Interview: Resul Şahin
• Hello Renan. We are sure you answered this question many times before but we would like to listen to your music adventure from you. Can you tell us about it? How did you start?
When I was 4 years old, my dad brought me to school one day, as he always did. I started singing, while I was sitting at the backside of his bike. He was looking all around him for someone who was singing and soon after discovered it was me, to his surprise. We were learning songs at school. In that year my parents took me to a wedding of one of their friends, where I wanted to sing a song for them. I loved using my voice. For my parents it was already clear that singing or music in general was my passion before I even knew it. When I was 6 years old, my mother gave me a little toy piano, which I played on day and night. She saw how passionate I was with it and asked me after some time if I maybe wanted to play on a real piano. I didn’t even know how big a real piano was until I saw one at my teacher’s house. My teacher tested my musical skills and learned I had an absolute hearing. She blindfolded me to test it again, just to be sure, and the results were the same. She was wonderful but discovered soon that I was always trying to change a melody or an assignment, improvising something extra that would fit with the song. When I was six, we had a ‘talent show’ at school where I performed “Barbie Girl” with my friend Marije. I loved acting and performing that song.
After some years, I was in the studio of a friend of mine (Anan den Boer). Afterwards I wanted to do more than only play the piano. Thanks to my friend, I discovered music production.Two years later (at the age of 15) I had my first hit on a local radio station. Three months in a row I was voted no.1.It was my very first finished song, which I made myself but recorded with a friend of mine, Stan Bekker, since I had no microphone or anything to record myself with.Just a couple months later there was this talent show I attended, which apparently was hosted by Radio FunX, a Dutch radio station (still existing to this day). We even had an interview on the radio (also Radio FunX), where I also performed the song I was going to do that night on stage. I was so excited to stand before that microphone and to talk about myself, but it felt very right to do. At the competition I finished second. The start of a very interesting musical journey to say the least.I was always distracted at (high)school. Always wanting to do more with my creativity. (Day)Dreaming about performing on stage, sitting in a studio with people to work with, rapping with my crew, freestyling the whole day.I did theatre from the age of 7 till 18. So, when they introduced creative classes at the high school I was going to, I decided to do more with it.The theatre classes, the singing, performances and playing instruments all became the foundation for me as a producer and artist, which I am today.In my last year of High School (age: 17) I did auditions for different music school. Without having a diploma yet, they all accepted me, based on my talents. I thought I made the right choice, but after half a year of studying I discovered that they didn’t want to make any room for me, developing new skills. I decided to quit. But my mother was very clear about one thing;Either you work or you do something with your talents (I still didn’t graduated from high school yet).My dad had its doubts about how successful I could be and how consistent I could make my living out of this. He needed more than the occasional song that was being recorded in my bedroom.I finished my high school and worked for half a year. I was a novice florist, worked in a factory, distributed newspapers, until it was time to study again, because I missed making music. I couldn’t combine work (5.30 till 16.00) with music. I was exhausted.I hooked up with some of my friends again to make music and was asked to perform at a Dutch festival, hosted by a dear friend of mine. I had a performance for a party at a school, that’s where they scouted me for this festival.We went to rehearse with the four of us and out came “Dupris” (a sort of debris but less messy and more fun). The square was packed with people. It was so crowded people even enjoyed us standing at the corner of the streets connected to the square. We were booked by a studio owner/musician/singer. He had already worked with a lot of people and granted us two free days in the studio. He was prepared to help us with anything we needed. All expenses for them, all royalties and credits going directly to us. It was a magnificent experience. He really had a genuine heart, motivating us youngsters to follow this creative path. I couldn’t have wished for a better start of my musical career.A reason more to be studying music again. After months of research and discussing my best options with my parents, I decided to go to İstanbul. I wanted to discover my Turkish roots, and its very rich and creative culture. Alongside studying music.I needed my gear, so we decided to go by car. I only had my driver’s license for a day but I was too excited not to take this opportunity to drive with my parents to Turkey. I was still so inexperienced to travel long distances that I didn’t drive for more than 7 hours in total (of the 36) but it was the best, first, real driving experience. A journey which inspired me on many levels, to this day. Finally at the Modern Müzik Akademisi (Istanbul), I had a teacher who believed in me as a vocalist. Erdem Serhan Şide.I was very serious about singing and wanted a fair chance, he stood up for me, along with my parents.So, the principal (back then Bora Uslusoy) wanted to give me a chance, but only if I aced every test in the first semester. I did. And even more. I also had two other very special teachers, Doruk Somunkıran and İlter Kalkancı. They made an exception for me to stay at school to work on my assignments, songs and skills. Thanks to those four mentioned above I was able to finished two Majors in only two years time, while also learning Turkish in the first three months. Crazy when I think about it now.I Woke up around 5/5.30 and I went to bed around 2/2.30. I taught myself how to speak and read Turkish, and how to be a better producer and singer. I just did it without thinking about it too much.2011 I was part of a team for Zanillya Farrell. I was one of her lead producers at the time and mixing engineer. We won the ‘De Grote Prijs van Nederland’ award. Unfortunately I wasn’t strategic enough nor a good business man yet. So that period what full of experiences almost without receiving any credits for all of the work I did. Luckily I had another project for Evi de Schurk (Kenny van Veen) which totally made up for that in that period of time. I worked with Kenny until 2016. He decided to go in another direction and I was also going in another direction. We parted ways without any negative reason. We even worked together again on a smaller project in 2018. Till this day we are still friends and still in contact.
The same year I was in the semi-final of Turkey Got Talent and over the summer I was the booking agent for ‘De Popronde’ location: Amersfoort (my birth place).2012 I was Işın Karaca’s assistant, I worked with and for Akın Büyükkaraca on the editing and the mixing of the songs for Işın’s live performance. They asked me to be also part of their TRT Müzik Programme at the time, so I did. All of this went so well that my school invited me to be part of their recording and mixing team for a lot of bands and Turkish artists. I had the pleasure to work for big artists and bands. Some names are Serdar Öztop, Manga (Turkish Rock Group) and a lot of CNR Music Show artists.I met with Mert Ali İçelli in the same time as when I was working for Işın. And I started working for him as an assistant a couple years later. In Holland but also in Turkey, where we produced 11 songs in ten days with him. We took turn sleeping and gave it our everything. It was a major positive turning point for my efficiency in combination with creativity. With Akın and Mert I did countless edits, had to be fast on my production and mixing skills, making choices without thinking too long about it. Mert is also a singer, alongside being a successful producer. So this was my perfect opportunity to also develop my coaching skills. Those two drilled me into being an efficient musician and producer. Not only for myself but also to be a good team player. Another set of skills acquired.I used those skills when I was at the Istanbul Jazz Festival in 2013 as an ‘assistant’ live sound engineer. And I was a live sound engineer for many small bands and groups all over İstanbul. I I even did a DJ show at Club Billionaire, Istanbul. In 2014 I came back to Turkey to record with the Philharmonic Orchestra of Turkey on some of my own projects. After finishing my studies cum laude, back in 2013, I took my experiences back to Holland. Officially I was already a assistant Music Teacher in Turkey. So I could earn my money doing that, but I decided to do auditions for Berklee College of Music. I was accepted. From the thousands of applicants, only about 250 were accepted. I was so thrilled. I did apply for a Scholarship, but it wasn’t enough for me to actually go to America unfortunately..Back to the drawing board, as the saying goes.. So, I went to a Conservatory in the Netherlands/Holland to work further on my Songwriting and Production skills. I was also already starting to work in the industry, in Holland but more even abroad (mostly Turkey at that time) so studying became harder to do. But the goal was already achieved, I was living music.I decided to quit school and jump into the industry for a hundred percent. It was thrilling and terrifying to start my own company and work for others. I still wasn’t a good enough business man, so after some time (in 2017) I decided to slowly bring my mother into this creative world. She was always supportive, but now she was my momager. We did incredible things together in a short period of time. She was and still is very dedicated to help me succeed, but never pushed anything I didn’t want to do or wasn’t good for me. She rather slowed me down because I wanted to do too much (as you can understand by the list above…)I worked as a (ghost) Producer, composer, sound designer and songwriter on productions for Warner Music, Universal Music, Universal Music Africa, Sony ATV, Sony Music Europe. Revealed Recordings, and many others. Some projects released, others did not. Some credited, some did not credit me. It’s part of this industry but was also part of an old piece of myself I was afraid to let go of.It clearly didn’t give me enough satisfaction. I was convinced everything was worth releasing, as long as you work well enough on it. I discovered that I was doing the same thing as an artist. Just not releasing songs, because of perfectionism.So, one day I made a little plan, but mostly just started releasing my own songs without thinking too much about it. Eventually I built a team to make videoclips with. At the same time I taught myself how to use Photoshop and Adobe Premiere to edit videos so I wouldn’t be totally dependable on other people and also understand their choices and craft.
I had my first burnout at the end of 2018. I felt completely drained. I had countless nights of only 2 or 3 hours sleep since 2010.. I was so energetic in those seven years when I woke up, so I didn’t feel the negative effects until I couldn’t get myself to do anything anymore… I lost the love for music. Eventually I went to Vilnius, Lithuania. Into the wild with nothing more than a book to write, a book to read and nature. I thought I was charged. I never took a two month break before. I needed to work again. Have a goal. This was enough to recharge. Music was my life.. What was I thinking and doing.. I decided to do it again, but this time really plan everything. So I changed my routine, I changed my workflow and did everything better than before. In the summer of 2019 I performed a lot in and around Kaş, Antalya thanks to my new work ethic. All of my experiences were being used to the max and for the good of my health. I was scouted by a talent agency based in London. While working on the sound design, Foley sounds, and composing for a Netflix pilot, I received an email stating the English Agency “found my music on Spotify, via the Friday Release Radar and wanted me to perform at their Ibis Music Festival”. We set up a meeting with my momager. They wanted me to perform to check out my talents but were already convinced and talking with my manager about placements on different festivals in Europe, Sziget and Montreaux were the biggest options. They were very excited about my skills and achievements. I was elevated and living it. As a producer and artist. Dreams were coming true. I had everything I wanted. I even had a chauffeur at some point. Working 18 hours a day (again?!?!) for almost seven years in a row.. Apart from those two months I needed to ‘recharge’… I traveled to Turkey, Germany, France, Lithuania (again). Different cities in all of those countries. I won an award as part of a team in 2018 for best Short Movie (The remembrance) on a Japanese Festival for the Mastering I did on that project.I Coached two of my cousins from Adana and made songs for them, trying to be an online label for both them and myself. Went to Germany to mix their music in a luxurious studio. All of a sudden I was working for a single for Germany Got Talent and a German TV Commercial. I was being scouted by Sony Music Europe, I was producing with Focus (from the Aftermath Entertainment group, Dr. Dré’s label)But, nothing really took off for myself… Not fully as a producer but also as an artist. I didn’t understand yet why..(but now I know I was doing way too many things to be also fully focused on all of them)BOOM! Covid-19 came along. All of my plans for the Europe tour cancelled. All of my other musical projects cancelled. Netflix put on hold. Nothing was easy to do anymore because of the lockdowns, you name it. No team, nothing. I didn’t know what to do, but even more; I didn’t know who I was at that moment. I was living and working but not enjoying and taking in all of the incredible things I was doing and already had achieved. It was time for a reset. Getting to know myself.I had my second burnout. Or was it still my first burnout, with just a minor two month break… I was drained. AGAIN. But this time it hit me different. This wasn’t fun and anymore. This time really not to be repeated. I needed something healthy and something consistent. I wanted to live, not only work. Feel, and not only continue without a part of my soul, work on big projects and artists without getting the proper credit for it.I decided not to be a ghost producer nor ghost writer anymore. This was the moment to be standing for myself. And I can tell you, those friends and networks I had, didn’t even flinch but just continued their boats without me. Like I said, it’s a tough industry to move around in. But I understand it and have found my way in this industry nowadays. Just before COVID-19 happened, luckily I met Taşkın Genç. Now one of my closest friends and one of the best songwriters I’m working with on different songs and albums (work in progress). We are a team for Tonguç Akademisi. Which I produce songs for and record demo vocals for. Someone else sings the final versions. But they did give me the opportunity to sing motivational songs for them. So my fanbase increased a little, my skills were being tested as a Turkish singer, love it!
I had a goal, I had purpose. But this time I needed to be one with myself without going too hard and fast again. I started meditation, picked up my interests in philosophy, psychology and passion for neuroscience and quantum physics. Not everything in depth yet, but broadening my horizons to say the least. So Covid-19 for me was a blessing in disguise. A periode of time in which I was not afraid anymore to be standing for myself and only grow from that moment on. As a person and as a musical/creative individual.
Finally someone whom I share the same vision, passion and energy with. Whom I could grow with musically, spiritually and as a human being in general. Taşkın and I took off with Manita. Back then I hired him to work on another song, which will be released and announced later this year (our sixth and final chapter of the Manita EP). But this song, Manita, this song was something different at that moment.We just knew this was going to be major for us. And for my growth as an artist, it was already major to hit 100.000 streams for one song. He didn’t wanted anything to do with getting paid as a songwriter. He wanted to earn with me, not earn from me. Because our language was (and still is) the same, we decided to work together. Give this a fair chance. And what a journey it has been until now. Although COVID-19 has affected my musical projects and caused me to work part-time in construction, we hit a personal record of 1.5 million streams in only 8 releases last year, 2021! And these are just numbers for me as an artist. I haven’t counted my streams as a producer but I’m not surprised if it has surpassed the 5 million streams. Every bit of progress is amazing to me.
Up until this day Taşkın and I haven’t met in person. Though we’ve seen each other live and grow through our conversations, songs and screens. We’ve also achieved major goals by growing Tonguç Akademi to the biggest online school in Turkey. More than 10 million members. Which was just 3 million when I started 2 years ago. COVID-19 also helped achieving this of course. But looking at the Analytics, our songs have increased their numbers enormously. Thanks to the power of internet and video calling we’ve built up a friendship and professional bond. This year we have even more great releases planned. Right now I’m working on very big things which unfortunately I cannot talk about too much yet. Related to music and also other skills/interests I have acquired over the years and have been working on in my spare time.. The journey has just begun and it’s already amazing. Even though I’m still going through tough times (financially), we all do, still every morning I wake up I can say I’m truly happy. I’m happy I always chose to do my own things and the doubts or bad experiences turned into lessons learned and something I use very positively instead of making me give up on my dreams.
• Who are the musicians that inspired and keep inspiring you in your journey?
It began with Justin Timberlake, Eminem, Dr. Dré and Timbaland. Those are still one of my favourite artists. Especially Eminem and Dré. Lyrical wise, production wise, performance wise, flow wise. Just as every bit of music between 1950 and 1979. Too many to count, but for sure an inexhaustible source of inspiration. If you know how to unlock your creativity and inspiration, there’s nothing that cannot inspire you. As a coach this is one of my favourite subjects to teach the next generation.
Drake is hands down my all-time favourite artist and business man. Of course you don’t know what’s really happening behind the scene, but the way they make and release their music as a team/company and do their business in general (not only music) is still something I’m learning from to this day.
I already discovered The Weeknd before he was as famous as he is today. His first albums taught me how to get better in addlips and singing in general. I would love to produce a song for one of those artists mentioned above or for The Weeknd.
And then there are several business people whom I learn from each and every day. My inspiration comes from everywhere. My journey has crossed so many different countries, cultures, languages and disciplines that I’m not only inspired by musicians but anything and anyone that you can think of. That’s my philosophical side. This has given me an advantage in many different situations which I’m very grateful for. To me it’s a fact that everything is connected.
• We know that your song Tiki Taka has been released lately. Who did you work with for the song? Can you tell us the story behind it?
Tiki Taka is something else… Taşkın wrote the lyrics to this song from the 6th of October to the 7th (which is his birthday).In the first hours of his birthday he had a rush of inspiration which came to be this song.On the 10th of January 2021, suddenly I had an urge to produce something. It just came to me. The melodies, the vibe, the drums. Everything.It has been a while since that happened, so I knew I had to give in to the energy which pulled me out of bed and into the studio.While being sort of hypnotised, out came the production to “Tiki Taka”.I had an incredible rush of hooks and melodies which came to mind. So I tried out some of them, but it just didn’t match.Instead of pushing myself to write something, I searched between my already written lyrics, but nothing really fit the beat.Then I opened some lyrics Taşkın had written before. Still it didn’t match.. Until I read the lyrics to “Tiki Taka”. The puzzle pieces just fell together.The lyrics already had a written hook, which became the Pre-chorus in the final version. Because it didn’t match with the length of the beat and the vision I had to make room for the incredible lyrics Taşkın had written. This way there was more room for every part of the song.If my memory serves right, I only wrote the hook “tiki taka geçtim artık” which was based on his lyrics and title anyway. This way I could play around with the hook more. I found the song only needed a ‘less is more’ concept hook to be finished.And, in the second verse he used the word ‘taşkın’ which I changed to ‘adam’ which means ‘man’ in Turkish. This was because I didn’t know that ‘taşkın’ is a name but also means ‘flood’ in Turkish. I’m very familiar with the language and culture, but I’m not familiar with names being used as words and vice versa. I thought instead of using personal names, I want people to connect more in general with this song, not knowing that I changed the meaning of the lyrics in verse. Luckily the lyrics still had a very strong meaning, otherwise I would’ve changed it back of course. I’m pro whatever works best for a song, open to try out anything until it works.In this case I just decided to record a demo with the microphone of my iPhone earphones and go with it. Just to try out something different from our workflow before. I didn’t think about the melody of the hook before I hit the record button. I just wanted to record whatever came to mind in the moment.The melody came pretty quickly, I had one extra recording to try out something extra, but eventually I didn’t even use the second recording.It was actually only intended so that Taşkın had an idea of where I wanted to go to with the song. But in reality when I was recording it in my living room, I was moving on my couch as if I was dancing slow with a woman. So I was feeling the song like I couldn’t afterwards in the studio. The synergy of all those elements at that moment were priceless and a total snapshot. Taşkın helped me on the pronunciation of some words and sentences. This made the re-recording of some things a little difficult. Also because I had to recreate the vibe and setting I had in that snapshot moment, but it worked out well.We decided (after also trying to record it in my studio) that the ‘demo’ vocals were going to be the lead vocals. I’ve learned from one of my mentors that emotion cannot be recreated or faked. Everything else can be altered. So it took me a little more work as mixing engineer to let the vocals match with the beat and to make them sound rich and as if recorded with a (very) good microphone. But due to my 15 years of experience, this wasn’t a problem.The same actually happened with our upcoming release “32 Leaves”. The music, lyrics and recording were done early in the morning, in my living room. So basically I really need to sleep in the studio, push myself to walk a few stairs or build a studio in my living room! Just kidding. Vibe and emotions are everything. The rest can be finished any way you want. Hence the reason that I don’t go into the studio sometimes, because I’m losing the energy I have in that moment.For Taşkın our song “Tiki Taka” is special because it’s written on his birthday, produced on my birthday and released on his birthday. “32 Leaves” is special for me because it’s written on my birthday and being released on my birthday. So it’s an understatement that there is a very clear synergy between me and Taşkın. My sort of lost brother and best ‘partner in crime’.The first hours of the day are something different for me. I have written and produced a lot of things in the early hours. Some of those even became major hits I was part of. The world just has a very different vibe. It doesn’t matter where I am. Turkey, England, Lithuania, Germany, Holland… Everywhere I had the same inspiring result.
• How many songs have you released until now?
43 if I count the songs I’m also doing backings on or doing a feature on someone’s song/album.I’ve counted 30 songs in total as a lead artist until now. As a producer/songwriter/mixing engineer/vocal coach/session vocalist: I actually lost count… But as I’m looking into my portfolio and CV, there are a couple hundred releases I’ve produced or had a hand in somehow.
• As we know music production is a team work. Some play instruments, others record and some others design the cover of the album. Do you have a team or do you work totally by yourself?
I never had the luxury of working together with a lot of musicians or creative individuals early on. Some skills weren’t good enough for some people and because of those bad experiences I just didn’t dare to for a while… So I taught myself how to do most of it in the first years of my career.Even though it was an electronic synth sounding guitar, I could present my ideas to the few musicians I was working with and record my ideas or compositions. I always had a very solid idea and vision for each project I was working on/involved with. Besides guitar, I can play different instruments and I have skills in graphic design / video recording and editing as well.So, yes I did everything totally by myself in the beginning. I was also stubborn sometimes to be honest. But nowadays I’m looking at the bigger picture of the projects, I have many more projects I’m involved in, so I’m developing my team around me of creative individuals who help me carry out/execute my vision to achieve an even better result. We share the same goal and vision which makes it easier for me to let go and let them do a job. This gives me room to focus more on other priorities and projects. They’re not only talented but they also know how to do it professionally, with a shared or own clear vision. This really paid off last year. So this form of teamwork is something we’re going to continue doing in 2022 for sure. To give an example, In our upcoming song “32 Leaves”, Taşkın gave me some backing vocals he recorded, so I could get creative with it. He had a part of this bigger vision, which I executed and it worked sublime. The artwork for “32 Leaves” is made by Buğra Atlı. He is as creative and positively crazy as we are. So the synergy is only becoming bigger, more central and important in my life as you can understand.
• Have you ever experienced moments of high excitement or desperation during your journey?
Yes definitely. Even every interview I’m able to do is an exciting and unforgettable moment for me. Thank you truly for this opportunity. As you can read above in my story I have had some moments of desperation but the exciting side always was a good source of fuel to continue this adventure. And talking to my friends or parents helped me greatly reducing fears and keeping faith in what I was doing. I have taken steps back in order to take even more steps forward. But every time I did and do, it is scary to do. But afterwards I’m very happy that I let the universe decide what’s going to happen. It is out of my control, so nowadays I’m experiencing also high excitement of even small achievements which makes the journey way more fun and interesting. I’ve let go of many things and opinions which is also the theme for this year. Just ride the wave I’ve created for myself these years.
• Last but not the least what would you like to tell us about your latest projects and your ultimate goal?
My latest project, which will be released on the 10th of January (my birthday), is “32 Leaves”. A single I’ve produced and recorded in the early morning. 50% of the time my most productive moments. While I was experiencing all of the highlights mentioned in the answer to your first question, I couldn’t help but notice also the people who come back to you or new people who just want to be with you because you’re doing better or doing well. But they’re nowhere to be found the moment you’re down or doing less well. I started not to make it too personal anymore. To focus on the people who lift me up and not focus energy on those who don’t really stick around when things go south. At the same time, my mind was everywhere. I was excited and elevated but also down because I didn’t have any time for personal growth. This past year I have done things so different that almost no day has passed without being happy or without growth. I’m so high on life and everything that comes with it that there’s also a sort of ease that’s growing on staying constant. I’m working hard to keep my numbers and fanbase growing, and still I don’t work less than 10 hours a day. Combining different work with music. At the same time I’m also enjoying life in all little things that I encounter. This song represents those feelings for me. Taşkın understands me because we have lived and/ or experienced similar things. So I just gave him my lyrics, the demo I made and totally let him free in how he wanted to finish the last verse. This is how the lyrics came together. Afterwards we gave the song to our Graphic Designer (Buğra Atlı) and just let him do his thing. We work well like that. Making room for each other’s qualities and let each one of us just do our thing. The most important thing is that we have a shared goal and vision. Otherwise this wouldn’t work. Taşkın had great ideas for this production, so I let him in on the creative process. I’m not going to say no to a better sounding song if it is a possibility. Every day is worth celebrating and each of them is a gift to me. So this year I decided to gift this song on my birthday to myself and the world. Next year it’ll be an album.
We have one EP, “Manita” which will be finished this year. Also two more EP’s which we’re discussing on how to do. Alongside my own artist projects we are also discussing other plans and projects which I don’t want to spoil too much about right now. What I can say is that It’ll be quite something… My ultimate goal is working for the biggest artists out there and to be blasting my music through those big Festival speaker set ups with my own shows all over the world. Besides that, I have always set my eyes on the future. So as of some time ago there’s also some futuristic steps being made for my career. Also some seeds I’ve planted in 2018 which are becoming very fruitful right now. I’m not only focused on music. Because I’m also passionate, interested and invested in other things, which in time will be positively affect my musical career as well. Those other endeavors I have, and which I’m even executing (which I might talk about in the future) are also taking form… Very promising things to say the least.
Last but not least I want to thank you for the opportunity to tell my story and all of your questions. I’m really looking forward to be talking again with you in the future!