Sometimes the listener is comforted by melancholy, while on the other hand, they can imagine themselves in a different universe with a mythological breeze. I think the biggest thing about such activities is that they lead people to more collective unity, especially during the pandemic period.
The world of dungeon synth is filled with remarkable individuals. One of those is Oytun Bektas, a musician with origins in Turkey, but currently residing ‘down under’. His music has been well-received in the world of synth lovers as being of remarkable, singular quality. Performing under the moniker Tir, Bektas has redone several of his albums in a quest for more perfection, exploring the ancient past, myths and the Cosmos.
Bektas was willing to tell more about his remarkable project, his journey to where he is right now and his vision on the sound he strives for. There’s a depth to his approach to music, but also a well condensed form to his answers and explanations I found most enjoyable.
E&D: How are you doing?
Oytun: Thanks. I’m pretty busy, but I’m fine.
E&D: How did you as a musician arrive at dungeon synth? What musical projects have you been in, who are your inspirations?
Oytun: Actually, it wasn’t a special choice for me to meet DS music style. I think that the fact that I have been dealing with classical music since I was very young maybe the first factor in this situation. I believe that along with the education I have received, I have developed myself in the field of polyphonic music production. Of course, the bands and musicians I have listened to for the past 20 years have been the second-biggest influence in capturing this music. Wongraven, early Mortiis and Burzum to name a few. Of course, I also got inspiration from some neofolk, dark folk and ambient artists because I didn’t directly produce DS. By the way, I’ve never been involved in any projects before Tir.
E&D: For anyone not familiar with Tir, how would you introduce yourself?
Oytun: A one-man project based on dark folk / dungeon synth, whose main theme since 2016 is the depiction of Cosmos, myths, history and nature. I think that’s the ideal definition.
E&D: How did you get to the name Tir? I was drawn to it as it has a meaning in Tolkien’s languages, but also refers to the Norse god of the sword. I read for you it has to do with the Turkish meaning, which is closer to solitude, can you tell more about that and what that means to you?
Oytun: I know a lot of people were confused by that name when they first heard it. Tir is a word of Central Asian origin. It’s an old name of Turkish origin. So it has no relationship with Tyr. Secondly, On my Urd, Skuld & Verdandi album, there were people who thought I was doing the Tyr song for my band name. But that song was only about the album’s depiction of Nordic mythology. In its clearest sense, Tir (not TIR) means alone and deserted. But I think it’s a very impressive detail that the language we use has taken on different meanings in itself.
E&D: When I found out about your music, at first I was under the impression Tir was a Scandinavian project. Only then I understood you’re located ‘down under’, but you are originally from Turkey. Can you tell me a bit how you ended up there and is there something of your travels that has seeped into your music?
Oytun: This was a decision I made about the direction of the world I live in. Sometimes when you think you cannot solve something, you have to create a new path. Otherwise, you will start to rot. You can think of it in every sense. I have the same instinct in the art I have produced. While in Turkey, Tir’s adventure bore the traces of European folk, and on the other hand, the different effects of the dark geography. Now I feel like I am on a different planet here. I think this will improve Tir’s needs and orientations a little more.
E&D: When you moved you did a funding campaign for equipment. How come you didn’t have the gear anymore?
Oytun: Yes, we were only able to bring a limited number of personal items of goods when we travelled to Australia. That’s why I created a charity campaign on this issue. Some followers, whom I’d like to thank again, helped me buy a midi keyboard. Later, I ended the campaign in order not to force more people on this issue. I continued to see my works with an old laptop. But now, those who want to help can reach me through PayPal.
E&D: You released an album titled Mountains, which you later gave a Redux version. As someone who loves mountains, I wanted to ask you what you find inspiring about them? What do they mean to you?
Oytun: For me, mountains album was the artistic expression of my musical experience for so many years. It was a reflection of the books I had read until then, my communication with nature and perhaps more. Mountains were actually an image. I can say that the journey of man and nature was in a way the intersection of the universe. I tried to present this as minimally as possible. Redux was a move to further enrich this simplicity.
E&D: What do you mean when you talk about simplicity, which you describe as key to what Tir is and does not mean simple? Or in other words: what is your vision on the sound of Tir?
Oytun: By simplicity, I mean, I have a completely dissimilar understanding of music. As I mentioned earlier, it is a wealth for me to produce a very vocal harmony. In other words, since I did not produce music in a narrow and routine pattern, Tir’s position in this genre is a little different. I would say, little intensifying the effect of dark art. Also, Tir basically intensifies its music without leaving the DS patterns. Even this detail keeps it away from its understanding of standard and simple composing.
E&D: Your recent album brings the theme of your music much closer to your region of origin. What prompted to switch from the Nordic darkness on Nigritude to the mysteries of Persepolis? And can you say something about what you are telling on this album, what stories etc.?
Oytun: In fact, there was no deviation in the depiction of dark art. Nigritude had a more edgy number of songs than just being an EP album. But the fact that the cover art was gifted to me by Markus Stock and the design was made by Peter Bursky (who also owns Brilliant Emperor Records) brought a lot of interest to this EP. Persepolis, on the other hand, was a rich serving of DS and dark folk art. During my visit to Iran many years ago, Persepolis left a very deep impression in my mind. In that red-painted land, I felt war, art and more with excess. I mean, in the middle of the desert, there was a source of life. I even felt the emotions of that period. I wanted to create a sound from ancient times on this album today. I’m happy to talk about the brutality of the old and bring history to life. Some places are ignored only for political reasons, but we have a detailed history that offers tons of importance.
E&D: For me, ancient history and the middle-east is a topic that is filled with mysteries. I believe you could build a whole body of art around this, expressing stories and ideas. Do you plan to continue with this?
Oytun: In fact, not only men (I had made a type in my question, hence this reference, ed.), but for many women in the Middle East and Anatolia there are many heroism stories. The female warriors and the female hierarchy was much stronger than now. With religion, a regression and patriarchy began to emerge in this process. On the other hand, the most important bend of civilisations crossing arms is in that land. Actually, I have the idea of continuing this depiction not through Tir but through my side project Ruins of Xibalba. My primary target is old Anatolia and Central Asia.
E&D: What is your process of writing and recording music like, particularly for your last album?
Oytun: My musical composition processes are all about my visual experiences. I start to experience the subject I depict visually and start to read these details. Then comes the technical part of the job. Which is not a process that runs without any blockages. So I can say that it sometimes happens that I can finish a few songs on the same day.
E&D: So, what is the scope of topics for Tir and since you also have a side project, how do you decide what fits the Tir concept and what needs a different moniker? Also, can you tell me something about Ruins of Xibalba?
Oytun: When I founded Tir, I decided to depict history, nature and war, as well as loneliness in nature. I think I’ve brought out these concepts through the music in a way I’m happy with, but of course, these depictions are also influenced by the dark face of black metal. It is of course more symphonic, but it’s pure. When I founded Ruins of Xibalba, I wanted to shape the dark ambient elements in my musical understanding more. In other words, it is a circled state that imprisons the listener in it, and I wanted to draw the audience into the dark world of Xibalba. At this point, I’m trying to bring it back to the universe we live in a little bit. So, Ruins of Xibalba’s first album describes the Mayans. They are a unique civilisation that is very difficult to describe. I still think the Mayans are World Masters. Without being changed by this truth, my side project will continue to process both the mysticism in history and the role of past civilisations in the universe. Maybe this project can connect cosmically outside this world? Cosmic Ambient, sounds good, doesn’t it?
E&D: You are one of the artists in this genre who have decided to perform live. What does it mean for you to perform live and what sort of vibe do you go for?
Oytun: I’m not the kind of person who looks warmly at live performances. But after my concerts at festivals such as Peru and the Northeast Dungeon Siege, the positive feedback made me very happy. As I said before, listeners and viewers can feel many different effects due to my not performing standard and simple music. I think that makes Tir’s influence different. Sometimes the listener is comforted by melancholy, while on the other hand, they can imagine themselves in a different universe with a mythological breeze. I think the biggest thing about such activities is that they lead people to more collective unity, especially during the pandemic period. The texture of underground music brings together many different elements. If I can contribute to it as a Tir, it’s flattering for me.
E&D: Dungeon synth has become a genre dense with meanings and offshoots. Sub-styles (or genres) like comfy synth, winter synth and so forth are disrupting the definition of the genre. How do you feel about this?
Oytun: It’s certainly possible for music to diversify in itself. Each production and composition can have its own form of narrative. The most important point here is how much it retains the main theme. For example, how stupid and unnecessary it would be for a black metal band to give you pop tunes and images, wouldn’t it? Seeing dungeon synth only in the form of game fiction reduces its great strength. I’ve always defended this. DS black metal’s backyard; symphonic face. There will always be differences, but basically avoiding anathema can be the biggest mistake.
E&D: Which artists are you currently listening to and do you think should receive more attention?
Oytun: Although I listen to black metal with intensity, I devote time to other genres from time to time. If I have to recommend it, I think the She Past Away is very strong. Again, from the same musical genre Oul is a very successful band. On the other hand, I am looking forward to the new Tenhi and Summoning albums with great curiosity!
E&D: What are your future plans with Tir?
Oytun: Persepolis is the last album before we see a shift in direction for Tir. For my next album, I want to produce slightly different content with the main difference from the current style being that more live instruments will accompany it. I guess there is no need to give more details, let’s wait and see together.
E&D: If you had to describe Tir as a dish, what would it be and why that one?
Oytun: It’s a point I never thought about. But I’d definitely say water. I think it’s the right match. It points to the plain and clear simplicity of Tir.