ELZ AND THE CULT is a dark-wave, gothic-pop act from Istanbul. Following the successful debut full-length “Polycephaly” in 2017, the band has just released the highly anticipated sophomore 10-track studio album titled “Psychodrama”, 10 haunting, poignant and emotional dark electronic sound, blending dark-pop, dark-wave, cyber-punk and electroclash.
We’ve had an in depth talk with ELZ about ‘psychodrama’, Instanbul, Marlyn Manson, Gremlins and much more. Enjoy!
- Thanks so much for being our welcome guest! What are the origins of the name Elz and the Cult?
ELZ is my family name (surname) – I always had a huge interest in cults and how they work, why do people need them, what is the urge and what are the systems inside cults and many stuff like that. I read a lot of books about it and watched many stuff. The concept of ‘cult’ always fascinated me. It is a whole another language and a discipline of belief, life and mantras. If you go beyond Modern English that we use today and the understandings that derive from the term ‘cult’ – it actully means a group of people, a collective group that shares a mutual novel belief or a purpose – it does not have to be religion – it can be anything. So basically the name of the project derived from this whole cult thing. I wanted to form my ELZ cult.
- Why Psychotherapy? What about it intrigues you?
Psycho-theraphy but especially psychodrama and/or monodrama interests me. For so long I never felt like I was understood. But by myself. I always felt so disconnected from myself who I really am or what do I aspire to be, what do I want to feel like. Psychodrama is as you know the technique of using many other voices, characters and situations in a theatrical setting to overcome your inner problems or things you consider to be your problems. This is truly fascinating to me because when i make music I talk about very personal stuff but I write my songs in a way that they don’t sound too realistic or personal. Because I always create other perspectives, narratives and personas when I’m writing about my experiences, stories or other people’s life. This really helps me me to get together with myself again — it is so strange that the more i get away from myself and my personal own narrative the more authentic and comfortable I feel and of course this is something I am still thinking and reading about and constantly try to discover.
- Are your characters and emotions drawn from your life, observing others, or fictional?
They are mostly all me. Different versions or moods of myself. But sometimes I get too distant from my persona and portray the voices of unrealistic characters that i create, it is ever-changing with every song, every bit of lyric or melody to me.
- Have you studied Freud and Jung? Jung’s anima and animus seem to be present in your work…
Yes. I am majoring in Comparative Literature and took a Psychoanalysis class too, read a lot about this topic. Anima/Animus is a very interesting topic, surprisingly i have been thinking about that for a couple of months now. Sexuality and gender roles are now a big part of my works. I felt much more comfortable talking about it in the last year and it really reflected on PSYCHODRAMA. I was born and raised in a community where it was a bit challenging and close-minded. As a man and as a woman the community that i was growing up with made really clear about how you should behave, what you should love or hate, how you should sound. It is almost very dystopic to me. They have this robotic idea of a man and a woman and how their future will shape like and how they will behave like and etc. As i grow up to my 20s and moved away i discovered my about myself and how i wanna be. I think everyone should be very comfortable with the feminine and masculine powers that they possess. Visually and sonically i feel much more powerful and try to push some normative looks and sounds in my live performances and music.
- How influential has your home town Istanbul been in your creative process?
Istanbul is a very confusing city to me. I was born and raised here, i am in a love and hate relationship with Istanbul. Istanbul really influenced some of the songs in the album, especially “The Witching Hour” & “Cold War”.
- How do you prepare for the video shoot? They are so emotionally haunting.
I am actually too obsessed with what I do and I love being a DIY artist. If I do something I want to be in charge for most of it. The creation process, curation, editing, idealizing and everything else. I don’t want to call it synesthesia but when i write songs or produce them i always have a visual vision and a story for each and every one of them. There are some amazing people that i have been collaborating for over 4 years now, i usually go and tell them about my vision and curation. We get together under very non-budget situations and settings and we do it.
- Can you talk about your collaboration with fellow darkwave/EBM songstress Bewitched As Dark, an artist beloved down here.
Ah, Bewitched As Dark. We are constantly working together and it is really weird. We both live in Turkey but we never actually met face to face with her. We connected with each other online and from day one we both realised how many common artistic integrities we share. We did a collaborative EP together called “Wonderdead” recorded like five songs for it and released only three of them. And then we decided to form a duo which is again called ‘Wonderdead’! And while we were working on some songs together I sent her a couple of stuff that I was working with and I wanted to have her on the album. We came up with a different idea for this collaboration in particular. Both of us are very aggressive and harsh with our sound and production but “Gremlins” (the collaboration on the album) is mellow, melancholic mid-tempo song that has trip hop and darkwave elements in it. We talk with each other almost everyday. Love her.
- How does your writing process occur? For example was “Faith In Me” written first and used as an inspiration piece?
Not really. I write almost everyday. Every moment. I did not produce or sing before. I was only writing poems for myself and I was selling lots of lyrics and songs to other artists around the world on SoundCloud and on MySpace when it was a thing. And then i turned my poems and short stories into lyrics. I usually have over 50 or 60 lyrics for an album and i curate them one by one to fit into a thematic piece.
- Have you always been interested in dark human nature, death? If so do you know the reason for it?
Yes. I always was more inspired and into the art of darkness and the dark side of persona but I have no idea why haha.
- What is “Cold War” about? How was it collaborating Kutay Soyocak (frontman of Turkish synthwave band Jakuzi)?
“Cold War” is actually about Istanbul a little bit. It is about a person who feels misunderstood in a particular community all the time but do nothing about it. You are the one to change your surroundings I always believe that. So it becomes a cold war between you, your thoughts and the city, community you live in/with. Kutay and i kind of become close friends in a very short period. We feel the same about certain things and one time we were just chatting and talking about maybe doing something together. We listened the whole album together at my place and he also loved “Cold War” and we directly recorded it in a couple of hours. He is such a joy to work with.
- In “Die Once More” is it a self struggle or are others involved?
“Die Once More” is actually about self-empowerment. It is like i am dying all the time, I have my problems. Go on and kill me again like it won’t affect me anymore. It is about being tired to struggle and depressingly becoming okay with it.
- “We Never Met”, would this be someone helping you heal from the past by discovering yourself? Or is it one about falling again?
Someone from a dream, she is like a friend i never met and will never meet in the future. She is just an idea of a person for me and this song is to her. Because i really do wonder what my life would be like if I met her.
- Both “Gremlins” and “I Did This To Myself” made me think of the anima and animus mentioned earlier. The male and female roles are pronounced, but seem like they could be the shadow self.
Yes, kind of. “I Did this to Myself” is about growing pains. “Gremlins” may be the first and only ‘love’ song i have ever released. None of my songs are about someone or a past love experience. Only “Open My Heart” and I did not write that one I only wrote a hook to it and a verse. My dear friend Nigel wrote the song while we were working together. Gremlins is one of my favorite movies of all time! I watch it all the time. It is a metaphor about loving and caring about someone and them hurting you. You know in the movie there are some ‘rules’ to love Gizmo. And if you cross those rules and lines that cute little creature turns into a human-destroying creature. This song is a play on that idea. You sometimes love someone so much and care for them and do everything for them. And sometimes some people get used to the idea of your love and use it against you, become greedy and hurt you in the end.
- There are quite a few different voices and characters in this LP, “The Witching Hour” seems to bring them all out. Is the song a changing point or an acceptance of some kind?
“The Witching Hour” is about acceptance and wicked fun. It was inspired by Istanbul and the people you see at nighttime. Everyone lives their ‘commercial’ life and when the nighttime comes we all unleash the real us inside us. We tell secrets to the streets and lose our control.
- “Dystopian Prayer”.. Crushed me… Is this an effect of the witching hour? I did hear some Skinny Puppy and Marilyn Manson in it..compliments!!
Both very influential in my life. Especially Marilyn Manson. I am obsessed with him and everything he does since i was 13 years old. I will never forget the first time i watched the ‘Sweet Dreams’ music video and how deeply it pushed me artistically. The song “Dystopian Prayer” is very much inspired by him thanks for hearing that. “Dystopian Prayer” is very self explaining actually. This persona that sings it wants to be famous, wants to become an idol for those who they wanna speak to. But this persona knows that you have to play the ugly game to get fame or recognition. The cheesy idea of selling your soul to the devil. Not believing in anything and wanting for someone else to take all the control for you and shape you.
- Words about the final song?..So beautiful…
It is composed by Henry Purcell. ‘Funeral Sentences’ and Music for the ‘Funeral of Queen Mary’. Such an amazing and mesmerizing piece of art. And also the soundtrack of the most influential film for me, ‘Clockwork Orange’. I wanted to pay homage and put the re-recording as the final goodbye to the listeners.
- Do you draw from your own pain to write, sing, and act in these songs? Or perhaps you’re an empath? Is it cathartic? or does it make it worse…HAHA
It is all of it! Haha. My creating process is very messy and chaotic. Sometimes even I lose track of the inspirations and/or influences I am getting by. Chaos makes everything better for me, mentally. Physically, well, it makes it worst.
- Which is the most emotionally disturbing song on the album? Why?
“We Never Met”. Because it really is too personal and the voice is just me. Unfiltered. No characters or metaphors.
“PSYCHORAMA” will be available as compact disc, cassette and zine editorial form as well as being on all the digital streaming platforms, don’t miss out!
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