Ivri Lider embraces his inner disco

Israel’s top talent teams with young electropop whiz Johnny Goldstein to create the three-piece-suit dance fever of The Young Professionals.

Ivry Lider and Johnny Goldstein 311 (photo credit: Ronen Ackerman)
Ivry Lider and Johnny Goldstein 311
(photo credit: Ronen Ackerman)
Is it kitsch or high art? And does it really even matter when the beat is so big and infectious? Those are some of the questions raised by TYP (The Young Professionals), an electronic dance music and multi-media collaboration between Ivry Lider, and wunderkind producer/keyboardist Johnny Goldstein.
Ahead of an expected September release date of their album, TYP’s first child – a single and accompanying video called “D.I.S.C.O.” (based on a sample of the 1980s hit of the same name by French disco duo Ottawan) has already made waves in the couple of weeks since its release and is poised to become a club hit throughout Europe. The Europopped blog called it the best dance track since The Village People’s “YMCA” and the London Gay Times labeled the campy, post-modern video “brilliant.”
Quite a turn of events from the openly gay, 37-year-old Lider, who despite forays into electropop in the past, is best-known for his piano-based ballads. Over the course of 14 years, they’ve cemented his status as perhaps Israel’s most talented singer/songwriter and have helped him launch a moderately successful international career.
“Throughout my career, I’ve done a lot of different things, and electronic music is not something that’s new to me or to my fans – it’s all me,” Lider told The Jerusalem Post last week.
“I did a tour five or six years ago where I only played club music, and I loved it, the same way as I love playing ballads on the piano.”
Lider’s current foray back into dance rhythms and club beats emerged due to the perservernce of 20-yearold Goldstein, who, already at age 17, had released his own hip hop album The Johnny Show, featuring guest appearances from the likes of Hadag Nahash, Rami Fortis and Shlomi Shaban and established a track record as a go-to producer for artists like Sagol 59 and singer/songwriter Hadara Levin-Areddy.
“When I was making The Johnny Show, I contacted Ivri with the hope that he would contribute to the album. I sent him some tracks but due to timing, it didn’t work out,” said Goldstein from the Tel Aviv studio where TYP recorded their album.
“Then, about a year later, I called him again, and we decided to give it a try. I would send him basic tracks on the computer and he would send back lyrics and melodies. The connection was immediate.”
Lider added that it didn’t take long for him to realize that the music that the two were creating for their own enjoyment might actually deserve an audience.
“At first, it was just two musicians getting together for the music and sharing ideas and enjoying themselves.
After a while, we realized that besides the fact that we loved working with each other, we also had compiled quite a lot of songs and we could see it as a long-term project,” said Lider.
“But we both knew that we didn’t want to do it the usual way – forming a duo, releasing an album, going with a record company – that was a bit boring. So we came up with the TYP platform in order to do things a bit differently.”
THE YOUNG Professionals concept – somewhere between tongue in cheek and earnest – revels in the lives of the yuppie, going to work in suits and briefcases during the day and heading to the clubs at night.
Lider and Goldstein recruited experts in video, design, print and Web social networking to be integral cogs in the development of the project, as espoused in their Myspace page: “Work work work, nothing’s better then a hot cup of coffee in the morning. We live our lives in execution mode, and we like it. And hate it.”
“Both of us are into design and lifestyle, and we basically wanted to create an open book that creative people can join that would be connected somehow to the TYP idea,” said Lider.
Of course, behind the TYP sleek designs, briefcases and matching colorful business suits complete with nerdy ‘highwater’ pants worn by Lider and Goldstein, that provide a barbed commentary on modern urban life, the cornerstone of the project is still clearly the music. And according to Lider, Goldstein was able to bring a new element to his way of writing songs.
“I’ve never in my career actually written songs with other people. It’s not something I did. I love writing by myself and I know what I want,” he said.
“But something in the process with Johnny felt really natural – something about his beats and harmonies and the way he thinks about music fit in with the way I do things.”
The lynchpin of the project – when the duo knew that they had basis of an album – materialized when Lider suggested they write a song based on “D.I.S.C.O.”, an oldie by an obscure French dance music band Ottowan.
“Growing up in the ’80s, I loved that song, which was a big hit in Israel,” said Lider.
“I was having dinner with two friends – one Israeli and one French – and we started talking about it for some reason, and I remembered how much I liked it and used to sing along with it. I called Johnny later and said, ‘I have a great idea.’ Of course he had no idea what I was talking about, so I told him to go to YouTube and press ‘Ottowan’ and ‘disco.’ He called me back and said, ‘I know what you mean, this is great!’ Goldstein pointed out that despite the upbeat bubbly sound of the song and its B-side “Bop,” the upcoming TYP album won’t be a total dance rave up.
“It’s kind of divided into two parts – day and night. The first half is ‘nine to five,’ music you would be likely to hear or play in an office and the second half ‘five to midnight’ is the music you hear in clubs,” he said.
“The first part is more chilled, alternative pop with softer beats,” added Lider.
“Then the 5 p.m. to whenever part when you come back from the office and then go out to a club is more disco and upbeat.”
TYP has already tested the water with live shows, performing mini-sets during a recent Lider tour of the US, consisting of Goldstein and Lider on keyboards and computers along with a live drummer, Tal Tamari.
“It took some time to figure out how to make it work live, but it’s working fine now,” said Goldstein of converting studio-oriented music into a live setting.
“It’s a learning process, because it’s not a regular band with guitars and bass,” added Lider.
“We realized the process is different, but we’re getting there. The last shows were great.”
But like their unorthodox approach to the TYP project, Lider and Goldstein are not planning to take on a conventional club tour following the release of the TYP album.
“We’re more into playing at events – we’re going to perform at a fashion show,” said Lider, adding that the group debuted in April at the Fresh Paint Contemporary Art Fair in Tel Aviv.
“We’re looking for projects where we can design a show – something unique for each specific event as opposed to just doing a rock show. It’s a bit of a different attitude and concept of what a show can be.”
While neither Lider nor Goldstein are neglecting their individual careers, their immediate focus is on making TYP a household name – at least in homes that don’t mind a little androgynous cross-dressing, disco fun as illustrated in the video to “D.I.S.C.O.” But, as any young professional would attest, after office hours, anything goes.