From the founders of Balkan Beat Box, Ori Kaplan and Tamir Muskat, comes a new project – Shotnez – mixing Middle Eastern and eastern European influences with noise Rock and crime Jazz. The debut album will be released into the wild on JDub Digital on April 5, 2010.
Shotnez grew out of fertile soil at Muskat’s Vibromonk Records in Brooklyn, New York. Out of Vibromonk came a galaxy of bands including Big Lazy, Firewater, Pink Noise, JUF (Gogol Bordello), Ori Kaplan’s earlier incarnation of Shotnez and ultimately, Balkan Beat Box.
Kaplan’s original band, Shaatnez, had roots in experimental jazz, but after his experience at Vibromonk Kaplan re-formed Shotnez along with producer/drummer Muskat, guitarist Stephen Ulrich (Big Lazy, Bored to Death) and Itamar Ziegler on bass (Pink Noise, Balkan Beat Box).
“The spirit of Shotnez,” explains Kaplan, “is dark, romantic, and totally kick-ass… We like to call it Mediterranean surf noir. It’s cinematic… you follow the stream of sound like the plotline of a movie.”
It’s pure “madness,” says The LA Weekly, “a whole new way to play music.”
- Artist profile (Jdub)
Balkan Beat Box has been a very successful group, when and why did the idea of creating SHOTNEZ come to be?
Itamar - I remember that around 2003 Tamir and Ori were listening to some crazy old Captain Beefheart stuff and wanted to do something with similar level of creativity, complexity and groove… That was a starting point as far as a reference, but soon enough we let things go wherever they went naturally.
Steve – Shotnez actually predates BBB. Ori formed an early jazzier version of Shotnez (Shaatnez) and having recorded the first album at Tamir’s Vibromonk studio brought in me (Big Lazy) and Itamar ( Pink Noise).
The New York scene has obviously influenced your music to some extent- how so?
NYC is a real melting pot, and being in such close contact with so many different cultures, on a daily basis is going to influence your music, if you’re aware of it or not. It opens you up to many directions… expands your mind…
Steve - Tonic (R.I.P.) being THE club in NYC’s downtown music scene at the time, left a big imprint on the band. Experimental “New Music” and the underground “rock” collided there – the perfect place for the mixed bag of Shotnez.
How has being Israeli influenced your music? Or is it the base of it all ?
Itamar - We are not all Israelis. Stephen is American. I don’t think that there is anything Israeli about Shotnez’s music per se. You know… obviously, each one of us is influenced and shaped by where he is from, for example you can hear a klezmer ‘feel’ in Ori’s playing, but in Shotnez it becomes a sort of Trash-Zmer, influenced by new york city’s grit or something like that… (we’re talking pre-Bloomberg…)
You call your new sound “Mediterranean trash rock” please explain.
Itamar – I think I just did!
How are you received internationally? Do most of your fans know you’re Israeli? Does it matter?
Itamar: Steve, do you wanna answer that?… Well, being Israeli abroad could be uncomfortable, usually it’s not, but sometimes it can be. I come from a place where I could see why people might have pre-conceptions and criticisms about Israel, I do too. So I try and be patient and hopefully, by being myself, make them realize that people shouldn’t be judged too quickly.
I’ve read that you made a point to create an album that is international… even sending files to Syria… Do you believe Music is a good medium of Dialogue ?
Itamar - Most people love music, and music has been a force in social and political change over the years… but it also has power beyond politics, it can make you forget about the troubles of the world…
Where is your favourite place to play ?
Itamar - Syria! I wish…
But really, the legendary lower east side club Tonic was our home for a while. It’s a shame they had to close down. We’re soon to find a suitable alternative. And we all love playing Europe and playing Tel Aviv is always exciting… we’re looking forward to hopefully playing soon.
And of course ? Being from such a small country, that has fostered such amazing things… Does Size Matter ?
Itamar - No. But I wish I had a larger… country?
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