Olcay Bayir: Rüya – Dream for Anatolia

May 26, 2019

Music for a Long Journey

Listening Post 203. Olcay Bayir’s extraordinary second album begins with an endless walk on a narrow road, the trek drawn from an Alevi allegory of life’s journey. The artist has a parallel story: Born in southern Turkey, her musical Kurdish family—father and brother her first teachers—moved frequently around Anatolia and in every locale Olcay (pronounced “OL-djai”) encountered new cultural influences. When she was 16 the family moved to London, a challenging new environment where music became her bridge between isolation and inclusion. She studied opera but ultimately opted for a musical cornucopia: Kurdish and Turkish tradition, folk sounds from the Mediterranean to the Caucasus, classical music and global refrains from her adopted home. All her paths merge in Rüya – A Dream for Anatolia, with added input from her producer-arranger team, Al MacSween and Giuliano Modarelli of the world-jazz collective Kefaya. On Rüya, Bayir sings—in Turkish and Kurdish—her own compositions, plus songs from other contemporary writers and folk sources, about phases of love on life’s highway. Passion and pain are as yin and yang in Yar Dedi, in which she chants, “My heart was touched by a dagger—beloved, it said” (video 1). The joyous Ekmek Dedim (I Say Bread, video 2) recounts a love “burning with fire,” while Hawar e (Cry) describes a gravely injured lover arriving on a blood-soaked horse (video 3). The album’s title track is a story of love gone viral in a dream-prayer of global peace, “children smiling with hope” and “lands without war spreading endlessly before me” (video 4). Bayir deploys her silky, soulful voice and rich music palette in the quest to understand all that the world offers and all it withholds, her journey defined not by the road but by what she makes of it—a bridge between souls, between experience and inspiration. (ARC Music)

Rüya – Dream for Anatolia, album credits
Olcay Bayir: vocals
Giuliano Modarelli: guitar
Al MacSween: keyboards, piano
Aurel Qirjo: violin
Erdi Arslan: zurna, duduk, flute
Kostas Kopanaris: darbuka, bendir, percussion
Sam Vicary: double bass
Erdoğan Bayır: saz
Serkan Çakmak: kaval
Joost Hendrickx: drums
Adam Teixeira: drums
Mehmed Mert Baycan: bendir
Murat Sığırcı: bağlama
Huw Bennett: double bass


Yar Dedi/Beloved, It Said
Music & Lyrics: Olcay Bayır

(from the Turkish lyrics)
Sifting, I sifted my beloved from this heart
Without the beloved, there is no life, it told me
Without the beloved, there is no gain, it said to me
My heart was touched by a dagger – beloved, it said

Sifting, I sifted my beloved from this heart
I could not touch my face to my beloved’s feet
The longing inside I could not lay bare
My heart was touched by a dagger – beloved, it said.


Ekmek Dedim/I Say Bread
Music: Olcay Bayır/Lyrics: Mehmet Bal and Olcay Bayır

(from the Turkish lyrics)
My nights are good/I live with you every moment
Today is not the same as yesterday/I feel deep in my heart now

I say bread, I say love/A little wine I say
It won’t be possible if I don’t drink/And the words will be unworthy without love

Love me for a good deed/Tire me with your love
Burning with fire, let me whirl/Come see how I am


Hawar e/Cry
Music: Olcay Bayır/Lyrics: Cemo

(from the Kurdish lyrics)
He is a good horse rider, wey lo wey lo
He is as a strong as a stone, I’m stricken with grief
His horse is the colour of pomegranate, wey lo wey lo,
He cannot walk, he is wounded, my love is wounded.

He is deeply wounded, wey lo wey lo
It is the colour of the earth, I’m stricken with grief
Gule’s wound is deep, wey lo wey lo
Blood flows down, my love is wounded

No one can save him, wey lo wey lo
It is late, it is far, I’m stricken with grief
The air is frozen cold, wey lo wey lo
I am sobbing, my love is wounded


Music & Lyrics: Olcay Bayır

(from the Turkish lyrics)
I dreamt a dream last night
It still makes my heart yearn
I saw children smiling with
Hope in their eyes. I saw lands without war
Spreading endlessly before me

I turned into a bird and dived into the sky
I was beguiled by the colours of a rainbow
As a river I burst my banks
Like a fish I plunged into it with joy



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