A chat and a mix from Istanbul's Cem G...
Cem G is a Turkish electronic artist who effortlessly maintains the groove in his elegant and uplifting sets. His youthful spirit infuses his music with energy, while his extensive experience ensures an unforgettable experience on the dance floor. He has performed at parties such as BlkMarket, ReSolute, South America Music Conference, Miami Winter Music Conference, and various events worldwide. Throughout his career, he has shared the stage with renowned international artists such as Cesar Merveille, Margaret Dygas and Sonja Moonear and is known for always delivering captivating DJ sets.
After spending many years in New York and Los Angeles, Cem returned to his hometown of Istanbul, from where he runs his label, Unreleased Ltd, and is busy with other ventures such as Reviv Turkey, a successful IV brand. Cem is currently working on new releases for his label, Unreleased Ltd., with a host of well-known acts such as Ion Ludwig and Cesar Merveille joining the label. He also found time amongst his busy schedule to deliver a mix for us, consisting of 100% of his own productions. Before you check that one out, here’s a quick interview with the man himself...
Can you first introduce yourself to people who might not be familiar with your music?
Hello, my name is Cem Guvendiren. I go by Cem G, and have been underground since the 00’s. I’ve mostly done gigs in LA, NY, Istanbul and Berlin. I would say I represent labels such as Sleep is Commercial, unreleased LTD and Roche Madame.
Tell us a bit about growing up in Turkey. What was it like as a place to experience music? Does the political landscape dictate parties over there a lot?
Early 2000’s had a different freedom to it. Art was more of a cultural thing then. Now it's just mainstream I feel. No political situation can suppress a true raver in my opinion.
Does electronic music stand for a changing of cultures in Turkey? Is this generation a lot more open-minded about other cultures and music would you say?
Honestly, I don’t think so. This generation has become more interested in social status and financial gain I feel. You can tell by the quality of music.
Obviously Germany and Turkey have very close ties. Would you say you’re as influenced by sounds outside of Turkey as you are by Turkish musicians?
Mostly Turkish psychedelic rock and some folk. Not that much from the new generations. maybe some experimental stuff like Anadol and Altin Gun. I respect people that are trying to portray their geographical situation and culture in their compositions.
Were you immediately drawn to more discerning sounds, or did it take a while for your influences to mature?
Well… I guess maturing is in the nature of things. In order to understand, you need to listen to all genres and appreciate them. For me, it was Ministry of sound, Minus, Crosstown, Wolf + Lamb, Berghain, CDV and the Romanian crew. The major turning point not only for me but for most people. The rest went to melodic tech house and EDM i think.
Do you remember your first rave? What was it about the music and the scene that moved you so much? And was it as much about the music as it was the sense of freedom that came with it?
When you ask like that, freedom also sounds good. Experimenting is always fun. It's the music that first thrives you, the rest follows. My first raves were in New York, I would say. Minimoo and bar13 parties. Pre ReSolute and Blk Market days.
Can you tell us a bit about some of your early heroes in electronic music, both inside and outside Turkey?
We hosted Daft Punk when we were young! As in heroes of mine, I would say the Minus crew back then. It was the perfect timing for me.
What fills you with great hope about the Turkish scene? What are you not-so-optimistic about?
I am hopeful that the electronic music scene is getting more recognition; our country is hosting more artists. The venues are getting better and projects are getting more creative. This way, the ecological aspect of it grows which is needed for the artist and its existence. But also saturation is not a good thing sometimes. So everything in moderation is good. No rush; no one is going anywhere. To grow steadily might be better sometimes.
If we’d 24 hours to spend on a music trip to Istanbul, what would you recommend we get up to?
Hangout with me and you'll be fine! Thursday at Arkestra, Friday at Gizli Bahce, Saturday at Sumahan then Nacht then Tape. Rest, food, spa IVs after.
Can you tell me a bit about your work at Unreleased Ltd? You recently had Volkan Akin on. How do you find music and artists to work with? And can you tell me a bit about who’s involved?
It's our seventh release so far.. so getting bigger. We also have Ion Ludwig before and Cesar Merveille coming up! We release the music and join with artists and friends we admire. I usually fell in love with a track then build the EP around it. Then try to fall in love with it again as a whole.
You’ve played with some awesome artists recently, such as Cesar Merveille, and have booked the likes of Margaret Dygas and Sonja Moonear to Turkey. What do you look for in an act when you book them?
Friendship :) And some bad ass basslines!
Alongside being a promoter and a DJ, you’re also an accomplished producer and master a lot of records, and also run Fresh Mastering. How did you get into this? And what’s been your proudest achievement here to date?
Yeah great, thanks for asking. We are proud studio owners at Fresh Mastering. Our lead engineer Havantepe is one of the best in his style. We have been doing fun projects for a while now. Please do feel free to check our website and contact us. Our proudest achievement would be having our favourite artists and friends letting us mix and master their tracks.
You’re also involved with Reviv Turkey, which sounds like an awesome venture. Can you tell us a bit more about that?
Really interesting that you know this, this I was not expecting. We decided to stay young and healthy from all the partying and joined a successful IV brand. You need to make it sustainable if this is your lifestyle. Making sure of your health is the way to go.
You’ve also done a mix for us - can you tell us a bit about the vibe you were going for with that one?
To be honest, I was just testing my tracks in the studio and I ended up playing and jamming some of them as a set because i like them when they mix into each other more. Trying to find how i can integrate and perform these tracks i make, rather than just playing them, or not playing them. All tracks are almost unreleased for now, some of them are old projects getting retouches.
What’s next for you - musically and professionally - that you’re really excited about?
Well… getting gigs excites me. Signing with an agency , having releases coming out from labels I love. Playing music to friends. Doing some label parties and doing more releases on the label. I still feel like I can dedicate more. getting out of my comfort zone excites me. with the pandemic and everything we stopped most gigs, but wanna come back i think!
Listen to Cem's mix for us - featuring only his own productions - here