The Most Original Pianist: Ayşe Deniz Gökçin

The Most Original Pianist: Ayşe Deniz Gökçin

When I first saw the video of Ayşe Deniz Gökçin playing the piano, I entered into her magnetic field. Ayşe Deniz Gökçin of Ankara, who made her name known to the world with her talent, as well as her unique style, is a talent that music lovers have discovered long ago.

Although she lives abroad, she frequently visits to give concerts in Turkey. We wanted to explore the inspiring story of the successful pianist, who plans to work on the training of young musicians.

Can you tell us about your love of music that started in your childhood for those who want to know about you?

My family was interested in different types of music like classical music, jazz, rock and so on, so my familiarity with music began in the womb. My interest in music continued thanks to my mother who encouraged me by applauding when I tried to play the piano during my childhood years. My first job in the morning would be to sit in front of the piano. I started taking lessons at the age of five and a half and six months later, I won a competition and a huge box of candy as the prize. After that, I decided to become a pianist. Music students often want to play the pieces without practicing them first, then they become bored because doing such a thing is impossible. Yet the most fun part comes when this boring practice work is finished. Incredibly detailed and disciplined training is essential to reach this level. One day, when I realized this, I made a promise to myself. I wouldn’t complain about practicing anymore because I didn’t have that luxury. As a child, I learned that it was difficult to be successful and when I was 11, I started playing with orchestras. The piano was now my career. Years later, using this infrastructure, I made my own way.

You studied music in New York and England, what do you say when you compare the two countries in terms of music education?

The education systems of America and England are very different. When you are accepted to a university and a music school, which are affiliated, in the United States, you can take different courses and complete two or even three degrees as you wish. And it doesn’t mean an extra fee, you just have to work hard and organize yourself. England is much more conservative and the system does not allow such creative combinations. The main reason for my university education in America was the lessons I could take along with music lessons. I took both astrophysics, art history, and international relations, as well as political documentaries. I made a minor in film and media and started Political Science, but before I completed it I skipped to the master’s degree. When I went to London, my teachers at the Royal Academy of Music didn’t allow me to take economy classes from the London School of Economics, which was always a painful memory.

Where do you live now? How is your daily routine?

I live in Los Angeles right now. After spending eight years of my life in London, it was so nice to return here. Thanks to the Japanese brand Kawai that sent me the piano, I can make videos through the support of YouTube Space. I have the opportunity to work on my compositions and enter the fields of game music and soundtrack. I also want to enlarge my show on stage and go on a tour of North America. They’re all going to be scheduled when my new album is finalized this week.

Do you play the piano every day? What is your work routine?

Usually yes. I remember taking a break of seven days at the longest when I was a kid. More was not allowed. Now, I guess when I’m not working, it can only be a day or two after a concert or recording only to relax my muscles and my brain. Otherwise, I always have music and projects in mind. My routine varies according to these projects, for example, my new album recording is over, there are edits to be made, then the album’s orchestration, videos I am going to make about it, social media and plans of sharing my works with my audience.

So what kind of process is going on before going on stage?

I’m doing a few rehearsals in front of an audience and memorizing the pieces in my routine before the concert. There are subjects such as the lighting of the stage, ticket sales, communication with the venues. Even though I have a team that works with me, I have to manage them all, I want to make sure everyone is doing their job.

You have arranged rock songs for piano; how did you come up with this idea? What kind of reactions do you get in concerts?

Even though I was educated in classical music, I had my first career boom thanks to rock music. Thanks to Pink Floyd. The reactions at the concerts are enormous. This makes me very happy. I think I am very satisfied with playing the music I love and listen to. And my classical music arrangements became even crazier and freer. I gained a new, fresh and fun perspective.

How do you like the responses you get during your concerts in Turkey? Do you have plans for concerts in Turkey in the coming period?
I gave about 16 concerts in Turkey. Especially the reactions from the music students, children and their families have encouraged me incredibly! I met my listeners from all corners of our country and tried to support them by making projects. We competed on Instagram, a few of them played at my concert, and we showed the videos of others during the intermissions. I plan to grow this support even bigger when the album is released. I’ve been also considering a training program. I played at Zorlu PSM last month in İstanbul and I had two concerts before that. I’m going to make myself missed a bit, and meanwhile, I’m going to come up with new concepts. My next concert will be at ENKA on November 26, and then we have a plan for a concert on the Anatolian side. When I arrive, I will probably give concerts in Eskişehir, Bodrum, and Denizli.

What are your dreams about music?

I am transforming my compositions into an original stage performance. A uniting identity that everyone will come to see and wonder; a performance that unites people of all ages and nationalities. I want to have them hope when they get out of the concert hall. My goal is to be universal. I have a great interest in technology and science. I would like to do joint projects with companies that lead in different fields. My other dreams are of course making soundtracks and game music; creating an infrastructure and resources for education in Turkey.

What advice would you give to young people who want to be pianists? What is the secret to your success?

They ask me this question a lot, so I started a new blog page on my website. I will answer the questions asked on Instagram in the coming weeks. The secret to academic success: working hard, having a spirit of an entrepreneur, searching for resources on the internet, contacting teachers whom successful people work with, recording their own performance and having them listen to these recordings, and being stable. The most important thing in terms of arts is to find out about what makes you different from others and work on it.

We are a train magazine, how is your view of traveling? Do you like train travel?

I traveled to many countries for my concerts. This was always my childhood dream. I have traveled to remote countries like Ecuador, China, Argentina, Hong Kong and tasted various cultures. I love the train. I think we made our first train trip from Ankara to İstanbul on a sleeper. My sister and I slept in the bunk beds, I was so excited that I still remember the feeling of it! I think I haven’t even slept, but the trains give me a nostalgic feeling. In China, I went from Beijing to Zhengzhou by train on a sleeper and the return trip was on a high-speed train. It was very miserable experience on the first trip and a very high quality one on the return trip, and seeing the difference was eye-opening. I went from Zurich to Salzburg by train, again for a concert, this time we passed through the Alps, the view was spectacular. What I want most is to start with the Eastern Express from İstanbul and continue. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a piano on the train? It is an ideal place to compose.

What are your favorite travel routes?

Los Angeles, Fethiye, Paris, Capri, Rome.

What do you listen to on your travels?

I would like to share this information that the British Airways has my “A Chopin Affair” album in their in-flight entertainment. I listen to Beatles, Coldplay, RHCP, Bach, Gipsy Kings and Cat Stevens on long car trips.