A shift for Yiddish music
Rock the shtetlRock the shtetl

A shift for Yiddish music

Music producers Baruch Friedland and Eddy Somiren plan a Yiddish album with rock roots

Jessica Steinberg covers the Sabra scene from south to north and back to the center.

Yiddish may not be the first language that comes to mind when considering the local music scene, but two Israeli musicians are delving deep into the sounds of the shtetl with an album of modernized Yiddish songs produced with crowd-funding.

Called “Yiddish Welt” (“Yiddish World”), the album is the project of musicians and producers Baruch Friedland and Eddy Somiren. Somiren is known for his work in local hip-hop, particularly for discovering rapper Subliminal, but is also a klezmer musician. Friedland is a singer-songwriter and producer, and has written songs for Eurovision winner Gali Atari, Doron Mazar and others, and his own band, Tofaat Doppler (“Doppler Effect”) released three albums.

By combining the sounds of the Jewish shtetl — the clarinet, accordion, and violin — and infusing the music with modern, Western sounds and rhythms, the concept of “Yiddish Welt” is to bring new life to old music, with sounds reminiscent of Peter Gabriel and Deep Forest, commented Friedland. The two musicians have worked together on various pop and R&B projects, but wanted to explore new ways to maintain the authentic voice, feelings, and sounds of the Yiddish songs while making them more accessible to a wider audience.

“For us, this is a very intimate and personal project on the one hand, and on the other hand we have far-reaching international aspirations for ‘Yiddish Welt,’” said Friedland.

The album’s first single, “Kinderyorn” (“Childhood Years”) has already been released, and is a remake of a song written by Mordechai Gebirtig, who died in 1942 in the Krakow ghetto, during the Holocaust. The clip includes material donated by the Steven Spielberg Jewish Film Archive and Beit Hatfutsot, the Museum of the Jewish People. For now, Friedland and Somiren need sponsorship to work on the project and have set up a special short-term fundraising campaign on startArt, an online crowd-funding platform for creative projects.

“Our vision, once we have the funds, is to be able to bring this music to a world audience on important stages and with international artists,” said Friedland.

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