Monday, December 29, 2014

Pheaturing Painted On Water

Hey there, good morning. How are you? It's Monday, people. Welcome to the Phile. This is the last entry of 2014. Not too bad considering back in February I thought the Phile ended. Thank God for Apple. Talking about Apple...  Apple CEO Tim Cook announced... through a statement with the company's senior vice president of operations Jeff Williams that he is "deeply offended" by allegations made by British journalists that Apple's factory workers in China are subjected to the kinds of deplorable conditions that British journalists have shown Apple's factory workers in China to be subjected to. This just in... Dinosaur embryos found in China... working in an Apple factory.  After watching a water bottle inflate and then deflate due to the fluctuating air pressure conditions during an airplane flight, a Danish physician discovered why airline passengers need to fart so often. Essentially, your digestive tract works much like his water bottle, and while high in the air, your bodily gases need to escape. So, it exits your bodies through your butt and into the recirculated air of the cabin. Just like it does for everybody else on your flight. Have a safe trip.  Amy Adams' scheduled appearance on NBC's very serious news show "Today" to promote her new film was cancelled after she reportedly stated that she was not comfortable answering questions about the recent Sony hack that she did not participate in and was just barely affected by. "As a news program, the "Today" show doesn't allow guests to put restrictions on interviews. In this case, after hours of discussion we felt uncomfortable with the demands being made, and we determined the best course of action for all parties involved was to cancel the interview," a spokesperson for the show explained to the Hollywood Reporter, presumably while struggling to stifle an embarrassed laugh. I'm going to the movies today, I wonder if Amy is in it. Despite the mountain of human rights violations, war atrocities and Dwight Johnson movies that slam us in the face every time we glance briefly at the news, the world is actually experiencing a level of serenity and non-violence never before experienced in human history, according to Harvard Psychology professor Steven Pinker and Human Security Report Project Director Andrew Mack. A "greater majority of humanity lives in peace and dies of old age" while "our impression of the world comes from a misleading formula of journalistic narration," they posit in an article for Slate. So, are they saying things could actually be worse? "The world is terrible" is pretty much the meta-narrative. Alright, so do you guys like the "Walking Dead"? Did you see the new McDonald's Happy Meal that's coming out?

Haha. I don't know if this is real or not.  Remember a few months ago that Kim Kardashian naked cover on Paper magazine? Well, someone else did a similar cover for Dictator magazine. Yeah, you know where this is going...

Did you know that there was gonna be an Avengers movie back in the 80s? Here's proof, kids.

I would of loved to see that movie.  I was at Target the other day and I couldn't believe their new ad...

There's no hyphen in Walmart, Target. Not anymore. Sheesh. Alright, now from the home office in Port Jefferson, New York, here is another...

Top Phive Things, I, 2014 Could Never Do Without
5. Endlessly replicating Ice Bucket Challenge videos.
4. Endlessly replicating ISIS beheading videos.
3. This Malaysian Airlines commercial jet that I've hidden away and am keeping all to myself because it's mine mine mine.
2. My collection of hacked celebrity nudes and occasionally interesting but largely tedious Sony Pictures inter-office mail.
And the number one thing 2014 could never do without is...
1. That new Taylor Swift record. So many sick jams!

If you spot the Mindphuck let me know, kids.

Time Person of the Year 
Time's Person of the Year is a distinction Barack Obama and Hitler actually have in common.

Today's guests are a music duo from Chicago whose new EP "Chicago Issue" is available on iTunes. Please welcome to the Phile... Sertab Erener and Demir Demirkan.

Me: Hello, you two, welcome to the Phile. How are you?

Demir: We are fine, thanks, trying to get used to the Chicago winter. How are you doing?

Me: I'm okay I guess. So, I have to ask a few things... those don't sound like American names, Demir and Sertab. Where are you two from?

Demir: We are both from Turkey.

Sertab: From Istanbul.

Demir: I was born in Adana and raised in Izmir and Ankara. 

Me: Do those names have a meaning?

Demir: Yes. Unlike what Bruce Willis says in Pulp Fiction, our names have meanings :)

Sertab: My name is Persian. Ser means head and tab means light or sun making it up to something I can translate as enlightened mind.

Demir: Mine is a lot more prosaic. It simply means iron, you know the metal? Together with my last name it means Iron Ironblood. Heavy metal!

Me: You're based in Chicago now, right?

Demir: Yes. From time to time we go back to Turkey for some shows and to see family and friends. 

Me: When did you first come over to America and how did you choose Chicago?

Demir: Three of my brothers live in the States with their families and they've been here since late 70s and early 80s. My first visit to America was when I was 5. Then I came to visit my brothers occasionally, but the main move was after college in 1992. I lived in Los Angeles for 4 years and then some Istanbul, then NYC, then here, Chicago.

Sertab: I came to Cleveland to have a surgery in 1993. Then I had to came back a few more times for controls. In 2007, we were in Los Angels and NYC for Painted On Water's first album. We lived in NYC for about 2 years on and off. Now it's Chicago.

Me: Chicago is a great city, isn't it?

Sertab: Yes, it's a beautiful city. Most of all people are friendly and great, and life is easy, I mean not chaotic like Manhattan. It's the 3rd largest city in the U.S. and we can find everything here from TV to movie and to music industry. It's all great but we have to get used to the cold.

Demir: Well, I was born in a city on the Eastern Mediterranean shore, where there is no snow. You can guess what I'll say. Other than that I love this city and I always joke about activating my northern genes from my mother's side. She is of Ukrainian descent.

Me: So, I have to ask... are you two a couple?

Sertab: Yes, we've been together since 1996.

Me: Demir, you have a giant tattoo on your arm that practically goes to your neck. What is it?

Demir: IT started on my shoulder as a tattoo that I designed. It has a few elements of my spiritual background stylized and turned into a tattoo. And you know ink is an addictive thing, I felt like it needed something under it, then I thought it needs to bee seen when I'm dressed up so a part of it shows from my neck. It also expands to my shoulder blade.

Me: Do you have any more?

Demir: Yes, I have a tattoo on the back of my head.

Me: What about you, Sertab? Do you have any tattoos?

Sertab: No. I gave it a lot of thought but I get bored real easily. I figured I wouldn't be able to wear it all my life. I like it on other people though.

Me: Okay, let's talk about your band Painted On Water. Where does the name come from?

Demir: I know it's not a very common phrase. The name of our band is taken from an ancient eastern art called ebru where artists literally draw pictures on treated water. Then they lay a sheet of paper on it and get the picture printed on it. It is also sometimes called marbling. But it has a deeper, a more profound meaning to us. It suggests the impermanence of life. Whatever you draw on water, does not matter how pretty or important or meaningful at that time, will be gone for sure. It's just like everything in life. Everything created will somehow seize to exist at some point in time. Meanwhile we try our best to draw the most beautiful picture of ourselves on this canvas of life. That's what it means.

Me: Which one of you came up with it?

Demir: It was suggested by a friend of ours when we were talking about all these things. He suggested Ebru but it's actually a female name in Turkish so we turned it into the phrase Painted On Water.

Me: How long have you two been a band, playing together?

Demir: Painted On Water was formed in 2007 but we've been collaborating since 1996. I produced Sertab's 4 albums and some of her singles. We wrote countless songs together and performed together on stage. We both have our solo careers but we love to be together on stage, That's why we wanted to form this band.

Me: Where did you two meet?

Sertab: In Istanbul. Demir came to my home when I was sick and it was not like a romantic movie scene or anything. I had the flu and we met each other at the door and that was that. Then we became friends, friendship leading into romance.

Me: Your music has been described as jazz, rock, electronica, and Turkish folk music. What is the difference with Turkish folk music and regular folk music?

Demir: Well, the first album has more jazz in it. We worked with some world class jazz musicians like Dave Weckl, Alan Pasqua, Mike Stern, Al Dimeola, Trilok Gurtu and Kai Eckhart. I adapted some Turkish folk songs into modern harmony and modern western instruments. It was a project on its own and we had a great time making it and playing it on stage. Now, the new stuff has more electronics and rock in it because I though our time to mess with jazz has not arrived, yet. We want louder music with newer sounds that's why I'm messing around with a lot of synth and things. I am a composer and a producer by nature and the sound possibilities these software and hardware provide is limitless. I am kid in a toy store.

Sertab: The folk music principle does not change but every people has their own understanding of story telling and music. There are countless folk musics in the world. Folk music is composed by mostly unknown composers of every other culture. Now we call it folk music because we take it as a genre, and we call non-American folk music as world music.

Demir: Basically American folk is a mix-down of many European and African folk music. Turkish folk, I guess I can say is a mix-down of many middle eastern, Arabic, Turkic and Eastern European traditions.

Me: What bands or musicians are you two into or inspired by?

Sertab: Alan Parsons Project, Barbra Streisand, Kiri Te Kanawa, Muse, Sting.

Demir: Lots of blues and country music like Grayson Capps, Buddy Guy, Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Eric Bibb, JJ Cale, also David Gilmour, David Coverdale, some singer songwriters like Paul Simon, John Mayer. My guitar playing is influenced by David Gilmour, Steve Vai, Eric Clapton and Frank Gambale.

Me: I downloaded your EP "Chicago Issue", and like the cover... it looks like a magazine cover, and for a minute I thought it was. Which one of you came up with that idea, it's brilliant. I wish I would of thought about it for my 'band' Strawberry Blondes Forever.

Demir: That was the idea, to make it like magazine cover. Our publicist at the time suggested we use our photos on the cover. We figured it's a bit assertive so we want to put it into a concept. You know, fashion magazines feature chick, glamour and style, so we thought it would be a good idea to explicitly make it into a magazine cover. I think we both came up with it while discussing how to implement our photos onto the cover. Your band's name is very cool by the way!

Me: Thanks. So, is there a Chicago issue? Where did the name come from?

Demir: The name of the EP has two meanings. Well, first one is the issue of moving house here to Chicago and everything that we have to go through. It's a huge project to setup home from zero in a different city in a different country. We're getting used to by now because we've done it enough times. And the second meaning of the EP title is the Chicago issue of the magazine. The cover is a magazine cover and magazines have different issues for different cities or countries. This one is the Chicago issue because we made it and released it here.

Me: I have to ask you about the single "Why Do You Love Me". It's lyrics are taken from Shakespeare, am I right?

Sertab: Yes, correct.

Me: How did you come up with that idea?

Sertab: We thought Shakespeare said the best words about love and we did not want to come up with new ones but use his. We had to switch around the point of view though because the words are said by a woman who has to listen to a man telling her all about how much he loves her but shows nothing for it.

Demir: I was an English Literature major in college. I also took American literature as well and still am into both English and American lit. If we were to quote words of love and make it sound like cliches, why not the Bard himself. I don't mean he is cliche, I mean his words are used too many times and why not once more by us.

Me: So, have you two been playing lots of shows in America?

Sertab: We've played over 20 shows and travelled 17 states to promote our previous single "Love" on morning TV Shows.

Me: What is a typical Painted On Water show like?

Sertab: Sweat, fun, Rock and Roll, big ballads, two singers with some Turkish spice on it.

Demir: Couldn't have said better. Technically we are three people on stage, playing loud electronic modern rock and alternative music. There are also some of our Turkish hits from our solo careers.

Me: Your new EP, how can you compare that to the first EP?

Demir: It gets better in every album. It is a long journey to find the bands unique sound and solidify the message. New songs have more depth to them musically and our lyric writing is getting more intact. Also, I am singing 3 three songs on this one.

Me: Do both of you do the songwriting?

Demir: Yes. We write and re-write and re-write and re-... you get the idea... together, both lyrics and music.

Me: Demir,  how long have you been playing?

Demir: I have been playing guitar since I was 13 or 14.

Me: Sertab, do you play an instrument?

Sertab: Yes, piano.

Me: Do you find it easy in singing in English?

Sertab: Not really, but I have improved a lot since the first day. I always have a vocal and accent coach in the studio and also taking 3 English lessons every week.

Demir: I am good, at least I'd like to think so. I mean I do have an accent but instead of trying to cover it, I'd rather concentrate on conveying the feeling and the message.

Me: Okay, so, on the Phile I ask random questions thanks to Tabletopics. Are you ready? Shit, honestly, this is random, but funny... If you could have another name what would you choose?

Sertab: It's not easy, man.. Demir has some for himself. I am very happy with my name. It's such a unique name and I love the meaning of it.

Demir: Well, let's see.. Seth, D. Walker, Mirkhan are a few but I keep hanging on to Demir. I think it'll be just that and sounds cool together with my last name Demirkan.

Me: Alright, you two, thanks so much for being on the Phile. Mention your website and please come back again soon. All the best. How do you say bye in Turkish? 

Demir: Hoşçakal... pronounced hosh-cha-khall and means stay well. Visit our website: and connect with us on:,   Thanks very much for having us on Phile, and see you at the shows!!!

There. That about wraps up another entry and the year of Phile's. Not bad considering from February through July the Phile was on hiatus. Anyway, thanks to my guests Demir and Sertab from Painted On Water, and to everyone who helped and was on the Phile this year. The Phile will be back on Thursday, which is January 1st with singer songwriter Steven James Wylie. Then next Sunday it's Matt Borck from the band YUCA and next Monday it's jazz musicians Connie Crothers and Jessica Jones. So, spread the word and not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye.

Not if it pleases me. No, you can't stop me, not if it pleases me. - Graham Parker

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