Ahead of their free online event this Sunday, we sat down with the entirely unique Yemen Blues to talk life, love and the transformative power of unity.
In a time where division is commonplace and originality is scarce, seldom do we come across something that promotes unity in an entirely unique way. While the name may be unfamiliar, the energetic resonance of Yemen Blues is unmistakable. The Israel-based three-piece, described by Time Out as “the most exciting and unique live show you can see” and a combination of “Prince via Israel with a hint of James Brown,” is set to appear in a free online event this weekend.
Something like a phonal United Nations, Yemen Blues supports a Potemkin collection of auditory allies, where each member brings their own distinct cultural sound, instruments and arrangements to the show. Yemen Blues began in 2010 with Israeli composer and musician Ravid Kahalani, inspired by his quest to define and establish “New Culture Music”. Eventually, it became a trio when he added Uruguayan Rony Iwryn (Latin Percussion) and New Yorker Shanir Blumenkranz (Acoustic Bass, Electric Bass, Oud, Gimbri).
The enterprise may be lead by Ravid’s charismatic love for African-American soul and blues (which clashes with his adoration for the music of the Sahara), but the group mixes West African, Latin and Jazz influences with Mambo and North African rhythms, completing the musical chemistry with vocals integrating ancient Arabic chants and contemporary funk and blues.
Speaking to The Big Smoke, Ravid Kahalani mapped his voyage so far, and what he hopes to bring to their concert this Sunday.
Ravid, Yemen Blues is famous for the disparate backgrounds (and musical tastes) of its three primary members. You call your original sound “New Culture Music”, but what does that term mean to you?
It means the reconnecting of cultures. It means recognising that the sound we’ve known for hundreds of years was created from the differences between us. Ultimately, these “different” versions influence the same culture, no matter where we come from.
This Sunday, you will be performing a new show, “We Shout Love” – Say No to Racism. What inspired the concert, and what do you hope to achieve with it?
We’ll be dedicating this live stream to saying no to separation, to not label people by their colour. We are all here with different powers, and we need each other to feel good on this planet. So, we’ll be shouting love as loud as we can, by making music. Music is one of the best ways we can better this world.
Yemen Blues will be playing to three locations simultaneously, London, Sydney and Israel. How do you do cater to the tastes of three separate communities?
We don’t really try to be to the taste of the people, we try to say what we have to say in the best fun and true way as clear as we can and enjoy it.
Yemen Blues has been labelled as “the most exciting and unique live show you can see”. It’s clear you feed off the crowd, but how do you navigate performing a remote concert to three large audiences you’ll never see?
We hope we will see those people in one of our future shows! Yes, live streaming is less fun than feeling the energy of the people, we do miss it very much. But we will keep creating and hopefully get new music out soon.
As this free online event, many will be experiencing Yemen Blue for the first time. What would you say to prepare someone who hasn’t heard your music?
I would say, let’s have fun!
Yemen Blues will perform a free digital performance on November 22nd, Sydney 7:00pm, Israel 10:00am and London 9:00am.
Presented by Emanuel Synagogue and The Israeli Embassy.
Follow this link to reserve your spot now!