Kazim Koyuncu biography
Kâzım Koyuncu was a Laz folk-rock singer, song writer, and activist. Widely known as a Black Sea folk musician, Kazım Koyuncu (7th November 1971 - 25th June 2005) was not only a turning point in musical development of Black Sea region of Turkey, but also a member of the first Laz rock band in the world “Zuğaşi Berepe” and composer of significant projects.
Born to a Laz family living in the green village of Hopa, Artvin in the most north-eastern coastal part of Turkey, he spent his childhood listening to his very beloved grandmother’s tales and one of his best musicians “Yaşar Turna” whom he called my master. The first instrument of Kazım was the mandolin his father, Cavit Koyuncu, bought for him. However, when his uncle dwelling in Germany left his guitar at Artvin, he had found his main instrument. Due to the influences of French poets Rimbaud and Baudelaire on Kazım during the years of high school, he would be called “Şair Ceketli Çocuk” (The Boy with a Poet Jacket) among his friends in spite of the fact that he never became a poet. Entering the Public Management of İstanbul University Political Sciences Faculty in 1989, he went to İstanbul, but at the end of first year he left the school thinking that he wouldn’t be appointed as a head official of a district even when he graduated. From then on, he started to work in Çağdaş Sanat Atölyesi and composed the music of the theatre play named “Faşizmin Korku ve Sefaleti” (The Fear and Poverty of Fascism). Later, he founded Dinmeyen having a political musical aim with Ali Elver and released the album Sisler Bulvarı (The Boulevard of Fogs) in 1996. As Kazım Koyuncu proceeded with these projects, he also founded the first and only Lazuri rock band Zuğaşi Berepe (The Children of the Sea) in the world with his countryman Memedali Barış Beşli. Although these young university students with long hair and earrings couldn’t be understood properly in their country, they had gained a mass of listeners and been approved among other university students like them. The band which obtained a holy purpose to use the Lazuri language that is in danger of vanishing, had aimed at keeping a disappearing culture alive, singing songs and making music after all. There is no doubt that this era of assembling electro-rock sound with local Black Sea instruments such as khemenche and bagpipe-like tulum and the album ”Va Mişkunan” the band released in 1995 influenced Kazım’s musical development for the following times. In 1998, Zuğaşi Berepe released the concert album called “Bruxel Live” which was published just as much as the number of 130. At the same year, the new album of the band “Igzas” (We’re walking) attracting attentions with a modern rock sound and impressive lyrics was on sale. After quite successful two albums, Kazım Koyuncu left the band due to the responsibility he had to carry and the fact that no one helped him do that. In 2000 he took part in the project “Salkım Söğüt 2”. Especially, “Didou nana” he covered for this project turned out to be the most popular song of his career. In addition to the languages used in the coastal eastern part of Black Sea region of Turkey (that are Lazuri, Homshetsi and Turkish) he had sung before, he sang in Georgian and Mingrelian in his first solo album Viya (Laz Surf) that was released in 2003. He also participated in soundtracks of several TV series such as Sultan Makamı (with Kemal Sahir Gürel) and Gülbeyaz. Yet, Gülbeyaz was the turning point for Kazım Koyuncu in terms of TV series music and popularity. His voice, posture and thoughts for Black-sea local music that was coerced into monotony, increased his fame on a sudden. As well as his musical attitude, his support for campaigns against the non-public-friendly projects all around Turkey like Black-Sea Coastal Motorway, thermal power plants and golden-mining drew attention. Awkwardly,in order to deal with his suddenly-increasing popularity after Gülbeyaz, he postponed releasing the second album Hayde that is composed of 15 songs in two of which Şevval Sam featured him. After releasing the album, as he continued the concert series named Hey Gidi Karadeniz with Fuat Saka, Volkan Konak and Bayar Şahin, he unluckily learned that he had caught “cancer” what he called his worst phobia. What a pity that this worrying situation led to the loss of a great folk star of Turkey just after he said in a concert: “Either cancer or concert…” On 25 June 2005, Kazım Koyuncu passed away and was buried in the heart of his very beloved Hopa. After his death, an album called “Dünyada Bir Yerdeyim” (I’m Somewhere On The World) containing his unreleased songs was released as well as several documentaries about him including “Şarkılarla Geçtim Aranızdan” (“With My Songs I Passed Among You”), 3 hours of brilliant masterpiece of Ümit Kıvanç. His words in Va Mişkunan are very considerable:
“By the way; to the sky that has always been there above our head, to the darkness times of the day, to the storms which blow up sometimes, to the seas in which we will be drown someday, to the past days, to the future in which even we do not know what will happen, to the history despite being full of badness, to all of the beauty-faced children who try to change the bad flow of history, to “Don Quijotes”, to thieves of fire, to Ernesto “Che” Guevara, to roads, to journeys, to lovers, to making love ,to the improbabilities that we can only dream , to get warm while feeling cold, to the mothers and fathers who are warmer than anything and to songs which taste all of these, we send our warmth.
We have seen bad things. We have seen wars, massacres, dying and killing children. We have seen people, societies who lost their native languages, cultures and themselves. We have seen burning villages, towns, forests, animals. We have seen poor people, crying mothers and fathers, glue-sniffing children who deliberately run into death.
We also died. But after all, we sang on this earth.