Interview with Ori Kaplan of Balkan Beat Box

In preparation for the band’s forthcoming Chutzpah Festival show at the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver on February 27. I interviewed Balkan Beat Box’s Ori Kaplan and asked him a variety of questions that covered music, food and travel. I have seen both of Balkan Beat Box’s concerts previously in Vancouver.

At its core, Balkan Beat Box is Tomer Yosef on vocals and percussion, Tamir Muskat on drums and programming, and Ori Kaplan on saxophone, though the collectively minded trio almost always surround themselves with an eclectic mix of musicians from around the world. The founding members met when Kaplan was playing sax with hyperactive Gypsy punks Gogol Bordello; and that band collaborated with Muskat on a one-off album. The band plays a variety of musical styles from traditional Jewish melodies to klezmer to hip-hop, all of which are shot through with electro and dancehall.

Where do you get your musical inspirations from?

Cultural heritage and the New York downtown music scene, New York sound, Mediterranean. Each of the musicians in the band has their own influences.

Did you always want to become a musician growing up?

Yes I always played instruments from when I was a child, never thought of it as a career it just came naturally.

Did you ever live in New York?

I was born in Israel, I did live in New York for a decade and a half and then returned to Israel.

What is your favourite cuisine or food to eat?

Grilled river trout

What is personal favourite style of music?

That is a hard question to answer because it changes every month, from Johnny Cash to African music.

What do you like to do in to your off time outside of music?

Windsurfing, wave surfing, travelling, exploring the Greek islands, and eating great food.

What is in store for your Upcoming Vancouver Concert?

Putting on a great show, give the maximum energy that we can give, perform some new songs from our new album.

Who are your favourite saxophonists that you listen too?

Dexter Gordon and Ornette Coleman

Where will Balkan Beat Box be performing this year that they have not performed in the past?

We just performed in Cape town and Johannesburg last week for the first time, later in the year we will be performing in Brazil, Columbia and around South America as well as travelling to Australia for the first time.

Balkan Beat Box plays the Commodore Ballroom as part of the Chutzpah Festival in Vancouver on February 27 at 8pm see www.chutzpahfestival.com for details.


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