Rising star finds an audience covering American songs
Noga Erez is building a fan base for her electronic music through YouTube and concerts.
Noga Erez has drawn comparisons to pop stars Bjork and FKA Twigs, but her current musical incarnation happened pretty much by chance.
The 26-year-old Israeli producer and songwriter is a classically trained pianist and vocalist, but today she is better known for her complexly layered electronic sound.
The shift came about when, in early 2014, she was asked to cover a song by the American musician Son Lux (real name Ryan Lott) when he visited Israel to perform.
"I tried to do something just with piano but I was like, 'this needs something more unique.' So I started working with a looper and looping everything," she told From The Grapevine.
The video of the cover was a hit on YouTube, and she even received compliments from Son Lux himself. Erez felt emboldened to move away from her more traditional background and focus solely on electronic music.
"I felt like it was the most interesting thing I did in years. And because it worked for the audience as well I thought, 'OK, this is probably a direction I need to check.'"
Further opportunities quickly arose. An Israeli website, putting together a tribute to Nirvana, asked her to cover the song "In the Pines," written by 20th-century bluesman Lead Belly but made famous by the '90s grunge band.
"It went really well and I became known as the girl who knows how to do nice songs of covers," she explained to us.
That reputation proved fruitful when Shlomi Shaban, a well-known Israeli musician, invited her to tour the country with him. As his opening act, she performed to sold-out crowds around Israel and gained priceless exposure.
Since that brief introduction to rock stardom, Erez has been hard at work building a fan base with her strong live shows, and putting together a catalogue of songs in the studio with her writing partner Ori Rousso.
"Sometimes it comes from a beat and then I'll start improvising," she said of her songwriting process.
"A lot of the time the melodies come from improvisation and then I pick up things that I like and build the song around it," she explained. "It's like a game. There's a lot of freedom in it."
She's also teamed up with local drummer Ran Jacobovitz, just one of the many Israeli musicians who continue to inspire and push her creatively.
"The scene here in Tel Aviv, (where she is based) is exploding with talent. You can catch a show at a random club and see an amazing talent. It's very alive right now," she said.
This summer offers the chance for the popular artist to gain exposure abroad. She'll be playing at the renowned Primavera Sound music festival, in Barcelona, Spain, alongside such notable acts as LCD Soundsystem, Radiohead and Sigur Ros. And she's also working on an audiovisual show that pairs her music with the work of local Israeli artists.
Most impressive is that Erez has accomplished all this without actually having released an album, a conscious decision she's made despite the completed material to do so. It speaks to the fact that she's more concerned with creating a polished product than trying to capitalize on current trends in the music industry. When she does finally get around to it, it'll be a fully formed representation of who she is, and where she is going.
"I want it to be something that expresses who I am," she explained. "And expresses everything that I am into."
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