I am convinced that role models can help us achieve our own wishes and goals. That’s why I launched the series “conscious creatives telling their stories”. Here I would like to introduce you again and again to people who are consciously and creatively shaping their lives.
My guest today is the singer and composer Volkan Baydar from Hamburg. In 2000, he and his partner Vince Bahrdt released a groundbreaking album called Orange Blue: “In Love With A Dream” was awarded platinum and marked the start of a long, successful career. And by the way, it expressed what Volkan Baydar really is about. Not only does he want to live his dream, he also wants to love him. Music is for him what is commonly called a sandbox love.
Dear Volkan, …
… was there ever a moment in your life when you realized that you wanted to sing professionally? Or has your life just developed in that direction?
I have to say that moment did not exist with me, when I realized I wanted to sing professionally. To be professional means to sing to earn money. I have always sung. There are tapes of mine, where I am 1.5 or 2 years old. Also, I have always written music and lyrics. At the age of 6, I started playing the piano. And then at some point I started taking recordings. But I never had in my head to do this professionally. That was nothing to choose from. I thought you had to graduate from high school and then work something you wanted. I had not decided yet to become a professional musician. That did not really matter to me, because the music – and I still see it like this today – whether you’re a professional or an amateur – the music stands for itself. And I have always taken the music very seriously.
At some point I got a record deal with my band “Orange Blue” more or less by chance. That was the moment, when I was 29 years old and started to make money with music. Before that, I had some gala performances from time to time, but it was not fun to sing cover songs. So I was a taxi driver to make money.
I am proud that I have always followed my feeling and have never stuck to dogmas or tied to rules. And now, with hindsight, I know that I have always listened to myself. At the time back then, I was not aware of that.
I also started the musical school with a scholarship and then canceled it after a year. Although everyone called me crazy, I knew it was not my way. After that I went to New York and studied drama.
So, until the age of 30, my life is characterized by trying things, regardless of what brings me money or what is good for the pension. In fact, I only paid attention to my personal development.
And at some point it was then that I could live from the music. That felt good. And I have kept that until today.
… did you grow up with parents who were very open and conscious about life?
That is very mixed. My parents immigrated from Turkey. That hid a few conflicts. Firstly, it meant that I did not grow up like someone growing up in his own country. Since my parents were not religious, education was relatively unconventional. On certain topics, my parents were very open and some topics were simply not addressed at all.
My artistic side, this conscious, philosophical side, was very much addressed. Especially my dad influenced me a lot.
In my opinion, one is actually responsible for one’s life, beyond death. It may sound weird, but I think that if you follow this idea to the last consequence, you come to the fact that you actually chose your parents. I am sure that I had exactly the parents I wanted.
So in retrospect, that makes all sense for me. Including the mistakes, if one can speak at all of mistakes, that my parents have committed with me and what they have given me on my life path.
The question can not be answered with yes or no, it is very mixed. I got what I needed for my life. And I think I’m exactly where I want to be with these parents.
Which aspect of your education had the most lasting effect on your life, from today’s perspective?
My parents were a very interesting combination. My mother is generally very cautious,but when it comes down to it, she also says something. A very strong woman. Also very good-natured and sometimes very selfless. And my dad was basically not the opposite, but a bit more active. He has dealt with big topics of life. At the age of 70, he even trained as a naturopath practitioner because he always wanted to become a doctor. I think my dad influenced me a little bit more than my mother. But this combination, I have that in me. There is not one thing that my parents have given me.
If I had to choose, I would say, to see no limits. To realize oneself to the last consequence, without hurting others. Doing your own thing. That’s the combination of my parents.
That’s exciting, especially when you say that you actually broke through your first 10 years of work rather than having a clear plan. You have to do that mentally, too. Not everyone can handle that. Many need the security of a permanent job and a career that they see in front of them.
I guess it helped me that I was not so aware. That I was not – in the truest sense of the word – self-confident. But that I always let myself be guided. And that was given to me from home, so I did it with a big naturalness.
Nowadays, there are these famous quotes of artists that they try a lot and set deadlines. “If it does not work with the album, then I’ll have to find out what I do.”
That was never a question for me. I did not understand that before. That’s not up for debate. I’m doing music anyway.
And finally, it’s about following his vocation. I believe that you will be rewarded for it from life. I believe that if you follow this energy and open up, then you also get to know the appropriate people, then you do not have to set any time limits, then you do not have to wait for it.
… who and what inspires you?
The little things in life inspire me. I realize that you do not have to go out into the world, but find it in yourself or in ordinary situations.
But also big events like the birth of my son. My song “Ich bin gebor´n” was created for that. The text also shows that not only was my son born, but that I was born the same way. Because I learned so much from my son. It’s unbelievable how children make you honest with yourself and let think again about how you see the world.
What inspires me are statements such as Gandhi’s. He once said he would never judge people and divide them into good and bad. Because you never know what reason these people have for their actions in a situation. Because you would never know the whole story.
That really inspired me. And that can be expanded and applied to every person and every situation. The simplest and truest thing is, in my view, to stay with you and not to waste the energy. Everything you do is about yourself. It’s not about judging, rewarding, or punishing other people.
… at some point, every person who deliberately deals with life will come to the question of what he can do with his actions to the world and to people. Have you ever asked yourself this question?
I have already asked the question. And of course it is more and more asked in this world. Because you can see that there are wars, nature is not good anymore, plastic in the sea and many more things. So you can not escape this question anymore.
I think that if everyone does a little what they can do, that’s enough. Of course you have to have a little awareness. You grow in there. I’m also annoyed that I already knew many things in the past, but I was not ready to implement them.
I just recently thought that I used to torture earthworms too. It’s just something childish that you are curious about. But when you tell a child, “think about how sad it is that the animals have to suffer that way”, then children usually talk out. I find that very interesting. The kids know that, of course, but they do not have the awareness yet. That will probably come with time.
Rilke said so beautifully, “Live the questions, and one day, without realizing it, you will grow into the answers.”
I think that’s important! The fact that one makes oneself again and again aware of things, then one grows sometime in this consciousness purely.
I also want to live vegan, for example. Nevertheless, I find it important to always keep this free and not to account to anyone. I do not want to hear from anyone, “Ha, now I’ve seen it! You’re not a vegan, now you’ve eaten xy.”
You wrote a wonderful song about this topic – one of your best for me personally – titled “Bitte halt mich nochmal fest”. Since you describe this sorting yourself so wonderful. This desire to do things right, but also to see that it is not always so easy to implement. And your own rating.
It’s the little things that I try to do something good with. By trying to be aware of what I am doing. I do not live that sustainable. I also buy things and do not think about whether they were produced by children’s hands. I do not exclude myself. But I realize I am becoming more aware and then trying to get things right.
Do you feel the need to make a difference with your music?
Yes, I have a desire to change something. Although I believe that I change something by expressing myself. I try not to change by dictating to people, but it happens very passively. By describing my struggles with myself, if somebody finds himself in it, I have changed it in some way. The best kind of change, I think, is to start with you anyway.
Also, I find it hard to be against something. That has its human justification, but I find it difficult to change the world with it. You have to invite people, you have to listen, you try to understand them. Because everyone has a reason for his opinion.
… in what form do like-minded people matter? Are you well off talking about the topics that move you deeply, or do you prefer to spend your time silently doing it?
The question is also difficult to answer. I need everything a bit. I actually deal with many things for myself. I would not describe myself as a super social person. I like people. But I can not handle some things. I admit that. These are my personal problems that I have not worked on yet. And I like and need like-minded people, that’s important to find confirmation. It is also very human that everyone wants to find his tribe.
On the other hand, I also have this other part in me that mingles with people who are not like-minded. Because I feel that everything has its two sides.
For example, I have always been someone who, when it came to a football team, has joined the weaker ones. First, because I felt it was a challenge, and second, the sense of justice came through.
And there is always the question: If the right arm is stronger than the left, should you use the stronger arm, because it can handle it anyway, or if you carry with your left arm, so that it gets stronger. You can relate that to many things.
When you join a group that does not have good energy, you have the chance to bring in good energy. Of course that is more exhausting, but you usually learn more from people who think differently.
… what does it mean for you to live a “creative life”?
A creative life needs a certain openness. You have to open yourself to life. Being aware and let it happen at the same time.
For example, if I want to write a song, I have to flip a certain virtual switch. And when I’m in this mode, I open myself to it, and then I feel very connected. Then I wake up at night because I can not shut down properly. This is a kind of active opening.
It is also important for me to become more and more sensitive to impulses – also worldly impulses. For example, if you feel there is someone you want to go to and tell him something, then just do it. Just because. For no reason. That changes both of you.