I’ve been doing this for several years now. I, for a long time just saw it as a side project. After the split of my last band Channing Cope, Black Sea Storm has become my only musical outlet.
It should quite be obvious that my parents didn’t name me Black Sea Storm. Ha ha ha. My real name is Ali Ozkan or Ali Deniz Ozkan if you prefer the middle name inclusive version. I’ve been playing in bands and trying to rock out the best I can since 1990. I played in several bands since then. The ones that actually released recorded material are “Swoan” from Geneva Switzerland “Channing Cope” of San Diego California and “Shere” (just a summer project).
I consider my main instrument being the electric bass guitar. The early Black Sea Storm jams are pretty much just multi layered bass lines. Even though I had previously done some home recordings in Geneva during the “Swoan” era under the name of “Deniz’s Home”(never released anything) ,the Black Sea Storm adventure started with the purchase of a Line 6 Loop pedal. The actual tool allowed me to play simultaneously over my own bass lines. I didn’t have anything to record my loops with other than a digital video camera. Therefore the earliest Black Sea Storm material has a pretty raw recording quality.
The bit more advanced recording sessions started with the purchase of a computer, a sound card and a condenser microphone (AT 4040). I’m still, to this day recording all my instruments and jams with the same AT 4040. For about five years I used Channing Cope’s practice studio to do my recordings. Drums were available there, so at one point I decided to add drums to the bass lines and sing over them. The addition of the drums generated a drastic formal change. Instead of jamming and looping I was now writing songs. It happened naturally so I didn’t fight it.
From 2002-2007 I pretty much solely used the bass as the unique string instrument. I got to the point where I felt limited, and decided that it was time to add an instrument to cover the mid frequencies. At the time I didn’t have the means to invest into a decent electric guitar and appropriate amplification, so I ended up buying a used banjo on eBay for fifty bucks. The actual instrument definitely added something in terms of filling the missing frequencies. In 2009 things drastically changed, with Daniel (my boss) letting me borrow high quality guitar rig, I was able to replace the banjo with electric guitars. The 2009 recordings are the beginning in my opinion of Black Sea Storm sounding a bit more like a rock band.
2010…and here comes the Turkish era…. Right at the beginning of 2010 I started writing a song called “Onca Onsuz” thinking that it would just be another song in English. I actually started writing the lyrics in English and before I knew it, I started writing lyrics in Turkish. (Turkish is one of the 4 languages I fluently speak.) It wasn’t the first time I was writing in Turkish since I had written couple songs in early 2008 called “Kirik Camlar” and “Gemiler Batinca”. But back then I was too self conscious and shy with my Turkish to release them. After "Onca Onsuz" I wasn’t sure if I would be able to write a second song in Turkish, but I did. And I wrote a third one and a fourth one etc… After writing all these songs in Turkish, I had to make a decision. I didn’t really want my collection of songs be in several different languages. So I decided that I would at least for the first album stick to Turkish. I thought…. Oh how cool it would be to have a rock band in the US that only sings in Turkish!! I thought it would almost be a sort of experiment to convey emotions with vocals without being understood. I came up with a little slogan “Rock in Turkish made in USA”, took down all my songs in English from my website and myspace, and really felt like BLACK SEA STORM was truly born. For some reason this change in the language really motivated me and made me more productive. I was doing the same thing I was doing the past 20 years, but for some reason it was way more fun. Shortly after I released my first vinyl 7’ “Onca Onsuz” and I’m in the process of releasing my second 7’ “Kayip bir Ask” I really want to release a full length (hopefully in vinyl) with songs solely in Turkish.
The writing and recording process tend to happen simultaneously. I pretty much write music as I record or record as I write. Most of the parts I record are first takes. They are usually recorded few minutes after they exist. Even though I use a computer to record, I don’t do any sequencing or hardcore editing. I try to play the songs from beginning to end. The reason behind this approach in recording is that I want to stay true to my rocker identity. What I enjoy about creating music is playing. So I rather spend my time playing instruments than working on a computer to construct music. I also believe that, this way of doing things is allowing me to become a better musician day after day. Imperfections in music are essential to me in order to express liveliness and sincerity, therefore I almost don’t want to learn my songs and go to a professional studio to record them. By recording the songs as I write them, I feel like I’m capturing a certain freshness and excitement due to newness of the parts. The actual process is super fun. I love it!!!
“Deniz’s Home” was a project name given by David of Swoan / Shere .Deniz means the sea in Turkish, and it’s also happened to be my middle name. Black Sea Storm is a reference to one of the entities I love and respect the most in life. The greatest and most incredible Turkish soccer teams of all times TRABZONSPOR. In Turkiye people and the media refer to TRABZONSPOR as “Karadeniz Firtinasi” which again in Turkish means The Storm of the Black Sea, or Black Sea Storm. TRABZONSPOR earned this pretty unique nickname during the 70’s by dominating Turkish soccer. Playing against TRABZONSPOR was, back then considered in a metaphorical way being caught in a Storm in the middle of the Black Sea. Since the mid 90’s I have a fixation with this soccer team from the Black Sea region of Turkiye. All projects I took part in, there has been at least one song subtly referencing TRABZONSPOR. Swoan had actually released a single 7’ and a song called TRABZONSPOR. Channing Cope’s first EP album has an instrumental song called “The Storm of the Black Sea” and finally Shere has a song called “Swimming in Cold Water” in which you can hear real TRABZONSPOR fanatics talk shit about Fenerbahce and other very important things of life.