By Peri Sualp…..
This week I am delighted to bring for our readers an interview with Alper Cengiz from The Soulist – Coffee & Music House in Alsancak.
Peri: Hello Alper. I would like to start with some basic questions such as, your full name, birth date and place and anything else you might want to add.
Alper: My name is Alper Cengiz. I was born in Ankara, in 1971.
Peri: We know that you are not only the founder of The Soulist – Coffee & Music House but also one of the important figures on stage. Can you share your music background and education with us?
Alper: Music is always part of my life. When I was child, I used to listen to all legends like Elvis, Ray Charles, The Beatles etc. I grew up with rock’n’roll melodies. But during the same time because of my sister, who is a violinist, we used to have classical music at home all the time. I went to the conservatory to learn cello, but it didn’t work out well. The same happened when I tried to be a music teacher at the university. After that, I started to sing in local rock bands such as Argos and Bluse Express and big Jazz-Rock orchestra “Manhattan Big Band” in Ankara, and finally in 1995 I started my life time band – Soul Stuff.
Peri: If you studied classical music how come that you shifted to rock and roll?
Alper: It wasn’t right for me, I think my soul belongs to rock’n’ roll. I accepted that and chose my way when I was standing at the crossroads of my life.
Peri: We know that you have a renowned band called Soul Stuff. Would you like to tell us a bit about that?
Alper: Yes, in 1995, I decided to start a band like the famous Blues Brothers band. And I did it. We are a 6 piece band which includes brass section. Since that time we have been performing soul, blues and rock’n’roll music all around Turkey and some few other countries like Jordan and Cyprus.
Peri: How did it occur to you to open up a cafe/bar specially here in North Cyprus.
Alper: I move to Northern Cyprus due to my ex-marriage. This idea came to me after I saw there were only a few places to drink good coffee and listen to good music and I decided to open The Soulist for good coffee and good music.
Peri: Last week you celebrated the second-year of the Soulist. Happy birthday! You finished two years with great success. You became one of the important stages in North Cyprus. Do you agree to that as well? And would you like to describe the journey of The Soulist in these last two years.
Alper: Thank you. We just try to do our best. From the beginning my plan was creating a stage for different kinds of music and of course for the musicians. On Our colourful music pallet you can find Blues, Soul, Jazz and Rock music and also Latina, Reggae even classical music. During these two years we have welcomed great musicians on our stage from both sides of the island and Turkey, we did important activities in this little house such as ‘Friends Across Borders’ who came for a charity concert (from both sides of the island, rock bands got together for this charity). We also had a Christmas market with music, and several classical concerts etc..
Peri: The Soulist is not a night bar, you emphasize the name coffee house and the place works as a coffee shop during the day. How does these two combine?
Alper: Basically I made a café which people can find a good coffee in the day time, cozy and warm atmosphere bar in the evening and also we do a few changes to turn this place into a live music house for the events which these all together made the Soulist all day long live and unique.
Peri: The Soulist is normally known for its blues rock and roll concerts but you also welcome different artists and different music styles. For example I will be performing songs from some Broadway and Disney musicals this Sunday on 27th January together with some great artists from the South. How can you adopt all sorts of different music into one single place?
Alper: The answer is hidden inside the Soulist name, we are a “Music House” that welcomes different kinds of high quality music and performers.
Peri: Where do you see The Soulist in the future?
Alper: Our aim is to make the Soulist one of the best meeting places in people’s cultural and social life on the Island.
Peri: Can you explain your love of music?
Alper: Music is like breathing for me, I can’t live without that.
Peri: What makes you happy in this life?
Alper: Of course singing on stage and lately, sharing good moments of the Soulist with friends and other people.
Peri: Is there anything else you might want to add? Perhaps a message for my readers out there?
Alper: Come, enjoy the Soulist day and night times and make your life colourful. Keep the good music always in your life .
Peri: Thank you for your time Alper. I wish the Soulist to continue for many years to come.
PS: I am proudly announcing that this Sunday, on 27th January at 18.30pm to 21.30pm, I am having another concert – Musical Moments – with Mezzo Soprano Katie Economidou, pianist and singer Zara Barkhoudarian and her young talent Edgar Evoyan at The Soulist – Coffee & Music House, Alsancak and if you would like to join us please click here for further details.