Videos: smallsongs: Kalben

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Kalben – Smallsongs video

Smallsongs is a Youtube series brought to you by Americana Highways featuring small & stripped down sessions from all around the world.

This week from Istanbul I’ve got the absolute honor to share a very special video & a conversation featuring Kalben with you. I picked a place called Cafe Note for us to meet because I really like the laid back and colorful streets around there. I sipped my second Turkish tea and pointed the omnidirectional microphone towards her. I let her do most of the talking. I just wanted to listen, to learn. Her energy was bubbling with youthful excitement and otherworldly wisdom. She was humorous and intelligent. She shared insights on the boxes that we find ourselves in & the magical connections she makes with her audience & feminism & more. It’s all right here for you to watch and listen to via Patreon:

These conversations give me so much inspiration and creative energy as I make my way back into the world. I think one of the best ways to take a step outside of the rat race is simply to talk with someone. The best kind of conversation is one where both people just want to keep talking. I learned that from Spanish people mostly. We’re consistently distracting ourselves from connecting with each other. We’re tricking ourselves into thinking we have more important things to go do.

Kalben knew of a courtyard called Fransız Saint Joseph Yetimhanesi just across the street that I was previously unaware of. On the spot she got us permission to film there. We set up and recorded a couple beautiful tunes called “Düşünürüm” & “Leyla’nın İzleri.” I remember walking home from this session feeling so lucky that I got the chance to meet and collaborate with her:

A couple days later I listened to the mastered audio files from the shoot and was in awe of the sounds that we had captured, the power in her voice. I was then cashless & in a rush to make it to Kadıköy on the Anatolian side of Istanbul for a shoot with Burcu Yeşilbaş. I hadn’t yet taken the ferry or used public transportation in the city so I felt intimidated (I soon learned that it’s super easy and that it functions really well). I quickly walked uphill to a nearby ticket station. I couldn’t figure it out. I’m standing there as the confused & frustrated American tourist, smashing buttons & grunting. I wasn’t going to figure it out. The machine needed cash. Way back down the hill, The ferry was leaving in a few minutes. Then I heard to my right a reassuring voice that said “Cole?” in a relatively empty space. It was the one & only Kalben!

At that point in time I knew only one person in Istanbul, a city with more than 15 million people. There she was standing right next to me and offering help. She gives me her own Istanbulkart and she loads the card with her cash. I had no other options, but I’m still being the overly nice American saying “you really don’t have to.” She’s like, “stop it.” Blunt generosity. I love it. The universe has my back. She’s somewhat of a Turkish celebrity averaging about 2.7 million monthly listeners on Spotify alone. In this small moment she felt like a guardian angel. I owe her. She let me know that she had also just heard the mastered audio files that morning and that she teared up listening to them. She said she felt so relaxed when recording with me, if I remember her words correctly. With gratitude I gave her a hug and she went wherever she was going.

Find more about Kalben here:

Enjoy some previous Smallsongs videos here: smallsongs: Kim Churchill & Felipe Baldomir in Barcelona

If you’d like you can become a smallsongs patron right here for more videos & long conversations with artists all over the place:

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