Israeli guitarist and music producer Agam Timor left the Land of Milk and Honey to find his bread and butter. In Israel, he says, people can make it as musicians, but there’s a limited number of ears, which means it’s tougher to find your audience.
“I mean, if you are good here in Israel you can be an amazing artist and you still won’t get any recognition because people don’t want to hear that,” Timor notes. “But if you have something good in the US, you’ll find your audience. And for me, as a producer and a guitar player, I write, I arrange I also play for other people. So I get to see a lot of different audiences because I play a lot of different genres. When you’re young [in Israel], you listen to music and even if it’s American or British music or anything from abroad, it feels like that’s the source.”
The musician plays “everything with strings on it,” in addition to trumpet, keyboard and drums, but his money-maker is the electric guitar. The multi-instrumentalist returned home to Tel Aviv from the US for a quick stint before returning to his new place in Los Angeles, where he moved eight months ago. During his few days of visiting family and taking care of some business, he managed a sit-down with The Jerusalem Post over a cuppa Joe to talk about his career in the music industry.
Timor began playing music when he was 12, but became a professional during his army years when he played for the military band. He says though it’s not a requirement, it serves many Israeli artists well to kick-start their careers by playing for the band. Here you can make connections and, since Israel is a small country, Timor says, it’s very possible the people you played with during your time in the army will become your primary contacts and colleagues down the road.
After the army, Timor accepted a scholarship to study at Berklee College of Music in Boston, where he worked on his craft for a year-and-a-half before finally making it to LA. Timor refers to his schooling in Boston as a “soft landing” of sorts and a great preparation for LA, suggesting he could feel the cultural differences between the education systems in the states and Israel. But education was just one of the stops for Timor along the route to cultivating his own unique genre.
Timor considers himself a “pop guy” but also loves funk and R&B.
“At first when I would make a song, my thinking was more along the lines of a hit. I wanted to write a hit song. Nowadays it’s more like I want to write a good song that I am happy with, and it will find a way to get to its specific audience. Not every song has to be amazing, but it has to mean something,” he explains.
The artist’s LA apartment is almost no use at all now that he’s been touring the US, England and other parts of Europe, rarely making his place feel like home. Though he’s become an international presence, he still collaborates largely with top Israeli artists like Ruthi Navon, Meital De Razon and Momy Levy.
Timor produced the show opener for Israeli/Mizrahi pop singer Omer Adam last May at the Sami Ofer Stadium in Haifa. The 30,000-seat stadium was entirely sold out. But the artist did the whole project from the other side of the world.
“I wasn’t even here when they played the show. You have email, today so you can send everything. I can do a session if someone lives in a different country. I can pitch someone who is in a different country,” Timor explains.
Timor spoke passionately about what producing the opening song for Adam was like, explaining how he uses Logic Pro software to make the creative parts and uses Pro Tools for mixing. In his view, creating the opening for a show is a tough task because the track must grab the attention of the listeners and also set the tone for the rest of the show.
“As an audience member, once you go into a show, you’re supposed to go through an experience. You’re supposed to forget about all your problems, your arguments with your spouse. None of that matters. You’re going through a unique experience and you need to be in the present. As a producer or a guitar player, that’s what I am doing.”
When asked whether he likes to make his own music or produce it for others, Timor says he loves to wear both hats because each provides him a different type of joy.
“Producing is fun because when I am not doing my stuff, I get to put my taste and my play on someone else’s music.”
When it comes to his plans for the future, the guitarist says he plans on “doing the same thing with a bigger smile.”
“I never feel like I’m bored. I just do what I love and money appears into my bank account.”
Timor is now working on his first album, which will include nine songs and will be released in February 2020. He says that even though the album will be 100% his own original work, the pieces are highly influenced by a number of Israeli and American musicians he worked with in the past, and will have notes from a number of genres like Middle Eastern, pop, alternative and some funk. Currently, Timor is on tour with acclaimed English indie rocker Barns Courtney. The two are hitting Munich, Berlin and Zurich, as well as other cities. But according to Timor, his favorite place to get a coffee is still Israel.
“I missed Israeli coffee,” the artist says as he lifts the cup to his lips and pauses his interview. “I don’t want it to get cold.”
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