Lively Yet Melancholy Can Bonomo


In recent years especially, Turkey has entered Eurovision with singers from the alternative music market, and that trend is continuing this year with Can Bonomo.

How would you describe your own music?
We describe the music we make as Istanbul music. This conglomeration of genres is something I can’t quite figure out. The work we do is a little outside Turkish pop. Despite a healthy dose of pop, we make a type of music that’s hard to classify. All the sounds are created by instruments that are played in the streets of Istanbul.

Does Love Me Back fit that description? Or did you take a different approach when composing a song for the Eurovision Song Contest?
We didn’t depart from our own style. Normally our stance is somewhere near world music. In this song, too, there is something both lively and melancholy that also incorporates Turkish musical motifs. A song that tells things in its own way.

With a few exceptions, Turkey has always been in the top five at Eurovision, especially in the last ten years. Before you composed the song that is going to enter Eurovision, did you and your team analyze the songs that have been successful recently?
We listened to all the Eurovision songs over and over. But in the end we put together a piece dressed in European clothes without departing from our own style.

Considering Turkey’s recent success at Eurovision, could we say that Turkish pop music is becoming a little more universal?
I come from a generation that hasn’t followed Eurovision very closely. We got back into it when Turkish Radio and Television’s (TRT) selected us. Recently I’ve listened to more Eurovision songs than I ever did before in my life. Statistically speaking, I’d say your observation is spot on. But I don’t make pop music. And the genre of groups like Yüksek Sadakat and maNga that competed in past years was not pop but rock.  It would probably be more appropriate to call ours ‘new age Turkish sound’  rather than pop.

Would a good place, even a first, at Eurovision add to Can Bonomo and the Turkish music market?
Eurovision is a big opportunity for a 24-year-old singer like me. I’m going to appear on an international stage. Beyond coming in first or last, it’s important to represent Turkey in the best way possible. If people like it, then a good song from Turkey will enter the world music market. And for me in Turkey it will clear the path for me and my friends who make alternative music.

Apart from Céline Dion and ABBA, nobody who was first at Eurovision has succeeded in making a big name internationally up to now. How would it feel to be remembered among such names after a possible first?
It is not just my but every singer’s dream to become a world-renowned artist like Céline Dion or ABBA.

Whether they’ve been successful or not, the popularity of the singers who represent Turkey at Eurovision always seems to decline a little after the contest. Does that worry you?
I’m not a person who lives in a very planned or programmed way. I don’t want to go around worrying about the future.  I’m moving forward along the path I’ve chosen and that’s what matters to me.

Have you listened yet to any of the other songs that are going to enter the contest? Is there one you particularly like?
I’ve had a chance to hear some of them. I liked Malta’s song a lot. As the new songs are announced we listen to them and try to get to know our competitors.

If Love Me Back wins the contest, which aspect in particular will be responsible for that? In other words, in what way is Can Bonomo going to show he’s different?
I think the contestants at Eurovision are going to hear a different sort of song. A song with Turkish melodies that fits the Eurovision math. I think the energy of that hybrid piece is going to make a good impression.

Capturing 3rd at Eurovision with Şebnem Paker in 1997, Turkey came in first in 2003 with Sertab Erener.

Sertab Erener 2003 (1.)
Athena 2004 (4.)
Her Eurovision hopes rising with Sertab Erener, Turkey achieved a satisfactory result in 2004, taking 4th place with Athena.

Gülseren 2005 (13.)
Gülseren’s song, Rimi Rim Ley, failed to bring Turkey the success to which she had become accustomed in 2003 and 2004.

Sibel Tüzün 2006 (11.)
Entering the contest with a more well-known singer again after 2005, Turkey still failed to achieve the success she was expecting.

Kenan Doğulu 2007 (4.)
Entering Eurovision again with a well-known singer and a song in English, Turkey matched Athena’s earlier 4th place in 2007 with Kenan Doğulu.

Mor ve Ötesi 2008 (7.)
Entering the contest with Mor ve Ötesi’s Turkish Rock song Deli in 2008, Turkey made it into the top 10.

Hadise 2009 (4.)
Turkey in 2009 again garnered the 4th place she had captured twice in the previous 10 years, first with Athena, then with Kenan Doğulu.

Manga 2010 (2.)
First in the semi-finals, maNga successfully represented Turkey, missing the top place by a hair in the finals.

Yüksek Sadakat 2011
Despite high hopes after maNga’s 2011 success, Yüksek Sadakat failed to qualify in the semi-finals.

If Can Bonomo qualifies in the semi-finals on May 22 and 24, he will compete in the finals on May 26.