Once Neslihan sang, “I never loved anyone as much as you,” she hit the top of the music charts. While still in the early stages of her career, she reached the heights of the music world, and she hasn’t come down. She has worked unceasingly, and as of the time when she started appearing on the Dünya Radio program, she hasn’t left any room for regrets.
Neslihan is continuing to write songs. She’s speaking up and falling under the radio’s spell, and she’s also writing, sacrificing her life for her love of the music world.
We spoke with Neslihan about her first days in music and where she is today.
Neslihan, you have written songs that millions of people have listened to. What are you doing now?
I’m thinking of how I can improve and develop myself as a musician. I’m writing new songs, and now I have a brand-new type of microphone: I host a radio program every weekday. I’ve been married for a year, and I’m trying to be a good wife. I mean, there’s so many things to do, but there’s not enough time. I’m hoping to realize my dreams, but a voice in my head reminds me that I need to be free of expectations. That voice says a person can’t expect two things at the same time. I forget so many truths over time, and there is so much knowledge that I have to refresh that I think this is exactly what life is. You’re always being tugged back and forth by so many feelings, but you end up right where you’re supposed to be.
You’ve said that when you have a guitar in your hand, you don’t need to have first-hand experience with the things you write about. What kind of connection does the guitar provide that helps you understand the kinds of feelings whose nuances are usually only understood through experience?
Well, that connection isn’t with the guitar, it’s with people. It’s the fact that I can understand what they’re going through when I’m observing them. In other words, it’s about having a good sense of empathy. If your goal is to serve humanity, that means loving everyone even though you don’t know their names and being troubled by their troubles. For me, the guitar is how I will reach my goal, and having a guitar in my hand is like a teacher having a textbook in hers. I feel like the lesson is working. I think I have to be very serious. I can easily put myself in someone else’s place. Whatever their problems are, I can feel them as if they were my own, and that’s how I can pour those feelings into my lyrics and compositions. Being an artist means being able to express the problems that people can’t express themselves.
In an article in which you described yourself, you said that your inner voice told you that everything was going to be beautiful. So, in terms of your private life and the goals you wanted to achieve, is everything turning out beautifully?
People can’t live without hope. The biggest form of self-annihilation is falling into despair. For this reason, I try to turn over a new leaf even in my darkest moments. Everything that was difficult or troublesome already provided hope, which was beautiful. Creating beauty requires being close to the beautiful. Waiting for something like that is very hard. I’m waiting, too. This struggle to wait is so painful that it’s beautiful. Every morning I wake up with that desire in my heart. You know, there’s an expression, “Every aspect of a person’s life is a prayer.” I think I pray all day long in order to get to a good place and talk about beautiful things. As for my private life, the most important person for me right now is my husband, and in order to be a good spouse, I think you have to sacrifice a lot of things. I have that kind of husband, and I’m very grateful for that. He is someone who stays by my side and supports my goals in life, and that’s very important. In other words, he is troubled by my troubles, and he shares my goals. I hope it’ll always be that way.
In the past, what did you want to be, and how do you describe yourself now? What did you become?
To be honest, I tried to define the meaning of life, and when I was 18 years old I remember realizing that what I wanted was not a tangible thing but was instead an abstract desire to be a good person. I used to think about this a lot, sitting there and gazing at the dusky sky that connected late afternoon and evening. I remember that I really liked the concept of eternity and that I wanted to do something that would be everlasting. Later on, I chose to enter my father’s profession: financial consulting. While I was studying business at Fatih University, divine intervention allowed me to reach my dreams and realize my true profession. So if I leave this world, my contributions will be here to stay. I still can’t say that I’ve become something in life, but dying in some ways is necessary on the road to becoming something. It seems like with age, the boldness of youth gradually subsides. I’m afraid of saying that I left this world without accomplishing anything. In such a case, I’d have to say that because of my lack of diligence, I became one of the losers in life. We live in the space between hope and fear, but I think that my fear sometimes outweighs my hope.
Those who get a taste of the radio can’t get that taste from any other type of media. You’ve enjoyed being a radio broadcaster on Dünya Radio. How did that start, and how is this story unfolding now?
Radio broadcasting is such a special profession that it doesn’t even feel like a job to me. It’s really something else. For example, the biggest difference is its hidden nature. You’re not visually present, so it’s just one voice, one soul, on the radio broadcasting everything that exists in her heart. At the same time, it’s very difficult because it takes skill to talk in a room when no one is sitting across from you. I started out as a guest on Dünya Radio, and while I was giving a performance on the air, the general production director, Mesut Baran, got the idea to offer me a position as a broadcaster. Of course, I was excited to accept. We started with one day, then that became two days, and now every weekday I’m trying to broadcast the feelings that have accumulated in my heart. Putting together a program takes several hours of organized preparation and planning. Above all, broadcasting every day is tough. It takes a lot of effort to do a daily program without boring people. But I don’t want it to end; I’m addicted to it now.
At a very young age, your song, “Hiç Sevmedim,” helped you reach a point that many artists spend years struggling to reach, often unsuccessfully. Your work has been listened to millions of times on the Internet. People listen to this song not just with their ears, but also maybe with their hearts, too. Can you talk a little bit about “Hiç Sevmedim” and what happened after that?
It’s a very long story. When I was in high school, my dad and I were always thinking about something like that. I had already composed many songs, and I was in love with music. I still am, actually. Later, when I was in my third year at school, my dad wanted to post my song on the Internet. I didn’t agree with that, but I couldn’t break his heart, either. After we posted it online, the song took off. We were already in the studio by then. We gained a large audience, and we came to an agreement with a music company. While we were discussing music videos and so forth, after people bought the album, the commendations kept coming. My ability to compose my own music caught people’s attention. I received so much fan mail. As recommendations increased, so too did album sales. In terms of quality, that marked the standard, and the most important thing now is protecting that standard. I’m still at the very beginning of the road. The music industry is a very forceful place. Gradually moving forward with sure footing requires patience. I’m trying to do that, and I hope that everything will be even more beautiful as a result.
Is a new hit song, another “Hiç Sevmedim,” in the works?
We’ll see. I’m writing with good intentions. Who knows what’s waiting on the horizon? I have so many feelings in my heart, I just sigh with contentment. There’s a beautiful picture in my mind, and one day I hope to hang a real version of that picture in my room. Actually, “Hiç Sevmedim” isn’t my favorite song that I’ve written, but God blessed that song. I really believe that everything that’s happening now, that happened before, and that will happen in the future only exists with the Creator’s permission. So, if it’s God’s will, then I will compose many more songs.
How do you feel when you hear that artists aren’t made, they’re born?
That’s a tough question. My heart says that an artist undergoes a special trial from God so that she can have a better understanding of humanity why not find out more. She must already have experienced the problems that befall people. She must already have expressed those things in words so that a listener can say, “This artist is describing me. She’s the interpreter of my feelings.” I guess I grew up with these ideas. Since childhood, I’ve been watching, listening, living, thinking, and speaking in this way. Artists really aren’t made, they are born, but people appreciate them. If you go out and say you’re an artist, but no one sees you that way, then it won’t work. But if everyone from 7 to 70 loves you like they did Barış Manço and they call you a real artist, then it means that there’s actual substance behind the word artist. If that person passes away, then her name and her art will live on.