Yasemin Mori is the Turkish Bjork. There, i said it. People moan when I or anyone else says it, but the fact is she breaks the mould, cuts through the crap, and does her own thing, much in the same way that the Icelandic pixie started two decades before. This is high praise, basically.
So what sets them apart? Well frankly Yasemin Mori is angry, for different reasons – be it at new president Tayyip Erdogan’s steady, insistent pressure upon her human rights as a woman, or how her last boyfriend fucked her over – Mori remembers, and makes sure you remember, too.
I’ve seen this sprite-banshee, force of life three times, twice at Istanbul’s oh-so-very-fashionable Hayal Kahvesi, and once at the - now past - splendid Ghetto. She is absolutely mesmerising, her black eyes and extensive, flowing curly hair at once sucking the crowd in, then spitting them out, contrary Piscean as she is. Mori holds no prisoners, at least while she’s performing.
The first time I saw her was with my smitten then girlfriend, who was absolutely enamoured by this free-moving, free-thinking fine arts woman, also tellingly knowing the words to every one of her songs. In Turkey, surrounded as one is by self-conscious female behaviour, Mori was indeed a liberating balm onstage – and the upper-middle class arts students/graduates in the audience bore this reality out clearly.
Yasemin Mori would surely love to reach out to every person around the world, let alone in Turkey, as would any artist. But the fact is that she is restricted to the 00.01 percent, the few remaining multicultural minds in Turkey. This bare, stark statistic breaks nearly every open-minded artist in Turkey – but Mori is smart enough to know that if she includes enough heart-bleeding, traditional sounding ballads in her repertoire, she’ll be ok. She accordingly deploys them as they need to be.
As you can perhaps tell, Mori is silhouetted by eccentricity. She is absolutely nuts, by anyone’s standards. Her backing group is called ‘Deli Bando,’ translated as ‘The Delirious Band,’ and despite their proficiency through trumpet, French horn, bass, and percussion, they fully understand and pander to the mad hoops Mori puts them through. These hoops are universally joyous, confident, and utterly seductive.
In one of her brilliant early videos - title loosely translated as “There Is Indeed An Issue” - a solo Yasemin is slowly joined by random characters, to pull her down, as she tries to be herself, just standing. In the end, the dead weights find themselves fighting gravity as it is they who are levitated to the heavens, while Mori roots all ten of them, stump-like, the final image resembling a Yasemin Mori-shaped tree, crucifixion images abounding. Is Yasemin Mori a Turkish Christ?
Turkey has been going through, and is continuing to go through massively alarming changes, from the earthquakes of brutal, harsh capitalism, to the surreptitious, insidious removal of women’s rights by stealth. Yasemin Mori, through her desperately furious, pitch perfect wail of horror, wakes the middle class up to this, as long as they are interested enough in someone so interesting to listen to – and thumbs her perfectly sculpted nose to the rest.
By Sean Bw Parker