As I limp into the Duke of Wellington on what I hope is not a broken foot, I’m looking forward to a great show from KW’s friendliest musician: Juneyt Yetkiner. I’ve known Juneyt for a little over a year now and have seen him perform a number of times in wide variety of locations and with a diverse group of talented performers. Tonight, performing as “Turk and the Hobbits”, I can look forward to the high energy set of music they’ve prepared as well as anything the collaborative crowd can shout out.
I’m arriving before the show tonight, before all the cheering and singing starts, to sit down with Juneyt to discuss his upcoming role as a judge and mentor in season 3 of The Shot. He arrives, smiling as always. He takes the time to personally greet the people who are waiting to see him. He seems to have a personal history with every one, sharing a quick story or inside joke as he makes his way over to my small square table.
Mike Lindsay: How long have you played music? Is it something you did in Turkey or did you pick it up when you moved to Canada?
Juneyt Yetkiner: I started [in Turkey] when I was 18 and a half and pretty much started learning on videotape because guitar lessons unfortunately are very expensive in Turkey.
Close to twenty years I’ve been playing guitar. Back home I did it professionally, but not like this [playing gigs with a band] I was more of a studio musician, playing for albums. For some touring artists, I was their guitar player on stage.
ML: Your fingers have to move very fast when you play flamenco. Do you do any special exercises for your fingers or just practice songs?
JY: You use a lot of exercises initially when you start to learn. I do a lot of exercises and practice but also some techniques of my own. Once you’ve perfected the technique you’re playing, you want to create a sound that’s distinct from other players. You have to come up with techniques by yourself.
ML: Where do you draw your inspiration from?
JY: When I’m writing my original stuff I usually get inspired by stuff that’s happening around the world. Things that speak to me on a human and personal level.
ML: How did you become involved with The Shot?
JY: The funny thing is C.J. and I met before. He emailed me and we got together and he offered me the spot. I said “of course I would love to” because the people I would be working with are amazing people like Stacey [Zegers], Joni NehRita and C.J. [Allen]. Joni is one of my favorite human beings. Working with these people just got me interested even more.
ML: What makes The Shot different from other competitions?
JY: It involves young people, old people, it doesn’t have an age range.
You can be a closet singer for years and all of a sudden you’re studying at university, revamping your life and you can take your shot. Last season’s winner [James Downham] is a prime example. He was an underdog and BAM! He won the whole thing.”
ML: If someone is not sure if they should come out to audition, what would you say to them?
JY: They should definitely come out. First of all, it’s private. You’re not singing in front of five hundred people. It also improves your ability to perform in front of other people.
Anything that has this much marketing value is great. The people that The Shot works with are amazing; we have the best videographers in town, we have the best media personalities that are known in this area and in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Why wouldn’t you?
ML: Are you looking forward to mentoring the contestants?
JY: Absolutely! That’s one of my favourite parts, one of OUR favourite parts. We [the judges] were talking about it and C.J. is very excited. He gets very, very involved. He’s very passionate about that. Same with Stacey, Joni and me.
ML: What do you enjoy about mentoring?
JY: You basically get to teach people what you’ve been through and nobody showed you. You’re saving them five years minimum. We found out everything by mistake. We basically ran into the walls until we found the right direction. Nobody told us: “OK, this is the right direction”. We were blindfolded.
ML: This is your second time as a judge. What made you want to come back?
JY: I just love the environment. I love the people I work with and I love the crew. It’s like a family.
ML: What advice can you give to aspiring singers/songwriters in the KW Area?
JY: They should take advantage of every opportunity in the KW region. It is one of the best areas for musicians to stay in. You can make it in this town. It’s a small town but it has more opportunity than anywhere around, even Toronto.
ML: It all comes down to the finale on November 14. Can you enjoy the event or is it a stressful day for you as a judge?
JY: I enjoy it. I’m the kind of guy who works way better under pressure. When I’m pushed to the limit I work the best. I purposely put myself under pressure sometimes; I will choose a song that’s very hard to learn and I’ll wait until the last two days [before a performance] and practice the S*** out of it.
ML: In Season 2, you gave an amazing performance. Can we look forward to seeing more of you at this year’s finale?
JY: Oh yeah. My philosophy is: whatever you do, raise the bar every single time because your next time could be your last time. So make sure you’re remembered.
ML: Thanks for everything, Juneyt. I really appreciate your time and I’m sure all the aspiring contestants will appreciate your advice and insight.
With that we stand and shake hands. Turk heads off to join the Hobbits. I am always pleased, but never surprised, by the amount of applause I hear. It’s going to be another great show.
This blog post was written by The Shot Technical Director, Mike Lindsay.