(photo credit: Courtesy)
As someone who spent his adolescent years listening to the mournful sound of Leonard Cohen singing about Marianne and her powerful hold on him, it was difficult for me to warm to Hamadregot at first. The band, formed by Hod Dayan and Ilan Damri, two hozrei be’tshuva, sings about the things most hozrei be’tshuva sing about – believe in yourself and good things will come to you. Goody two-shoes, I thought. Then came their third album, which is a compilation of liturgies, and my opinion changed. In that album, where Hamadregot prove what accomplished musicians they are – combining Western, Eastern and Jewish music – I realized that telling yourself what to believe in is an integral part of one’s inner search.
“Our songs are about different aspects of the soul, about the process of development a person goes through,” says Dayan. That process is reflected in their band’s name, Damri explains. “Stairs, like a person’s evolution, are something you go up step by step, not through conquering. There are levels we go through.”
Dayan’s and Damri’s backgrounds are rather different. Dayan grew up secular. He is the brother of Mashina’s drummer Iggy Dayan. At eight years old he started to play the guitar. When he was 18 he produced Israeli punk band Poplex’s album, performed with Danni Basan and produced a Yirmi Kaplan song. At 19 he began to explore religion.
Damri is the son of a minstrel. His musical world consisted of synagogue minstrels on one hand and Western music such as The Beatles on the other. At 12 he learned to play guitar and harmonica. He was a fashion designer, a painter and a singer. He searched for his own musical path. “To get closer to religion means you get closer to the place that is most your own, and that is something that constantly changes. It got me closer to my real sound.”
The two met through a friend and recorded their first song. As opposed to many secular singers who are now getting closer to religion, Hamadregot started playing as a religious duo. There is no mixture of secular and religious in their songs. For example, they don’t sing love songs. “Love is a personal thing and warrants modesty,” they agree.
Their first album was sold mainly in religious markets and was spread by word of mouth. Now they have a secular audience, starred in an episode of the popular TV show Srugim
, and in their upcoming concert they will be debuting their compilation album that is soon to be released. (“It’s not a regular compilation,” they stress, “but a re-recording of some of our songs.”)
“When we perform, I feel that I get extra spiritual energy. Something
opens up in me. I go through a sort of healing,”says Damri.
Adds Dayan, “Today there is no rock star element. Nothing makes me feel
that the world is more than its simplicity. We do our own thing and no
matter what happens, we go with it.” Hamadregot perform on March 10 at
9:30 p.m. at Tmuna, Shonzino 8, Tel Aviv. Tel: (03) 561-1211. Special
guests include Iggy Dayan, Dudi Levi, Nitzan Razel and Albert Amar.
Tickets are NIS 60 – NIS 80.