An NA TEN Exclusive
The cinematography and soundtrack for the currently running romantic comedy, Sen Cal Kapimi, have received rave reviews. The show is one of the top performing dizis for the summer, and in addition to a beautiful script that has set social media trends ablaze, the blended soundtrack of local and international tunes have caught the attention of North American audiences.
One song in particular, Gold by American singer songwriter Tolan Shaw, has already been used in the end sequences of Episodes 2 and 5, and again reused at the beginning of Episodes 3 and 6, and in another scene in 7. It has almost become like an anthem for the show, now used in behind the scenes clips shared by the cast as well. The song is so perfect for the chosen scenes that it has set the fandom on a whole new path of discovering American music.
North America TEN is excited to have an opportunity to chat with Tolan and get insight into his inspiration for the song, how it made it into a Turkish production and what the recognition has meant for him.
The Gold Fit
Other Turkish shows have also used a blend of English songs in its soundtrack. The Protector and Love 101, both Netflix originals, boast a modern soundtrack with many English songs performed by European or American musicians. Several other dizis also feature instrumental music or background songs by Western musicians but featuring versions with lyrics that actually match the plot line to perfection is more rare. In Sen Cal Kapimi, two songs have been used repeatedly: “Beat Roadrunner” by Josh Powell and Adam Skinner, and “Gold”.
Whereas Beat Roadrunner is more of an upbeat music that captures the mood, the lyrics in Gold alludes to how the character of Serkan (played by Kerem Bursin), who is in a contract based fake betrothal with Eda (played by Hande Ercel) so that his ex-girlfriend will part ways with her fiancé, begins to see Eda as the girl who is worth her weight in gold, someone he could trade all his worldly goods for. For someone as meticulous as Serkan, Eda represents that alluring, all-consuming love that he had never counted on.The song lyrics are beautiful but I pick the sections that fit the plot, the scenes and the emotions like a glove:
“Two things that you should know about me I'll treat your heart so tenderly Lay gifts of love down at your feet Come take my hand and you will see A little bit of romance in every little moment.. Good as gold Trade you all my money for your gold Worship you 'cause honey you're like gold You'll be my queen Worth your weight in gold Copper, silver, energy All those things I'd surely trade Give them all away to make you mine"
Serkan, who is a consummate professional, believes that all relationships are really a contract because feelings do not last forever. He is a controlled and controlling personality, known for his strict work discipline as an award winning architect. Eda is a free spirit who is driven by her ambition to become a world renowned landscape architect, but who feels wronged by Serkan when her much-needed scholarship funded by his company gets abruptly canceled, depriving her of her last year of school and her diploma. Through serendipitous events described in the show’s review in an earlier post, they enter into a contract based relationship where at the end Eda will gain back her scholarship, and Serkan will avert possible espionage threats to his family’s holding company.
The script by Ayse Uner Kutlu is beautifully crafted to unravel the rigid character of Serkan and as the lead pair meanders through their fake relationship, both of them have to confront their prejudices about each other and their life’s perceptions. Love touches them in unexpected ways and only into the eighth episode of the series, with excellent chemistry between the leads played by Kerem Bursin and Hande Ercel, the show has topped all the charts for a summer series this year.
To have an American singer/ songwriter featured in this rich, visually pleasing narrative that is rooted in a very traditional romance trope, captures a fusion of global flavors in interesting ways. Kerem, who did much of his schooling in the US, has gait, stature and gestures that contain an imperceptible confidence encompassing an Americanism that sets him apart among his peers. There is a certain swagger that complements his otherwise Turkish features, and the ease with which he slides into American English when interacting with fans and the press make him seem very accessible to his international fans. Becoming the new face of the American sportswear company Under Armour adds to this perception.
As a result, in addition to the song lyrics being a great fit to the plot itself, Kerem’s Serkan seems to be the perfect character/ person to be awakening to his love for Eda as his guiding light, as opposed to the materialistic rewards he sought before. It feels as though it is synchronicity at its best.
Tolan Shaw: The Musician
Tolan, a native of Southern California, started songwriting at the age of 16, with his first song being a love song asking Sarah to be his girlfriend. The high school sweethearts have been together for 15 years, are now married and Sarah continues to be Tolan’s muse for the work he produces.
Deriving immense pleasure out of the creative process of writing songs, Tolan finished college and wanted to pursue songwriting as a career. Over the years, he has had many songs placed in TV shows, commercials and films, winning a few awards along the way. He co-wrote a song called “Could I Love You Any More?” with Jason Mraz and some other writers that Jason released as a duet with Reneé Dominique, a phenomenal YouTube star from the Philippines. It has 20 million+ streams and YouTube views. Jason Mraz, a Grammy award winning performer, is best known for his song “I’m Yours”.
Currently, Tolan is based out of Nashville, Tennessee, which is known as “The Songwriting Capital of the World”. Hailing from the laid back culture of Southern California, adjusting to the competitive environment of Nashville took time, but it also challenges Tolan to keep raising the bar for himself. It opens opportunities for some great collaborations and there is plenty more to come from this talented musician. You can follow him on Instagram or learn more about him on his website.
When asked about the inspiration for the song that is now synonymous with Sen Cal Kapimi, this is what Tolan says,
“My inspiration for my love songs always comes from my wife Sarah. She is my love-song muse. We’ve grown together so much and experienced so many phases of love that I have a lot of inspiration to draw from in our relationship alone. That also means I don’t have a lot of experience in heart break (I’m lucky!) and as such break up songs are harder for me to write authentically!
This song is essentially an ode to my love, my “queen.” I adore her and sometimes I don’t tell her enough, so I write songs to tell her how much I do. I wrote this song with my friend Marti Amado, who is also in a devoted relationship and brings experience to the table. The theme comes from a mindset that money, possessions, and shiny things can never replace true love. That spark, the little things, the big moments with someone you love by your side – no “thing” can replace those memories and experiences. Those people you love are the true “gold” in life.”
The song was written for a production music library called Sonoton, a German company that claims to have the world’s largest independent stock music library. Sonoton places music in film and tv shows, and the company orchestrated the whole process of getting the song placed in Sen Cal Kapimi. Tolan learnt about the placement after the fact and only understood its magnitude when he started getting hundreds of messages from fans of the show.
For a while, there was a call by fans of the show for Kerem to collaborate with Tolan on an acoustic version of the song. Kerem has a musical background and among many of his other talents, he has a history of being the bass guitarist in his high school band in Houston. The joint project is yet to come into fruition, but Tolan recently released a solo acoustic version for the fans of the song.
Sometimes, things are meant to be. Kerem took on the project after he had to abandon plans to be in the US due to the pandemic. Tolan’s music made it into the show without him knowing it would. Ayse’s story draws upon well-loved themes of choosing love over money, and at its essence that is the story Sen Cal Kapimi narrates through poetic overtones. The way the world became smaller through this serendipitous project seems a beautiful example of how the Arts builds bridges where politics cannot, and how the world can unite in love.
To end on another unexpected parallel, I share a photo of Tolan, with a tattoo on his right arm, which is identical to the one Kerem’s character Ali Smith sported in his award-winning role in Bu Sehir Arkandan Gelecek. What are the chances?
Article copyright (c) North America TEN & mh./ [@entrespire, twitter]
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