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Passions: Emre Narin

The third-generation CEO of the Marti hotel business is known to Istanbul’s clubbers as DJ Red Owl.
DJ Red Owl is also a third gen of a successful Turkish hotel fambiz

It’s no surprise that Emre Narin became a DJ. From the moment he was born his three sisters, the eldest of whom was 15 years his senior, ensured music was all around him. “With a baby coming along they wanted to make a statement, that we play by our rules,” he laughs. “I grew up listening to loud club music all the time. My sisters used to party a lot. I used to spend all my summers in our hotel in Marmaris, too, and I went to the disco every night.” A school friend, who became the Istanbul club stalwart DJ Fuchs, also helped his musical education. “I remember buying my first CDs in 1989 in Munich with him. We are like brothers.”

While studying at Syracuse University in New York in the 1990s, he immersed himself in the clubbing scene there. “Chaos was my place, I was practically living there, and also there was Spy Club and Tunnel.” But it was only when he returned to Istanbul, where he ran the Turkish franchise of financial services firm Cantor Fitzgerald International with his brother-in-law, that he got behind the decks himself. “It was a friend’s party on New Year’s Eve 2000 when I played my first set,” he says. “Two years later I threw a party with a friend who was into rock and alternative music. We started doing parties every two months or so, and he would play his music and I would play house and deep house. We got a share of the entry fees, which paid for my first Mac.”

They called themselves DJs Statler and Waldorf, after the two critics in the Muppets but Narin has since changed his DJ moniker to Red Owl. (He likes owls and the colour red, he says.) Since he went to work for the family business in 2007 – a chain of five hotels in the coastal regions and Istanbul which expects to welcome 45,000 people this year – he donates his fees from appearances at venues like the W Hotel and Lucca in Istanbul to a foundation for autistic children his sister set up.

Despite his busy job, Narin plays “every month, or month and a half, in Istanbul, but in the summer I take the liberty to play more often than that in the hotels. Once, this lady – she’d had quite a bit of alcohol – asked me to play Waka Waka by Shakira, which I don’t usually play, but I did it and she gave me a tip of one dollar. Obviously she had no idea I owned the hotel,” he chuckles.

He’s come a long way from friends’ parties. The biggest crowd he played to was “about 700 or 800 people last December, when there were three birthdays at the same time at a club. There were so many people that they couldn’t serve any more, and people were buying beer from the grocery stores outside and listening to the music.”

He’s 41 now, but Narin is still playing regularly, and has no intention of stopping. “Now, as you can imagine, my friends are also in their 40s and people don’t go out as much as they used to, but they get together and come out when I am playing. When I play, I get people going, I express myself and connect with people. And when they have fun, I have a lot of fun.”

To hear Narin’s sets go to: www.soundcloud/redowl 

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