Coming from a musician family and receiving a musical education from her family until the age of 10, Elif Sanchez graduated from the Istanbul University State Conservatory with an outstanding achievement award and graduated from Berklee College of Music, winning the Bill Pierce Award and the Mediterranean Music Institute Award in 2017.
During her time in Boston, Elif Sanchez caught the attention of the 14 Grammy award winner Javier Límon with the group “Mediant Collective,” which she founded in 2015, and was invited to the “Refuge of Sound” project as a guest artist.
In 2016, she was interviewed by Latin America’s most popular international TV channel “Univision” with her project blending Middle Eastern and Latin music and recorded three songs, including her composition.
In 2020, Elif Sanchez returned to Turkey and had recorded four songs, including two Turkish and two Azerbaijani songs produced by Cenk Erdoğan.
We talked with Elif Sanchez about her EP that will meet with the audience on all digital platforms this year, her music journey from Turkey to Berklee, and her future projects.
Are there any other musicians in the family? What kind of family did you grow up in?
There is no one in my family who is not a musician. My mother is a singer and a choir conductor. My father is also a singer. Both of them graduated from Istanbul University State Conservatory. My aunt is an amazing vocalist. Growing up in a musical family is something that I’ve always considered an advantage.
How did Elif Sanchez decide to use her voice as her instrument?
I never thought of being a singer as an instrumentalist. We had choir classes in the conservatory. My singing adventure started when our dear choir teacher Keysudar Sever guided me to Sibel Köse after hearing my voice. Meeting Sibel was like a turning point for me. It was such an excitement for me to have a musician that I admire patiently teaching me the basics. Then I got into the Bahçeşehir University Jazz Department, and my singing adventure officially started.
How would you describe the Anatolian influence in your music?
I created my own blend by taking the motives that most impressed me from different cultures’ music. There is a lot of interaction in my music, so I define it as world music.
You started your music career as an instrumentalist. How has being an instrumentalist effected your interpretation?
If I weren’t an instrumentalist, I wouldn’t be where I am right now. Playing an instrument means looking from another perspective. The musical perception of musicians who play instruments other than their principal instrument usually has a unique vision. Playing an instrument expands your vision.
How was working with Javier Límon?
Working with Javier was very enjoyable. It’s easy to work with people who know what they want. Javier is a very clear person; he says whatever he wants. That’s why when a project starts with him, and it progresses very quickly. I still get his opinion when I have a project.
You worked with Cenk Erdogan on your new EP project. What would you say about the style of your music?
We modernized the folk songs in a different way; We blended them with a more groovy style. It was a new experience for me as well.
What do you like to do other than music?
I love to dance. Especially Latin dances; Salsa, and cha cha cha are the dances I enjoy the most. I love painting in oil. It is a very relaxing activity for me.
Do you like the sea and going on a cruise?
I love the sea! Sea has a healing power on me. All my life, whatever city I was in, I always have lived near the sea because it makes me feel like there’s something big and powerful that protects me. It’s a place that I can go and leave my troubles behind. I’ve never been on a cruise, but of course, it’s one of the things on my to-do list.
Which country would you want to live other than Turkey?
Well, I’ve lived in the US for ten years, so I guess it’d be Europe this time. I’d love to live in Spain, and I have a feeling that it will happen one day. I want to be around the Mediterranean culture. It feels more like home outside of my home.
What feelings ‘voyage’ awakes in you?
It excites me. I’ve traveled all my life and lived in many different places. I keep moving because there’s this feeling in me that says there’s something else that awaits me. I believe that’s what feeds me as an artist.
What are your next projects?
I have many projects in mind. But my priority is to share my EP work with as many people as possible. After that, I want to make a project and an album in Spanish and Turkish with my own songs.