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How Turkish Label Drug Boulevard Is Using Dream Pop to Resist Oppression

"You feel an invisible hand pulling you back from progress," says founder Kubilay Yigit, but that hasn't stopped him from creating an international roster.

by Peter Holslin
Jan 31 2017, 2:00pm

It's not easy to start a record label anywhere, and doubly so when you live in a country shaken by political repression and terrorist violence. That's the struggle of Kubilay Yigit, the 25-year-old founder of the new Turkey-based dream-pop label Drug Boulevard.

Yigit shares the dreams and aspirations of many creatives his age—frustrated by what he felt were formulaic trends in a monopolized electronic pop scene, he recently launched the project as a way to discover new avenues of creation and establish connections with like-minded artists over the internet. Standing in his way, however, is the chaos engulfing his home country of Turkey, where in recent months the neighboring conflict in Syria has spilled over with an increasing number of terrorist bombings and shootings while the government of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has cracked down heavily on political opponents, journalists, and social media amid public protests and a coup attempt last year.

Yigit, who lives in Istanbul and previously founded the trance/progressive dance music label Blue Soho, says he's endured internet slowdowns, electricity cuts, self-censorship and a growing sense of insecurity while trying to get Drug Boulevard off the ground. On New Year's Eve, at least 39 people were killed in a terrorist shooting at Istanbul's Reina nightclub, filling people with dread and dashing his hopes of staging a local show to celebrate the label's launch. "Just because of the geography you're living in, you have to push aside lots of ideas that would be easily done in an ideal world," he says. "You feel an invisible hand pulling you back from progress."

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