Turkish R&B artist emir taha on his musical firsts, from his first guitar to the first gigs and festivals he attended.

emir taha grew up in the seaside resort of Antalya in Turkey, where he took in the influences of classic guitar bands like Sting as well as Turkish artists like Barış Manço, whose international career in the 1960s has served as inspiration for taha throughout his career.


He first made his name with his YouTube covers when he was a teenager, which eventually picked up the attention of 2007 Eurovision contestant Kenan Dogulu, who became a mentor to taha. Recording music in both English and his native Turkish, taha’s mission has been to put Turkish music on the map, taking influence from traditional sounds without conceding to a Westernized and orientalist view of his country.


Using artists like The Weeknd and Kid Cudi as a blueprint, he burst onto the scene fully in 2020 with the release of his acclaimed first EP, ‘Hoppa pt. 1’, which was picked up by Spotify’s playlists and streamed millions of times. He followed it up with the release of ‘Hoppa pt. 2’ last year.


To celebrate the fast-growing career of this unique artist, Emir Taha sat down with Notion to chat about his musical firsts, from meeting his musical hero to his first festival. Dive in!

First song you ever made?

When I was 14, I got asked to write a song for World Water Day by a music teacher in my school. So the first ever song I made was called ‘water’, and I think it was about water trying to be friends with the clouds or something. I feel like water has been a theme up until Huyu Suyu 🙂

First song you released officially?

“Kendine Gel”, the first release taken from my debut EP. It’s also a significant song for me because it impacted the way I write massively.

First CD or record you owned?

I probably had a couple before it but Mançoloji by Barış Manço is the first CD I have the most vivid memory of with it’s bright blue sky cover.

First time you realised you wanted to be an artist?

Definitely when people started to react to what I was making. Never really thought of it seriously besides just making music as something I loved to do. Then I got recognized by a legendary artist I grew up listening to, Kenan Doğulu who I get to call my big brother now.

First gig and first festival you went to?

First gigs I’ve been to were the ones I was there through being a part of the show while I was touring with a folklore group called Fire of Anatolia. We would stay in the venue to see folk musicians play after our show. First gig I specifically went to see was Duman. They’re a sick Turkish rock band that I grew up listening to. My first festival was Sziget festival in Budapest.

First time you faced an obstacle in your career?

Two years before I put out any project, I had a complete EP ready to go. I realised it didn’t feel right when it came closer to the release date and I stopped it. Felt like I had to explore more. That was definitely a wall I’ve hit.
First instrument you owned?
It was an Admira Juanita Classical Guitar my mom got for me.
First time you felt like giving up?
When I first went to LA. The city felt intimidating. I didn’t really know a lot of people there. I remember thinking maybe I’m not cut out for this.
First time you felt starstruck?
Definitely the first one is when I met Kenan Doğulu as a teenager. Then seeing Chad Smith in a hidden show in LA. When you grow up listening to artists and you see/meet them in real life, it’s a special feeling.
First time you ticked off a bucket list goal?
To be honest I never really had a bucket list. I don’t really plan things but I want to take my grandmother to Italy one day, that’s one I need to tick off.

Listen to emir taha's new single below: