by Kirsty Birkett-Stubbs
Vocalist/Guitarist Bilgehan Engin
As to the meaning behind the word Baht the best Google could come up with was ‘the basic currency unit of Thailand’ – which is very interesting, but as a band from Turkey isn’t giving much away. It’s down to vocalist and guitarist Bilgehan Engin then to take us beneath the skin of Baht and debut release In My Veins…
To kick things off, can you sum up just who Baht are?
Bilgehan Engin – We are few young fellas from Istanbul who are trying to create something sounds different, heavy yet tuneful enough. By the way saying young, I’m the oldest in the band and I’m 24.
Your first EP Bilinçten Derine was unique for all the lyrics being in Turkish – is this something you’ve continued with in your newer material?
Bilgehan – Not completely. We’ve chosen to use Turkish lyrics because nobody ever did something like that in the genre before and we thought “if this is the language we talk normally, then why we shouldn’t write in it?”. When we were about to release our first EP, to be honest, we were not expecting to reach out international listeners. But it got very well feedback from different countries. So we have decided to keep some of our mother tongue in the newer material -to have some different spices in the soup- but mainly new songs are in English.
How receptive was the market to this approach?
Bilgehan – I think putting some Turkish lyrics in the formula works on global market. If you read the reviews so far, you can see many of authors have mentioned about “the different language” because it sounds interesting. I’m not sure how Turkish phonetics sound to non-Turkish speakers but I’m sure when you realise it is not in a language you already know, you just listen it carefully for a second.
Do you think more bands should embrace their own language when writing music?
Bilgehan – Of course, why not! As I mentioned, it is always good to put some different spices in the soup to make an impressive entrance. Also on another point of view, you can make a bigger effect to your own language speakers by using lyrics from their mother tongue. It cannot be compared the effect of a second language and the first one, right? We got really good feedback from Turkish listeners when they hear we sing in Turkish, all of them were like “OMG, I couldn’t believe it can be possible to write death metal lyrics in Turkish and be good at it!”. Every underground band should try that once.
I understand your first full length album (In My Veins) is coming soon – what stage of this process are you currently at?
Bilgehan – Right now, we are in the process of negotiating with the labels. We are trying to choose what would be the best for us and if we can’t make it with any of them, we will release it by ourselves from Internet.
Dan Swanö, an experienced musician in his own right, twirled the knobs for the album – what was it like working with him?
Bilgehan – It was really unbelievable for us. Personally, Dan Swanö has been one of the biggest idols for me as a musician. And even meeting with him is something great for me, think about the rest… He is really good sound engineer as he’s a musician and he helped us out greatly about finding a good sound on what we already recorded. You grow up listening to his many many albums and song writing, then you find yourself that he is listening your stuff, commenting about it, and the best part – working on it!
New song ‘Dua’ from the album is available to listen to on Youtube – what feedback have you had so far?
Bilgehan – We have got more than we expected, actually. We’ve chosen ‘Dua’ to be released first because we thought it has the most radical partitions from the album. We know there is still a gap about ‘Oriental’ stuff on global metal scene, and we wanted to put something in that sense. I can say it was a wise decision from the feedback we have had.
Is this a good indicator of what the rest of album will be like?
Bilgehan – It is difficult to say but the album has some many different ingredients, not only oriental stuff. We can say, the album includes ‘Dua’ but it contains much more different influences from death, progressive, doom and oriental metal.
Does In My Veins hold any surprises?
Bilgehan – It is a surprise itself, isn’t it? It has some many different partitions within the songs and with the help of unusual structural traffic of them, you can’t guess what you’ll be listening in next few seconds! And also, there is a surprise for Chuck Palahniuk readers in the album…
Did you find the writing process to be quite different?
Bilgehan – Actually no. We didn’t have any different process than we already had before. I will not claim this is a concept album by songwriting. But I see that in a good way for our new listeners. There is no main theme on songs and some may find this as ‘disoriented’ but I see this album as a ‘porcelain’ with pieces on different colours.
The artwork for the album is very striking – where did that concept spring from?
Bilgehan – When we finished recording the album, we hadn’t choose an artwork by then. And we thought it must be something ‘in your face’ and simple enough. We were browsing some artists’ work and we already knew Pierre-Alain D. from 3mmi Design. When we saw his work of ‘In My Veins’ we knew that was it. We didn’t even need to think about it.
Will you be doing anything in particular to launch/celebrate In My Veins?
Bilgehan – We are planning to have announcement concerts with a small tour in Turkey, probably in 3-5 cities.
Getting under your skin so to say, what is it that drives the band – what’s in your veins?
Bilgehan – That is not really easy to answer and I don’t really know the answer. But I can say for myself, creating something satisfies my more than anything. And while I think I can create something which makes me excited, I’m sure I will be doing this!
Bilgehan – We thank you for this very delicious interview!
If that warmed your blood then check out my review of In My Veins!