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    Posted: May 17 2006 at 05:36

I have the pleasure to introduce to you a young and promising band from Israel called Sympozion. They have kindly agreed to answer several answers for PA and it is published below.

First of all, you need to know who they are, so I copied their biography from their official site which is found here:

http://www.sympozion.com/ (there are samples here: http://www.sympozion.com/music.htm)

"The Israeli progressive rock band Sympozion was created in 2000, by two young composers - Arik Hayat and Elad Abraham.

After a long period in which many talented musicians took part in the ensemble, the current line-up was formed and the band began performing on stages throughout Tel-Aviv.

In 2003 work on the debut album “Kundabuffer” began, together with musical producer and sound artist, Udi Koomran.

After more than a year the album was completed, and a label company was needed to release the album. The search was conducted by current band manager, Raya Kosovsky. The rough situations in the music industry lead to the decision that the album was to be released independently by the band.

During the work of creating the album, Elad Abraham decided to discontinue his contribution to the band and pursue his music studies and classic and electronic composing. Elad was the co-founder, co-composer and guitar player for the band. The guitar position is now filled by Erez Kriel. "

Their current line up is:

Arik Hayat – Keyboards, Vocals, Recorders
Elad Abraham
– Guitar, Recorders
Ori Ben-Zvi
– Guitars
Dan Carpman
– Bass, Vocals
Boris Zilberstein – Drums

They are also listed here on PA:

http://www.progarchives.com/Progressive_rock_discography_BAND.asp?band_id=2339

 

 

And now for the interview. My questions are in blue and the band's answers in black:

 
 

Hello to Sympozion and thank you for giving us the opportunity of having this interview.

 

1. Please tell a bit about your musical background and preferences, musical education etc.

 

Arik: My Father is a classical pianist and a big fan of classical music. So I was exposed to classical music from a young age. He also liked the Beatles. In high-school I used to listen to Daisy Age Hip Hop (A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, Warren G etc..) and Green Day - from there I discovered The Who (GD played a cover version of My Generation in their Kerplunk album) and then Prog. At first the classic Prog bands, then the more advanced ones, from there to Zappa and to Jazz, then Reich-Glass minimalism and modern classical, and then to the Ubuweb collections (www.ubu.com) and abstract bizarre stuff like the Residents and Legless Cripple.

 

Boris: I started learning music at the age of 6 on piano. At high school I also studied piano. At age 17 I started being interested in drums. 4 years Rimon school (school of jazz and modern music). 2 years music academy in Jerusalem. I played and still playing in many different groups in a varied styles of music. My preferred style and the one I listen to most is modern jazz and pop rock. I had the chance to play with some of the greatest jazz players in Israel like Omri Mor, Shai Chen and more. I also play in a very nice group called Sympozion.

 

Ori: At age 11 I studied drums, wanting to be like Ringo Starr – I was a beatlemaniac (and I still am!). I was forced to study piano with the drums studies which lasted 2 years. Around 15 I picked up the guitar and studied ONLY classical music for 1 year and then I began to expand to rock and jazz with an electric guitar. Around that time my older brother exposed me to Zappa, Yes, King Crimson and so on. I didn’t like jazz until I heard the album TIME OUT by Dave Brubeck, after that album I got into jazz with all the classic Miles and Coltrane and tons of other musicians in the jazz world. I studied jazz quite by myself for a few years, transcribing solos and with help of a great book: JAZZ THEORY BOOK by Mark Levine. The classical background I had made it easy to understand all the theory.

I was also in two high schools which had music classes at age 16-17. Then at 18 I went to Rimon music school. The biggest influence I got from that school was the teacher Ilan Salem who plays in our album. He taught me improvisation and I was playing in his school ensemble, the HOT JAZZ. The hot jazz played with the guest jazz pianist Kenny Werner and we also flew to play on some jazz festival in Poland. These were great experiences. I quit Rimon after 2 years.

 

Erez: All my life, until this day, I wanted to play the drums, but it never happened... I played some piano in first grade, it doesn't really count… I started learning guitar in the summer after third grade and studied for nine years straight. I was at a Peter Gabriel concert when he visited Israel in 1994 and it was one of the peaks of my childhood. He was the first artist I admired and bought his records, even before Nirvana. It's amusing to think that after him I got into the 80's-90's phase of Genesis, without knowing they had any connection. The main experience in my musical journey happened when I was in high school, around October 1995, when Asaf Feldman, a good friend, finally played me a beautiful song by Chemical Marriage, about which he was talking for a long time then, but after we jumped to 'Merry Go Bye Bye' I realized something about Mr. Bungle, about music and myself. My life changed at that moment.

 

 

2. How did you meet? What lead to the creation of Sympozion?

 

Arik: I met Elad by accident through a friend from University. We connected on Prog and then started writing together. We tried to find our own path between the endless fields of notes and systems. We went through some very different band formations, from duo to a chamber quartet (piano-guitar-flute-cello), to a small big-band (keyboards-bass-drums-guitar-flute-3 saxes) and then to the final Sympozion.  We saw Dan live at an Eggroll show and we had to have him. I knew Ori and Boris from Rimon, where I studied composition, and they completed the band perfectly.

 

Boris: Arik, Ori and me met during our studies in Rimon. It was a terrible mistake (-: I was curious by the music.

 

Ori: I saw on the internet an ad by Arik, looking for players for a progressive rock band. I offered myself but he said they don’t need guitarists. Then when I came to Rimon we had some classes together (like the Zappa class). Arik was then having PROG EVENINGS arranged at the school, at one of those evenings we were jamming, me on guitar and arik on drums, playing Zappa’s “son of Mr. Green genes”. After that Arik asked me to join his band.

 

Dan: I met Arik on a rock evening that he produced (and I preformed with Eggroll). I asked him if he knew about any artistic acts around, looking for a bassist. He said: "you can join us". We met a few days later, and he and Elad played me some of the material. I was shocked to find out that people are writing music like that. It was just what I was looking for.

 

 

3. Why did you choose the name Sympozion?

 

Arik: When we were a chamber quartet we named ourselves Resonance. Later we felt like changing it so we found Sympozion (Hebrew pronunciation of 'symposium') on a city sign announcing a symposium on something, I don't remember what it was...

 

Boris: it was Arik’s idea; I didn’t take part in that action. The music interests me a lot more than the name.

 

 

4. What is Kundabuffer?

 

Ori: Kundabuffer is a word taken from the book “Beelzebub's Tales to his Grandson” of writter\composer\spiritual teacher G.I.Gurdjieff (a book of many “weird words”). Elad wrote a tune with this title which didn’t get in the album. So the name just sounded cool and we didn’t have any better name for the album so we went on Kundabuffer. The tune itself will probably get in the next album. Kundabuffer, according to the book, is some organ humans once had which made us enjoy life. When the organ was taken out of us, it left some “scars”. The book should be read to understand what this is all about but after all, it’s JUST A COOL SOUNDING NAME!

 

 

5. What was the reaction to the album, from the audience you appeared before, from music critics, from family and friends?

 

Arik: In concerts we get good vibes from the audience. Some people said we are too technical at a certain time, but took it back later. Some other people felt we need to add lyrics to all our songs. They are obviously wrong. Generally the feedback is quite diverse, which makes sense - every person has his own set of memes and contexts with which he connects to different kinds of music. Our music is not completely alienated but it has some elements or behaviors that are not typical in popular music.

 

Ori: well I think we got good reviews (you can see a lot of them in our website). Friends and family like the album but friends and family always like everything you do so who knows.

 

Erez: My friends and family don't really like it. Most of my friends are not fond of Sympozion. Most of the audience and critics praise it.

 

 

6. What made you record a progressice rock album? Why this particular style of music? Why not something more mainstream, commercial and catchy?

 

Arik: I guess the chain of events in our personal lives led us to do this thing in the way we do it, but there also might be something behind our unconscious actions that searches for a different way of doing things. Prog is not always a place for this search, having gone through some serious stylistic crystallization which made it predictable in some cases, but there's still plenty of space to explore there and in other realms too.

 

Boris: arik and Elad didn’t try to write something commercial or not, it’s just the music they composed and we’re just collaborating.

 

Ori: because I like this music.

 

 

7. In spite of all the hardships, how did you manage to get the album out eventually?

 

Arik: We were lucky to have Raya as our manager. After seriously trying the option of releasing the album with a label (we tried this for quite a long time) we came to the realization that with her in the group we can do it by ourselves and went for it. Udi (Koomran, sound engineer and producer of the record) helped us a lot with his experience and good advice, and some other good people also helped.

 

Dan: We began to record the album in autumn 2003, only a short while after our first full live show. We had been rehearsing the material together for about a year, which is not a long time, but we felt confident and ready to enter the studio, mainly because the music was so tightly composed and arranged to begin with.

We wanted to get started with the recordings, so we went and recorded the drum parts for the entire album. It was only a short while later, that we met Udi Koomran. When he decided to collaborate, we knew things are moving in the right direction.

From then on, all the work on the album was carried out in Udi's studio. He was very dedicated to the music, and handled it with a lot of care.

I think we were very lucky to do this album with Udi. His skills and uniqueness in the fields of recoding, mixing and production, took this album to heights that surprised us, and made us very proud.

 

Ori: with some money and a good producer.

 

 

8. How are the albums' sales?

 

Raya: It's not easy releasing an album independently, but I think we did quite a good job. The name Sympozion is all over the internet and highly praised, and that's all that matters IMO. Besides, we've just signed with Unicorn Digital so our album will be printed in a second edition by a great label and will hopefully get much more publicity.

 

 

9. What was the impact of Elad Abraham's leaving the band? Is he still active in some way in Sympozion? Are you in touch?

 

Arik: For me it was quite difficult and emotional at first. Other hard stuff was happening in my life when he decided to leave the band, so it was a tough period in general. Elad's leaving was not on a personal basis and we are very good friends. He is very connected with Sympozion and I am very connected with his composition today. He is searching other realms and doing some very interesting stuff in electronics and classical music.

 

Ori: well Elad left because he felt he is not a guitarist And Erez who came to replace him IS a guitarist and he has a lot more guitar effects that give the music some more texture, which is a good thing. I talk with Elad once in a while.

 

 

10. How do you compose music? And what about the lyrics (when they appear) ?

 

Arik: To fully explain my process of composition will take too many words in this context. I should just say that I try to make it as fun as possible, and if there are bad times - to make it as honest and revealing as I can. I'm not yet very comfortable with writing lyrics. I like the universality of instrumental music, and I try to express as much as I can and to be very specific. Sometimes I feel that what I do is take everything that I like from all the music that I know and try to put it together in a way that works. But there are many more aspects to it.

 

 

11. What is the story behind the song Zona?

 

Arik: 'Zona' is Hebrew for a whore, streetwalker or prostitute. It's a simple, childish expression of my vast experience in that field during some earlier stages of my life.

 

 

12. What is Grapefruit Variations? Does it have any meaning, or is it just plain fun?

 

Arik: Well, Grapefruit is one of the first pieces written by Elad and myself. In Variations we took some of the themes from Grapefruit and played with them until we got a nice structure. Basically all our pieces are little games, not just this one. It just happens that some of the places that we visit here have something in common with the places in Grapefruit..

 

 

 

 

13. Who did the design of the sleeve artwork, whose idea was it and what does it represent?

 

Arik: The cover, the booklet and our current web site were all designed by Sarit Hayat, my sister. She has been familiar with our adventure since day one and her being a visual artist made it a natural choice to work with her on the graphics. We discussed our wishes in abstract terms and came to an understanding of what we wanted to express. The photo in the booklet was taken by Raya in a beautiful garden in Holon, where some of us live. Generally the idea was that the graphics will harmonically complete the music and will not interfere or be too dominant.

 

 

14. For tech-freak people among PA members, could you specify which equipment do you use?

 

Arik: I use a Korg classic Triton on stage. Some of the sounds didn't sit very well in the studio environment so Udi helped us to find the right colors for the keyboard parts. The recorders are plastic Aulos (soprano and alt).

 

Boris: on the recordings I played a ma'afan (not so good) drum set they had in the studio. In concerts I play whatever set there is where we’re playing. Using Bosporus cymbals and vater and vic firth drum sticks.

 

Ori: guitars: schecter california custom. On the album I also play with an IBANEZ pat metheny model pm-100 but I sold it a while ago and bought a GIBSON ES-775. I have an electro-harmonic FUZZ, a cheap crybaby whawha and a sansamp overdrive. But a lot of guitar effects in the album were added after the recordings were made.

 

Erez: Guitars: 1976 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe with Standard hum buckers, probably from 1979; 1993/4 ErnieBall-MusicMan Silhouette; Takamine EN-10 (I think 1997); 1979 Suzuki G-35; Fender Prodigy (Bass). Effects: 1993 Rat distortion; Wah-wah: Dunlop – Crybaby (bass) and Vox (guitar); Ibanez – Tube King distortion; Ernie Ball volume pedal; MXR Phase 90 phaser; Experience fuzz (a Danny Abargil hand-made); the strange hybrid Dunlop Rotovibe; a very old Locobox flanger. I also use two multi-effects for very specific stuff: a Roland DEP-5 and a Digitech SGS 2112. Klotz cables and Neutrik plugs.

 

 

15. Are you in contact with other Israeli bands, perhaps Egroll (who are on PA) and Sussita? Which of them impresses you, musically speaking?

 

Arik: For about three years (2000-2003) I have been producing Progressive Rock evenings in the Rimon school of Jazz and in some rock clubs, and during that period I got to know everyone who had anything to do with Prog in Israel. I am still in touch with many of these good people, some of them are still into Prog or other interesting explorations, and some of them moved to different places. Since this music has very little audience here, I always felt that these artists are very brave and really believe in what they do. Sussita are very fun on stage; I really love Shlomo Ydov's debut album "The First Time"; Slava Ganelin is amazing; and there are some more interesting acts that appear from time to time.

 

Boris: I know Sussita and Eggroll a bit.

 

Ori: I'm not really connected to the Israeli scene, but Sussita ARE cool.

 

Erez: Sussita.. I'm in love with this band and the working souls in it.

 

Raya, on behalf of Dan: Dan is also a member in Eggroll and Sussita, so I assume they both musically impress him J

 

 

16. Apart from Sympozion, in which other musical bands or projects do you take part?

 

Arik: I usually have three or four projects of my own running in the background. At the moment I'm working on a solo album that will be released on the web probably before the end of this year. I am also part of the Secret Duo.

 

Boris: I'm in 5 more different groups in a variety of styles.

 

Ori: I have some jazz gigs at cafés and private events, trying to get more of these. I have some private music/guitar students.

 

Erez: Gilliam, a good, happy, psychic something, progressive music / regressive musicians. Apart from that some projects that are quiet at the moment, among them the super-group Sick of Those Carburetors. In the near past I had the honor to participate in Roy Yarkoni's projects (Thin Lips, Nighthawks and Panic), and in the farther past some mythological bands like The Ma'afans, Dusters of Doom, Moshe and the Cola, The George Habash Conference, Blood N' Stuff, Z&Z and more…

 

 

17. It says so in your website, but could you tell us which bands you appreciate and admire and who influenced your music?

 

Arik: Steve Reich is probably my favorite contemporary classical composer. My favorite dead composers are Frank Zappa, Erik Satie, Olivier Messiaen, Georgy Ligeti, Rued Langgaard and Bela Bartok. At this time in my life I like to dig deep in Ubuweb (www.ubu.com) and the Internet Archive (www.archive.org), searching for strange and exciting ideas and feeling (some good examples can be People Like Us, The Tape Beatles, Ernst Jandl, Kurt Schwitters, Erik Satie, Brion Gysin and Jim Roche [Ubuweb] and Legless Cripple and Bazaar [Internet Archive]). There are also cool things happening in the music of some contemporary Japanese animation series (Azumanga Daioh, Fruits Basket, Paradise Kiss).

 

Boris: Sting, some songs of Phil Collins, jazz artists like Kurt Rosenwinkel, Brad Mehldau, Joe Pass, Brian Blade and many more. I like a lot of things in different styles; nonetheless, I hardly know any prog. I like different styles but only specific things.

 

 

Ori: I like:

The Beatles – all of their albums and most of Lennon's solo stuff.

Pink Floyd – all the classic stuff with waters

Gentle Giant – all of their albums

Zappa – most of what he did. One favorite album is Roxy&Elswhere

King Crimson – all the classic 70’s stuff, discipline is cool too

Yes – all the classic 70’s stuff

Joni Mitchell – especially her two first albums

Tom Waits – all of his albums, especially his first, Closing Time

Bob Marley – Jah RastA!

Metallica – everything until the black album

Faith No More – King For a Day Fool for A Life Time, what a ROCKIN album!

Nina Simone – when I hear her on the radio I enjoy very much

Bach – whatever! I like to play some of his music on guitar sometimes

Steve Reich – Especially 3 Tales, which Elad introduced me to

Matti Caspi – Israeli songwriter, his two first solo albums are amazing

Kaveret – the legendary Israeli super group

Joe Pass – The ultimate classic jazz guitarist. Everything he touched is gold but especially his album For Django

Kurt Rosenwinkel – the most interesting jazz guitarist nowadays, his album East Coast Love Affair with bassist Avishai Cohen is a delight

Eric Dolphy – all of his stuff

Keith Jarrett – all of his stuff but his album The Köln Concert is amazing

Pat Metheny – all of his stuff, especially Song X with Ornette Coleman, one of the craziest jazz records ever

John Scofield – all of his stuff

Gypsy Jazz – the style Django Reinhardt started, I like all the guitarists who play this vivacious style

Joe Henderson – all of his stuff but especially the live album State Of The Tenor 

Chet Atkins – all of his stuff. I think what he does can be called “country jazz”, very funny music

Brad Mehldau – all of his Art of the Trio volumes

Krzistof Penderecki/Don Cherry – Actions/Humus – this is a very weird free jazz album, worth checking out

Lenny Breau – a very unique jazz guitarist, technically influenced by Chet Atkins

The Bad Plus – a fresh piano trio

There are also tons of other jazz albums I like very much

Recently I got into some Johnny Cash and a Pakistani Sufi singer, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.

 

 

Erez: here goes…

Mr. Bungle, Secret Chiefs 3, Estradasphere (and all the related projects). Everything that has to do with the labels Mimicry and Ipecac, John Zorn and many of the Tzadik artists, Ninja Tune and Anticoni (labels).

Other artists that turn my stomach upside down:

Simian, Lamb, The Beta Band, Nellie McKay, Fiona Apple, Bjork, The Delgados, Super Furry Animals, Sufjan Stevens, Beck, Ozric Tentacles, Danny Elfman, Peter Gabriel, Trey Parker, Soulwax, Gonzales, A-Ha, Blonde Redhead, Depeche Mode, April March, The Beach Boys, Cardiacs, Daft Punk, Chemical Brothers, Grateful Dead, The Dissociatives, The Divine Comedy, Porcupine Tree, Elliott Smith, Foo Fighters, Four Tet, Grandaddy, Ian Brown, King Biscuit Time, The Aliens, Lemon Jelly, Aphex Twin, Squarepusher, Lali Puna, Mercury Rev, Keren Ann, King Britt, Monty Pytho, Radiohead, Richard Cheese, 5UU’s, “Weird Al” Yankovic, Royksopp, Stereolab, Sigur Ros, Joss Wheadon, Peter Jackson, Douglas Adams, J.R.R. Tolkien, Mum, Cocteau Twins, Gentle Giant, Frank Zappa, Nick Drake, Yes, Genesis, ELP, ELO, Camel, Weezer, Love.

In the Pop section: Britney, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Take That, Backstreet Boys and The Black Eyed Peas.

 

 

18. Who do you appreciate in the contemporary progressive rock scene and in the general musical world?

 

Arik: Miriodor are doing cool stuff, also there's an Italian band called Yugen which are working on an album - very very exciting. I also liked what I heard of Guapo. Chris Cutler and Fred Frith played in Israel about a year ago and created a very intense movement.

 

Ori: I don’t really know the current progressive rock scene; I'm more into the current jazz scene. But I hear a lot of new things and I like most of what is done, nothing specific. A lot of current jazz music is a bit progressive and vice versa, it is cool, things are getting harder to categorize.

Erez: Hot Fur, Barwaj, Sussita and… everyone that's mentioned above!

 

 

19. What do you plan next in the future?

 

Arik: I just want to make music and enjoy my time on Earth. In Sympozion we are playing new materials and we love to play live so I guess this will continue. There is always something to do and I hope all the war scenarios of this era will not come true. Life keeps surprising us and it's all very exciting.

 

Boris: to continue making music and to be happy. (Being happy means a lot of things).

 

Ori: making some more music.

 

Erez: Lots of music and lots of video – making and using.

 

Raya: Lots and lots of money!!! And also fame.

 
 
Thank you again very much for the time you took to answer this interview.

I wish you to release more progressive rock albums like Kundabuffer and be successful.  

 

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 17 2006 at 07:25
Clap Clap Clap

 Great interview!  Hopefully I'll be able to see them when I go to Israel this summer.


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Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 17 2006 at 09:58
Great interview! And a great band!  Seen them live twice by now.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 17 2006 at 11:25

Just added it in a print version to my 'Alucard Archives'.

ClapClapClap

 

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Explain the meaning of this song and share it"

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 19 2006 at 06:12
wow!!! what a band, have their album, been their shows, great band, I am so proude
...live for tomorrow...
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 20 2006 at 00:20
Great stuff, avestin... Thumbs UpClapSmile
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 21 2006 at 00:44
A short update regarding the band's album:
 
"Kundabuffer re-released! Our debut album will be re-printed and distributed through the Canadian record label Unicorn Digital - watch our site for details!"
 
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 21 2006 at 01:31
Fantastic interview, been listening to Kundabuffer a fair bit lately. Good to hear about them in more detail
“good men make good rhinoceroses, unfortunately”
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 17 2008 at 03:47
its a great band, its funny that i didnt heard of them before i joined this site, and im from israel... oh well, i try to look for they live preferments. 
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