I was in Istanbul, Turkey, last week and before going I did a bit of research on record shops there, of which there are a decent number and from what I know the prices are pretty good, with the conversion from GBP to Lira being quite favourable. This is taken from the Istanbul Guide:
Jammin’s Vinyl Records
In a calm corner of Şişli away from the frantic crowds, Jammin’s offers “vinyl records & friendship.” This indicates the relaxed and welcoming atmosphere in the shop, where you’ll probably want to sit and enjoy a cup of Turkish coffee with owner Cem Ülkü. The shop focuses mainly on foreign records from the 70s and 80s, although Ülkü also has a love of the Turkish psychedelic era – notice the illustrations on the walls by Burak Şentürk, who illustrated the Barış Manço song “Nick the Chopper” for the Anatolian Rock Project.
Located at the end of one of Istanbul’s coolest streets, Analog Kültür is a welcome addition to Istanbul’s record store scene. Run by vinyl enthusiast and DJ Kaan Düzürat, it is an intimate space, brimming with old and new, Turkish and international classics. A mixing desk is built into the counter, flanked by two Technic 1210s, from where the shop’s staff and visiting musos select an eclectic playlist. Whether you’re a serious collector or casual browser, pop in here and you may find it difficult to leave.
Lale Plak is located in Tünel Square at the very top of Galip Dede Caddesi, a street sloping down from Tünel to Galata that is known for its music shops. Hakan Atala, the owner of Lale Plak (which has existed for over 50 years), keeps an extensive stock of records in his store including iconic 70s Turkish singers such as Barış Manço or Ajda Pekkan, as well as (Western) classical music, and world music. The records at Lale Plak are all new, not second hand, and signed jazz records are available for purchase.
Mono Plak is a vinyl shop specializing in folk, rock, jazz, and vintage Turkish music. Located in the pretty district of Çukurcuma, on a street parallel to the Museum of Innocence, Mono Plak has a carefully selected batch of records organized by genre. From The Grateful Dead to Aretha Franklin, Black Sabbath to the Talking Heads, or the Rahbani brothers to Zafer Dilek, there is a wide variety of Eastern and Western classics and rarities from past to present.
Mandala Müzik Evi
Mandala Müzik Evi, in the Aslıhan Pasajı in Galatasaray, which is also a great place to hunt for second-hand books, will be familiar to fans of the movie Issız Adam as the place where the main character, Alper, first meets his love interest Ada. (She is looking for a second-hand novel, he for a collector’s item LP.) With Mandala’s extensive second-hand collection there is a good chance that you, too, will find what you are looking for (musically speaking, that is.) Mandala’s stock, divided more or less equally between 33 and 45 RPM, focuses on 1970s music, both Turkish and foreign.
The Asian side’s answer to Aslıhan Pasajı is of course Akmar Pasajı in downtown Kadıköy, long known to students as a place to buy course books and English-language readers. Zihni Müzik is located on the basement level of the passageway. The store has one of the biggest collections of LPs in Istanbul with around nine thousand records in stock, of which nearly three quarters are second-hand (most of the records are 33 RPM, although a considerable stock of 45s is also available).
Also on the Asian side, in the upscale Moda district, is Vintage Records. The store, barely five years old, has a vast collection of second-hand LPs, and is particularly strong on Turkish pop/rock of the 60s and 70s as well as English-language classic rock. You can also find various kinds of musical equipment (amps, speakers, etc.) for sale here.
Kontraplak, a new addition in the Beyoğlu area, caters to the underground crowd while maintaining a balance of well-spun classics. A record player sits in the back to explore any album you might want to further explore, and a couch rings the far wall for you to sit, relax, and take in the musical view. A surprisingly wide-range of genres are on offer, anything from chamber pop to jazz to acid techno can be tracked down here. The friendly vibe of the staff and the basement-like feel of the store bump up the exclusivity vibe, as does the collection of obscure titles that they carry.
On the European side, Opus 3A in Cihangir stocks new records rather than second-hand. Its collection focuses on jazz, as well as legendary Turkish 70s pop icons such as Barış Manço or Ajda Pekkan, with some rock and classical music as well. Most of Opus 3A’s records are 33 RPM.
Another record store in Cihangir is Deform Müzik owned by Ozan Maral and Tayfun Aras who are also known as the DJ duo Deform-E. The store’s second hand stock is a mixture of all kinds of genres including 50s and 60s soul and funk or rock as well as Turkish and international records.
Vinyl events in the city:
Deform-E and vinyl market Kadıköy’s favorite hipster bar, Arkaoda, frequently hosts the owners of the Deform store who spin their products in the DJ booth as the duo ‘Deform-E.’ Vinyl markets are also set up in the garden area where a selected collection from the area’s best shops come together for fingers to browse through.
A lot to go at there, much digging to be done. I went to none of these. My three days in Istanbul were for work and I saw the inside of hotels, motorway and the inside of offices, absolutely nothing else of note, I may as well have been in Coventry for all the culture I soaked up. This was a major disappointment to me, but there just wasn’t any opportunity to go exploring. I am back in April and need to try and get a flight back on a Sunday instead of a Thursday so that I can have some time to wander in the city and go to some of the shops above. I’ll let you know how it goes.