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Topic ClosedInterview - Omer Ephrat of Ephrat, Oct/08

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Direct Link To This Post Topic: Interview - Omer Ephrat of Ephrat, Oct/08
    Posted: November 05 2008 at 01:22
Multi-instrumentalist Omer Ephrats sits down to talk to us about his debut album, "No One's Words", the music scene in Israel, Yes's Relayer, and his future projects.


ProgArchives: So can you give us a quick runthrough of how you got here and how you met your bandmates?

Omer Ephrat: Well, you know, in this band everything happened upside down. Itís not the normal story of a few guys with a few good ideas get together and form a band. It was completely different. There was no band, there was no idea of a band until I gave a taste of my music to Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree. You know, these things I did in my studio, not thinking too much of whatís going to happenÖ and the next thing you know I have a contract on InsideOut and itís the stupidest story of how everything got together and got started. At first I thought this was just going to be like a solo project, like a one man band, and it was, like, 2 years ago, and when the time slowly progressed I got the idea of forming a band around me, and thatís when I got Tomer Z Ė he was the second into my band, thatís how the heart of the band got formed. Itís very weird how the band got together, because most of the material was written for when the band was not in existence. You know, itís a very funny story, kind of like a big Cinderella story.

PA: So how long has this album been in the works then?

OE: 2 years ago I called with Steve Wilson and got the contract, and there was like a song and a half ready. So it took, like, two years to do everything. To record everything, to write everything to form a band Ė and you know, itís not like just get together and do a rehearsal and write the album and record it Ė I need to think much further than that, because there was no band. Most of the time was decision making time, I think I wrote the album in 2 and a half months, I recorded it in like, 4 monthsÖ the rest of the time was thinking about how the material would appear, and thinking about the next few steps, stuff like that. But the formal answer is 2 years.

PA: So I guess youíre pretty satisfied with the way it turned out, then?

OE: Yeah, Iím really satisfied. You know, it could have been much shorter than that. It could have taken 1 year, a year and a half, but I didnít want to make any mistakes, or make decisions that I would regret like taking the wrong vocalists, because I had a few vocalists addedÖ and they were ready to record everything when they were in the studio, but in the last moment I regretted and I got new singers in. So Iím very satisfied with how it turned out in the end. I made sure I wouldnít regret anything.

You were working with people like Daniel Gildenglow and Petronella Nettermalm, did you find it threatening to work with these people?

OE: Well, it wasnít so hard to approach them because we were under the same label, I just wrote a letter and it reached them. But to work with them it was a dream come true because Steven Wilson is a musical advisor at times and someone who can mix and master. And to work with Daniel and PetronellaÖ it was a dream come true! It was a lot easier to work with them than the rest of the band because they have a lot of experience, especially Daniel Ė it took like 2 weeks to record the whole thing! I donít understandhow he can recordÖ I think it was 20 channels of vocals for a 10-minute songÖ I donít know how he can do that! But he did an amazing job.

PA: Did they have much of a say in the direction of the songs, or was that mostly up to you?

OE: Oh, thatís a complicated question. First of all, it wasnít only me and the other guys and the guests because I had a piano player and a cello player and a brass section a lot of hired musicians who did exactly what I told them to do. Itís not a democracy, this band Ė I call the shots, but I give a lot of freedom to these members, and I give a lot of freedom to the other guys in the band, especially the drum and bass. You can hear the drum and bass are very tight in this albumÖ thatís because I gave them a lot of freedom, more than I thought I was supposed to when I thought it was a solo project. They set a certain tone for this albumÖ In the bottom line I was the dictator there, I called the shots, and I made the final decisions. Even if sometimes there were other ideas that I hadnít thought about that entered the album.

PA: As for Steve Wilson, do you think heíll be around for other projects? And if so, do you think heíll have a bigger role in it?

OE: Tough questionÖ I donít know. I just donít know. I donít want to think about future projects because it took three years to get this first one, and I donít want to think about future Ė Iím even holding myself back from writing new materialÖ Iím really holding myself back, because I want the new material to be evolved after touring and after some time of accumulating ideas. But itís a possibility, and Iíve been thinking about it because he did an amazing job mixing and mastering this album. Amazing.

PA: You mentioned taking this on tour. Are there plans for that now?

OE: Oh yeah. The planning is starting right around now, but itís going to take a while because itís very hard to do this [laughs]. Because thereís the 4 of us, but then I count as the keyboard player and 2 guitars and you know I can only play instruments one at a time Ė I try! But I canít. Ė so we need hired musicians to join the band for touring. Production wise, its going to be very, very hard working on this now, but I donít know what itís going to be because itís very complicated. And weíre from Israel! So that costs a lot. Weíre finding it very hard. Everybody wants it, but only the future will tell.

PA; I know you said that you donít want to think about the next albums, but who would you want to collaborate with if you had the chance?

OE:  I already have plans! You found the dark side of me! [Laughs] I tried to hold backÖ But I have a lot of ideas, one of them is Opeth, the lead singer Ė Iíve had my eyes on him for a loooong, long time. And also thereís 2 Israeli singer/vocalists that I want to join me on my next album. Oh, just the sheer thought of it makes me happier [laughs].

PA: Coming out of Israel, do you find you often get compared to other acts like Amaseffer and Orphaned Land?

OE: I donít know. In Israel they compare us all the time because us and Amaseffer are signed to the same progressive label, and everybody thinks that we know each otherÖ and we donít! I think the big difference between Orphaned Land and Amaseffer and us is that they are a ethnic based band. The ethnic side of them is the main part, thatís whatís special about their music. The ethnic side to our band is just one of the spices, one of the influences, not the main thing, and weíre trying to be a new progressive band with our own side and not focusing on the ethnic side Ė Which is very important for me to say! Because everybody, ďokay, Israel! Thereís going to be, like, flute and percussion, and violins and I donít-know-what!Ē Thatís not the case here, this is progressive rock, this is about music from North America and Europe that I was influenced by, and the Ethnic part is only one of theÖ you canít escape it here Ė the ethnic influence, because itís all around you. But itís not the focus in this band.

PA: So would you consider yourself influenced more by progressive rock, or by the metal scene?

OE: Well... I think equally. You can say that Prog is in my mind, but metal is in my veins. Progressive music is for the mindÖ you can sit and enjoy and evaluate it! Metal is beyond thatÖ itís all about your mood at a certain moment.

PA: How about the reactions to the album so far? What do you think of the reviews youíve read?

OE: Well, itís my first album, so I was very, very curious to find out what people think of my album Ė which only makes me more confused. Because one guy thinks Iím a genius, and the next guy thinks my music is sh*t, and I donít know what to think! Itís very confusing. So I learned that I donít need to hear what other people think. I need to listen to what I think and thatís it. One guy will say that, ďhey, this is the best song on the albumĒ and guy will say, ďthis is the worst song on the albumĒ and I donít know what to think anymore, itís very confusing! So I keep my thoughts to myself and people I trust and thatís it.

PA: Can you give us some background on the albumís longest track, ďRealĒ?

OE: The writing process of Real was different from any other song. Because I wrote Real parallel to writing every other song. I wrote, for example, The Show, and while I did that I did the first section of Real. Ect. Ect. I wrote it in a different way, it was like, I had a really good idea, a really good melody. And I thought to myself, I wanted the big song, I wanted the 20-minute epic, and it was like, I want the 20-minute epic to be the best song. Of course it doesnít work like that, itís not a matter of good or bad, it was very different to work on this song, and it took the whole 3 months to write. Of course I put the most resources into it. I brought in the brass sections and the percussions and things like that. Thatís it! I gave the song to Lior Seeker to write the words, the lyric part, and Iím very happy about the results.

PA: Do you think youíll be doing more epics like this as you go on?

OE: I donít know. But I have a lot of ideas! I donít know if I should tell all of my ideas, but one idea that I have is to have my next album only a 1-track album. Thatís one idea that I have, I even have a direction and a few starts about how to do that. But I think my writing is all about motifs, you know, taking one melody and repeat it in a few other sections in the song in a different way Ė thatís what Iím good at. I think, anyways! Thatís how my mind works. Combine something that I already did in another part, but in another scale, another key, with different rhythmic changes. Thatís my take on music, and thatís the direction that you can never know whatís going to happen. In one year when I start the new album and I have other ideasÖ weíll just have to wait and see.

PA: Do you see the Israeli scene as one thatís hard to break out of?

OE: Itís a hard thing because thereís noÖ Israel is a tough place. Not only politically, but musically as well. Because there are more musicians than fans, I really think that. Thereís a lot of musicans, but no actual crowd that will go to see shows, and musicians from Europe and the US hardly ever come here. You have a lot of musicians here whose only chance is to break out to Europe and the US, and they donít have the option to have a crowd in Israel. I see a lot of great bands here to try to arrange a show, arrange a studio or a gig, and it just doesnít work. You donít have anyone to see the show or buy the album. The only chance you have here is to start immediately from the US or from Europe, and thatís the only chance! Thatís what happened with Amaseffer, thatís what happened with Orphaned Land, and a lot of bands who originally made it in Europe and not in Israel. People donít know them here at all! Thatís the only way to break out from here, ironically.

PA: Iím coming into my last question now, and that would be: What was the last cd you listened to?

OE: EehmmÖ wait a minute, donít tell meÖ I think it was Opethís Watershed. But I think I heard something elseÖ ah! I heard Yes Ė Relayer!

PA: Nice!

OE: Excellent! Excellent album! I think Yes is my biggest influence regarding writing music. Because when you hear Yes and you hear other bands in the 70s and itís completely different from everything else, and you think to yourself, ďHow did they do that? How much drugs did they take?Ē [laughs] I donít know. Itís unbelievable. So I thought to myself, ďif they can do it, I can do itĒ.

PA: [laughs] Do you think youíre ever doing to try for the ďTales From Topographic Oceans huge double album epic festĒ?

OE: OhÖ thatís going to be the dream! If something like that were to come trueÖ that would be a dream. Write that down, in a few years thereís going to be an album and weíre going to have to talk about it.


No One's Words is out now on InsideOut Records

Thanks to Omer for taking some time for the interview, as well as the guys at InsideOut for setting everything up.

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 06 2008 at 15:47
The music scene is Isreal seems to be doing very well.Kind of cool that Steven Wilson has taken an interest in a few Isreali bands. I enjoyed the band REALEAF a lot too from that country.  Excellent work King By-Tor as usaul.
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