South-east Turkey born DJ, sound artist and producer Banu uses music as a political tool. For her, the strong message carried through sound is a vehicle to express emotions as well as a means of fighting against oppression. Using participation, social design, ecology, feminist and queer theory to create multimedia installations with sound as a main element, Banu‘s practice is closer to contemporary art and activist spaces than the club realm.
Banu‘s debut album TransSoundScapes is an exercise in female solidarity between her as a migrant woman and her sisters from the trans community, where an artist from one marginalised group is showing support towards her trans sisters, using her platform to help them amplify their voices and building a bridge towards a mutual understanding of femininity.
Conceptually, TransSoundScapes comes in continuation of Banu‘s previous research-based work, using music as a positive tool for change while working with various marginalised communities. The album originated from the very real experience of being confronted with verbal harassment in Berlin on a daily basis, particularly aimed at her transfeminine friends and companions. As a queer woman of Turkish and Kurdish origin, Banu did not only observe the verbal aggression directed at her friends, but also understood most of the insults shouted in languages such as Arabic. Seeing how she got signifi cantly more verbal violence directed at them when in company of trans people made a lasting impression on her, so she wanted to try and use her relative privilege to amplify transfeminine voices through her music.
Coming from a very conservative family, making music has been her lifelong dream. It was the moment she had the opportunity to work with the iconic Arp 2600 synthesiser (a younger sibling to Eliane Radigue‘s infamous 2500 machine) that all her disparate interests came into place to create an empowering soundscape with the aid of analogue drum machines. TransSoundScapes has a very full, porous sound, where every element that comes into play sounds soft yet clear. Across the 7 tracks, Banu conjures pounding subterraneous bassy techno („Surgery“), slithering tentacular EBM („First Time“) and pulsating cavernous soundscapes („Harem“), where oversized dancefl oor elements are woven with poetic spoken word passages, resulting in sensusous yet political anthems. Banu artfully merges loosely related genres such as techno, electro, dub and sound poems into a sound that is at once deeply personal and extremely compelling.
All of the tracks are collaborative efforts, Banu seeing the process as an exchange of care and shared experiences, while integrating research into her writing process. The lyrics in „Transition (part 1+2)‘‘ are an adaptation of Sara Ahmed’s “Living a Feminist Life”, while „Surgery“ was born out of series of interviews with trans people, channeling the metallic sounds of a surgery room to refer to society‘s perception of transness as a medical condition. Tracks like „First Time feat. Patricia“, „Harem feat. Prince Emrah“ or „We feat. Aérea Negrot“ document her encounters with various trans women, centering their life experiences while also developing a deep dialogue through the process of making music together.
The darkest and perhaps the most emblematic track is ‚‘Bianka (In Memory Of)‘‘, dedicated to the late Bianka Shigurova, a 22-year old Georgian actress found dead in her apartment. It was her Tbilisi photographer friend George Nebriedze who told her Bianka‘s tragic story, whose death is suspected to be an assasination due to transphobia. Banu chose one of Nebriedze‘s analogue photos of Bianka as the album‘s cover art.