Turkey held municipal elections on March 30th. Leading up to the vote, Istanbul was energetic and tense, strung with campaign banners and aurally cluttered with the propaganda songs that blared from party vehicles cruising neighborhoods every afternoon. The Prime Minister blocked access to Twitter and YouTube. Protests were held in honor of Berkin Elvan, a teenager who fell into a coma as a result of police violence during last summer’s Gezi protests, and were broken up time and again with tear gas. No one was sure what would happen.
The vote itself passed peacefully, though with numerous allegations of fraud that included power outages in forty Turkish cities as the votes were being counted. In spite of all this, the AKP, which has been in power since 2002, managed to garner more than forty percent of the vote. Most people I’ve spoken to since the election accept the results with a deflated kind of resignation.
This is the environment casino online in which musicians and artists are creating content. It is one in which every choice, from whether you use certain forms of transportation to the type of comments you make between songs in a live set, is heavily politicized. This affects artist content, the artistic process, and a musician’s ability to be heard. In some of my interviews, I have found that it even effects a musician’s desire to be heard; I’ve had musicians, fearing repercussions, ask for large swaths of our conversations to be off the record and have had many an interview request turned down out of distrust. On some level, I understand their concerns; they are navigating a free speech minefield, wherein one can be prosecuted for a tweet or lose out on a show opportunity in more conservative areas for his opinions. This is a unique and challenging time to be here, more politically charged and with more barriers to entry than there were even a year ago.