Özlem Tekin was born in California, United States into a Turkish-American family. Her father Talat Tekin was a prominent Turkologist at UC Berkeley. The Tekins moved to Turkey when she was four years old. Özlem grew up in Ankara, where she went on to study classical western music at the Hacettepe University Music Conservatory in Ankara, specializing in the clarinet. She started out as the vocalist in "The BAD.