Ayhan Sahin


Ayhan Sahin is captivating audiences with originality, a distinct musical style and edgy pop rock production, on full display in the new radio single 'I Like You'. We wanted to find out what drives this dedicated artist to push the limits of the genre.

You can generally tell when an artist is ready for the next stage of their career. It shows up in timing and tonal certainties, and there's a sense of conviction that just can't be faked. Ayhan Sahin's catchy new track 'I Like You' has that audible conviction, but its sheer inventiveness and mainstream digestibility fulfill the other half of the equation that determines who gets radio time and who goes home unheard. It also doesn't hurt that Ayhan Sahin was the recipient of the Akademia Music Award for Best Pop Rock Song. Independent reporter Andrew Brooks recently caught up with Ayhan Sahin to talk about the new single and the obvious passion for fundamentally original pop rock music that gave rise to it.

ANDREW: What drew you to the music business?
AYHAN SAHIN: I have a masters degree in civil engineering. I worked at construction sites for over five years, when I realized that it was not for me. I was writing songs and, with my band, putting up concerts in my native Turkey, in order to escape from the misery I was having from my daytime job. I was fortunate to find a way to leave my job, get approved by NYU’s Tisch School to start my new career as a musician, and my new life as a New Yorker. That was the beginning of my dream. It has been over 20 years and I never looked back.

ANDREW: How would you describe your sound on your latest single 'I Like You'?
AYHAN SAHIN: The sound on my latest single is a journey that starts with an acapella section, traveling into the seventies rock vibe, and ending with a tribal outro. It’s simple but deep and authentic, as well as very lyrical.

ANDREW: What inspired the name of your new single?
AYHAN SAHIN: My collaborator, Bernadette O’Reilly wrote the lyrics with musical ideas for the chorus. The title was our initial hook that we worked into the complete song.

ANDREW: What’s the biggest problem you’ve had to overcome so far?
AYHAN SAHIN: The demo we recorded had a completely different vibe; I wasn’t hearing my voice in that early production. We did a several different arrangements when we started the production. That was my biggest obstacle trying to reach to the emotional heights of the song. Once we got the right groove, the rest followed easily.

ANDREW: What do you enjoy most about being a musician? What do you enjoy least?
AYHAN SAHIN: I enjoy creating. Seeing the development of a melody line that I mumble to myself turn into a radio-friendly, full produced record, is the ultimate satisfaction in life for me. That is the thing I most enjoy about being a musician. On the other hand, having to self-promote my work is the least joyful part of being a musician.


ANDREW: If you could change anything about the music industry, what would it be?
AYHAN SAHIN: I like being an independent musician, and I like the current form of music business in general. One thing I would change, if I had the ways, would be to destroy the meaning and the influence of the idea of celebrity.

ANDREW: How long have you been in the music business and how did you get started?
AYHAN SAHIN: My professional music career started with my graduation from NYU’s Tisch School in 2002. My first moves were all focused on recording music. I was looking for jobs at the same time in music business, but I realized I was too old for anyone to hire me as an intern. I started recording New York actors and musicians' demos and reels and charging them less than market values, for I knew I was learning. The best part of being in New York is that one meet someone, and another professional platform grows with new branches. All one has to do is be open-minded and be at one's best. My best was being confident about my talent. I knew for certain what I was creating was good, even when it led to a lot of rejections.

ANDREW: If you could be any animal in the world, what animal would you be and why?
AYHAN SAHIN: If I were to be an animal instead of a human being, I’d rather be a dog. Yes I would. I have a big heart and love is the center of my day, and that is the purpose of everything I initiate. I feel like dogs spread love around their surroundings unconditionally.

ANDREW: When do your musical ideas come to you?
AYHAN SAHIN: Music ides usually come when I am roaming around New York City, or when I’m jogging around south street seaport. That's when I feel like I am a constituent of nature and life and that’s the move when I attempt to hear my voice.

ANDREW: Which song did you have the most trouble writing and why?
AYHAN SAHIN: Songs on hire with jazz artists are the hardest writing experiences for me, because of the complexity and at the same time freestyle principles of the form.

ANDREW: What city would you most like to perform at while on tour?
AYHAN SAHIN: I’d like to perform on a pier in a Mediterranean city on a cool summer night, where the audience watches me from the land while my band is placed towards the water. That’s a dream, or maybe a vision. The city could be anywhere from Barcelona to Palma De Mallorca, or Nice. Sorrento, Antalya —somewhere along the coast.

ANDREW: What's next for you as a musician that fans can look forward to?
AYHAN SAHIN: New music with new experiences as we turn our life experiences into wave forms. It amazes me to listen to an artist fifteen years ago and today. I wish to have an arc in my music that defines where I was in my early times to where I will become in years.

ANDREW: Interesting! It's been great speaking with you! Thank you for your candid answers and I can't wait to hear what’s next in your music career.