I Am Inspired by Different Cultures in My Music

We focused on many important topics about music with pianist and singer Karsu.

As a Turkish, born and raised in the Netherlands, Karsu asked for a piano from her family when she was only seven years old. Devoting herself to music since that day, Karsu started playing the piano in his father’s restaurant when she was 16 and soon found herself an interested audience. The young pianist has been rising in her career ever since and had many globally acclaimed works. We also took a journey into the career of Karsu, who fascinated the masses with her music. “The ability to sometimes make people happy, and sometimes give them comfort is what keeps me in this business and gives me peace that is very unique…” says Karsu.

You asked for a piano from your parents when you were just seven. With that in mind, what can you say about music’s place in your life?

I had the chance to understand music’s place in my life better with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) we are dealing with. The lockdown brought many surprises for my occupation as well. Because what I do is very different from what most people do. To begin with, the audience sees music as a luxury. Say, I do not sell bread or work in the hospital.

However, music is something that brings peace both for the artist and the listener. The ability to sometimes make people happy, and sometimes give them comfort is what keeps me in this business and gives me peace that is very unique… For example, knowing that I bring together people that do not know each other at concerts gives me a feeling that I cannot put into words. I think that is the source of my motivation.

Has there been a time in your life that you can say is the “milestone of your career”? If you have, could you elaborate on it for our readers?

I cannot say that I have an exact milestone in my career. People often say that a major music competition, for example, is what turned the tables for them, but I never participated or wanted even. My aim was to advance in my career step by step and looking back, I see that I have achieved this to a great extent. And I am happy and grateful for that… Nobody’s career, school, or working life goes as smoothly as they want to, of course. There will be times you hit the bottom, and other times you will rise. To me, this journey takes place on a staircase. Sometimes I climb four steps up and fall two steps down; sometimes I go five steps up and two steps down. I find the rise and fall very beneficial, though, as they give me lessons to prepare the roadmap for my future. For example, coming on the stage at 14 at my school’s music competition was a good step for me. I also had a nice experience singing at Carnegie Hall at the age of 19. And my first concert in Turkey gave me great self-confidence. So, I can say that they all have their unique places in my heart.

In an interview, you talked about singing in your family restaurant and people coming in just to listen to you. Where do you put that restaurant in your life right now?

For me, my father’s restaurant is really important… I played there for six or seven years. That place gave me the self-confidence and experience I needed… Different people constantly came to listen to me. Sometimes Turks also visited but most of the guests were Dutch. People from all levels of society could come there. The common trait of all of them was that they were only coming to listen to me. Students, grandmas, and even grandpas were coming. It may sound interesting to you, but I still have the same audience even in my concerts now and I love it so much.

You took to the stage in the world-famous performance centre Carnegie Hall at a very young age, and this is a historical success. From this point of view, what do you want to say to the kids which are passionate about music and to their families?

My career started very differently. First of all, I find myself to be very lucky. You can work really hard and eagerly for your career, but you need to have a bit of luck too. As I mentioned before, in my career, my luck was also a huge factor, as well as my hard work. It would not be wrong to say that coincidences were on my side. With all that, I was also hugely supported by my mother and father. They never stood up against me; on the contrary, they always supported me. They opened some doors slightly and guided me to open others on my own. This is very important for a kid… As you know, the support of parents is valuable for all kids. In short, I learned many things at a young age thanks to them and I am very grateful. I recommend all children to follow their dreams, and families to support their kids in their decisions.

“I try to form a style that goes between jazz and funk without losing the essence of the Turkish traditional music,” you said. Could you tell us about your style a little bit?

I have always found it difficult to explain my music. My first criterion is of course to make music that I love and sounds nice to me. I listen to my music and say, “It requires something like this!” Just like a chef, I add seasonings to my music, so to speak.

On the other hand, being born in Amsterdam has benefited me in many ways. The city harbours over 160 different cultures. I have friends from Africa, Afghanistan, Iran, America, Mexico, and so on. I have friends from almost all corners of the world. Growing up with them, I was luckily influenced by their music styles, food, and their culture as a whole. And I think that is what made me, Karsu, today.

Finally, I invite everyone to stay hopeful in this pandemic period. We will stay hopeful and protect our health. I dream of the day when we will be able to come together again with music. Thank you.

Interview: Serdar Ergün

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