The Techno Youth of Istanbul at Berlin Techno Scene: Vast Perception & COUP

Recently, we see that two collectives from Istanbul are opening up more and more space for themselves in the techno scene of Berlin. We had a pleasant interview with Umur from ‘Vast Perception’ and Berkay from ‘COUP’ on their journey. Here we go:

  • How would you introduce the “VAST Perception” and “COUP” projects to someone who is not yet aware of these projects? How would you describe yourself?

VAST Perception: In the simplest terms, we can define “VAST Perception” as a techno “music label” and community whose foundation was laid in Istanbul. We are one of the pioneering collectives of Turkey with reference to the events we had organized on the underground scene and the albums we had released for more than 5 years.

We chose the name “VAST Perception”, inspired by the wide spectrum of techno music, to create an environment where every artist walking this path with us, and every individual in our community, can freely express themselves in line with their own experiences and lives, without any restrictions or prejudices. It is one of our top priorities for everyone in our community to be able to play a gig and present their music to large audiences.

COUP: COUP is a techno-community project for us, the foundations of which were laid in Istanbul. We continue to communicate with those who listen to us through parties that started in Istanbul and are currently continuing in Berlin, and also through the broadcasts we make under the different catalogs of the label.

  • How did “VAST Perception” and “COUP” start? In what conditions were they born? How did they get to where they are today?

VAST Perception: We created VAST Perception in 2017 in line with the thoughts and purposes shared by three friends. When we were founded, there were almost no foundations in the techno scene of Turkey. The number of events was very few and there were no albums released from Istanbul. Of course, this situation had its own difficulties. First, we started to organize activities in “Temple”, a small club in Taksim, where we made our home. In addition to local artists, we hosted many well-known artists such as Michal Jablonski, Denis Rabe, and Amotik in this club. While we were doing this, COUP started to create its own audience in the club called GLOW in Taksim. It didn’t take long for the two collectives to come together. We are sure that everyone who has been in the Istanbul techno scene for a while will remember the “Mısır Apartmanı” events that followed our union. Now we have made a solid entrance to the Berlin scene. Seeing this progress that has come for a long time over the years motivates us for the future.

COUP: COUP was originally a music blog designed but not implemented by Becky FR (Berkant) in terms of its design and its concept. When a group of friends studying in undergraduate years at the Boğaziçi University could not find any space of free expression as well as any musical environment they were looking for after their Berlin adventures. Then they started to create for themselves what was not offered to them via music videos, podcasts on YouTube and exclusive parties at the beginning.

The main problems for physical gatherings at that time were to find a regularly available venue for us and other students, to make the ticket price affordable for students, and to be able to play music with the speed and hardness that we could relieve the political pressure and ‘neighborhood pressure’ we felt on us. By organizing guestlist-only events at Glow with an entrance fee of 20 TL, we created an environment for many local new DJs and producers as well as the Boğaziçi University students who could not find the rave experience they were looking for. After starting to do projects with VAST, the frequency of events, labels, and publications accelerated.

The migration of DJ Miket (Berkay) and VAST member Umur to Berlin has provided the opportunity to bring together producers and listeners who have recently moved here from Turkey. During this relocation process, the increasing recognition of labels in Europe brought the community we formed in Istanbul together with the audience in Europe for the first time this year at Club Ost for our 5th Anniversary celebrations.

  • Although “VAST Perception” and “COUP” are Istanbul-based projects, they have recently gained a place in Berlin. How did this process take place? Is this process related to the new wave of migration from Turkey to Germany?

VAST Perception: It has always been a goal and a dream for us to be able to enter the Berlin scene since we first became interested in this music. However, this was not the only reason we were able to hold events here, of course. Although the long-standing political thought in our country, which does not approve of alternative lifestyles, is one of the most important reasons. However, we cannot say that this is the only reason. Event spaces and clubs, which are already quite limited, are unfortunately managed by people who lack vision. This mentality, which is not open to any innovation, is one of the most important obstacles to the progress of the techno scene in Turkey.

Thanks to the albums we released, we had already gained an audience within the borders of Europe as both COUP and VAST, especially in Berlin. It was inevitable for us to organize an event here when we have such an audience.

In short, both the political constraints and the clubs that restricted us even more in this already limited environment motivated us extra and perhaps accelerated our entry into the Berlin scene.

If we mention the new wave of immigration, unfortunately, many of us are looking to leave the country and start a life in a new country. Berlin, on the other hand, is one of the hottest spots for many young people, especially from Turkey. Before we moved to Berlin, we had many friends who came to the events we held in Istanbul and got to know us. It makes us very happy that they are here, and we still feel their support.

COUP: Before the beginning of the migration to Europe for their members started, COUP actually listened considerably especially in Germany and France, and the releases were played by popular DJs on the radio and in the clubs. But, especially in the last five years, the political and economic situations in Turkey prompted me (Berkay) and Umur to look for the living standards we want in Germany. We were the first people in our generation regarding the community. After moving, of course, we realized that we are not the only ones who have this idea, and over time, many of our friends from the community moved from Istanbul to different countries in Europe.

Our gatherings around music of course changed at first when we moved to Berlin. We were now strangers on the dance floor and immigrants at home. However, the fact that our broadcasts were frequently listened in Europe and seeing that we can still come together in Germany after immigration, as in Istanbul, motivated us to work hard for a space where we can express ourselves.

  • You organize events both in Germany and Turkey. What kind of differences emerge when you compare these two countries in terms of organizing an artistic event? What are the challenges specific to Turkey and Germany?

VAST Perception: We regret to say that based on our events; you can see a lot of differences between the two countries. First of all, the music ban in Turkey starting after 1:00 am is one of the biggest problems. As we mentioned before, the number of clubs is very few and existing clubs are not open to innovation and progress. The techno audience in Turkey is still in evolution, there is still a long way to go. We come across a lot of people who haven’t discovered the liberating side of techno music and are only concerned about what to put in my “Instagram story”, but this is quite normal in an emerging scene.

On the other hand, the techno scene in Germany is at the point of full maturity and sets a great example for the rest of the world. You can find dozens of events all over the city every week. This is one of the most difficult aspects of the Berlin scene. The competition is at a very high level; thus, the exclusivity policies of clubs and collectives make it very difficult for us to work with the artists we want. For example, an artist playing in Berghain, unfortunately, cannot play in another club for a certain period of time. Although this forces us to work on new strategies, the fact that there are just as many people here who will appreciate the music we broadcast and play, balances these challenges quite a bit.

COUP: The biggest problem we observe in Turkey is not having enough space. The scarcity of venues and the terms of agreement for existing venues are quite restrictive for new producers and collectives. We think that this limit will push people to look for alternative solutions and perhaps lead to more creative ways. On the one hand, since the Turkish stage is still relatively small on a global scale, it is much easier to hold events with global DJs or producers than in Europe.

In Berlin, there are many venue alternatives. Also, the number of people who want to go to the events and can afford it are great. Accordingly, booking of a globally popular artist is very difficult due to ‘exclusive’ deals and the competition. The inclusion of the ‘awareness’ team, which has been applied recently in the construction of safe areas, is a practice that can set an example for us in Turkey.

  • Last month, you organized a successful 5th birthday party at one of Berlin’s large clubs. Do you plan to organize similar-sized parties in similar-sized clubs in the future?

VAST Perception: We’ve already started planning next year’s events. You can be sure that we will share new dates with you soon. We also aim to organize events in cities such as Budapest, Paris, or Moscow, where the music we broadcast reaches a significant audience after obtaining a solid place in the Berlin scene.

COUP: The Age 5 party reminded us of socializing around rave culture actually still gives so much joy. We think we should get together more often next year after seeing that our lives, have been swept away by the immigration wave, actually meet at similar points; being able to jointly own the space created by the DJs and producers who try to rebuild their lives around music in Germany; and in addition the excitement of coming together with European listeners, which we could only touch digitally before, at the club. 

  • What kind of interactions did the projects create in your close circles? What kind of energy did they release around them?

VAST Perception: At the end of the day, one of the things that make us the happiest is seeing the friendships and even love that develop around our activities. We enjoy being in an environment where we all feed off each other in a positive way, exchanging ideas, and producing collective products. These create a real sense of community in us and enable us to do our job with pleasure.

COUP: As the projects brought us together during the years when we felt the most locked in the best years of our youth, they greatly transformed the people involved and human relations around techno and rave culture. One of our favorite stories is that Spectral Radio and Pravus (Basak and Ayberk), who also played at the COUP parties in Istanbul and our fifth-anniversary party, met at the first events we organized together in Mısır Apartment. They currently live together in Hamburg and are married 🙂

  • Any last words?

VAST Perception: The techno scene of Turkey is very open to progress, the simplest indication of this is that many new collectives have started to appear on the scene. Many collectives bring with them fierce competition. We would like to emphasize that if we can focus on the inclusive, sharing, and entertaining aspects of techno and music, as in the example of “Vast” and “Coup”, our scene can reach good levels.


Interview: Tevfik Hürkan Urhan
Translation: Tevfik Hürkan Urhan