In preparation for the band’s forthcoming Chutzpah Festival show at Venue in Vancouver on February 24. I interviewed Yemen Blues, Ravid Kahalani and asked him a variety of questions that covered music, food and travel. I am looking forward to seeing Yemen Blues in concert for the first time.
When was Yemen Blues founded?
I wrote the first song of Yemen Blues around 3 years ago but I didn’t know that it would be part of the project called Yemen Blues. I guess the process began when I met Omer Avital in a big project we did together “Debka Fantazia” I was asking him if he would listen to 2 of my songs and maybe can do something with it, he liked the songs and he said lets meet and jam, we started to jam and met once in awhile cause he lives in NY and I live in Tel Aviv then after a while we called our friend Itamar Doari and Itamar Borochov and Rony wryn and started to jam together it was amazing time and playing the feeling was magical then we called Hilla Epstein and Galia Hai then Avi Lebovich as well and we kept jamming till we got to a day of recording that was kind of a miracle and we recorded 4 songs it was about year ago.
I saw you last year at the Idan Rachel concert here, was Yemen Blues already together as a group then?
Yes we started then, it was already an idea and it was the beginning of the process all the things with Yemen Blues happened so good and fast.
Where do you get your musical inspirations from?
I have big influence from my singing when I was a child when i was singing in Yemenite then I was singing a lot of blues after I left my parents home and was really in to funk soul, also lots of jazz.
Did you always want to become a musician growing up?
I guess I did, I remember myself since ever singing to myself and when i tried many things after that in my life like acting or dancing always the music was stronger.
Where did you grow up?
I was born in Israel in Bat Yam then my parents left to Elon more then i left home when I was 15 to the canter again I am in Tel Aviv for years now.
Describe the style of music of Yemen Blues?
Well its everything that’s the beauty in Yemen Blues we didn’t think to mix something or to do some kind of a fusion I came with my kind of singing and Omer with his jazz and the others with their background and we just played and it became like a language its lots of thing together but not something clear I think it’s kind of powerful musical language that we created with the time I think its funky in some parts i think its bluesy in some parts Arabic West African. I was exploring West African music and that’s how it took back to my roots and to make the texts and sing it in Yemenite Arabic me and my friend Alon Amano Cmpino we did a show called desert blues” which is a cd known in the world and it’s the blues from the desert so we did a show of it and i found out about amazing artists like Ali Farka, Salif Keita, Oumou Sangare, Habib Kiote and i learned the music and lyrics and sang it then i decided to write a song with my influences and sing it in Arabic Yemenite.
What other groups have you performed with in the past outside of Yemen Blues?
- My first project I did I liked singing, Yossi Yondman, Dance Show, Israeli festival – 8 years ago in on stage in front of 1,000 people.
- Afro Soul music, then collaborated with others Henry Balista
- Band with Chaim
- Collaborated for Balkan Beat Box “Eli” song
- Met Idan Rachel on the street one day, he came to my concert and then we got together. David Jones and I worked together for a few shows.
- Mia Dunitz –pianist
- Joy with Yosi Ongman
- Bassist in Idan Rachel band.
What do you like to do in to your off time outside of music?
I travel to Finland a lot as my daughter is there, work in promotion and managing. Spend time with my daughter, eat good food, art, visual theatre and dancing.
What is your favourite cuisine or food to eat?
Love meat and a good steak, love drinking cognac or whiskey.
What is in store for your Upcoming Vancouver Concert?
- I come from a religious family, looking for the truth, people are always looking for religion, believe music is my religion and purpose, melodies from the heart, way of life –music, moment of the soul.
- Muslims, Christians and Jews together at last concert, base their opinions on this music
- Singing from the soul
- African music, Jazz, Arabic music.
Where will Yemen Blues be performing this year that they have not performed in the past?
- New York
- Los Angeles
Yemen Blues plays the Venue as part of the Chutzpah Festival in Vancouver on February 24 at 8pm see www.chutzpahfestival.com for details.