Elnur, the clip of «Say Hallelujah» song, composed by you, was presented recently. Is this your first composition?
No, by far, this is not the only one from my compositions, but the first one coming out. I don’t compose music so frequently. At times, I am inspired with such ideas, that eventually I wonder, who would ever sing it? Evidently, not me, as I contrived creating music, absolutely irrelevant to the genre, performed by me. Thus, I get concerned then, whether I am able discovering such performer, who gets across every note to audience in its best sound, meaning. It is so important, that after clicking moment of “play” button, that music will not only sound, but will also speak. The main point is not even about the lyrics of a song. Do you understand, what I mean? On the other hand, I presume if I should keep it under “dust”, like tens of other music fragments, expecting their completion, but kept in cold storage? Emotions of the past will not be retrieved and thus, melody has been completed, though it is not in fully composed one.
What can inspire a person to write music?
Almost everything. The point is everything depends on situation a person gets and on feelings resonated in him. Sometimes you read a verse, and it will hit you so much alive, as in the case of the text of the song "Say Hallelujah" ("Körpələrin səsi", words: Jalal Qurbanov; translation: Nigar Hasanzadeh). This song touches upon the theme of children’s rueful feelings, pain suffered, as a result of events, taking place all over the world, whether it is a war or a natural calamity. The image of a little girl, playing with broken doll, rose to view and, at this time, sun ray started irradiating her baby face, then got out view, as if leaving a glimmer of hope. Thus, in such case, melody sounds are set in line in the head, as if, at the command. By the way, I sang “Say Hallelujah” song jointly with little Fidan Huseynova, who performed it on behalf of all children of the World. In whole this story I perceive myself, as a narrator, speaking a language of music.
Besides, perception of all running around us is important. Either a person passes through himself all this, or stands aside and sees off the winds of events. Stretch your hand. You will feel slight “breath” and music will allow you composing it.
Tell me about your present activity?
I am experiencing hard period. I would say, some realization path, which happened to me. Finding myself in the Turkish show business, I cherished my hopes, that I would be able to show myself off, my music. Finally I gained popularity, but exactly not myself. I have to admit, that at all times, I was fulfilling whatever was told or ordered to me, starting from international competitions and finishing with activity in Turkey. I would like desperately removing several video tapes with my performances in internet. Not because, that I feel ashamed for them, but simply I don’t find myself in them.
At the present stage, I try to realize whatever I wish. I am overwhelmed with projects, among which social ones are also available. I am planning to present old Azeri and Turkish songs in new interpretation. Perhaps, nobody will like this initiative, but, as it is, nobody prohibits me trying. As a matter of fact, to carve my own way is costly. I live in Istanbul jointly with my dog, cat and iguana. I wait for summer, to have a chance to go to the park and sit there on a bench. I try allocating my time to my relatives, friends, to make a long story short, to be like everyone, simply, who don’t own iguana.
«One may achieve happiness only by acquiring balance of mind». Do you really think to do this it is necessary to move to India?
I have felt my attraction to India since age of 12. What is the reason? Not due to the religion or cinematography, which was also popularized in Azerbaijan. If you ask me, for whole my life I watched just “Zita and Gita” film. It is hard to suppose something specific, but, as a reason I will try to refer some emotional need to be in that country, in contrary to all stories about anti-sanitary, high death toll etc. I had long talks with our compatriot, who resided in India for many years and I realized that we knew so little about that country and spiritually rich people, residing there. But, as paradoxical as it sounds, despite on hankering, I am not ready to move to India, at least at the present stage. Perhaps this is issue of future. Besides, to achieve balance of mind, it is not necessary to move to India. For example, I found my emotional fulfillment only at age of 28 and this wasn’t easy. I rely on my premonitions, which fit neither in me, nor in this world since my juvenile age. It is like a super force, not controlled by me. Here is, you are smiling, but I was not in playful mood. I could predict misfortune befalling my relatives, close people and this prediction was literally tearing me apart. And at later stage, feelings went to background. Life uplifts, permanent soul searches drove me only at age of 27 to possibility on observing myself from outside. I learned harking myself, meditating, asking questions on source of my thoughts. I understood one thing, that there was no distinct conception of the right and the wrong. The important is what a person wants himself. I recall my childhood, when I asked my mother on cause of round shape of Earth, evil people, cheating around. I aspired changing something in this world. Presently, if I can assist a worthy man, then I do my best to realize it by all means. Let it be the last sea drop, but it is better than nothing.
I am even unaware, whether it is good or bad, however, in view of my hypersensitivity, I feel lie, flattering etc. More I see and less is my reaction. All this leads to indifference, in other words, to balance of mind. As a matter of fact I feel myself happy. When reviving of mood doesn’t depend on any person’s interference and you are not bored, then this is actual balance of mind.
Don’t you think that happiness is unachievable for you? Nothing energizes creative person to such degree, like the way to happiness.
Conception of happiness is so resilient and it is so different for each person. You know, I do not affiliate myself to Krishnaite, however, I got continuously astonished of their service to each other. Is it not happiness? I don’t consider myself particularly religious person. But it is impossible to live without belief in anything, and I am searching this in every person. It is not necessary to read Koran to become a good human being, right from the beginning a person must be a good human being and the sacred book will direct his steps. Isn't happiness to see joy in eyes of people, close to you, to do at least something for the sake of humanity, animal world and nature? In my childhood I rescued one bird and then cried from joy, while observing its flying away. These emotions have been seizing me hitherto. You may condemn me for something, but I am sure in the way I have chosen, and I will not step down. I have toiled long way to reach it.
Previously, when all people predicted to you about big stages, you shrugged off, explaining that performances in clubs are quite sufficient for you. Presently, you are outside the country, leave alone clubs. Would you hark back to those days, when you could suffice even with 20% of auditory?
Yes, I would hark back. Are you surprised? But I will clarify you the link. Previously, I didn’t manage finding definition for my feelings. I would go outside, would walk in busy places and then would hurry home. Only now I have realized that I am introvert. I don’t know whether you have noticed or not, I often close my eyes during performance at stage, as frequently I sing for myself. If I observe lack of understanding in eyes, conduct even of one spectator, then this is enough for me-and that is all, I close my eyebrows and, no matter how egoistic it would seem, I stay alone with my thoughts till the end of song. After victory in «Voice of Turkey» project I could not calmly walk in Istanbul. People were constantly coming up to me, taking pictures and confessing their love. Surely, all this is pleasant, however, these people fell in love with image, which they watched on the screen and expected response in reality. As for me, maybe I wish relaxing, drinking in the restaurant and climbing on the table. And amateur photography of drunken Elnur will browse the Web the next day. I speak not due to the point, that I like drinking alcohol, the speech is about liberty of actions. Certainly, presently, everything became quieter, but nevertheless, I don’t go outside frequently. I pull my cap over my ears, leave my house, meet with my friends at their places, studio, in short, I go wherever less people are present.
Tell me, are bad habits considered, as attributes of energetic youth or, as the way of retreating from reality regardless of age?
The world is aware of many talented musicians, who died due to drug overdose. The cause is evident. They fled from themselves. Popularity may infatuate, but this is like a spider web, and a person in such state is not a spider at all. Crowds of admirers, who seemingly love you, as a matter of fact expect full efficiency from their idol at all time and all places. Nobody is interested, whether you are in good mood for performance or not. After some time such situation start depressing any musician. Naturally, I don’t blame addicts. I mean just compromise which runs as follows: a spectator is not obliged to love, and performer is not obliged to be ready to satisfy thirst of “hungry” spectator. Thus, presence of bad habits is not caused with youth. As for me, then presently I am addicted to one bad habit, which is smoking. I stopped running from myself, presently I run towards myself.
You often disappear. At the time, when many consider, you ruin your talent, in reality it turned out to be that you refrain yourself from worthy projects. What are you engaged with at offline periods?
I am not engaged particularly with anything. I sing for myself in the flat, get bored and sometimes I get annoyed so much that I don’t want to practice singing at all. I can’t state that music is my life. If you ask me, I love the nature. Let us put singing aside, at times I want to do nothing at all. I sprawl on sofa and watch «South park», «American dad», «Griffins’ family», I have even Stewie tattoo (the hero of «Griffins’ family» cartoon) and Roger (the hero of American dad» cartoon). Why are you looking at me so bewildered? I am a common person.
Many people consider you, as a rolling stone. What is the reason for that?
Let me tell my ordinary day routine. I start my morning with one cup of coffee, a cigarette, feeding, scrubbing of dogs, cats, iguana, taking care after each pet, taking them for a walk. Due to my scrupulosity and commitment to order, I continue my day with flat cleaning. This activity lasts for 6 hours. This is repeated on daily basis. I meet with all my friends on my arrival to Baku in an obligatory way. As a matter of fact, I am constant to things I am accustomed. The point of my rare attendance at broadcasting is connected with my reluctance to appear periodically without any valid reason. Thus, I could look non-constant, but in reality, there is a lot of things, which I cloaked with habitual things, starting from morning cigarette on empty stomach and finishing with habits in creative and private life.
Several times you mentioned that you consider the song «Hour of the wolf», as a reflection of your views, thoughts. I would dare presuming, after all, your soul is denuded at performance of «Sometimes I feel like a motherless child» song. To what extent am I mistaken or am I right?
I can explain, why you don’t see me in the first song. The point is, everything wasn’t done according to my plan. Even clip. I imagined dog’s life, whose whole family was shot dead and her struggle in society for life. I would like to have absolutely different song setting. Eventually, you have contemplated the work, presently displayed over network. To my thinking, opinion and wish of performer, representing the country, must be obligatorily taken into account, otherwise one may soon send just robots to competition. As for second song, certainly, I love it! Sad story is linked to it. Black slaves, who were far from home, sang that song. At times, I also do it myself, feeling myself, as a slave of circumstances when I am sick for home, where I was grown up. This song was selected by me and I sang it the way I perceived. I don’t know, to what extent, it reflects my inner world, but I am precise in one thing – it comes with all my heart.
«In my world there are more animals rather than human beings». This was your statement. You opened animal shelter in Baku. Does it mean you are disappointed so much in human beings and have so much affection to animals?
In my childhood I happened to spend more time with animals. I had no friends among people, but I had crickets, a hen, which like a parrot was sitting on my shoulder, a hedgehog, for which I succeeded finding the other half. My father foretold my future career of zoo owner. Presently, if it were down to me, I would close all zoos. There was a period, when I wanted to become a veterinary, and once was I debriding a wound to a dying dog, I noticed its look, which entered into my soul with such immense force, that I was ready to die before it died. I realized that I would never be able to keep cool,which is specific to doctors and simply, to conduct my work. As for shelter, then I had to stop its activity. We could not collect donations, we gathered a plenty of “likes” and nothing else. Unfortunately, thin pursed poor people were embarrassed with life of our dumb animals, and the rest of people confined themselves with compassion in social network. Well-that is up to them.
No, I am not disappointed in people. For whole my life I have met plenty of good people, as in Azerbaijan, so in Turkey. My best friend is my sister, “we got to know” each other well at more mature age. Previously, I was hypercritical to people’s character, but today I learned perceiving them the way they are. Saying true, I would never accept for example person’s envy, which is directly connected with insincerity, flatter, lie and one may understand and forgive all other drawbacks.
Don’t you miss your Motherland?
Would you imagine, to what extent those Baku flats, where we gathered with my friends, those streets and back alleys attract me at times. I was born in Ashgabat and later whole our family moved to Azerbaijan. And if I speculate on point of number my motherlands? On other hand, in these latter days, it became popular to state, that motherland is wherever a person feels good. This phrase is ascribed to me too. Do I agree with this point? Partially. For me the motherland conception is lined up in invisible, pseudo-virtual network, including individual chains. My Istanbul and Baku friends, flats, full of recollections, promenade on Bosporus, Caspian sea, winds, family, studio, animals, which live with me and numerous chains, interconnected by electric and telephone lines, comprise my Motherland.
What did you lack in Azerbaijan?
It is being said hitherto, that Elnur has been underestimated, has got offended and has left. Nothing of the kind. I would rather tell you, my friends sent request to the “Voice of Russia” program and thus made me stirring. However, I couldn’t imagine my life there, nevertheless, on the other hand I got seriously interested in the project and sent request to the “Voice of Turkey». So, if it weren’t my friends, I would continue residing in Baku. Certainly, there are things, which I would like to change in this country. I want more finances to be directed to the art, rather than to the marble, I want professional musicians to cease scraping a living and not to be compelled to go to wedding parties for earning, thus, ruining their ear and talent as a result of performance of primitive melodies. I want the art center buildings to be free of cracks, the choristers to discuss new music scores rather, than finding the place with sale of cheaper sausages. I want young talented men, capable singing the songs, attached to elders of our stage, to be supported. And please, don’t tell me, that these songs will be performed in any case. I don’t mean the case of adaptation to wedding tune. Something is to be changed. I don’t know to whom I should apply, what strings should be pulled, but changes are to be introduced. Evidently, one should stop lamenting either. It is necessary to join hands and to do something useful. Otherwise, when meeting each other, we like groaning, whether sincerely or not, that everything is bad in our life. And this ruins us. As though we need the cat Leopold, solemnly proposing to live friendly, as for me, I would also add creating, re-creating, updating and developing.
Is it important for a person to love himself?
Certainly, it is important and necessary, but not to keep himself above others. One must love his body and I feel lack of it. My friends hammer me for my excessive sugar consumption, smoking a cigarette on an empty stomach. All this is to be changed. I realize all this, however, meantime it is hard to achieve this. And let us put this aside. Do you know what is more important? To respect yourself! If you respect yourself, then they will respect you. If you stoop your head and start acquainting from stairs, which are lower than your actual level, then they will leave you, wherever you are. I agree, this might not look sincerely, as one would like to have, but this is a system. All this was checked by my own experience. To be one’s own self, does not mean only to reveal own vices. This means that a person should not conceal his virtues too. Love yourself, as you are.
INTERVIEW BY FARID MAMMADOV PHOTO MAGNUS RAGNVID