Soul Food: Veteran Israeli singer Karolina stays true to herself in new album

I have a new band and this will be the first time that we are performing together. It’s exciting.

By ARIEL DOMINIQUE HENDELMAN
August 16, 2016 21:12
WHEN I’M creating music in Israel, I prefer to sing in Hebrew. It’s more connected to me and to the

'WHEN I’M creating music in Israel, I prefer to sing in Hebrew. It’s more connected to me and to the land... My authentic soul sings in Hebrew,’ says singer-songwriter Karolina.. (photo credit: VICTOR BELLAISH)

Karolina has lived many artistic lives in the span of over 15 years. Her first album with the band Funset, Ragga Pumpkin Sound, became an underground success and received critical acclaim. This was followed by an even bigger success with the band Habanot Nechama in 2007.

Since then, Karolina has released two solo albums and is about to release her third, which is untitled as of now. The first single will be released in October and the new album will come out in January. Karolina is playing at Zappa Tel Aviv tonight at 8:15 p.m. She sat down with The Jerusalem Post to discuss drawing inspiration from Eilat’s Jazz Festival, becoming a mother, and the fickle muse of inspiration.

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How did you first get into music?

I grew up in Eilat, which is a very distant, hot place, and boring. It gave me a lot of inspiration because I had to find out how and what I loved about music. The strongest influence was the jazz festival. Every August, musicians from around the world come to Eilat. This gave me inspiration. It started to wake up my heart to music. I started to play the guitar and slowly, slowly, I fell in love with music. When I was 17, I started to actually sing. It’s a bit late.

After the army, I left Eilat and moved to Tel Aviv. I needed money, so I started singing with a cover band. We became the band of one of the nice hotels by the Dead Sea. I wanted to stop singing covers and commercials and to just leave everything that is not my original music and start writing. I was 32 years old when I started to create my own music.

Maybe I’m a late bloomer, I don’t know. I have a lot of friends around me who help me. I write and compose my music, but my friends also help.

You had two band before you began releasing solo albums?

Yes, I started Funset in 2000. It was a big thing for me because it gave me a lot of inspiration that I can do it.

The album was in English and nobody knew me, and suddenly it became a band that had a lot of fans in Tel Aviv. It grew and grew and had a big underground following.

Then I met Nechama and we formed Habanot Nechama. That album was a great success also. After that, I put out two solo albums in Hebrew and now I’ve just finished the third one.

Will your new solo album be in Hebrew?

It’s totally in Hebrew. I have many collaborations in English, with Kutiman and many other artists, but when I’m creating music in Israel, I prefer to sing in Hebrew. It’s more connected to me and to the land. I have a flow in English, which is fun and groovy. Hebrew is complicated, but it’s deeper for me. My authentic soul sings in Hebrew.

What was the process like for you of creating the new album?

It was a very long journey. It took me four years, which is a lot. But I also had my first baby in that time. Every two years, I’m creating something; a kid, an album. It’s not the same, but similar. We live in a stressful country, so for the first time I have a song that is talking about the situation here.

I also talk about being a mother. I’m singing for my boy and my sweet little family. It was a big change in my life and it gave me a lot of inspiration. The album is a little more groovy and happy. In my last album, I was into an ethnic, Turkish style. Right now, I’m back into soul and R&B. I love this album. I want to sing good words to the people.

I want to tell people that because we live in such a crazy place, we need something to calm down. I wanted to give the people who love my music something to heal. If I’m doing something, then I want to put out nice music that’s soft and hugging. When you have a baby (mine is three), the eyes tell you that they need softness because this world is really a mess, and especially Israel. I’m trying to give him the la la land story and not the real story. He’ll get to know that anyway. I hope people will love it.

It sounds like this is a really transformational album for you.

Yes, it is because at first, I felt like I didn’t have anything to say because I’m 45 and I’m a mother. I thought when I had a baby, I wouldn’t need anything else. So this album felt far away from me. I didn’t know if I’d be able to write or sing again.

I had to be very disciplined to do it. It was an album created with struggle. Yesterday, I put all the strings on the album and I listened to it and really felt that I did something good.

Was your creative process different than with previous albums?

The first album was all inspiration. It came to me so easily, like a gift. When you grow up into creating, it becomes more complicated to find out what else you can say. You can not count only on inspiration. Sometimes you get a small sentence in your head and it could be a song, but the inspiration was only three words.

From that, you have to work. There was one song that took me three years to solve. An album is a saga; it’s like writing a book. All of my albums are different from each other, but when you hear it, you say “this is Karolina.” This new album was the longest creative process, but let’s not forget that I also have a son, so I was being a mother too. Being a mother is even more important and it gave proportion to what I’m doing. Before, music and the stage was everything to me. The stage was where I felt more comfortable than in life. Now all the responsibility is on being a mother and a wife. Music is now a flower that is growing with me. It’s not heavy anymore; it’s not everything I’ve got. It’s a more healthy place.

Will you be performing new material at the Zappa Club show tonight?


Yes, I’ll be singing two or three new songs.

There have been a lot of changes recently.

I have a new band and this will be the first time that we are performing together. It’s exciting.


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