Hüseyin Erdinç has music running in his DNA. Inspired by his father, Kelebekler violinist and saz player Erdinç Hüseyin, he first picked up a guitar aged five and has gone on to master multiple instruments.
Now aged 31, Hüseyin’s instrument of choice is the saz, a long-necked lute that is also known as the bağlama in Turkish. He is part of popular London group Sönmez, has collaborated with American superstar singer Jason Derulo and UK producer Kougan Ray, and his songs have racked up millions of views and streams.
On Friday, 14 January 2022, Hüseyin releases his new single Vazgeçtim, a classic Sezen Aksu ballad from her chart-topping 1991 album Gülümse.
T-VINE talks to the talented British Turkish Cypriot about his roots, love of music, career as an artist, and his new single.
Tell us a little about you and your family
I am 31-years old. My birthday is 7 November 1990. I was born in Greenwich, South London, where I still live.
My father’s side of the family originate from Baf / Paphos, but he grew up in Leymosun (also known as Limassol). My mum’s family are from Lapatoz / Boğaziçi (Famagusta District) and Topcuköy. My parents migrated to Britain around 1973-1974.
How did you get into music?
I was introduced to music from birth. My musician father Erdinç has been in Kelebekler for over 40 years now! So, from a very young age, I’ve been around live music and instruments being played at home.
The Turkish radio was constantly on in the background at home. There were instruments laying around the house, which became mine and my brothers’ toys, we didn’t have normal toys! We made drums out of pots and pans, and had a small darbuka that we’d play all day long.
My parents saw that I was interested in music, so they decided to start me off with playing the guitar. I was aged 5 at the time.
I studied and played classical guitar from the age of 5 to 12, completing seven grade exams in that time, as well as performing in competitions and on music shows.
My main passion was for Turkish music and after playing the saz for the first time around the age of 12, I felt it was the missing piece to my puzzle and decided to concentrate on playing saz rather than guitar.
While the saz/bağlama is my main instrument, I can also play guitar, ud, cümbüş, and percussion instruments, which I have in my studio and use for my recordings.
Who are your musical influences?
My biggest musical influence has to be my dad. I’ve watched him on stage from such a young age and am very grateful to have someone like him to learn from.
I grew up listening to such a large variety of music ranging from Türk Sanat Müziği [Turkish classical music) to Turkish Pop and Arabesk. Growing up in London, I also listen to Garage, R’n’B, and Hip Hop, which I believe has also influenced my style of music playing.
How has your music career evolved?
After my classical guitar journey, I joined Sönmez Music Band, aged 14, to play the saz, and we are still taking to the stage together to this day!
Along with performing live at weddings and events with my band and for my solo gigs, music production has also been a passion of mine. I’ve always enjoyed producing and playing covers of my favourite songs, mixing these up and doing different arrangements that haven’t been heard before.
One of my best known covers is ‘7 Days in İstanbul’, which producer Kougan Ray and I released a few years ago. It’s set to the melody of Craig David’s ‘7 Days’, which grabbed the attention of not only British and Turkish listeners, but also people from all over the world, many of whom had never heard the saz before.
I also covered a Jason Derulo song, Swalla, which led to it going a bit viral…One morning, I woke up to a message on Instagram from Jason after he had seen the video!
He loved the unique sound of the saz and approached me to feature on one if his new songs, Talk With Your Body, which was then released in 2019.
You have a new single coming out soon. What can you tell us about it?
My newest instrumental single is Vazgeçtim, which is most famously sang by Sezen Aksu. She wrote the lyrics, while the music was written by a very talented Armenian musician, Ara Dinkjian.
I worked with [British Turkish] producer Anil Göçen, and we’ve given this classic song a twist and unique sound. I am very excited for everyone to hear it!
Vazgeçtim is about giving up on someone you love. Here’s [an extract of] the lyrics of the song:
‘Vazgeçtim, gözlerinden (I gave up on your eyes)
Vazgeçtim, sözlerinden (I gave up on your words)
Sessizce, kimsesizce’ (Quietly, without anyone)
With my version being an instrumental, I’ve tried to express these lyrics with the language of my instrument rather than as words.
The song will be released on Friday 14 January on all digital platforms, including Spotify and iTunes. The official video, filmed in North Cyprus, will premiere on YouTube. I am an independent artist, so the Vazgeçtim video can be found on my own YouTube channel.
Will you be performing live?
After a very busy Christmas/New Year period performing live, I will be concentrating on music production for January. But the gigs and weddings will start back up in February, so I will keep my followers updated via social media as to where I will be performing next!