Joncan Kavlakoglu is an artist of Turkish descent who personifies music. You may not recognise him from the guitar he adds to Latin-Pop and British-Pakistani Pop, but he has leant his talent to multiple music styles. The style that he dominates in is an acoustic highly visceral form of Flamenco-Fusion, which feels like it could transport you to another dimension. When Joncan picks up his guitar, you forget what he looked like without it. The ease with which he handles the instrument makes everyone instantly sit up the second they hear the first notes.
The way he appears to be so natural with this style of music is no illusion. “I was always tapping tables as a kid. I was very percussive as a child. Very rhythmic. I was doing body percussion before I touched a musical instrument, really.” While he says this he taps his chest, claps and clicks. “I wanted to make some kind of noise, so I was clicking and clapping and that was my contribution at that point.”
Despite the fact that Joncan still considers himself “mainly an electric guitarist,” as he laughs he admits “there are too many guitarists in the world. Nobody wants to be the guy that brings the guitar to the party.” An interesting statement from someone who makes their living from the instrument.
The way he describes falling in love with this style of music is like something out of a movie. “I heard the guitarist Carlos Santana on my mum’s car stereo … and I loved the sound of the latin percussion with the electric guitar. That made me click into getting into electric guitar,” he says as he physically clicks. However, his influences stem far and wide as he says he felt lucky to have grown up “with lots of different music around me, from Pink Floyd to Gypsy Kings to flamenco stuff to ACDC to Dire Straits to Disco.”
When asked which artists Joncan would love to work with apart from Carlos Santana he named Rodrigo y Gabriela a modern, percussive flamenco duo and Raul Midon singer-song writer and guitarist who blends flamenco, jazz and R&B.
However, the inspiration also comes from things that are less tangible. Joncan says he’s not overtly political, however he is “wanting to put that into music, but feel like I can’t really. I feel like I can’t really have a political manifesto when it’s only instrumental.” He quotes Pink Floyd as a major inspiration, though “it just might not come out very much in the music that I am playing.”
I questioned whether sometimes he struggles to express his feelings and views as he does not use words in his music. He said “I have worked, and are working with some singers on a couple of things where it’s me playing this kind of style but with a singer, so we do some lyric writing. That gives me more of a chance to vocalise thoughts that I don’t get to vocalise.” He was very adamant that he would not sing as he said “I don’t want to be mediocre at something.”
He therefore, leans more to talking about the background of his music to the audience during intimate shows. “It’s helpful for the audience to give them context for this instrumental babble that they’re gonna be receiving. Because there are no lyrics to help the communication come through.”
If you were to watch Joncan play, you may be both made to feel uncomfortable at the possible pain and wonder at how he can create such noise with his hands and fingers. Apparently the key is fake nails. “You’ve gotta get your acrylics done and then it increases your power through the guitar.” As he tells me this, he shows off his nails on his one hand and drums them loudly on the table. “It came out of me playing this style too much, and it was just wearing my natural nails down to the point where it was just blood everywhere. And, I was like, this is not sounding good and I’m in immense pain and there’s blood everywhere. It was not very cool.” He laughs before becoming very matter of fact. “It’s just a part of what I need to do for my profession. It’s a tool for me.” A rather fabulous tool if you ask me, who wouldn’t want their hands pampered in the name of work?
If you needed any more convincing about how much music means to him he said that “I don’t want to get a job that’s not related to music and I don’t want to be a guy working in a studio behind the musicians, I want to be the musician.”
Joncan has performance travel plans lined for this year however, lucky for us, it would seem that he will be sticking around London for the foreseeable future. The next career progression would be to go to the US but he wouldn’t be able to “digest the idea of going to the States with Trump as president.”
This year is probably the year that we will see a solid album. However, until then you can check out his music online through his website. More importantly, try to catch a live show because that’s the only way you’ll be able to experience the real intimacy that Joncan creates with his music. You’ll feel like he’s telling you an exclusive secret that you will want to share with the wold.