Born in Israel, but raised in Cape Town, South Africa (with Roman-Israeli roots), the progressive singer / songwriter, Yoav showed his interest in music from an early age. He has been a talented songwriter since he was a teenager and then he spent a year studying in London to record a demo of his songs that unfortunately did not attract the attention of the companies and so he “set sail” for the transatlantic shores.
Precisely a decade ago, he released his debut album “Charmed and Strange” which contained the very successful singles: “Club Thing”, “Adore Adore” and “Beautiful Lie”. After two completed albums (“A Foolproof Escape Plan” (2010) and “Blood Vine” (2012) and collaborations with artists such as Tori Amos, Imogen Heap and Katie Melua, Yoav is back with brand new material that he gathers in his next album entitled “Multiverse”, which has just been released.
On the occasion of this release, we found the opportunity to ask him more about this project, his own preferences and influences, his multi-cultural background and his future plans … Read the exclusive interview that Yoav gave to SounDarts.gr further down …
Let us know a bit more about yourself. What’s your story?
I was born is Israel from a Romanian architect Dad and South African opera singer Mom. We moved to Cape Town around the time I was about 3 months old and I grew up there. I was discovered due to some freakish good fortune connecting a distant family member with a cd of my songs with a record executive at Columbia records and so I moved to New York just after high school to work with the label there. I spent my time there playing and watching shows and exploring and figuring out how to mix all the sounds I was hearing in my head with the songs I was writing.
You were born in Israel but you grew up in Cape Town. Does the musical culture of South Africa affect your songwriting and if so, in what ways?
Well I grew up in Cape Town. Though I wasn’t born there,it’s the place where I first gained a musical identity. Actually we were a lot isolated from the rest of the world when I was growing up. First by the cultural boycott and then just by distance to the outside world. When I was a kiddo,I mainly loved pop and singer/songwriter music. As I got older I grew to love all kinds of sounds. I guess the African sound is somewhat ingrained in me as it is quite ubiquitous if you live there. My most inspiring guitar teacher has a really wild acoustic Africa percussice guitar style that was influential on my guitar evolution.
What inspires you the most to write your songs?
My songs are a part of me. They arise and sometimes I have something to do with that and sometimes I don’t. Of course there are times when I am particularly inspired..extreme emotional circumstances, breakthroughs, or the occasional super special song that shows up totally unannounced unexpected. Those are usually the best.
Your first album “Charmed and Strange” was released in 2008 and your latest album “Multiverse” on September 7th. Through this decade in which
ways do you believe that your music has evolved?
Many ways.. I think if I listen to my older sounds, I can hear potential,but it’s not quite there. With most of Multiverse,I feel like something has arrived.My voice has settled in, my intention is much clearer. I’ve learned so much from each of my record making experiences,not to mention the adventures of touring and the ups and downs of fame and fortune,, or the lack of it. I’m learning to leave more space, but I still have a lot to learn, no doubt.
Recently we heard your new singles “Blood Moon” and “Touch”. Can you tell us a few words about these releases? Are there any interesting stories behind their writing?
“Blood Moon” is about giving in to temptation, when I should very well know not to. It was the first song I wrote after arriving on the north part of the island of Ibiza, which is where I created these songs and sounds. Names have been changed to protect the guilty and innocent. “Touch” is mystical and mysterious and I’m not quite sure how to talk about it just yet. Even the video had to be abstract and intoxicating, as I felt that a meaning would get in the way of what the song does to you when you listen to it.
Which is the song that stands out for you from “Multiverse” and why?
As above, Touch is my favourite of any song I’ve yet written. It appeared, almost by magic and it defined a sound I’ve had in my head that didn’t exist yet, but that I wished existed. When I listen to it, especially on headphones, it has a physically positive affect on me. Reminds me of a very deep personal experience I had on arriving on the island.
When did you realize that music was what you wanted to do in your life?
I think around age 7 I discovered pop songs. By the time I was playing and writing my own songs, I was about 13. Started gigging not long after that. It just always seemed to carry me along. Nothing I could do but follow.
Did you have the support of your family and friends to purchase your dream?
Yes I had some help from my family to move to New York after high school. My Mom and Brother and Sister continue to be very supportive of my musical adventure.
Did you face any major difficulties in your career until now? And did you have to take any hard decisions that could affect you?
Oh yes, it’s been full of difficulties. Every time I think I’ve paid my dues and then something else comes along. The music industry isn’t exactly known for having solid business practices and I’ve been burned by a couple of dodgy deals. I’ve also experienced being signed to a monolithic record label and watching them twist my creative offering into something else entirely. As I experience more and more in this world, I’ve tended to choose to work with people I love and respect rather than the big corporations. Time will tell if this is right or wrong.
If you had the opportunity to choose an artist to collaborate with, who would it be and why?
Bjork I’d love to experience working with Bjork in the studio and see how she operates and watch how music flows through her. A couple of my best ever concert experiences have been watching her do her thing. Or if I’m allowed to choose a dead artist,maybe John Lennon, who has written some of the very greatest songs and was just such an interesting and charismatic human being. I’d love to watch that in action.
Is there a song in the world that you would love to cover one day and why?
Hmmm.. that’s always changing depending on what I am listening to at the time.
What are your future professional plans?
I built a mad guitar looping and soundscape “spaceship” setup that I am learning to play. I’m going to take it out on the road from next year February. So a few months of touring and festivals. After that, maybe something totally new, musically speaking. Find a new adventure.
What is your motto in life?
Remind myself to be here, to be in the present moment.
Interview: Thodoris Kolliopoulos