Volkan Öktem was born on June 25, 1970 in İzmir. His interest in music started at the age of 7. When he was 11, he started to play the drums with the military musicians at the officers’ club. In 1985, he moved to Ankara with his family. He had a chance to play with lots of rock and pop groups in Ankara with his growing interest and breakthrough to music. In his club performences, he started to experiment with many styles, including traditional Turkish music forms while he managed to lay the foundation of his unique style. He performed 3 years for Alpay who was one of the most famous singers of the day.
His interest in jazz music gravitated him to perform in various jazz gigs. He had a chance to perform with pianists like Tuna Ötenel and Janusz Szprot. During this period he was mentioned in Istanbul. He received some proposals and moved to Istanbul in 1994.
He performed for many artists -including Sezen Aksu, Fahir Atakoğlu, Nilüfer- in more than 100 albums in Istanbul. Nevertheless he performed with Sertab Erener, the winner of 2002 Eurovision Song Contest. He played with her globally and locally until 2005.
In 1996, he took part in his first ethnic jazz project, a sextet called “Habbecik”. After the release of their album “An Meselesi”, they have played numerous festivals and concerts all around Turkey. In 1999, he joined the band “Laço Tayfa” and his unique style which is a mixture of traditional Turkish rhythm forms and modern jazz styles blended very well with the band’s fusion of traditional Turkish forms, jazz, funk and reggae. He recorded two albums called “Bergama Gaydası” and “Hicaz Dolap” with Laço Tayfa and he performed globally as well as locally in concerts, such as New York Central Park USA, May 2002 and International Istanbul Jazz Festival, July 9,2003.
As for Aşkın Arsunan projects, he performed at 7th International Istanbul Jazz Festival with Aşkın Arsunan’s Ethno-Karma Band on July 2000. In 2004, he played on his album “One a Day” and on July 2004 he played at 11th International Istanbul Jazz Festival in which John Scofield was the guest artist. Furthermore on January 2005 he took part in Bendik Hofseth’s “Down to Earth” project on İş Sanat Jazz Days with Arsunan.
In 1996 he founded the jazz fusion group called Trio Mrio and released their debut in 1997.After some changes of personnel and became a quartet,they have named the band Quartet Muartet and released their succesful album, Dokuz Parça (Nine Pieces).This album got the second highest number of votes on Jazz Magazine Readers’ Appreciation Survey in 2005.Öktem got the highest votes at the same survey, on the drummers category.
In July 2005 he performed at 12th International Istanbul Jazz Festival with Muvaffak “Maffy” Falay and Elvan Aracı, and also performed with İstanbul Superband for Dianne Reeves.
Presently, Volkan Öktem plays for Tarkan, the most famous pop singer who has came out of Turkey.
With his musical perspective and technique, which is a well balanced mixture of Turkish rhythms, jazz and more popular styles, Volkan Öktem is one of the most important drummers of Turkey. He is one of the most wanted drummers not only for live performances, but also for recording sessions.