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 music.

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.

This organic 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 (2003), was 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 (2010), was 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 since, well...ever...really.”

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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