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Mu Tunc is Bringing Punk Back to Istanbul

Altan lived a past life as a successful singer in the mid-’70s, but was forced to relinquish his dream when he was drafted into the military to fight in the Turkish coup d'état of 1980. By the time his service was up, the entertainment industry in Turkey had all but forgotten about him. “There was no media at that time,” Tunc told office. “There was one national TV channel. And when you’re away for 15 months, people forget you.” So for years he’d say he would return to making music, but according to Tunc, “That time’s never going to come.”


But Orkun inherited Altan’s love of music and performance. He and his friends formed a band as kids called Violent Pop, and in 1993, he released an EP with his second band Turmoil––a group that collaborated on splits with other bands like Mexico’s Regeneracion through the mail. In this pre-internet era, kids looking to find other punks would write their mailing addresses in fanzines and in the sleeves of records to be found by whoever else was looking, and send their tapes back and forth.

This was a conservative moment in Istanbul when “having different taste and bringing it up in conversation, you couldn’t do that,” Tunc said. “It was the late ’90s and people were narrow-minded.” Tunc, now 32, grew up to work behind the scenes in fashion in Paris and London, leaving the memory of Istanbul’s once-burgeoning punk scene behind. But after a fateful split with his last bad boss, he realized that in trying to emulate a Western lifestyle, he’d abandoned a critical piece of himself and his culture. “I thought being Western meant acting like them, but that’s not West. That’s losing your identity––ignoring your culture, ignoring everything coming from the East, ignoring your mother and father, ignoring your taste, everything.” And what he wants now is to bring this forgotten element of the East to the West––to preserve the memory of a subculture that shaped him.


After leaving his job as a brand consultant, Tunc put his degree in cinema to use and began making the film 'ARADA,' Turkey’s first punk movie. It’s a fictional film based heavily on his experience growing up immersed in Istanbul’s unique hardcore scene, telling the story of Ozan, a young punk who wants to leave Istanbul to release a record in California. Shot in just 13 days, the film sheds light on the restless energy young people felt in the ’90s, wanting to escape a country they felt would never allow them to be themselves.


In creating 'ARADA,' Tunc hopes to reach Istanbul’s youth of today, many of whom never even knew of the scene’s existence. “We have to give our energy to creating a dialogue,” he told office. “Anarchism is within you, it’s within us. That’s sexy. Swearing or shitting in the street, that’s not sexy anymore, using drugs is not sexy anymore. Changing something is sexy right now.”


Catch the US premiere of 'ARADA' tonight at the Museum of Arts and Design, and check out behind the scenes imagery from the making of the film, below.


Lead image: Violent Pop. Courtesy of Mu Tunc.


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