Like Bjork on Steroids

The five-man Israeli band Kitzu 'just go with our inner flow.'

Bjork (photo credit: Courtesey)
(photo credit: Courtesey)
Calling an album A Swarm of Details into Your Umbilical Cord may not be the best way to break into the Top 40. But then, the five members of the explosive progressive rockers Kitzu don’t have aspirations to create a hit single. They’re more intent on just creating.
"We just go with our inner flow and try not to think about what we should be doing. We try to create a sound based on our feelings and our interactions with one another, and our songs are built on lots of discussions between us,? explains guitarist Noam Helfer who, along with keyboard and electronic noise expert Dotan Moshanov, bassist Nir Leist, drummer Yaron Goren and dramatic theatrical vocalist Lera Gangiuk, creates a mesmerizing musical landscape that sounds like Bjork on steroids.
That close communication derives in part from the fact that Helfer, Leist and Goren have been friends since attending kindergarten together in the Jerusalem suburb of Mevaseret.
After performing in bands together and separately through their teens, they decided to combine talents and “get serious,” around six years ago, according to Helfer, who began playing guitar at 12.
“I’ve experienced lots of music and guitar players, but there’s been nobody who I can say that I’ve wanted to play like,” he says.
“I want to play guitar like me. My point of reference is what I feel and what I think.”
His physical style of riffing helps power the band’s music, which has been causing musical waves since its 2010 debut album Sand.
Now, along with their brand new heavily praised EP with the weird name and a successful maiden tour of Europe in February, Kitzu is beginning to receive signs that bigger things await them.
First and foremost is a multimedia performance and album debut on Saturday night at a venue called Ha’ezor (The Zone) in south Tel Aviv, featuring the band and a support line-up of musical and visual performers.
“The place is in the industrial area of Tel Aviv, but it’s really beautiful, all wood with a big garden,” says Helfer. “The whole evening has a concept which is the same as the album – a swarm of details into your umbilical cord.
It’s a mix of audio and visual, going inside and from our senses and feeding us, just like a baby – it’s getting the information inside and moving it outside, like listening and talking or feeling and assuming.”
The opening act will be a oneman show called Savage Detective, who plays keyboards, drums and sings. Then the audience will be invited outside for a performance by Aharon Manor, a dancer and performance artist, who will perform to some of Kitzu’s songs.
Then the show returns inside for the full-fledged Kitzu performance, enhanced by a string section and sax player, and surround video art by Yaron Shin, aka Jewboy, who did the artwork for the album and is an indemand visual artist in Tel Aviv.
“It’s going to be a unique show, and our songs will feature new arrangements, with longer, stronger and more touching versions,” says Helfer.
The band’s decision to write their lyrics in English wasn’t actually a decision – both Helfer and vocalist Gandiuk, who writes the bulk of the lyrics, felt more comfortable with fitting English words to their music.
“Most of the music we’ve heard in our lives has been in English, so even though our mother tongue is Hebrew, our musical mother tongue is English,” Helfer explains.
That’s helped them build a following in Europe, where they played 10 shows in two weeks in February, a jaunt Helfer called “crazy but enjoyable.”
“We’ve always dreamt of doing that, being in a van and going from place to place with our equipment, setting up and not really knowing where we are or who’s going to show up, but knowing you’re going onstage anyway,” he says. “It’s not easy for a band. You really need to be connected because you’re stuck with each other all day and all night. Lucky for us, we’re really good friends.”
At each venue, the band made sure the audience knew where they were from, attaching great importance to their own umbilical cord of Israel.
“We’re an Israeli band. This is our home, and we’re not ashamed of it,” says Helfer. “On the contrary, we’re really proud of it.”
Kitzu is performing at Ha’ezor (The Zone) on Saturday night.