Tunes from the Promised Land

Tunes from the Promised Land

A profile of Israeli pianist Anat Melamed whose music is testimony to her fight against depression

Anat Melamed

At a music gig in India last year, Israeli musician Anat Melamed accidentally sang, “if somebody loves me” instead of “if nobody loves me” from one of her albums, causing her to comment on social media — “... okay India, enough with all this positivity, Israel I’m coming!”

Shy, actually painfully shy, as she says it so many times, Anat is a sensitive musician for whom music has been a balm. She does not usually lay out her songs to her listeners, because she would like them to “feel it first and see the meanings their mind lays before them.”

But her ‘Lila’s Dream’ has a special story. “It’s on depression and anxiety that have been my companions from an early age. It’s the story of the dark little rooms in our mind in which they dwell in, trying to keep us in, obscuring our vision (even physically). It’s the story of my emancipation from this eternal half-dream state with the help of treatment by antidepressants, of suddenly discovering that life is much more than I ever imagined,” says Anat.

‘Lila’s Dream’ was created along with Yuval Brusilovsky, her best friend, her brother painter-drummer Nadav Luzia and Matan Egozi, the mixing specialist.

Anat is a pianist, singer and creator from Israel, with an extensive reportoire of musical concepts. Her music is the output of a delicate yet assertive soul.  As a songwriter, she is influenced by artistes such as Tori Amos, Bjork, and Sufjan Stevens. As her mother is from England and her father spent a few years growing up in the US, her songs are in English.

“Language and word play are usually what gets me going. Whether it’s a phrase I heard, read or just came into my mind — that gets the ball rolling for a new song. Even learning a single new word can do the trick,” says the singer-songwriter.

During her studies, she began creating her first album, Golden Cage, which was released in 2017. In recent years, she has also appeared and recorded as an accordionist on the local indie scene. For the past two years, Anat has been dividing her time between Israel and India, appearing on stages from Goa to the Himalayas.

Her first trip to India was in the summer of 2017. “It was a random choice for a long-needed vacation. I fell in love with this country and I’ve been coming back ever since. India and Israel are so different yet somehow there is a very strong connection and sense of familiarity...especially in the casualness of being and everything-will-be-okay attitude to life even when facing adversities,” says Anat.

As a musician, she has had classical training of over 20 years and she says that she loves Indian classical music. “I find it so different from everything I grew up on. It’s challenging, enchanting and I try to explore it as much as I can.” In India, Anat performs her original songs mostly as a solo act or with her band from Israel when it’s possible. “I haven’t played with Indian artistes but I hope that changes soon.”

The author is a writer, culture critic and former editor of a classical music magazine.

Sounds Of Music is your genre- bending occasional column on all that is groovy in global music.