'The lyrics are important'

'The lyrics are important'

One of the most interesting acts to have played at NH7 Weekender was the ‘Idan Raichel Project’, which fuses an eclectic mix of African, Latin American, Caribbean and Middle Eastern sounds, traditional Hebrew texts and Ethiopian music.

Metrolife speaks to Idan, the Israeli singer-songwriter behind the project.
“The ‘Idan Raichel Project’ was formed around ten years ago and we started it with 95 musicians from Israel. The youngest performer was 16 years old and the oldest was 91. They were all neighbours from the block, who had immigrated to Israel and helped me start off a beautiful musical process,” recalls Idan.

Asked whether his music could be called political songwriting, he shrugs and answers, “The music is political within our own borders; it’s a social commentary. Through the music, we’re fighting racism and bringing the voices of minorities to the mainstream.”
Despite the songs being in a language unknown to most listeners, the feelings in the music come through quite easily.

“The songs are mostly very general love songs or about the social conditions and landscapes of where we come from. For me, the lyrics are important — but it’s more about the whole community playing together. It is the story of our society — the immigrants who have been coming to Israel for the last six or seven decades and creating one of the most interesting multi-cultural melting pots in the world,” he notes.

As an afterthought, he adds, “I think that people can feel the vibe once we go on stage. It’s like when you listen to Edith Piaf from France, you don’t have to know French — you immediately feel the poverty of Paris back in the days, the melancholic sound, the love songs, the pride… It’s like us listening to instrumental music by Ravi Shankar and imagining the landscape of India.”

Is India quite like the music made it out to be? “Indeed!” smiles the young man with the dreadlocks, adding, “We’re performing in different cities and I feel that in every place, we are gathering a very nice and warm welcome. We’re happy and honoured to perform here.”

What not too many people know is the fact that growing up, Idan served in the Israel Defence Forces army band, touring military bases and performing covers of Israeli and Western pop hits.

“The experience of playing in an army band was very interesting — it’s a mandatory compulsive service for both men and women.  But I was lucky to serve as a musician. It’s a great honour for me to serve my nation in any way,” he wraps up.


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