On The Radar: Noga Erez

On The Radar: Noga Erez

For some musicians, doing an interview with a hangover isn’t necessarily a big deal. For Noga Erez, it very much is.

The singer postpones our scheduled phone call as it comes the morning after she went to a wedding in her hometown of Tel Aviv.

“I don’t drink much usually, so when I do I wake up crazy in the morning with a fried brain,” she says. It seems a fair explanation, and you imagine even Keith Richards probably couldn’t be bothered some mornings but, as our conversation continues, it becomes clear that the 27-year-old values what she says too much to risk clouding it with a fuzzy head.

She speaks carefully and pointedly, considering each answer. This impactful telephone manner reflects her debut album Off The Radar, which weaves charged up, political lyrics together with big, bold electronic production.

Shades of M.I.A., FKA Twigs and Flying Lotus colour tracks like Dance While You Shoot, Global Fear and Pity, which defends the female victim of a 2015 sexual assault case in Tel Aviv.

Elsewhere, Worth None and Global Fear click, rattle and shudder, while Hit U and Muezzin summon ominous atmosphere via minimal rumbling. It’s hardly easy listening, but you can definitely dance to it.

“That’s the most important thing,” says Erez of the songs she writes and produces with collaborator Ori Rousso. “If I have to define what I’m doing… [it’s] pop songs, very high rhythmic dancey music with political content.”

Erez met Rousso while learning to use music software programme Ableton Live, after abandoning her folkier, jazzier past to focus on electronic music and DIY productions. She calls him her “best friend” and Noga Erez is a 50/50 collaboration in everything but name.

The pair discuss the politics that fills their songs “all the time”, but Erez stresses that their message hasn’t yet blossomed fully.

“We’re born and raised in Israel and you can’t avoid politics and protest here, it’s very awakened but we can always do more,” she says.

“Musically, this is an early stage for us, so right now it’s just documenting. I would like the music to some day be more than that, to have our opinions and messages change people’s way of thinking.”

Erez is a firm believer in the power of pop as an agent of change. “Music has changed my thoughts and made me aware about many things,” she says.

“But we need to make an effort to do other things as well in order to take people from where they are into a different place.”

Part of what she means is mobilisation of the public, and Erez was a keen participant in the recent Women’s March on the American Embassy in Tel Aviv.

With Donald Trump, the muddle in Europe and the issues dividing her own country, she believes there’s plenty to fight against.

“I feel very negative about the world, I don’t see how it can get better,” she says. “It’s more and more complicated to get back to a sane and normal state of mind, right now everything is so crazy and complex.

The world needs a very ambitious, young, liberal, amazing leader to get us out of this, otherwise we’re going down.”

But with artists like Noga Erez around, it won’t be without a fight.

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