Başak Ylva of Dream Ocean
Metal Maven: The third written interview for Metal Maven features the powerful Başak Ylva, lead singer of Turkish/German Symphonic Metal band, Dream Ocean. Thank you so much Başak for contributing to Metal Maven!
Your story begins in Turkey and continues today in Germany. You’ve been singing professionally since you were very young and music is an integral aspect of your identity. Can you tell us the tale of your musical journey?
Başak Ylva: Thanks for having me here in the name of Dream Ocean. I’m glad and excited we’re doing this.
Yes, I started as a kid with my family’s encouragement (although they were hoping I’d sing traditional Turkish music, but what a bummer for them, I chose Western music style) and that was followed by youth choir and some bands… I always had to make big breaks. I was never whole throughout my life because making music and growing up is hard in Turkey. First of all, “music is just a temporary hobby so you should never build a career on this” is a very discouraging mentality, unfortunately. That of course killed my time too, so instead of studying music I was studying math and science, then business… But it was always in me, so I applied for part-time musical theatre studies and there it really started. At the conservatory I was told I could be a world-wide, successful Opera singer so, as soon as I finished my business studies, I applied for Opera and became a Classical singer. Education was very important for me because at first, while I applied for musical theatre, I just wanted to take lessons in a school and learn to sing well in Metal bands. I wasn’t planning to sing all over the world and earn my money with that. I just wanted to be a good Metal singer.
Metal Maven: As a professional Opera singer, what were your favorite or most memorable performances of 2019? Are there projects in 2020 that have you excited?
Başak Ylva: In 2019 I had the chance to sing with a symphony orchestra in Elb Philharmonie in Hamburg and that was a dream of mine come true. For 2020, I’ll start to sing in a new Opera house – that’s pretty exciting for me because I’ll move and start to live in a new city as well. There is one more thing with Dream Ocean but it’s not certain yet so I can’t say anything right now. Besides all of this, I’m terribly excited about the new album!
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Metal Maven: Were you drawn to Symphonic Metal because it allowed more freedom than the structure and discipline of Opera singing? What was your introduction to this genre?
Başak Ylva: My introduction was with Nightwish and, back then, we also had a very successful band in Turkey called Almora. I listened to these bands and tried to sing along and somehow it was working, so I think when we manage to do something we enjoy it more and that happened to me. Later on, Almora found me online from my recordings and I sang with them. It was amazing because I had the chance to do this in front of a real audience. I wanted to write my own songs and speak my heart through this music. I love Opera because it has another challenging side and gives another satisfaction such as learning very hard, complicated music and then singing it with perfect technique. One is for technicality and the other is for my creativity.
Metal Maven: What was the catalyst to form Dream Ocean and pursue this musical endeavor?
Başak Ylva: Many things. As I said, I wanted to write my own songs because in Istanbul there were many bands forming and, after awhile, falling apart. Almost all of them asked me to sing with them, but I wanted to sing my own songs so I HAD TO make it by myself (of course with my own band fellows – it’s all not only my creation). But things went wrong many times. It’s hard to find disciplined musicians so, after a while, I focused on my Classical career, which is more active, and slowed down the band works. Then, we were invited to play in a festival as support for some legends such as Children of Bodom and Epica and we had really good reaction. During that time we also released a demo and our mastering engineer, Danish producer Jacob Hansen, wrote to us that our music is cool and we should make an album together. These things triggered us to get back to work after a five-year break. Such a waste of time…
Metal Maven: Your voice carries the qualities of water, at one moment it’s like calm waves on a beach than suddenly an ocean storm. The music has a lucid feeling as if being led through reveries. Is there a deeper concept behind the name, Dream Ocean?
Başak Ylva: Wow! What a nice poetic description. I’ll take this as a compliment and thank you. I don’t really know how my voice sounds to other people, I’m just trying to use it as I feel while I write songs and lyrics. I’m always trying to sound natural and stay loyal to my own voice.
The music definitely has reveries in it because I’m a daydreamer. I really dream a lot, sleeping or awake, of a huge fantasy world, and my lovers always enjoy listening to my dreams. That, of course, feeds me and inspires me a lot. That’s the concept behind this name. Also, some small hints of my two favorite bands, Dream Theater and Nightwish.
Metal Maven: What inspires and informs your music?
Başak Ylva: Well, this first album, Lost Love Symphony, is inspired by many things and it’s an album written with our guitarist, Oz Khan during that long 5-year break, where we gathered our ideas and finally made a whole picture with them – so they are mostly from our early youth. Some of the lyrics written towards the very end of the album end this era. For example, “Island of Dreams” is a song of dying and rebirth. These all are inspired from something we lived.
This second album will have much tougher melodies, guitars, and lyrics. We are all changing and our music styles, what we listen to, changes and inspires us too. Now, we are on different lands and have different musicians in the band. Also, the new Dream Ocean is founded in Germany so there is a lot of input from new band members.
Metal Maven: Your album artwork is by Lebanese artist, Sara Helwe. What made her your choice to create visuals for Dream Ocean?
Başak Ylva: She’s an amazingly creative artist and very helpful. She was doing her first album cover, as were we, so we both faced the same challenge and she was very creative, understanding of what we needed, and patient with us. At the end of the day, she delivered what we needed and we received many great compliments about the album artwork.
Metal Maven: Did you give Sara carte blanche or is there a focused intent for each art piece?
Başak Ylva: When I start to compose songs and write lyrics I know more or less where is it going and I get certain ideas. I like to get what I want and need, so I had full control on this. Taking care of the artwork was my main quest after finishing the musical part. All the artwork was created according to my direction and are all about the lyrics.
Metal Maven: The visual experience of music is an ever-evolving construct. In this regard, how would you like to expand and grow this facet of Dream Ocean?
Başak Ylva: I think it should reflect the music. For the first album, we had many stories and so many different themes and dreams, so there we used that fantasy touch from Sara. The next one, as I said, will be much more Metal with rough stories, so we used a very experienced hand on this. We worked with Gustavo Saves and he’s created amazing artwork for many bands and now, for us too. He asked my ideas, but in the end created his own artwork. This time I left it all to him and that turned out amazing. Soon we’ll unveil it.
Metal Maven: I’ve read fan’s lament of not being able to listen to “Missing” … Would you ever re-release this single?
Başak Ylva: Oh yeah, that one! That was our very first song. I think it needs a re-touch as it was recorded in 2008 and released in 2009, if I remember correctly. If we ever re-release it you’ll also hear that it has nothing to do with our music today.
Başak Ylva: It was really amazing. I mostly worked with them because I like them very much. Mark is really the most friendly Metal musician I’ve ever met! I’m lucky to call this amazing soul and talent my friend. I knew him online for decades and asked for his support. He was, of course, very kind to accept our invitation.
When it comes to Jake, also as friendly as Mark, we didn’t even know each other before this work. I just like his voice very much and wanted to have his amazing voice sing our song – he honoured us. It was an amazing experience for me because both said they would sing if they liked the music and I’m glad they did! For the new album I have a legendary name in my head – oh boy! I didn’t ask him yet, but let’s keep our fingers crossed!
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Metal Maven: I am curious about the lyrics behind the song, “Hain.” For me, it is the darkest song that seems to remember and reveal the trauma being explored and healed in this album. Can you provide further insight into this song and the overall concept behind Lost Love Symphony?
Başak Ylva: Lost Love Symphony is all about a wandering and loving heart – a heart that never stops hoping to find real love, and in the end finds it, but then loses it again. Then, it dies to be reborn and love again, like Nature itself.
“Hain” is a song I wrote during a time when I was very pissed with some band members and drama that was going down. So after kicking them out, I wrote this song and lyrics! Thanks for the inspiration though!
Metal Maven: Will future releases be singular concepts or do you want to somehow bridge them and tell a deeper story?
Başak Ylva: If you mean all the albums will be related to each other, I guess no – but, of course, every album will have a story in itself. This time we’re writing the songs with our bass guitarist, Sebastian Heuckmann and, with his experience, I’m sure we’ll draw a nice, dark picture. Don’t expect such colourful artwork either.
Metal Maven: Will Dream Ocean record new music in 2020 or do you have other plans in mind?
Başak Ylva: Oh many… We’re recording all new music – a new album! That’s the only plan for 2020.
Metal Maven: What do you want to impart on those listening to your music? Is there a message or story you want to communicate?
Başak Ylva: I just want people to know that musicians and the audience – we complete a whole and we’re the same. Having the same struggles and happiness, the same problems and same solutions – one may find the way easier while the other needs to take a second look. But in the end, we meet at the same place, which is the concert hall. There we want to reach them, get to know them, and for them to get to know us. To see that we mean what we play and sing with our words, and while we do this we want to be speaking their words. Things maybe they could never say out loud.
We just want people to know that we desire to tell stories and meet with people who ARE the heroes of those stories. We hope we can do this. Thank you for having us and helping to reach out to those people.
Metal Maven: Absolutely. It was my pleasure!
To learn more about Dream Ocean and purchase their latest album, Lost Love Symphony, visit dreamocean.net.
For more information on Başak’s Opera career and upcoming performances, visit basakceber.com.