We had the good fortune of connecting with Ayda Akbal and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ayda, can you talk to us a bit about the social impact of your business?
Although I am not outwardly an ‘activist’ in my work, I do believe that just by sharing my music and my day-to-day life as a composer, I am opening up a space for other people from minorities in this profession (whether that be for women, culturally and linguistically diverse people – the list goes on). I’ve connected with people all around the world just by sharing my work on social media – even getting messages from other composers telling me that they’re grateful to have found my Instagram because they can finally see other people like them ‘doing it’ in the industry. These messages mean the world to me. If you’d asked me this question a few years ago, I don’t think I would’ve believed I’d be making a meaningful social impact, but I somehow am, even through social media – which can be a very dark place at times. I’m grateful to be creating a space in this industry and on social media for people who feel their voices aren’t valid or heard, and hope to continue to do so in my work – both through my music, and by being a present and active member of my community.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
All things music. I’d like to write that I had some life-changing moment where I realised music was my calling – but in reality, I grew up learning classical piano and cello, singing wherever and whenever I could, always composing and changing already written works (because I thought my versions sounded better – sorry Bach!), and then listening to music in all the time I had in-between. Music was what I had loved for forever, and still, whenever I compose I get this childish joy, and I realised I wanted to keep experiencing that joy for the rest of my life – so music is what I will keep doing. What I push for in my music is for everyone listening to get that feeling – that feeling that’s sort of buried under all the other emotions in your daily life, that feeling of wonder when you’re a kid and you’re seeing the world for the first time, that feeling of such deep emotion spilling out of you but it’s not really sad nor happy – it’s just a feeling and you don’t need to have a word for it – because you have music. (It’s a feeling I think Ennio Morricone captures perfectly, so maybe I just want to be Ennio). Undeniably, it is hard to pair any art with business, because they feel like polar opposites and you just want to make the art without worrying about the business. So, what has been important for me professionally, is to realise that if I want to have a successful career wherein I can support myself through my music, I need to sometimes put on my business hat and deal with the money & networking side of things, but I am doing it for the music and to protect the music, so I can keep doing what I love. To tie it all together – what’s been most important for me is having a community of open, generous, hard-working, and supportive composers around me. I’ve found that community through organisations such as the AGSC, AWFC and the SCL – the biggest ever shoutout to Catherine Joy for always being all four of those things (open, generous, hard-working & supportive) for me. It’s a comfort we all need as composers to know that we all have each other and can lean on each other, as it can be a very lonely profession if you don’t have that – with usually one composer per project. So it’s incredibly important to build that community for ourselves as we are social creatures by nature and sometimes need a whole village behind us to get the work done.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
If a friend was visiting Melbourne I’d take them to all my little happy places around Melbourne and in regional Victoria – in hopes that they’d get some joy from them too. Within the city of Melbourne, I’d first take them to ACMI (formerly the Australian Center for the Moving Image), which is located in the heart of the city in Federation Square. It’s the home of all things film-related, showing various commissions, screenings, and exhibitions – and my all-time favourite gift-shop to spend time in. There are many wonderfully diverse gigs on in the city too, so I could take them to the Jazzlab or the Paris Cat if they’re craving some jazz and improvisation, or to Hamer Hall to watch one of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra’s performances. We also have an incredible Musical Theatre scene, so we could go to a show one night – whether that be Hamilton, Hairspray, Six, or 9 to 5 The Musical. For some time off from the bustle of the city, we’d visit the Botanical Garden’s which provides a beautiful green oasis away from the city (although it’s right next door). If we wanted to get out of the city completely, we could visit the the Dandenong Ranges for some tranquil forest greenery and small-town comfort, and even go fruit or olive-picking – such as at my favourite farm ‘Ulverto Moscato’ located in Trafalgar.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I am unbelievably grateful to the community that surrounds me, both my social community and my composer community, still, I am completely dedicating this shoutout to my parents and my wonderful partner. They support me and create an environment for me to thrive and be the best composer, and person, that I can be. They give me all the patience and understanding in the universe when I’m too busy with work to function as a human, and they also give me all the love in the universe. It also helps that they all love music too – whether that be just listening & appreciating as an audience member or playing & performing as a musician – so they’re always my first port of call when it comes to feedback (and not so surprisingly, they’re always right). Without them, I would undeniably not be where I am in this industry, so this shoutout goes wholly to them (but I think they already knew that).
Folk Haus Photography Minnie Hill Ahmet Akbal