Idan Raichel: Folklore Music Is the Soundrack and the DNA of a Nation

Novinite Insider » INTERVIEW | September 14, 2016, Wednesday // 14:38
Bulgaria: Idan Raichel: Folklore Music Is the Soundrack and the DNA of a Nation Photo: Idan Raichel - PR

Famous Israeli musician Idan Raichel is coming to Bulgaria on Saturday, September 17, for a concert that will open Tole-Fest, an event aimed at promoting music and sports as the purest forms of tolerance.

Novinite has asked Mr Raichel about world music, Bulgarian folklore, and his future plans. 

Mr Raichel, you bring your music to Bulgaria as an Ambassador of Peace and Tolerance. Apart from music, however, what is the key to making people more tolerant to those who are different?

Hello and thank you so much for the interview! I'm looking forward to coming to Bulgaria this upcoming weekend.

Apart from the music, the way we are bringing people together and trying to build bridges between cultures and between nations and people I think this is the first step for building tolerance and creating peace between people. Because first of all you need to consider the person next to you not an enemy because he is your neighbor, a neighbor you don't know a lot about and you need to be educated to learn about. First is education, and then tolerance to know there will be always differences and the acceptance of differences will create the peace between you. Not the will to try to change the other or to judge who is right and who is wrong.

What is your recipe for doing world music? Presumably, it is not enough to wrap traditional folklore in a more contemporary mold?

When I'm making my music in Israel people define it as mainstream music - and it is mainstream Israeli music. Once we are traveling outside Israel, people define it as "world music". Which is actually a great compliment because great world music, musicians or artists are bringing the soundtrack of places they are coming from - Edith Piaf for France, Jos? de Souza from Latin America or even Bob Marley from Jamaica. For me, it is important to follow the Jewish pattern - know where you came from, remember where you came from and know where you are headed. And I think if you respect, as you mentioned, the roots of the folklore and you are taking it a step forward in your own contemporary way, I think you can create a new sound that will be still whirly, yet original.

In 2012, you were the artistic adviser to a festival in Tel Aviv where the Mystery of Bulgarian Voices performed, at your personal invitation. What was it that drew your attention to that choir in particular?

When I was the artistic director for the Festival at the Opera - when I was there for the first season, it was important for me to bring the Bulgarian voice because I felt that for someone that's never been to Bulgaria and needs to take with him one CD, I think it's good to start with this choir. If you have two days to travel in the mountains or everywhere in Bulgaria, of course you can check who is the No 1 hit pop artist. But I think it's beautiful just to follow the tradition of these unique voices. That was what made me to take the decision to introduce them to the Israeli audience.

Bulgaria takes much pride in its folklore music, but what do you personally think is most distinctive about it?

I feel that every country has its own folklore and people who do not remember where they came from will not respect their present and will not be able to lead it to a very strong future. I think that the folklore is the DNA of a nation - the food or the prayers or the traditional ceremonies - the music is the soundtrack of a nation but it's also the DNA of a nation.

Have you ever included Bulgarian elements in pieces you have done yourself? If not, do you consider doing so?

In one of my albums, Quarter to Six, there is a song Ana Ana Wa Enta Enta that there is an Arabic singer there but there are a few musicians who used to play for the Bulgarian choir that joined the band when they came to Israel, three amazing musicians, and they joined us and recorded this song. It was a beautiful recording and I am very honoured to have them in my album and, of course, I'll be happy to continue. Because I feel there was something very spiritual and very honest in their playing and I would think that also there is a bond between the Israeli community and the Bulgarian community regarding the music. I'm sure that people in Bulgaria will lose the Israeli folk and I'm sure the Israeli people love the Bulgarian folk.

What is next for you: a new solo project or another musical collaboration?

I actually don't know what is next. I feel that I am creating my music per song. After I have enough songs that I feel have something in common so I feel I can gather them all into an album and if it is twelve songs that I would sing and will be very personal, maybe I'll do it as a solo project. Maybe it will be a lot of collaborations - then it will be a The Idan Raichel Project album. For now I let myself go with the flow and just whatever inspires me to go to the studio and to record.

I want to thank you again for the interview and I am looking to come to Sofia soon.

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Tags: Idan Raichel, Tole-Fest
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