Maya Johanna Menachem the voice contestant370.
(photo credit: Courtesy PR)
“Haunting” is the first word that comes to mind when listening to “Shallow
Waters,” the new single by former The Voice contestant Maya Johanna
In the music video, the raven-haired beauty takes hold of the
camera with hypnotizing brown eyes, in a forest scene seemingly inspired by
Ophelia’s tragic end in Hamlet, and weaves a story of the desire to express
honest emotion with the outside world and the inability to articulate an inner
world. It builds to an uplifting conclusion, with the lyrics embracing the
beauty of an uncertain future.
“There is something very subtle about
folk,” she said in an interview with The Jerusalem Post
last week. “I think I
took a lot of that and I also added a little edge to it.”
28-year-old, originally from Kibbutz Givat Oz and who now lives in Tel Aviv,
will perform at Tel Aviv’s music club Levontin 7 on June 15. She will debut her
first single with her new band, performing original songs in English that she
has been working on the past few years.
Born to an American mother and an
Israeli father, Menachem grew up bilingual but felt a greater connection with
English for writing and singing her songs. Because English is a more universal
language, she says, it affords her greater opportunities to share her music with
a wider audience. Her greatest influences have been from the folk scene of the
1960s and ‘70s – Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen – and the lyrics of
that era of music.
Many may recognize Menachem from her appearance on the
immensely popular music competition The Voice, but the singer/songwriter
admitted she rarely got to see herself on the show. “I don’t have a TV, I
watched my episodes online or at friends’ houses. I wasn’t really part of all
the hype that was going on.”
But she said the show helped solidify her
resolve to pursue her own musical path as a singer/songwriter and she took what
could make her stronger from the experience.
“It made me realize a little
bit better who I am and who I am as a performer,” she said. “I’m gad I did it
and it opened up some more doors.”
An unexpected byproduct of the show
was the lesson on friendship it provided when Menachem was pitted against
contestant Yael Shoshana-Cohen, a good friend and former classmate. The two had
attended the Rimon school of Jazz and Contemporary Music in Ramat HaSharon
together. On the show, they were put in a mock boxing ring for a “sing-off”
competition and despite the choreographed tension, the two looked positive and
supportive of each other.
Menachem said the two “became even better
friends despite that.”
While the show afforded Menachem some publicity,
it was her connection to Israeli artist Sun Tailor – The stage name of Tel
Aviv-based Arnon Naor – that helped bring her musical vision to
“About a year ago... I wanted to work on my own music and
didn’t have any idea how to do it. I happened to see a video clip of [Tailor]
and was really impressed and loved what he was doing.”
Menachem sent a
message to the musician on Facebook asking if he would help her work on her own
music. They met that same week and haven’t stopped working since.
not only playing guitar on the single, in the show and the CD, but he is also
producing this whole thing – it’s been a great collaboration, so I’m really
happy with that,” she said.
Tailor is known for his alternative rock
sound. He blends folk, indie, country, blues and psychedelic rock and has
performed in England, Germany and in the Israeli music festival “In-D-Negev.” He
was also featured on an episode of the viral international music show Balcony TV
in November 2012, performing on a rooftop during the week rockets were fired at
When the two decided to form a full band, they started looking
for the right people – and found them in a very Tel Aviv way.
drummer, Issar [Tenenbaum], I met through a mutual friend and he introduced me
to our bass player, Nitzan [Eisenberg]. The guitar player [Maor Wiezel] I met on
the street. A bunch of random meetings that made it all
Menachem said the sound of the album is more alternative, rock
and roll added onto the folk she grew up playing.
She added that Tailor’s
musical production helped push it in an edgier direction than she had previously
explored with her other musical ventures.
At the show on Saturday,
Menachem will play original music from her upcoming album, due out later this
year, and a surprise cover. She is excited to play to the crowd with the band
she has been working so hard with.
“I’m definitely happy with all these
musicians that are absolutely incredible and are a part of this thing and a very
inseparable part of it,” she said.