The Apples are a nine-piece musical powerhouse whose sheer hard work and
creativity have, over the last decade, propelled them to the kind of heights
that would make most musicians dizzy and euphoric. Not The Apples. As I
discovered, they are modest, sincere and engaged in what they love – making
The four horns, two DJs, one drummer, one bassist and a sound
console operator make up the ninepiece band that was formed in 2002. The
band came about as a fusion of graduates from Jerusalem’s Rubin Academy of Music
who jammed in sessions with stalwarts of south Tel Aviv’s underground scene and
were then complemented by the innovation of Haifa’s ethno-conscious creative
jazz mentality. The end result was the starting point of a group that has been
on a steady international rise ever since. The creation of The Apples was
realized by capturing a series of sessions in 2002. Once recorded, the disparate
musicians had the opportunity to witness for themselves what people had been
celebrating on the dance floors of their jam sessions.
Now, 10 years
after that genesis, their fifth album is about to be launched for international
release with a huge party at The Barby Club in Tel Aviv on June 8. Drumming
powerhouse Yonadav Halevy says that the album, entitled Fly on It, has taken the
band on quite a journey.
“Fly on It
is set apart by being really intense,
heavy, a somewhat relentless beast! The peaks are higher, and the lows are
deeper. It felt and sounded like a live performance when we tracked it, and that
vibe seems to have been captured,” he says.
In the UK, Europe and the US,
the band has been gaining popularity with little or no real marketing and PR
drives, so how did they manage to make such an impact?
“I’d like to think that
the music is its own vehicle, as it can be the only explanation. People like the
music and tell like-minded friends, and so the chain goes on. It has always been
a matter of word of mouth from back when word was spreading around southern Tel
Aviv, to now; Europe and North America,” says Halevy.
dynamic that presents itself again and again across their marketing and
promotional outlook must also be in the music.
“Every time we enter the
studio, it’s for a growing interest in the band. It’s either because of a bigger
and better excuse than just us playing music. The first album, Mitz
for ourselves. The second album, Attention
(2005), was because there was a
demand for more material. The third album, Buzzin’ About (
2008), was because
we’d given an advance in a record deal. Then the fourth album, Kings
because we’d created these two sessions with legendary musicians Fred Wesley (of
James Brown and The JBs) and Israeli music legend Shlomo Barr (Habrira
Hativeet). So it naturally followed that when we were commissioned by Peter
Gabriel’s Real World Records, the session that we did at their studio became our
latest album; Fly on It, and it proved to be the most fun we had in a studio
This live approach to their music carries
from stage to studio; but being essentially a band of instrumentalists, how did
they conquer the songwriting process so well?
“The somewhat traditional
songwriting technique is something we use along with riding the beast,” says
Halevy. “What we’ve always done is marry the where-can-we-take-this-to
approach with compositional structure. The ‘beast’ is the optimal point between
the two. We treat our live sets like a DJ would mix his records, but we
constantly work to see how we can link one to the next track, in the same way
that the DJ would mix two tracks. This makes for the spontaneity and spark,
where the band as a whole, with the two turntablists, acts like a DJ in their
set overall. Segues, mixes, pauses, a scream or a breath – it’s all intense and
it’s all about the us and the audience.”The Apples perform at the Barby
Club in Tel Aviv on June 8. Information: www.barby.co.il
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