Elvira Sarihalil – a singer who investigates forgotten Crimean Tatar folk songs

Elvira Sarihalil – a singer who investigates forgotten Crimean Tatar folk songs.  She graduated Kharkov Conservatory with an emphasis on  academic vocal, after which she returned to Crimea.

-Elvira what changes have occurred in your work in recent years?

- Now, I pay more attention to the vocal teaching. It is interesting for me to observe the professional and creative growth of my students. Nowadays I do not have a lot of concerts and trips, so I have time to study native folklore.

Also, Rasim Ramazanov and I released a joint album: "Sarykhalil & Ramazan Project" which is called "Conversation". Maya Safet and Gulnara Memetova have created words for the songs, and Rasim and I produced the author’s music. Artist Sakine Bari created the design of the album's cover, Dan Kurfirst (played drums, percussion, drums) and bass guitarist Andrew Arnautov took part in the recording. Anatoly Soroka worked on the sound and mastering. The recording was held in Kiev at the studio of Guta Records.  A large team of professionals and just amazing people worked on the album.

- You really work a lot with the pianist and composer Rasim Ramazanov. Tell me how did you meet, and how do you find a musical compromise?

-Rasim said that he was looking for an artist for his song, then he heard me at a concert. He suggested to write a song for my voice. Thus our debuted joint projects "Conversation" appeared - which entered to our general album. We both have conservatoire classical education, but we are different in many ways. Rasim is a symphonist, and I am a singer. I mostly perform ethno-jazz. Each of us is complicated and demanding, however, we produced the album because this project was supposed to happen.

-Have you ever tried to work as a composer?

-When I have an inspiration, then music comes along with it. All my melodies are written in my drafts. They are from the south, like me, but without words. Apart from music, I write abstract texts (in Russian). Maya Hanim has wrote texts for «Qave-Bluz» and «Furtunam» for my melodies. Three years ago, I wrote music to her poem "Keush Yuzyum". In our album “Conversation”, you can find the song "Alo", which we wrote with Rasim together according to the poem of Maya Safet.

- How do you think the Crimean Tatar music has changed over the years?

- Crimean Tatar music changes slowly. Our people are attached to old records so much and when new music appears, they do not always understand it.

I agree that the new music is different, despite this, it always remains Crimean Tatar, because it is created by the Crimean Tatars. It sounds better and more modern. There are a lot of musical directions around the world and we do not live in a vacuum! However, unfortunately we have very few youth groups - jazz bands, rock groups. Of course, they arise, but they also disappear very quickly. Concerts of Crimean Tatar academic and symphonic music are held very rarely.

Wedding groups appears very frequently. That is why wedding music will always evolve, but I do not know the way it will develop. Nowadays it is a rarity to hear traditional Crimean Tatar folk instruments at weddings. In addition, there are no folklore schools where people can teach to play on the tambourine, violin, and Crimean Tatar national instruments - saz, havala and dumbeleke. Surprisingly, students - musicians attend concerts very rarely. However, they have to, because the Internet cannot replace live music and live communication with the professionals.

Of course, I love old music records. This is another energy and this is our memory. But you can respect traditional music, listen and learn our retro and at the same time create something completely new and modern. I believe in the best! I believe in change!

-You became the winner of the competition Meydan FM. Tell about this contest and the song. How did the victory affect in your future work?

-It is amazing tuvak song “Geceler, uzun, geceler”. I have won the competition Meydan FM with this song and also I release a clip regarding to this song. -- Directors and projectionist are Ahmed-Ernes Sarikhalil and Zera Kurbadinova. The main role was played by the actress of the Crimean Tatar Theater Niyara Yunusova.

It is important that ordinary people, not only by the jury of the contest, gave us the victory. I was ready for anything and I thought: “Whether I will win or lose”. I am very pleased that people still remember this event and welcome me. Although it has been 4 years already. People really liked the video and this song is also very popular now.

You went to concerts in the mainland of Ukraine. Tell me the purpose of your visits?

-I take participate in festivals, joint international projects with various musicians in Ukraine. I do not have such place for creativity in Crimea, unfortunately. The organizers of the festivals invite me to represent the Crimean Tatar culture, or try to unite the music of different cultures and I love it. I like improvisation. My friends and I also like to initiate concerts. I like to sing in Ukraine, there are a lot of creative people there.

-You have a very unusual manner of performing folk songs. How can you do it?

-I still cannot understand what exactly turns on in my mind when I perform folklore. Apparently, it is a genetic memory. Many things happened with me, sometimes when I performed some old songs I feel like a trance and almost fall down on stage.

-Do you have a rule of life?

-I live without any rules. The main thing for me is to do what you love and love what you do. I am not attached to people. But I like to communicate with them, to give and receive gifts. I just sing, nothing more.

Interviewer :  Elmaz Asanova