Ahmet Uluğ

MusicMay 12, 2016
Ahmet Uluğ


Ahmet Uluğ is one of the founders of Babylon and Pozitif. He has his hand in many music events in Turkey. In recent years, they got into the habit of organizing events in various cities. One of them is Cappadox, offering a different experience to its participants. The second edition of this festival features contemporary art, gastronomy and nature as well as music. We talked with Ahmet Uluğ who is one of the creators of this festival which will take place in Uçhisar/ Kapadokya between May 19-22.

How did Cappadox start? Is there a particular reason why you chose Uçhisar?

This event which we organized for the first time a year ago, was full of obscruities for us in the beginning. For so many years, we had a dream of organizing an event that was integrated with nature and open air. Not only ours, this was also one of Memo’s (Mehmet Uluğ) last dreams. But we didn’t know how to do it. Our acquaintances in Uçhisar helped us out a lot. Thanks to them, many doors were opened and we so it began.

Cappadox aims to stand out as a festival that integrates music, nature, gastronomy and art. Is there a dominant aspect among these ones?

We actually intended on doing a music festival. More precisely, with the influence of 25 years of experience, we thought of a music festival which would be integrated with nature. So, when we went there, our priority was to check out the concert areas. But once when we were there, we realized that we need to cover things beyond music. Therefore we included gastronomy, yoga, contemporary art and open air hikes in it. We didn’t really know what the outcome would be either. But it turned out to be a festival which 4 thousand people attended and we were really satisfied with it. Particularly, the concerts before dawn have been very special for me.

“For me, the most special moment was the candle concert. For the first time in a very long time, I watched a concert from the beginning ‘till end without any interruptions. The music fit so well into that calm atmosphere.”

As an audience member, what has been your most beautiful memory?

This my personal point of view. For me, the most special moment was the candle concert. For the first time in a very long time, I watched a concert from the beginning ‘till end without any interruptions. The music fit so well into that calm atmosphere. Also the place was so beautiful. It was the most special memory for me.

Compared to traditional festivals, Cappadox has a very different allocation for its event zones. They are dispersed in a wide area. How does the experience change without a center area?

We got a comment once: “I saw my friends on the plane. We never ran into one another afterwords. ” Yes, there was no festival center in Cappadox. Everybody was spread around in different events. People would re-group during that concerts at dawn. This year, we will emphasize the center. In this respect, Cappadox will look closer to traditional festivals.

Who and what are featured during concerts this year?

We don’t want music to be the dominant force. We want it to be a part of the experience. But of course, since I take care of the music part, I tried keeping it loud. Let me tell you about that part. There are three arenas. One is Uçhisar Castle. It sees all the lowlands from the top and the sunrise is really beautiful there. Almost a thousand people can watch a concert. Sun Ra Arkestra concert will be in the Uçhisar Castle. This is a very very important event for us. Jazz based udi Dhafar Youssef will also take the stage there. There is also Karsu (Dönmez). I can say she is ‘the young, shining star of our land’. I believe in her.

What is waiting for us in places such as Perili Ozanlar Vadisi, Uçhisar Çiflik Evi and Bezirhane?

Çiflik Evi is a garden for a thousand people. Esmerine will be there. They are an amazing post-rock group. They will play in the golden hour when everything stops. The second day, there is a new project which features Ceylan Ertem, Cenk Erdoğan and Cihan Mürtezaoğlu. The closing day will include Taksim Trio.

The third biggest zone is Perili Ozanlar Vadisi. It is surrounded by fairy chimneys; we can reflect lights onto them, or use it for DJs. During the first night Gevende and İnsanlar will take stage there. The seond night will present Erik Truffaz Quartet. Following them, İlhan Erşahin and Oceanvs Orientalis will exhibit a special performance. The two will do something together. The third night will be the closing party.

Bezirhane is a small area that has a 100 capacity, which is where we will hold small concerts. There will be names like Kaki King and Fennezs.

Experimental festivals are in the forefront around the world and Turkey. This can be interpreted in many ways, but I want to ask this: While big festivals such as Rock’n Coke are extinct, what is the reason behind Cappadox’ survival?

People always look for new experiences. Festivals such as Rock’n Rock wanted to include events other than music, but eventually music was primary. These kind of big festivals are ‘headliner’ festivals and they have very big budgets. They offer a stage and music based experience. Their productions are challenging. It’s impossible without any sponsors. If you can’t reach 60-70 thousand participants, it is no longer sustainable. This is one of the handicaps.

What are the costs of a festival in the scale of Cappadox compared to big ones concerning the economy of this business?

We bring well-qualified names who play in contemporary festivals and are part of their own world. Even so, we are able to cover all musical guests with the budget of… well, let alone the budget of Rock’n Coke’s headliner, the ones below him, if that. This is equal to the cost of Hozier. Like i said, it’s still well-qualified music. Getting rid of these budget limitations differentiates our relationship with music and the space it takes place.

Even though they are both different in size and concept, Cappadox is associated with Burning Man. Do you look up to Burning Man or any other festivals?

As I said; we wanted to organize a festival which emphasizes the relationship of music, space, nature and humans. After experiencing festivals like Burning Man, we arrived to this conclusion. We don’t compare ourselves to Burning Man. We have a vision to be in the list of festivals associated with it. Recently, there was a list of festivals in Conde Nast. We were amongst other experienced festivals of the world. Being on that list made us happy. We want to be there.

Let’s step away from music for a while, how was it like to meet Fulya Erdemci? What does she contribute to the festival as the curator of contemporary art of Cappadox?

In this festival, we try to reflect the contemporary art vision of people like Fulya Erdemci. Fulya Erdemci and her team are a group of people who think and work differently. This is the first time I’m working so closey with that team. To be honest, in the beginning I found it odd. But with time, I understood that they’re extremely detailed and take the job very seriously. They have a very big network in the world. Last year we met Fulya for the first time. Her existence shapes Cappadox. On the other hand, it reflects the spirit of the festival very well. Their artistic touch carries the festival to another place.

Does Cappadox construct a medium for the creation of permanent artworks?

There is nothing permanent. But there is a situation that can be considered as permanent. Some of the artists from the previous year will also be a part of this year’s festival. Cappadox will allow such cases. Some names will continually be featured. For example İlhan Erşahin and Erik Turffaz will be a part of the candle concert again. These people will be able to encounter us with new projects in the future. These are musicians whom we can talk to, get in touch with and get along with easily.

Were there artists you wanted but weren’t able to includeWere there artists you wanted but weren’t able to includein the festival?

As you know, bombs explode every day. Musicians look atthe map and see Cappadox close to these regions. So, thisyear some musicians didn’t come. But they will in the future.

Finally, how will the location of Cappadox influence the participation to the festival? Do you expect visitors from abroad?

Our general strategy is based on catching a momentum for the local audience. Last year people were really happy, so we expect visitors from different cities of Turkey. For the people abroad, I think the world -unfortunately- got used to this. Before, when bombs exploded one after the other, musicians used to cancel their gigs frequently. But now many artists don’t want to give up. Artists who are on Babylon’s level need to work and play. They can’t just drop a concert in their tour. When you think about it, it causes a lot of setbacks for them.

Author: Alper Bahçekapılı