Atzmon has collaborated with singer and oud player Dhafer Youssef and Palestinian singer Reem Kelani along with several other well-loved musicians from the middle-east—including vocalists, bassists, violinists, accordionists and trumpet players—even—e.g. violin-trumpet styles.
Impressively Atzmon produced 9 albums, with another on the way. Touring internationally, he performs regularly each week. In addition he’s on the cutting-edge—politically. He is an activist, commentator, author and novelist. Visit http://www.gilad.co.uk/ for more info on his numerous publications and biographical music history. His most recent, successful book, is: “The Wandering Who?“. No stranger to controversy and inspiring a substantial following from around the world, he writes about Jewish identity and Palestinian right-of-return.
Does music have a profound effect? For instance. Can it have, on the political world? Or, are arts, separate entity or emotion?
G: Certainly. Beauty is the real transformative power. It is the ultimate opposition to banality of political thinking which I myself despise.
Is this music able to help unite people for a greater cause and have people of common interest grow, from, one subject, into many?
G: Again, I do not have any doubt that music unite people, yet, through the dominating cultural industry, music has become a suppressive power, a mass tranquilizer. But the collapse of the music industry means that true beauty will rise out of the ashes of Sony and EMI.
Are, any of the above questions, part of your vision? Or are the music and political issues—separate?
G: I am not interested in politics but in humanity and humanism, I am concerned with ethical issues. And for me there is a clear continuum between music, humanism and ethics.
Are you able to weave these two entities (music and politics) to work together, to make a positive effect?
G: Again, no politics in my world.. but I can easily play a tune to commemorate the massacre in Gaza in 2009..
Do you use music as a harness-er for your political activism?
G: I am not an activist nor I am a political activist , I am a musician and an author.. and my music is indeed an integral part of my activity
Are politics an influence on your music?
G: Politician ugliness certainly motivate me to write and to attempt to produce music..
Does Middle Eastern music compliment western civilization jazz and vice versa? Can one promote the other?
G: Very interesting, I am struggling with Arabic music for years, but this struggle is my attempt to bridge the gap. This struggle echoes my genuine need to strip myself of any layers of cultural supremacy, I had to start from scratch.. There are more notes in the eastern scales.
Does this complicate an already potentially chaotic style of music—or compliment it, in your opinion?
G: I do not look at it as more note. I would argue that Western music is largely digital and eastern is largely analog. The meaning of the note is defined by a larger and deeper contextual syntax
Sound can travel distance through sustain [a sustained note], dependent on its velocity; which is dependent on its source. Can two different sources project sounds that can collide in such a way as to create an emotion to motivate people towards new ideas? Perhaps influence a unity for a positive change?
G: I believe so, I tend to think that my music drive people to feel for Palestine and I guess that this is why Jewish organizations around the world invest so much effort trying to stop my concerts. So far they achieved the opposite.
Is music an escape for you from obvious frustrations due to political situations in the world?
G: I guess that it was an escape many years ago but now it is the medium where I celebrate my frustration and transform it into a message.
Is music a release of anger(s) and wanting to help ‘blind people sorta speak open their minds to history and use truth to make decisions?’
G: It could be seen as such, there is anger in my music but also pain and love..
Does negativity from people accusing you of anti-Semitism etc…. have an effect on your musical career or creativity or does it fuel the fire?
G: To call me an anti semite is as absurd as calling me a pedophile or nuclear scientist, it has nothing to do with me. I always had Jew in my band and married to a Jew. Yes, I am an opponent of Jewish ideology and very critical of Jewish secular political culture. I am not opposing Jews as people, ethnic group or race. I am afraid that some Jews tend to use the anti Semite label when they fail to produce an argument. I guess that they will have to work harder to silence me…
Alex Lee Bio: Mutiple-genre and Jazz player Alex Lee is American-British freelance musician who helped craft these questions for Gilad. He plays lead guitar, vocals, violin and keyboards. His 21st century trail-blazing sound, with his combination of classical training, attendance at London’s Arts Ed School and self-teaching make him one of world’s most up-and-coming indie performers. He represents his company, Depth Records, and has been the founding organizer for the past two years of The Missouri River Music Festival. His live performances has garnered him a growing following. We’ll be looking forward to Alex playing with Gilad in the near future.
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