Ali Doğan Gönültaş – Interview

By Sotiris Bekas

Ali Doğan Gönültaş is a versatile individual and musician, constantly restless and creative, who quickly garnered attention in the world music scene with two albums, “Kiğı” (2022) and the recent “Keyeyî” (2024). There are many aspects one can highlight about this Alevi musician from Anatolia. His work showcases the traditions of his community from a perspective not of an observer but of someone who continuously experiences and processes this heritage. His musical approach is characterized by many raw, interesting elements, as well as an electricity that Ali Doğan and his musical companions (Ali Kutlutürk on percussion and Fırat Çakılcı on clarinet) have worked hard on. Thus, Ali has managed to create his personal sound through a well-crafted musical expression that originates from the memories of his homeland. Yet, in the interview he gave to on the occasion of his new work “Keyeyî,” which deals with the concept of home as a space and a psychological dimension, Ali Doğan Gönültaş states that “I feel like I’m still searching for my destination, who I am…”

Ali Doğan Gönültaş was born in Kiğı, Anatolia. He graduated from the departments of Archaeology and Radio Television and Film at Kocaeli University, and as a musician, he began his professional career with the band Ze Tijê, of which he was one of the founders, composer, multi-instrumentalist, and singer.

Since 2018, he continued his musical production with his series of solo concerts “Xo Bi Xo,” which included songs in Kurmanci, Turkish, and Zazaki, his mother tongue, with an experimental approach, but also more traditional styles and themes. Later, his musical recordings, which began in 2007, were presented in his solo album “Kiğı,” which was released in 2022. “Kiğı,” which is also the musician’s birthplace, describes the specific musical language and style of Anatolia/Mesopotamia.

Additionally, he contributed to the soundtracks of films such as “My Own Life” (2014) and “Şeng” (2021) and participated in the project “The Voice of the City as an Example of Intangible Cultural Heritage (Diyarbakır)” as a composer.

In 2020, he presented the TV program “Voices and Traces” on Can TV, with conversations and musical performances from non-mainstream musical genres in Turkey. In 2021 and 2022, he presented the TV show “Müzik Olayı,” also on Can TV.

In May 2022, Ali Doğan Gönültaş released “Kiğı,” his first solo album, which resulted from field recordings over more than ten years. The album consists of pieces in the local languages Krmancki, Kurmanci, Kirdaski, Armenian, and Turkish. “Kiğı” evolved from an “oral history” motive to a music memory project, with thematic content such as lament songs, work songs, prayer forms, rendered with the modal characteristics of the region.

On April 30, 2024, Ali released his second solo album, “Keyeyî.”


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