Guardian compared him to Michael Jackson, Cliff Richard covers his songs, but these days Daniel Bedingfield can be found in southern Tel Aviv, performing with local bands and flexing his Hebrew. ‘I feel so alive here,’ he tells Ynet in his first interview in four years
Would you expect to find a pop star who had three No. 1 hits in the United Kingdom, won a Brit award and was signed with one of the biggest labels sleeping on a sofa in southern Tel Aviv, performing in some of the city’s smallest venues and loving every minute of it? Neither would we.
But this is exactly where you can find Daniel Bedingfield these past few months.
The 31 year-old New Zealander made his breakthrough in 2001, when his debut hit “Gotta Get Thru This” was released. The Guardian said the track was “absurdly brilliant, as if Off the Wall-period Michael Jackson had been blasted forward 20 years, genius intact”.
“The song was written in a room with bed bugs”, Bedingfield now reveals to Ynet, while roaming the streets of Florentine.
In his first interview in four years, the singer reveals his passion for Israel and the new direction he is taking in his musical affairs, trading the need for middle men and women (“yentas”, in his words) for direct connections to his fan base, via his twitter and Facebook pages, as well as street teams he is creating with volunteers from around the world.
On Friday he was a guest at a Raw Men Empire Gig at the Levontin 7 club in Tel Aviv, and on Saturday he performed at Rothschild 12 with guests from local bands I’ve Got The Hotties, Boom Pam and 1, 2, Many.
His connection to the local music scene was organic, by meeting bartenders and waiters who play in bands. “Every single person in this neighborhood is a musician”, he smiles. “It’s unbelievable”.
On New Year’s Eve 2004, Bedingfield was involved in a serious car injury, forcing him into months of physiotherapy. He agrees with the suggestion that his new outlook on his work has to do with that life-changing experience.
“I had convulsions every few hours, and my father had to hold me down so I wouldn’t damage my spine. I could have died. These hours of staring at the ceiling made it clear that it’s all about connection. Without that, there is no meaning”.
What is the rest of 2011 going to be like for you?
“I’m filming a YouTube documentary for the “Stop The Traffik” campaign against human trafficking. After Israel, I’m flying to London, Amsterdam, then to my apartment in Los Angeles, where my sister Natasha lives (a No 1. charting pop star herself), then Kingston, Jamaica and Berlin. Everywhere I go, want to meet local musicians, sleep in their houses, connect with them, be affected by their mood and live with them.”
Chance meeting on New York City streets leads to spiritual connection, musical cooperation between Hasidic rapper DeScribe and Rohan Marley, son of legendary Jamaican musician
They say that in New York, anything can happen and for DeScribe – it did: The Hasidic rapper and hip-hop singer was walking along Broadway in New York City when he suddenly saw an interesting-looking guy ahead of him – dancing and singing as he walked.
DeScribe, who usually answers to Shneur HaSofer, used typical Jewish chutzpah, walked up to the stranger, tapped him on his shoulder and asked: “Who are you?” Since this is New York we’re talking about and not some Hasidic shteitel, the stranger turned in panic and asked: “Who are you? What do you want? Why are you asking?”
It was at this point that a very unconventional love story began between the Marley family and the Rastafarians and DeScribe and his tzitziot. Rohan Marley, son of the late and great singer Bob Marley and DeScribe wandered around New York’s streets for over an hour, at the end of which DeScribe was appointed as Marley Coffee’s (coffee with a green ideology) official Ambassador.
“We discussed Judaism and Rastafarianism, and connected on a spiritual level,” DeScribe recalls.
“There is a connection between Rastafarians and Jews. They grow their dreadlocks for the same reason we grow side locks, because the Torah says that side locks must be kept,” he said as he explained the essence of the connection.
“In fact, most of their religion is based on the Torah and there are many among the Rastafarians who believe in the Old Testament and even wear the Star of David.
“They don’t believe in constructing borders between people, they believe all people are equal and they believe in nature, spirituality, peace, love and harmony. And that is what my music is based on when you open your eyes; you see there are people who listen, people you can talk to.”
DeScribe describes himself as a proud Jew and a proud Hasid – “but at the same time, a proud member of the Chabad movement. Chabad members try to be a living example to the world, which is the main reason I create my music,” he says. “We need to publicize values like the Seven Laws of Noah. It’s a mitzvah to make those laws public, one which hardly anyone ever does. “
When work is something you love and that love is a mission – there is nothing that can’t be accomplished. “I got the opportunity to accomplish my mission in life,” says DeScribe. “I have a platform. I have the scope through which I can talk to nations around the world through music that they love, with a sense of divinity and knowledge of the creator.
“It seems that the world is ready for that message. The world is preparing itself for the coming of the Messiah. The nations of the world lack spirituality, which leads them to search for spirituality wherever they can.”
The Rastafarian ideology of returning to nature, which embodies the war on chemical use and environmental contamination, led the Marley family to open a coffee farm. “Bob Marley grew up on a farm and his dream was always to return to that farm,” says DeScribe. “His son fulfilled that dream. His farm operates according to the Rastafarian tenants – no chemical products in the fields. It’s all organic, bringing good into the world – and that’s what I do with my music.”
As part of his appointment as Coffee Ambassador, the Marley family asked DeScribe to listen to the songs of the legendary Bob Marley. Influenced by Marley’s One Cup of Coffee, DeScribe chose to combine Jamaican reggae and a hip-hop beat in a remix and created their anthem Livin’ for the Grind.
“The song is about regional destruction and how the next generation will suffer for it,” DeScribe explains. Rohan himself joins DeScribe in the rapping portion of the song.
“I don’t know anyone who hasn’t been affected by the Marley family in some way or another. I love Rohan because he is just such a good person, who by the way, won’t take ‘no’ for an answer, even if it means it will take him years to get his way.”
The duo’s next step is to film a special video clip for the song together and launch a global PR campaign on the benefits of organic food. “We will have a wild time, lots of action,” DeScribe promises. “We’re just getting started. The company is thinking of expanding the project and getting some international singers to join the campaign.”
And when that’s where the wind is blowing it is clear why DeScribe believes this is his year, and promises, by the end of the year, “an album God willing” with a major record company.