woman and a man.
Tunçağ, who is no stranger to the Turkish music scene as half of the alternative-tinged dance duo Portecho, came across Kurtuluş' personal page on the popular Web site MySpace, where some musicians have come to share and promote their music. He was impressed with the young woman's songs with her band Nada and so got in touch with her. At first, Tunçağ simply wanted to remix one of the young artist's songs, but then the idea of making music together started to go. And so the story goes . . .
"That was something I wanted to do," Tunçağ told the Turkish Daily News on what drew him to Kurtuluş' music. "That sadness with Turkish words, which was something I frankly could not do very well."
However, if not in Turkish, in English Tunçağ has achieved a mastery of such poignant lyrics. Given that he can use one dark line like "In this town, we have no sympathy" in an up tempo song like Portecho's "Sympathy,� he has the right to say, "Mira's lyrics are almost the Turkish version of what we did with Portecho."
After the pair had recorded a few songs, one of which was the oriental-tinged "Bir Gün Gelir" ("Comes a day"), while making a compilation with the Elec-Trip Record label, the duo felt that their music was mature enough to be transformed into an album.
"We have felt that the band has found its own identity," said Tunçağ, adding that the rest of the album was created and recorded in the year following the two artists' decision to work together.
It must be noted that Mira provides nowhere near the party atmosphere Portecho did. Yes, as a dance band, Portecho had the brains, but Mira does not let the listeners get to their feet for the hour-long span of the album, which is usually drowned in sadness and melancholy worthy of indie cult group Blonde Redhead, shoe gazing legend Cocteau Twins and occasionally the paranoid spy-movie moments of Portishead.
Kurtuluş general writes the songs melodies, plus some lyrics, which she leaves partially unfinished. Then Tunçağ begins producing the song. Some collaboration takes place, but generally the process proceeds more "intuitively."
"Tan arranges the song and adds a melody, and I write some more lyrics," said Kurtuluş. "It all builds up, it happens gradually."
Assuming that Miray writes the lyrics and sings the songs, while Tan spends more time in production duties, one might be drawn to the metaphor that Tunçağ is the brain, and Kurtuluş is the heart.
"Maybe, in a way," laughs Tunçağ. "What I did was to bring out the meaning of the song, because I am not really into the mathematics of music. I don't know about note reading, for example."
Miray said she is happy her ideas for songs are being refined by someone else.
"He underlines my lyrics or lifts the melody to higher places," she said. "If it is sad, he makes it even sadder."
Tan agrees. "There is something more feminine in Miray's words," he said, adding, "There is that influence of coming together of both sexes. Maybe there is a sexuality there."
It is, perhaps, that unique sexual tension that makes Mira such a one-of-a-kind Turkish band.