Idan Raichel – famous Israeli singer and songwriter, musician, known for his Idan Raichel Project, distinctive for its fusion of electronics, traditional Hebrew texts, Arab and Ethiopian music visited Poland in April to shoot a video with Kayah for their single”Po Co”.
In the interview I talked to Idan about the currant cooperation with Kayah, meaning of the world-music as an universal language, bringing different cultures together, love as recipe to current problems of our world and Tel Aviv’s hottest spots to visit…
Artur Wojtczak: You are visiting Poland today in order to shoot a video for a brand new single „Po Co” recorded together with Polish artist Kayah. How did you guys meet and what’s the story behind this song?
Idan Raichel: Kayah and I met many years ago, when I had a concert with Idan Raichel Project for the first time in Poland. She was in the audience and after the concert she approached me and we started to be in contact on a friend’s base. We kept in touch back and forth, when I was travelling around the world and when she was on concerts. One day she invited me to be her guest at the big festival in Poland with Transoriental Orchestra. She was very generous to feature me. It was an absolutely great event! We always wanted to record something together. During her last visit in Israel we recorded 2 demos for 2 compositions that I actually made some years ago, but she nailed it down with great lyrics. A few weeks after she asked me if I would be able to produce a very fast version of a song for her album. I was then on the road and could not communicate properly. Then we agreed that Jan Smoczynski from her group will be the best guy to produce it and he did an amazing job.
Three of us created a song that will influence the summer in Poland, in Israel and other parts of the world!
Is this single a part of a bigger project, can we count on an EP or an album of your duo?
Idan Raichel: What I love about Kayah is that she is very honest with heart and her artistic truth. Like other artists that I love: she is not commited to the project -she is commited to the music. And once there is a truth, love and passion, she’s recording it. If there will be other magical moments like this, we’ll continue, this will be the future I guess.
You are a super star not only in your home country – Israel, but you also have lots of fans, who visit your gigs worldwide. You have already played almost everywhere: from New York’s Central Park or White House up to Sydney Opera House… Is world music a universal language spoken and understood in many different countries?
Idan Raichel: Definitely, especially these days, when everything is online and the world became a global village. Also world music became different in the last years. World-music-artists are all those, who are bringing the soundtrack of the place they’re coming from. Therefore even the music of Bregovic back in the days or sound of the people from Philipines. People from Japan can see Edith Piaf’s music as world music. If people see my music or the songs from Kayah’s album as world music – it’s a great honour.
You try to bring Israeli’s immigrant cultures and languages together. Your team is multiracial and multinational. How does it work when you have to deal with so many musicians, souls, personalities?
Idan Raichel: It’s a great challenge to stay honest to your roots. You can compare it to the 2 cooks, chefs: mexican chef and the one of Philipines. Even if they will not find common ground, the base is always the same: sugar, rise, water. It’s the same DNA if we talk about music. You just have to go to the roots, to find the similarity. This is what world music or folklore is all about.
Many of your fans do not speak Hebrew and you record your music also in other languages. Is it the way of gaining new public?
Idan Raichel: No. We are recording the soundtrack to the culture of Israel the way we understand it. Many languages that you can hear on the streets of Tel Aviv . We don’t want to get more popular and use English. We decided to record voices of the streets. Therefore I feel the goal was to build the bridges between those cultures and to have fun at the end of the day.
„We Are Here” sung together with the soul- diva Alicia Keys at the Global Citizen Festival was a beautiful anti-war message, a kind of letter to the entire world to stay united in peace. Do you believe in oneness and unconditional love that should define our lives?
Idan Raichel: People need to follow their hearts. If your heart is willing to travel around the world, go there and explore it. If you feel you’d rather stay in your own country, stay in your country. I am not against countries or borders. I like to go to Warsaw and feel that I am in Warsaw. I like going to Senegal and feeling that I am in Senegal. Therefore I think there is beauty in being patriotic and loving your country. But you should also be welcoming other people, extend your feelings, once we’re talking about immigrants too. Me, Kayah and Alicia Keys speak different languages, we don’t look the same, but differences are nice and make this world more interesting. Yes, we need more unity. In whole Europe there is an uprising of the right wing parties, because the people are getting scared. People are afraid that the refugees will take their jobs, take their identity, so it’s very important to educate the people that you are helping the refugees not because you want Germany to look like Syria – you’re helping these people, because there is a serious crisis there and you want to stop the war.
We all are going through hard times nowadays: wars, death, populism and hate spread in the internet and in real life. What’s your recipe to survive in this cruel reality?
Idan Raichel: I feel that we live in a beautiful world and in a beautiful time. I think that also in the past there was a lot of death, lot of wars but we didn’t know about them because there was not so many massmedia like TV or internet. The world was in crisis actually all the time – otherwise, the population would be much much bigger. Now more things are transparent, knowledge is more accessable, I am able to have breakfast in the morning in Tel Aviv and shoot a video with Kayah in the evening. Tomorrow I can play a piano concert somewhere in the world. Media try to convince us that we are living in a bad time. The information flow makes us just more depressed.
Which interesting spots in Tel Aviv like shops, cafes, bars could you recommend for a music lover coming to see the city for the very first time? What are your personal recommendations to fall in love with your home-town?
Idan Raichel: If you’re coming to Tel Aviv, you should definitely come to the sea shore. Just take a walk from the North to the South: to the ancient Jaffa, to Neve Tzedek. Have some fish as a lunch , go and explore some music at the underground bars. Listen to the Philharmonic Orchestra of Israel, which is very famous in the world. Go and see galleries of great painters of Tel Aviv. If you have time, come and see my concert!