We are experiencing the heyday of persona-driven music nowadays. Father John Misty is posing as a dystopian doomsayer and Slavoj Žižek of indie music scene; Mac DeMarco is acting the homeless bum who can surprise the listener with an outburst of emotion and wisdom; Mitski is projecting as the overly-conscious autobiographer who is writing the struggle of existing at her early-to-mid part of her life. Each provides not only beautiful music, but also a character to buy into, someone to listen to at a bar table accompanied by drinks and this seems to be the new standard for launch onto the music scene. However, this does not mean that exceptionally good music cannot by itself succeed without a protruding persona on the wings; Nilüfer Yanya seems to advance merely on the shoulders of her music. However, the level of exceptionality in quality is exorbitant without a consumable persona.
This global trend seeps into the local scenes around the world as well. Turkish indie scene is brimming with emotional persona-driven acts such as Nihil Piraye and Can Güngör. Şenceylik (Eda Sena Şenceylan) is officially the latest act in Turkish indie scene who seems to operate on this personality-music production duality. She made her debut with the EP titled Çok Karışık. Before the release of the EP, she had frequently played at university festivals (especially, at the biannual Taşoda Festival at Bogazici University) and on-demand Beyoglu-Kadikoy gigs. Her divergence from similar acts came about with personal and sincere lyric-writing over musings of acoustic guitar, but mostly her profuse presence in lyrics. It is easy to detect cliché and mass-produced aspects of a song such as overly-generalised, universally-applicable emotions epitomised in mediocre lyric-writing. Şenceylik’s lyrics stood out from cheap romanticism or emotionality. At least, this is how it was in her performances for the last two years or so.
It is saddening to see that some of the striking aspects faded in the EP. Though the astute lyric-writing is somewhat there, song-writing in general seems to pander to the endlessly reproduced Turkish indie rock. The warm and sincere atmosphere generated by acoustic guitar in her performances seems to have been overshadowed by mediocre electric guitar sequences and arabesque arrangements (“Kağıt Kesiği” is especially cringy with its forced dewiness). Her delivery is generally professional and technically unproblematic, yet this unexpected sterility also takes away from her embracing live performance. The saddest of all is, though, that her live performances reflected a uniform and coherent singer-songwriter whose personality reflected her lyrics and her lyrics reflected her personality, but this compact identity is mostly non-existent in Çok Karışık.
There are also zealous moments in the EP. For instance, though not her strongest feat, “Salonda” comes forward as a single-worthy song with an above-average delivery, catchy guitar and drum arrangements. Although the lyric-writing in “Salonda” is somewhat dimmer than the rest of the songs in the EP, the song as a whole is thoroughly enjoyable. “Davulla Bavul” harbors a beautiful narrative over a narrative-friendly acoustic arpeggio. “Hevesim Kaçık” and “Bomboş Pazar Günü” sound like the fillers of the EP, which do not contribute much either negatively or positively to the overall of Çok Karışık.
Çok Karışık does not come out as a strong statement of an up-and-coming persona-driven singer-songwriter, yet it bears potential. Anyone who has experienced her live shows can concur that she can do much better. If she can infuse her studio performance with her care-free personality and carnivalesque live vibe, she could achieve what she already achieves in her live performances. Çok Karışık is not bold outburst of a debut, but a shy exposition of Şenceylik’s normally gallant approach.