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From Pop Star to DJ

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Rochester, New York

In the 1970s the path of becoming a famous singer was through the only television and radio establishment available, the Turkish Radio Television Corporation (TRT). Through song competitions, new voices were added to the music world, and youth rushed the contests organized by TRT.

During the 1970s, the equivalent of the modern “American Idol” was organized by TRT Izmir Radio station under the name “The Young Talent Golden Voice Contest.” In 1976 Mehmet Arıcan was among hundreds of youngsters trying to prove their talent in the TRT Studios in Izmir. He took part in the competition with a song that was very popular then: ‘Garip’ (Strange)
DJ TURK, Mehmet Arican.

He hadn’t even been aware of this voice contest, held throughout Turkey. His neighbors had entered his name in the competition.  They were the reason for his participation in the contest. He won first place in the competition. If the readers of this article think that they will be meeting a famous singer, they are mistaken. As they will see, this story becomes ‘stranger’.

Before the sweat of the competition was dry, he learned that he had won the Green Card lottery to emigrate to the US. “That night I couldn’t sleep. On one hand there was the newspaper article that announced my victory in the competition, on the other hand my green card. I couldn’t decide what I was going to do until the morning,” he says.

Although the directors of the competition put pressure on him to stay and said, “We will support you. Stay in Turkey,” the excitement of discovering a new country weighed heavily in his decision. He left his victory in the Golden Voice Competition in his memories, and came to the US in 1976. First he decided to continue with his education, and focused on courses related to music in high school. In high school he purchased music equipment belong to a Turkish friend. That was Arıcan’s first music investment. 

After high school he enrolled in a sound engineering school. The start of his employment as a DJ at the hall he went for roller-skating also initiated his career. Arıcan states that once he established himself as a DJ during his employment between 1980 and 1984 at the roller skating rink, other DJs from the neighboring towns would come and listen to him, pretending to roller skate.  

Having established a name for himself, Arıcan became a sought after DJ. To draw more attention, the clubs where he was working started to call him DJ Turk when advertising on the radio. When he pitched a proposal for a show called “Dance Beat”, targeted to an audience aged between 14 and 18, it was picked up by a television station. He also became the talent coordinator for the dance show. In the meantime, he continued to work as a DJ. With this TV program he also won an award. His second television program was “DJ Turk Top 5”, singling out the most popular night clubs. The most popular night clubs started to be mentioned by DJ Turk. People began to determine which club they would go according to this list.
DJ Turk at the DJ Conference in Las Vegas.

At first he rejected the offer he received from a radio owner to host a radio show. Then the owner of the radio station indicated how much he wanted him by saying, “Then you have to develop your own style, as I am allocating a whole day of the station to you.” Thanks to DJ Turk's radio program, the radio station increased its ratings from 3% to 17% in only one year, and to 38% the second year. And for the first time in its history the radio station was first in the ratings and won awards. Arıcan worked for this radio station for two and a half years.

Arıcan returned to club DJing, as he preferred the excitement of a live crowd, rather than continue to work for the radio station and become famous. After this decision, he started to send the mixes he was preparing in his studio to various radio stations.

“At the radio station I started to feel like I was trapped in a small space. At the end, thinking that I also have a studio like this and always being in the same environment could cause me to lose my enthusiasm, I decided to go back to the clubs. To sit and watch thousands of people enjoy themselves, to feel the same atmosphere is a priceless feeling for me.”

DJ Turk is often invited to special birthday parties, and also took the stage with the group formed by the famous reed flute musician Omar Faruk Tekbilek. He has also taken the stage as the guest DJ for renowned artists. Ok Aga, Chrystal Waters, Rob Base, En Vouge, Latoya Jackson, 20 Fingers, Montell, Lil Suzy, Johnny O, Fun Factory, Pittbull, Collage, Nina Sky and Jordan are some of these.

He also DJed in concerts organized by the radio stations Kiss FM and 98 WPXY in Rochester, New York for seven consecutive years.

“I receive e-mails from different countries around the world. But sometimes I receive such e-mails that I feel proud. For example, I have a DJ friend, and he sent me a mix that he prepared saying “Maestro, look at this. How is it?’ These make me very happy.”

Although rarely, DJ Turk tries to follow the DJ competitions around the US. He participated in a competition in 2000 in Chicago at a club named “Excalibur.. In this competition, in which many famous DJs around the US have participated, he was in the finals with a famous DJ called DJ Billy. After a fierce competition DJ Turk won the contest.

DJ Turk was invited to the DJ Conference in Las Vegas, held between March 20 and March 23, which over 1000 DJs attended.  He was one of the two DJs and one VJ who was invited to take the stage. Having proved his skills as a mobile DJ live on the stage, he was cheered for minutes. He also gave a paper on how to mix on PCs. Stating that being a DJ requires a lot of labor and action, DJ Turk says that he has to work out as much as a soccer player, and that he trains 8 hours a day.

DJ TURK, who has started to work outside Rochester, is ready for new projects. You can reach him at the www.djturk.com site or by phone at 1 866 4DJTURK.

“I am always proud of being a Turk and I felt myself to be an ambassador. I used to incorporate Turkish songs at remixes at the clubs where I was playing. With time my name became familiar to the clubs I was playing at. Not with my real name, but as DJ Turk. For the Americans pronouncing Mehmet was difficult. My friends used to call me “Turk” and those who didn’t know my name used to mention me by saying, “that Turkish guy.” In time my nickname became DJ Turk.

(July 2006, 21th Issue)
Last modified onSaturday, 06 May 2017 10:07