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A punk guide to Istanbul with Padme

Though it was only named Istanbul in 1930, the ancient Turkish city has been populated largely since 6700 BC.

In that time it has been the capital city of three empires – Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman, and thrived as the only transcontinental city in the world, nestled between Europe and Asia. As one of the fastest growing cities in the world, it has a population of more than 15 million, placing it as the largest urban agglomeration in Europe.

There are a lot of facts to sink your teeth into about Istanbul, but what about its alternative music scene? Earlier this year, Istanbul punks Padme released The Fine Line Between Being Conscious and Self Harm, their third-full length album.

It would appear that there’s no shortage of punk rock in the historic city. Padme’s Toprak and Noiz were kind enough to guide us through their scene.

Growing up as a young punk in Istanbul, what are some of the places you would tend to hang out?

Toprak: We mostly spend time in the streets of Taksim (the centre of the European side of İstanbul) or in Kadıköy (the centre of the Asian side). We also spend time in the studios we rehearse in, or in each other’s houses since alcohol is getting more expensive everyday and drugs are cheaper (and tax free), and there are lots of undercover cops on the streets (since we live under an Islamic totalitarian regime). So yeah, houses are safer.

Oh and also in the parks on the seaside of Kadıköy, the breeze is amazing in the summers.

What are some of the best record shops for punk music in Istanbul, and what makes them special places?

Noiz: We actually don’t have anyone who does vinyl pressings or distro because it’s costly to manufacture and to sell, so that probably gives an idea about the whole situation.

Toprak: Actually vinyls are not a big thing in Turkey as in Europe or any other place that we’ve been in. It’s not popular since it’s kinda expensive for punks and other poor people. Most of the places only sell traditional Turkish records or like more classic stuff. It’s really hard to find a vinyl of most of the bands we listen to.

Are there any other locations in the city that are important to its punk rock music community?

Toprak: I think we don’t have any important places for the community such as tattoo studios or clothing stores. But we have ‘Karga’ the venue where most of the punk/hc shows take place and the people who run there are all sweethearts. And for an example of a pub, I think I could say ‘Wizard’ where we all go to hang out after the shows in Kadıköy.

Established in 1996, Karga Bar puts just about every venue in Sydney to shame.

Tell us more about Karga…

Noiz: ‘Karga’ is in the bar street of Kadıköy. It has 4 floors, it has toilets on the 3rd floor, the stage is at the 4th, the first two floors are not for punks. In front of the bar we have a bouncer, it’s fun to watch him wreck drunk people.

Toprak: ‘Karga’, we only have ‘Karga’. Well, actually there were more venues before but for the past 2 years the venues are not really into punk/hc music since the music scene in İstanbul is more about electronic music than the other alternative genres.

Lots of venues got shut down because of the economic crisis or they had to do some more mainstream stuff than alternative stuff since they had to survive. It’s really sad since there are lots of great punk/hc bands all around the city.

Other than Padme, who are some other great punk bands making moves from Istanbul?

Toprak: I think my favourites are Lifelock (melodic hardcore) and Cemiyette Pişiyorum (punk rock, they’re my biggest inspiration of the punk scene in Turkey, they have the best lyrics I’ve ever read).

Noiz: Since Toprak counted most of the ones that I was going to say, all there’s left is Abstract Sense (noise rock, punky punk) and Wave Flipper (surfy rock, grindcore).