Eyal Talmudi is a Israeli jazz-fusion musician and producer I met in Berlin in 2016, where I was lucky to join one of the most passionate and effervescent performances of this genre: loads of dancing, bouncing, shouting and singalonging. All this amazing stuff was done with only two musicians on stage. He was there performing with his band Malox at a benefit concert for Syrian immigrants. The stage seemed though too small especially while started to be flooded with the great people there enjoying the gig.
I have to this day and cherish the CD with "Gaza Trip", their latest album, and the vinyl with their collaborative more hip-hop flavoured "Saved My Eyes From Tears" record.
We've met in the context of his collaboration with Miss Red and then after when he visited Bucharest last year at Jazz Nouveau series in Control I’ve discovered he was having also a very cool production back catalogue: "Calo Wood", a split album with Rejoicer and vocalists Ester Rada and Yuka.
If you want to enjoy him live, Eyal and his brother from another mother (his drummer Roy Chen) will be performing next Monday in Club Control at the Twin Arts Jazz Nouveau series.
IM: Greetings from Bucharest Eyal. We are really looking forward in hearing Malox for the first time in Romania.
Can we start by talking about music production? This is a very important aspect in your career not just playing an instrument but also paving the way for bands and musicians altogether towards superb tunes and records.
Monday February 26th, Control Club
Eyal and his brother from another mother (his drummer Roy Chen) will be performing next Monday in Club Control at the Twin Arts Jazz Nouveau series.
ET: Yes I do that, for myself and for other albums/projects and so on. It is usually around bands or projects that I have interest in and prefer my style of working. Guiding or producing gives me a chance to be the listener and also focus the musicians I work with. It is different from making my own music, but I feel very proud of creating a new piece of art together with others.
IM: How important is a team for a musician and band? We know you are working with State of Bliss to get your music to as many ears as possible on all continents. What I like a lot and find very cool is that Tori is more than your booking agent and promo-man he is also your driver when needed
ET: Hahaha yes Tori Baba from State Of Bliss is one of our booking agents and he does some driving too, we all drive when needed ;) but the team work is definitely crucial for things to happen. It is basically finding other crazy people who can listen and sell your music, and when you do that, they're usually fun to hang and tour with as a bonus. At the end, we spend a lot of time on the road or on the email together and only good chemistry works and makes stuff happen.
IM: Let's discuss a bit the instruments that you master, from sax, bass to guitar and keys? How did you start your musical journey and what role does your family have in it? You have your brother playing with you in Malox and your son and mother studying music.
ET: I only play the saxes, clarinet and bagpipes. I started clarinet at 8 years after trying the piano with no success – there were to many keys and too many options! My brother was already playing and we started jamming together. Later I went on with sax and we still jam to this day. With him it is almost effortless because we are brothers, and have such a long background together. Off course it’s really cool to tour like that and play at family parties. As for our mom and my son, they want to take part and play on the family parties too!
IM: How about touring Japan, Europe, India and the best places in the world where you played?
ET: Touring the globe is a unique experience. The fact that someone is so into listening your music that they will buy you a flight and have you as a guest is so a great. I love visiting new places and I feel blessed for doing it and performing my music. I don’t have a preferred country, I just love to meet new people and play music to them or with them.
IM: You performed with Kutiman quite often. How is it playing and recording with him? Have you’ve been with him at the Guggenheim Museum where he performed some of his music collages and compositions? Do you think music belong in such places and institutions?
ET: With Kuti every session, even rehearsals are holes in time. His music and friendship are very deep, and this switch between written music and improvised parts that takes everyone for a trip, from us players to audiences. I love doing it and all the rest of the band are crazy too. As for Guggenheim Museum performance, I wasn't there with him. Not only his music is such highly regarded but also his video pioneering has such an accurate catch of the future of music, that it fits anywhere no matter the building or it’s reputation.
IM: We’ve seen Kutiman’s Presenting Princess Shaw the documentary. You are in it too and that is very cool! Do you like documentaries or prefer movies and their soundtracks? Did you soundtrack any films or theatre plays?
ET: I like watching both documentaries and feature films. What I care about when I am watching is that the work is moving in any way. It has to be a true interesting experience for me. If something is not made well enough I will stop watching. I am sensitive at elements that make me feel bad too. As for making soundtracks I haven't done one yet, but I will.
IM: There has been in the recent years this growing trend of funding music and art through your fanbase. How do you feel about it? Is Crowdfunding a way to make music?
ET: I think crowdfunding is a practical choice and it’s just one of so many others. You can work and save money or take a loan, as long as you do it well and with a full heart, it should be good. For me it’s usually the artistic idea at the centre, the musical core and then the way to produce it will come along and with hard work.
IM: Can we talk about your favourite albums and your appreciation for vinyl?
ET: I know and feel that vinyl sounds better, and that way, if you make a physical copy, it is also a piece of art. But, I listen to music mostly on the computer or in the car and I can tell you for sure, that at the end of the song or the take things are clear: music comes first and the rest, format is just an option.
IM: Let’s talk about Klezmer & Balkan Music. It’s interesting that there were some discussions of having you in Bucharest last year @ Balkanik Festival with Malox & Echo+Tito. Have you guys this party and celebration style in your blood?
ET: Well, we all like to play fast and loud music and see all the happy people dancing with and around us. That is not all though, it is just part of the fun and so we have to work and promote all kinds of projects. Just a couple of months ago we released a jazz quintet album that would be an exaggeration to call dance music. So, I would say my goal is to be happy in any kind of music and make the dancers dance and listeners listen.
IM: How bout your ancestry? The Talmud is the Holy Book. Is your family like the holders of the Holy Book just as the Cohen’s are servants of God?
ET: The Talmudi name is from my polish grandfather, how was born in Lviv. Although he was a very simple man, his polish name was Schiller - Student. When he was touring in ‘37 in the middle-east as a soldier in the polish army, he saw a chance to leave the army and come to Israel. Upon his arrival here he got the hebrew name Talmudi - from hebrew Talmid - student and that is my name’s story. I think that for me, studying is the most interesting and creative way of life, so, definitely it fits me like a glove!
IM: I was wondering how did you find the whole Jerusalem & Trump affair. How was it viewed from inside Israel?
"We all like to play fast and loud music and see all the happy people dancing with and around us."
"Racism is one of the tools of (bad) leaders to separate and control the public. I think that as long as people fight over territories because of religion and race they are doing the wrong thing.
ET: To make it short and very clear: I think that racism is one of the tools of (bad) leaders to separate and control the public. I think that as long as people fight over territories because of religion and race they are doing the wrong thing. In the end, there is only love, understanding and accepting our differences that will help us build a better society and world. As for Trump, he will be gone and another one will come, and us the pepple who are living here, we will make the good end of this story.
IM: I have to say I am very curious about your constructive competition with Tatran. Can we talk a bit about your friendship with the band and their manager Eyal Bason? I know you are connected and respect each other, but are also in some sort of a race to outstand each other.
ET: Hahaha, You got it all wrong. For me, and as I know them - Tatran - I think competition is not the case. I try not to look at other bands or artists for anything else but inspiration. I love their music, and actually on Sunday we are meeting to edit an album that we improvised couple of months ago. So other than telling you more how great they are, this is it! And Eyal their manager is one of Israel most influent people on Facebook which shows how much of a hard worker he is.
IM: How did you find Romania and Bucharest last time with Nitai Hershkovitz. Did you jam with other bands around the world like we did together?
ET: It was a short visit but everybody was so nice and welcoming. We had a great gig, which i hope will be this time too. I never jammed like we jammed with Crowd Control, u r the best!
IM: What are your fondest and funniest memories from the recording studio?
ET: It’s not that funny, but rather a good story: when we recorded the GAZA TRIP album, it was a “war” with Gaza here in Israel, and we had some sirens blowing outside while making it. I think that makes two things clear: war can’t stop the music, and music can reflect present times and conflicts making people look at things differently.
IM: Thank you very much! Respect!
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