There has been a wave of incredible talent coming out of Israel over the last few years, with the artists infiltrating the electronic music scene with their otherworldly, esoteric sounds. The likes of Red Axes, Moscoman, Chaim and Miss Red have been paving way for more and more artists to come through, with the latest contribution from the Holy Land, Niv Ast.
Over the last two years, Niv has released on BLGD5 Records, Relish, MATERIÁ, Ombra INTL and now lands on London-based Snap, Crackle & Pop with his new EP ‘Disco Monroe’. Inspired by his residency in France, there’s an essence of French electro in the title track whilst the first single ‘Quebec, Makolet’ is flavoured with the post-punk sound the label and Niv has come to be known for.
We chat to Niv to get the lowdown on his earlier influences, his experiences within Tel Aviv’s music scene and the story behind ‘Disco Monroe’.
Starting from the very beginning, how did you get into music? What was your experience like with music growing up?
Since I was a kid I always had a big attraction to music, yet football was a bigger one. Til the age of 12-13, I was investing most of my time on football and computer games. At the age of 14, it was either I’m going to play for a football club or buying a guitar… I chose the guitar.
Did you have many opportunities to involve yourself in music in Tel Aviv when you were growing up?
I was studying in an art school so since I was a small kid we had music classes and a lot of kids around me played on some kind of instrument, so It was quite easy to play together. I had bands since I was 15 until I started my own project at the age of 20. With the bands, it was mostly funny simple ballad rock songs- love songs of the young at heart
What is your relationship like with music? Is it a therapeutic outlet for you?
It’s where I can clear my thoughts, and where I think the most. I do it mostly when I wake up for a few hours every day. I never do it in the night like a lot of people that I know who’s doing music… I prefer to have a drink.
Can you talk through some of your earlier musical influences and how they impacted you?
I’ve learned Jazz in school for 6 years, although I never was really into it but the options were quite narrow. I’ve learned a lot of theory of music in these days and I’m still grateful for this knowledge and I can see the impact it had on my music ever since I started crate it.
What are some records that have defined you as an artist?
Oasis – Definitely Maybe & Morning Glory
Nirvana – Nevermind
Joy Division – Unknown Pleasures
Green Day – Dookie
Cody Chesnutt – The Headphone Masterpiece
Jimi Hendrix – everything
There’s so much amazing music coming out of Tel Aviv and Israel in general at the moment, what are your thoughts on the current scene? Who are some of your favourite artists in the city?
There is a certain blurry style that is a cross-genre that I can see in anyone who does music here. Some kind of un-self-righteous and kicking vibes. The city has a huge amount of talents at the moment, great DJs and producers. I can’t choose from mom or dad.
How do you think Tel Aviv as a city shaped your sound? If you had grown up anywhere else in the world, do you think you’d be producing different music?
I was born in Tel-Aviv and it’s been 26 years I’ve been living here. I’m sure this intense city has a lot of an influence on me both in music and in who I am as a person. I never had a chance to think about it deeply I guess as I never thought if the fact I was born as a man and not as a woman had an influence on my music. It’s interesting actually and maybe the next interview I will have a better answer!
You’ve recently released an EP on the London-based Snap, Crackle & Pop, how did your relationship begin with the label?
Loved that label from their first release… I’ve sent them an email with my music, they liked it and I had the pleasure to release my music with them. They turned out to be ok guys also <3
What is the story behind ‘Disco Monroe’? How did the idea for the EP come about and what was the production process like?
Disco Monroe came out in the studio with Daniella Milo, we both were influenced by the French vibes and we wanted to create our own sexy version of it. The magic just happened actually without us planning a specific vibe. Daniella has a really sexy quiet voice when she wants so it was easy to get to these vibes with her. My friend Adrien from Paris helped us to translate the lyrics we wanted to say to French since we both don’t know French lol.
On the title track there are elements of French influences perhaps from your time in Paris – do you find that you pick influences up from each country you visit?
I’m visiting Paris every one-two month, I have lots of friends who became close as family. I’m playing often in places like Garage and Palace so it’s also easy to make this kind of on and off travelling work.
Paris is in my heart. Always.
When it comes to your live sets, what does your set up usually look like?
Laptop with Ableton live, Apc 40 MK II, Spd-Sx, Guitar (sometimes), Microphone, and some small midi controllers.
What do you enjoy the most about playing live over a DJ set?
It really depends on the day actually. Live sets are way more exciting for me, I am fully exposed on the stage. yet it can be really tiring if done too much / not carefully planned. DJ I can do it forever and anytime so I guess I don’t like one more than the other, they are just different for me.
What would be your dream environment to play in?
Cantina in Mos Eisley!
What do you hope to achieve this year?
I’d love to tour more, visit places I’ve never been and meet people I’ve never met 🙂
‘Disco Monroe’ by Niv Ast will be released on Snap, Crackle & Pop – pre-order here.