Greek, Turkish Cypriot DJs reviving forgotten musical history of island

Two local DJs from both sides of Cyprus have rolled up their sleeves to compile an extensive archive of music recorded prior to the island’s 1974 division.

Thirty-nine-year-old Constantinos Manglis, known as DJ Magos, and 43-year-old Cahit Halil, who goes by the name DJ Bombasoul, have come to the tail end of their mission to unbury forgotten tracks produced by local artists dating as far back as the 1960s, the Cyprus Mail reported on Sunday.

 The pair having so far dug up around 1,000 records and upon the completion of their archive plan to share by re-releasing selected tracks in vinyl and digital form, it said.

The island of Cyprus has been divided since 1974 into predominantly Greek south, whose government is internationally recognised, and the Turkish north, whose sovereignty is only recognised by Ankara. 

“I was collecting records during the late 90s while still at school, and was finding some Cypriot records. I then got more seriously into it around seven years ago and found a lot more local stuff, mostly dating back to before 1974,” collection aficionado Constantinos told the Cyprus Mail. 

Some of his findings include folk, dimotika (village music), laika (urban folk music), pop music and rock music from a vibrant pre-Turkish invasion local music scene.

It was when the Greek Cypriot DJ found a few recordings by Turkish Cypriots that he got in touch with Cahit. 

The pair have taken it upon themselves to vigorously search everywhere for the island’s musical history, from people’s houses to old warehouses.

They have been received well by the older generation of musicians on the island, who they say were ‘’happy to see that the younger generation is interested in what they did when they were teenagers.’’

The task has not been without its fair share of challenges, however.

“It wasn’t like it is today when everyone has a laptop,” they said, explaining that sometimes the musicians won’t have copies of their own music.

Father time has caught up with the musical souls, too, they say, noting that some seasoned musicians failed to remember the names of their band members, and even if and what they recorded.

Many of their career ambitions were stopped short.

“Speaking to Turkish Cypriot musicians, the war affected them particularly because they had to literally stop recording. Obviously, this is also the case for many Greek Cypriots as well,” Cahit said, speaking on the effects of the war.

‘’Turkish Cypriot music developed a very powerful psychedelic rock sound, influenced by a booming scene in Turkey at the time, while Greek Cypriot musicians had more disparate influences, and tried to copy what was going on in Greece or the UK,’’ the Cyprus Mail said. 

Turkish Cypriot musician Erdinc Gunduz, for example, would travel with his band, Sila 4, across the Cyprus villages and collect stories and folk songs that later were transformed into folk rock tracks.

The pair have applied for funding for their project, which they joking say is on  “a Cypriot timeline,’’  referring to a prolonged peace process, which has lasted for more than four decades and is yet to be finalised.