His brother’s keeper

Israeli band Benjamin’s Brother nominated for ‘Best Narrative’ at the Berlin MVAs.

May 3, 2016 21:15
JOSEPH OF Benjamin’s Brother: ‘I don’t want to be the music, I want the music to be me’

JOSEPH OF Benjamin’s Brother: ‘I don’t want to be the music, I want the music to be me’. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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Raised in Ashkelon, the vocalist and guitarist who goes only by the name Joseph fell into making music as effortlessly as one might fall onto a soft mattress after a long day; it just fit. Joseph formed Benjamin’s Brother and has carved out a place in the indie folk music scene as he prepares to launch his debut album, Like The First Time, in June. The video for his song “Story About A Broken Heart” was recently nominated for Best Narrative at this year’s Berlin Music Video Awards, which will take place from May 18th-21st.

What is your musical background?

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I actually have no musical background, it’s just something that I always wanted to do. I picked up the guitar and learned the piano, and studied by myself. I have no idea how I got into the academy, that was a surprise for me too. But it happened and it was good. I never finished; I left in the last year. But I kept on doing my music. I was there for singing.

Why did you leave before graduating?

If you study too much, you’ll lose the creativity because you’ll stick to what you’ve learned and not what’s in your heart. That’s the only reason actually.

How did you come to form Benjamin’s Brother?

It’s pretty simple: I never wanted to show my face. It’s not like I’m trying to hide, but I wanted to separate my life and whatever comes with the music. I don’t want to be the music, I want the music to be me. I never wanted to use my name; I wanted to use a stage name.

In the Bible, Benjamin was the only brother that Joseph had, and I’m Joseph. When you want to form a band, you want something that everyone can relate to and all of us could be Benjamin’s brother.

The video for “Story About A Broken Heart” was nominated for the Berlin MVAs. How did you feel receiving that news?

To be honest, I was surprised.

All the things that I do are not in the mainstream.

You’re not going to hear my songs on [Army Radio]. So to be nominated is by far the most amazing thing that could happen because it’s the first time that I’ve had a reward for what I’m doing. I was really happy about it. When the producers, Noam Sharon and Tal [Rosenthal], asked me what the song was all about, the only thing I told them was, “Listen, and then you’ll tell me what it’s about.” I wanted to know what they thought about the music and then for them to roll with that. I hate to serve something on a silver platter. I like when I’m working with other artists, when they tell a story from my music, and not the other way around. I know that I wouldn’t want someone to tell me that I have to write about only one thing. I like to write about what I love.

I believe when you’re making a music video, that the person who’s making it has to love it. He has to own the song, and that’s what I did with Noam and Tal. All the credit goes to them.

Was this the first time you worked with them?

Yeah, and I’m actually working with them again on another video now. It’s a crazy video with two female twins. It’s going to pretty amazing. I’m really looking forward to it.

The song “Story About A Broken Heart” is beautiful and the video takes it to such another level. Is it normal that I was so emotional at the end?

That’s whole idea behind the video! It’s a never-ending story. When you love someone you have to know whether you’re going to let them go because you love them, or make them stay because you love them.

That was the story and they nailed it.

If you had to describe the story in the video to someone who’s never seen it. How would you describe it?

Try to imagine someone in a relationship that is changing, and at the end, you have to decide whether or not you want to stay with that person after they’ve changed. That’s basically the video.

Does the light that the woman has represent a sickness of some sort?

People who had cancer at some point in their life called and messaged me after they saw the video, and told me that we took their lives and put it in a video. They felt that they transformed into something else. They saw their lives and their loves in a different way. As much as it’s hard to hear that someone had to suffer in order to realize that they could be something else or cherish life more, sometimes this is what happens. I don’t think the light represents sickness; it’s a transforming into something else. Both people in the couple change throughout the video. The guy is changing during that time as well. In the end, he wants to shoot someone he loves.

Can you talk about the process of putting the music video together with Tal Rosenthal and Noam Sharon?

If I could choose anyone to work with, it would be them. The way that they handle things is so professional and so calming. I basically have to just pay and that’s it. They give you a product that is so fine.

They’re very anal, but you don’t have to suffer from it because they handle everything.

They’re also so smart and coordinated with one another. They share the same vision. The work between them is so accurate and they’re so in sync that they complete each other’s sentences.

How did they choose the actor and actress for the music video?

They’re married actually. I don’t know how they chose them, but my guess is that they had a vision of how they wanted the people to look; this pale beauty. The actors came because they loved the song and wanted to be a part of it.

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