We’ve cracked the Eurovision code!

YÜKSEK SADAKAT (“HIGH FIDELITY“ IN TURKISH) IS REPRESENTING TURKEY THIS YEAR IN THE EUROVISION SONG CONTEST, SLATED TO TAKE PLACE IN THE GERMAN CITY OF DÜSSELDORF, SEMI-FINALS ON MAY 10-12, FINALS ON THE 14TH. THE TEAM, WHO WILL COMPETE WITH A SONG CALLED LIVE IT UP, EXPLAINED THE RULES OF THE GAME TO US.

What makes a song a “Yüksek Sadakat” song’?
Nobody knows that, not even us. We are a group that sings a wide array of songs. We don’t fit any mold and we don’t repeat ourselves. As for calling this a Yüksek Sadakat song, the main thing is this: Kenan’s voice, the common sound of the instruments and our familiar harmonies.

Every group has its own sound more or less, and we too have a sound that is our trademark. After that come the lyrics and the musical infrastructure, but you need a trained ear to distinguish those things.

If you look at our albums, you might get confused because the range is wide. For example, there’s a piece on the first album called Döneceksin Diye Söz Ver that could be played by a Turkish art music orchestra. At the same time there are some very hardcore cuts on the same album.

We don’t want to fit a mold or build ourselves into a wall. If something wells up within you and you write it, there’s no sense in trying to force it into a mold.

Isn’t it important to have an identity?
Of course it’s important, but in the end what people perceive is a three-way combo of lyrics, melody and performance. When you listen to the whole album, you come to a common conclusion.

So is Live It Up a Yüksek Sadakat song?
Yes. Since it’s in English, it has to be judged on entirely different grounds, but Live It Up is also a song with Turkish lyrics. In fact, the original is Turkish and it lasts 4 minutes and 20 seconds. That’s how it will be on our third album, which is coming out in the fall. Although listening to a song in another language changes the whole perception and emotion, one thing is sure: we’ve adapted this song to the Eurovision criteria.

For one thing, we reduced it to three minutes. But the point isn’t whether it’s a Yüksek Sadakat song. The recording, the production and the mix are all down to foreigners. It is their touch that has made this song what it is.

Live It Up has elements of 70’s rock, 80’s sound and 90’s infrastructure. You added the bit about being positive, staying in the moment and living life in the 2000’s. Was that a conscious choice?

Yes, there’s something from all time in it. We’re very cunning, aren’t we? We’ve cracked the Eurovision code! This is going to be the most successful song of the last 40 years. Ha ha ha.

All kidding aside, the guy who wrote the lyrics (Ergün Arsal) let us in on a little secret. What he said was that it should be a song with strong energy that’s over quickly, that’s based on rock’n’roll and that’s got lyrics that meet Eurovision standards. No big philosophical ideas but a song that will get into the listener’s head, is easy to learn, has lots of repeats, uses ordinary English words and that everybody can understand easily…

And what are those Eurovision criteria?
English words, fast tempo, easy to learn, catchy… The show is very important too. The costumes, how you appear on stage... We’re getting professional help in those areas. I’m  reeling them off here, but it shouldn’t really be thought of as a formula.

So did you look at the previous years’ Eurovision winners one by one to arrive at this formula?
Yes, we did. We sat down and went over them to see who made what kind of songs, because there are a few givens and it would be silly not to make use of them. When we looked at it like that, we saw that the winning songs have a lot in common.

In other words, you’re playing the game by the rules?
Yes. But the template that emerges is very general, so you can fill it with hundreds of different details. That’s important too. What’s more, there are also Eurovision songs with a slower tempo that were sung to a single guitar. There’s no hard fast rule. A good song will always win.

Was there anything in the history of Eurovision that surprised you in that sense?
The 2006 Eurovision winner. Lordi (Finland), both surprised us and pleased us. A song with a rock sound won. It was a big deal for rock fans. Lordi won by making fun of Eurovision. It was an unusual show. Unheard of up to now. Truly amazing…

What did you think of last year’s winner, Lena Meyer Landrut (Germany)?
She’s competing again this year too, so she will be your rival.We couldn’t understand how she won. She was very soft, very simple…

Could it be that that’s why she won?
It could be. You have to give her credit. Simplicity is actually very difficult. One shouldn’t make light of the simple. It requires true sincerity and directness. Perhaps one has to cross a certain threshold to become simple. You can only be simple after you have learned all there is to learn.

How simple is Live It Up?
Oh my god, not at all! Let’s say that it’s ‘normal’.

LIVE IT UP
Composed by Kutlu Özmakinacı with lyrics by Ergün Arsal, Live It Up says that life is a great gift and a journey worth savoring. The piece was produced by Nick Davis, who has worked with artists like Genesis, Deep Purple, Marillion, New Model Army and Björk.

Accompanying him was talented music man and producer Reuben De Lautour. The song, which was recorded at Istanbul’s Babajım Studios, was mixed, again by Nick Davis, at Genesis’ famous Fisher Lane Farm Studios.

The mother of Yüksek Sadakat’s keyboard player, Uğur Onatkut, is a former Eurovision contestant herself. Nilgün Onatkut took part in the song contest exactly 27 years ago with the group ‘5 Yıl Önce 10 Yıl Sonra’ in 1984.