• How would you introduce this project to someone who is not yet aware of the / NCOUNTERS / project?

Hello Dolmuş! You started with a difficult question… It is difficult to define, but we can roughly say that we are a political audio-visual space maintained by the people living in Berlin. In particular, we are trying to include and encourage “emerging” artists. We reflect on the limitlessness of art and are fed by the diversity of artists’ past experiences. Maybe it can be called a “mapping” project… Apart from that, we do interviews and broadcast sets. I hope we will share tracks and make premieres soon. Many ideas…

  • What kind of problems, needs, goals, concerns, affections, motives did you have in the beginning and construction process of this project?

The concepts of art and artist were used as status symbols rather than their essence, which must be related to the culture we grew up with. For this reason, it was difficult to accept and stand behind our own works. We noticed that some other “artists” also had similar problems. Of course, being a migrant subject made this situation even more difficult. An encouragement was definitely needed. In addition, the stories of people are very interesting, we are usually aware of the products they produce, but the various conditions that make the products are considerably less visible. However, these processes can also be very inspiring.

photo: credit: @anlayhnn
  • What kind of problems did you encounter until this point? And what processes did you experience and what kind of solutions did you develop to overcome them?

There are many problems, of course. Before the pandemic, togetherness were possible and relatively easy, but even keeping our own community alive is not possible under the current conditions. This is very understandable, of course. Maintaining a collective in these dystopian conditions, where even two people cannot come together, may not be a very meaningful expectation. Beyond that, financial difficulties are struggling us. It is necessary to try to understand this in line with our immigrant subjectivity. There is uncertainty in many areas. To be clear, this is not an issue where we can produce a permanent solution… Creating financial resources is a must in order to continue what we do. Developing our human resources is the only way to put forward the ideas we have in mind. We hope that maybe we can reach people through this interview and work together.

  • What have you found on the way until the collective reached this point? What do you hope to find for the future?

People have stories and they are worth hearing. This is the main finding. As in the name of the project, we believe in encounters, so it cannot be said that we are trying to find something actually. There is no clear plan, there are many ideas, wishes and manifestations.

  • What kind of interactions did the NCOUNTERS and its process create in its close circle? What kind of reactions did you get?

It organized our close circle around a political-aesthetical sphere. Although it is difficult to talk about tight ties, it would not be an exaggeration to talk about the artists, students and immigrants organized around NCOUNTERS. Perhaps people may have seen that something can be done. Establishing a political aesthetic formation in Germany, this new homeland where we are fighting at the survival level, was revolutionary in our own small world. That’s why we think it might have been an encouragement.

  • In what direction do you want to advance / NCOUNTERS / in the future? What goals do you have?

As we said, there is no clear road map. But we are about to be a “record label” that makes premieres and releases. We want a little more visibility so that we can support the artists we support more and open up space. In short, we want to be productive. Basically, we want to have our own resources that can sustain themselves.

  • What have you learned from the mistakes you have made so far? What would you recommend to those who want to do similar initiatives?

It must be tried. Ideas may not create excitement as much as practices. Therefore, it is sometimes up to some of us to throw the first stone. Then, processes and ideas bring their own organization. For this reason, even in a collective work, some of us may need to take the initiative in some processes. This should not be a discouraging situation. Other than that, I guess there is nothing that can be called a mistake. At the end of the day, they are all encounters.

photo: credit: @anlayhnn
  • Do you have any calls for solidarity to overcome specific challenges regarding the project?

Obviously, we claim to be a collective space, so it is for us that people should own the project and make its influence area larger. Of course, there are many needs, but we are aware that we are going through difficult dark processes. Therefore, it may not be the right moment to ask for support right now. But criticisms, ideas, productions and various collaborations would be useful in carrying us forward.

  • How did NCOUNTERS get politicized through migrant identity so much although it was ultimately a techno music project? Was this a spontaneous process? Or was it formulated in this way from the very beginning?

We are a collective space mostly dominated by social science students. We are also migrants. We are naturally political. Everything we do is also minimally political in this direction. In our music, in our project, in our existence. We can say that it developed naturally without much effort. Otherwise, it does not seem possible.

  • What kind of supports and oppositions has this politicization process received?

While politicization was viewed as radical by some, it was welcomed by others. So maybe the white privileged community around us had to question their own white privileges and mindset. Being a part of the NCOUNTERS requires a minimal political consensus, perhaps this is a minimal but existential consensus, like not being homophobic, not being racist, and looking at the white privileged world order from a critical point of view. Therefore, although NCOUNTERS is an open space, in a sense, perhaps it imposed itself.

photo: credit: @anlayhnn
  • Although NCOUNTERS has a political rhetoric, it has been criticized for including mainly white heterosexual male artists, especially at the beginning. What do you think of this criticism? What has been done to overcome this situation after this criticism?

A very meaningful and appropriate criticism, of course. However, this does not seem like a criticism that can be avoided through planned individual inputs. The community has to open itself to the outside. Of course, our aim is not to make an identity politics, but we set out from our own subjectivity, but we also included white privileged artists in the process. We try to be an open space and frankly we feel like our stance is getting a little clearer with our last actions. Frankly, we learn, too.

  • How has the pandemic affected the process for NCOUNTERS? Have you been able to develop certain survival strategies for the pandemic? What are your plans for the post-pandemic?

Pandemic literally minimized the encounters. Of course it was difficult. It was difficult to motivate the people, the community. But to keep people productive, we made the “Avoid NCOUNTERS” series. It wasn’t a bad idea, frankly. We had quite favorable conjecture before the pandemic, frankly, we had a full-house party. We do not expect to start where we left off after the pandemic. It would be naive. But we are sure that we will do our best to adapt to the new world and politicize the dance music scene.

  • As a “trans-national” underground techno project NCOUNTERS was, one way or another, a part of Berlin nightlife and party culture. It seems that the pandemic has affected Berlin’s nightlife irreversibly. We probably won’t find the nightlife we ​​left after the pandemic. What direction do you think this transformation will be? As some say, if there is a scene that has become more commodified and where control mechanisms have been created, will it be attempted to organize a resistance practice resembling the illegal “raves” of the 90s, which defends a more communal and libertarian option?

To put it plainly, we are not experienced enough to make assertive comments on Berlin night life. However, if we evaluate the developments in the last three years in the light of global developments, it would not be wrong to say that the dance music scene has become commercial. It is not a very new discourse either. But of course there is no situation that would be very hopeless. It doesn’t make sense to be conservative against the change either. Despite the commercializing dance music scene, there will definitely be new spaces of resistance and their music.

  • Any last words?

Neukölln streets, where we learned the life and dancing and then forgot again …

(Bpm: 140, Kick: 4/4, Local Neukölln)

It is necessary to be open to encounters, dear Dolmus and definitely try, try!


Interviewer: Tevfik Hürkan Urhan

Translated from the Turkish original by Tevfik Hürkan Urhan