What was it like growing up in Israel in the 90’s and on a kibbutz?
I only really spent about 4 month at the kibbutz and the rest in the city (of Tel Aviv). We were constantly being bombarded with violent propaganda. There’s an official state policy to preach a certain agenda from the cradle to the grave. On top of that, 9 years of my schooling were spent in religious institutions, where they were quite openly telling us we should ”kill all of the arabs” since we were 7 or 8 years old. I’m sure some schools were a little bit more moderate, but that personal experience was quite disturbing. We’ve landed in February 1991, during the last week of the Gulf War, that was quite… err…how shall we say – interesting?… it certainly gave a certain taste of what would follow. Every night there would be sirens and we’d have to rush into the basement with gas masks on. They had plastic colorful gas masks then for kids under the age of 6. I was 4. yeay!
You wrote song at the age of 12, recorded at the age of 13, which was produced by Idan Raichel, how did you get connected with him? What was the song about? Did you have music lessons as a kid or did you naturally start singing and playing instruments at a young age?
Raichel was collaborating with the performance coach in one of the schools I attended and she produced a song contest with original songs. The song was a little pop number, today I actually think it’s a cute little lo-fi baroque/chamber-pop number, with awfully naive lyrics about popularity and justifying a somewhat pitiful need for acceptance (most of my childhood attempts at songwriting were about broad subjects like world-peace, which had morphed later into… more songs about peace! but perhaps a bit more tongue-in-cheek later on). I studied classical music with a private tutor who had great hopes for me and much to everyone’s disappointed ditched it for ”garbage” music – which is what she called popular music when I was 12.
I have a bedroom full of stuff, it’s hardly a studio and there’s hardly a system to it, I just toy around with various of the objects at random times, but I’ve been performing with the same live setup for perhaps 5 years now – my little trusted Mobilecube Roland amp – it’s portable and runs on batteries and I plug everything into it, except for the piano mic – ”everything” is my fake Ovation guitar (bought with coins made from busking), a Microkorg synth and a vocal mic. Some sound people hate it cause everything goes through one channel and they have virtually no control over the sound, but I do and I love it and it’s very very raw sounding like it should be.
What do you like to do for fun in Berlin?
Meeting with friends anywhere, anytime, catching up after a long trip. cycling by the canal, having a bath. Very simple things.
What are the arts and music scenes like in Berlin?
I’ve recently complained about the commercial art world in another article, it’s terribly unfortunate how people have to suck up to some shithead rich, well-connected douchebags to get a foot in the door. It’s like that everywhere in these circles.
We’ve started an art collective called Autodiktat with a few self-taught individuals and aim to raise a few question marks and perhaps make a few people feel uncomfortable about the dynamics and politics of the art world – we will definitely not make any friends in these particular circles.
Art should be for everyone who wants it, it’s a basic human need and there should be no monopoly of any such kind. It should be free, accessible and available for everyone, it’s an organic extension of ourselves, a means of expression, no one can teach you how to read or write it, it’s entirely personal and subjective, and these douchbag assholes will never catch the essence of it with all of the money in the world, they may treat it like a little toy for amusement and prestige, but it will never be theirs, on any level beyond a superficial adornment. Oh, it just drives me mad.
About 80% of the German music industry caters only to the German market, and German speaking territories – very few acts tour internationally. Not to mention that most of it (and especially the little that IS being exported) is electronic.
Yet in the underground there are subculture bubbles for every taste (when i first arrived in Berlin it seemed like the dominant culture was all of these niche-scenes and niche-genres – there was almost no visibility of anything mainstream) – there are garage and soul nights, there’s new wave and post-punk parties, minimal/contemporary-classical and experimental shows etc… You can pretty much find anything in a little culture-pocket on every night of the week. Some events are smaller, some bigger, but the city is incredibly diverse and in spite of the recent changes, still is a paradise for underground culture.
Do you see any similarities to Detroit in the way the music and arts scenes functions?
In 2007-8 when I first arrived in Berlin, it still had a somewhat similar feeling to last year’s Detroit (but I was in Detroit for such a short time that perhaps that impression was only superficial) – Berlin had a lot of empty spaces, a lot of self organized spaces and collectives, availability of space and time. Over the course of the last 2-3 years gentrification in Berlin went into the next stage, people increasingly got second jobs, had less and less time on their hands, had to work harder to afford the new rents. I imagine it will only get more and more competitive with the city’s popularity sky rocketing. The things the city had to offer us are diminishing, but some old an new friends are there, and they are what makes me want to stay.
Between Two Drummers is a brilliant talk show. I like your spin on it, and I am familiar with Between Two Ferns…thanks to a friend that pointed the connection out to me. How did you find your co-hosts? Why did you chose these people? Was there anyone you reached out to that you wished could come but did not? I love the idea of including people that you support and support your practice, it shows that your sounds and inspiration are unique and your ideas are worldly.
Haha. thanks! Our version is not funny though(!). I thought I saw Zach Galifianakis and wanted to walk up to him and apologize (not that he’d ever hear of our little spin-off).
The co-hosts, you mean – the drummers? Your Government is my band (which consists of me and the two drummers) and the new album which is coming out in November is with them. The guests we had on the show are all people I love and were very supportive. Luckily, everyone I’ve asked was available, we just had to make sure everyone was in town during the shooting 🙂
We’ve made these episode as part of the crowdfunding campaign for the album (before we had a new label onboard).
What do you hope people take away from listening to your music?
To perhaps shake them out of their comfort zones, make them a little uncomfortable, a little confused, make them think a little and perhaps go home and use that experience for something remarkably positive.
What are some musicians that you are into right now?
Francis Bebey, Bruce Haack, Joe Meek, Yellow Magic Orchestra.