Istanbul, Turkey-based synth-wave duo Jakuzi, which is comprised of Kutay Soyocak and Taner Yücel can trace its origins to when Soyocak and Yücel started the act in 2015 as a way for them to move away from their previous punk rock-leaning projects. When they released their debut cassette in 2016 Fantezi Muzik no one seriously expected it to leave their immediate circle of friends and associates; however, the tape caught the attention of City Slang Records, who re-released the debut with new tracks the following year — and the album began to receive praise from internationally recognized media outlets, including The Quietus and The Guardian, and the band played sold-out shows with their musical idol John Maus.
Fantezi Muzik’s material found the band going against the grain of what’s expected from a male-fronted Turkish act. While most male-fronted acts from the duo’s homeland aren’t typically known for being introspective, Soyocak and Yücel’s work, which has been centered by a gothic sensibility, addressed the personal and psychological issues they were facing.
Ironically, despite achieving the sort of success that most indie bands would probably kill for, the duo found themselves dealing with a number of challenging issues. Being musicians in their homeland is extremely challenging economically and personally — and because their songs are written and sung entirely in their native Turkish, the language that Soyocak feels he can best express himself, the opportunities are limited. Currently, there aren’t playlists for Turkish DYI dream pop/dark wave/synth wave acts, their songs aren’t played on traditional radio shows and there isn’t a mass market for attending punk rock shows. And although they’ve been frustrated and even demoralized, they have refused to give in; in fact, their long-awaited and forthcoming sophomore album Hata Payi (which literally translates as “part of the mistake”) reportedly finds the band delving deeper and making further explorations into the feelings and thoughts they touched upon in their debut — namely, what it’s like to be a young adult in Istanbul, having success and then having to live up to expectations, being an artist in a country that doesn’t quite get or support your work, managing personal relationships as you get older and mental health; but with a refined, darker sound. “I think my melancholy comes partly from where I live,” the band’s Kutay Soyocak says in press notes. “This can be seen in the lyrics. I sometimes feel dark, lost and lonely as everyone. Here, the economy and politics make me feel hopeless sometimes. The future seems blurry but we try to keep our hopes high and continuing what we do. The audience is getting bigger every day and they support us and it is just pure love in our gigs.’’
Interestingly, “Toz,” the second and latest single off Hata Payi immediately brings Joy Division to mind, as the song is centered around shimmering and arpeggiated synths, stuttering beats, an angular and propulsive bass line, a big hook and Kutay Soyocak’s sonorous yet achingly sad baritone — and although the lyrics are completely in his native Turkish, the song evokes a loneliness that is deeply universal.
Directed by Eli Kasavi, the recently released video for “Toz” stars a brooding and lonely Kutay Soyocak dancing alone in a room with flickering spotlight. As Kasavi explains in press notes. “It’s connected to the band’s previous video “Şüphe” where the main character watched a dancing couple with a feeling of doubt. That character has left that place now and is dancing by himself.”