'Lider' of the music charts

Israel's electro-pop prince, Ivri Lider, proves he's got staying power.

ivri lider 88 (photo credit: )
ivri lider 88
(photo credit: )
Ivri Lider has the sniffles. And though his sinus troubles are bothersome, Lider admits there's no time to be unwell. The 32-year-old is in the middle of a publicity blitz - he's promoting a new DVD and album, he just won Rock Act of the Year and Singer of the Year at the 2006 AMI Music Awards (Israel's Grammy's), he is putting the finishing touches on a musical score for the new film, The Bubble, and is producing an album for songstress Rita. "I know that my output is high quality. When I put out an album I first ask myself if I like it. I would never release something I'm not totally happy with," says Lider between spoonfuls of chicken soup during an interview with The Jerusalem Post. "That said the audience's response is still very important. That music fans selected me as Singer of the Year and Rock Act of the Year was very gratifying. I had hoped that I'd win, but I didn't know I'd do so." In the wake of his AMI nods, he released a DVD and live album last week of his much-hyped debut concert for his 2005 tour. The DVD, which also includes new renditions to old favorites including "Leonardo," "Bo," and "Hakos Hakhula," brings fans a sample of the energy experienced in a live Lider show. "It's an amazing thing that you can take a concert, put it into DVD format, and re-experience it at home," says Lider. The recorded concert took place in Tel Aviv's Exhibition Grounds in front of thousands of fans. In addition to Lider there were nine musicians on stage, including an orchestral quartet. "Even though you're watching it on DVD, you still get a taste of the energy from that night," he says. "The atmosphere isn't the same as a live show but there's still a vibe." Watching the show on DVD with its lighting effects and dazzling production, one understands why Lider triumphed in being named Act of the Year. In fact, Israel's electro-pop prince is often described as having a Midas touch. He has a number of awards under his belt, including having been named throughout his career as Male Singer of the Year by every commercial radio station in the country. His four solo albums have all become best-sellers, his film scores have topped the charts, and his concerts are pretty much always sold out. "I don't know about a Midas touch. I simply produce what I love. I don't make music to appeal to anyone or any genre. I create songs based on what I like. If I had to produce something contrary to my taste, I'm not so sure I'd be successful because it wouldn't feel true," he says . Lider began his professional music career as a composer for works by the renowned Batsheva Dance Group and the NDT Dutch Dance Group. In 1997, at the age of 23, he broke into Israeli consciousness with his romantic solo debut, "Stroking While Lying" (Melatef veh Meshaker). Within 12 months, the album achieved gold status. Three top-selling, gold-status albums followed including 1999's Almost Better Than Nothing, 2002's The New People, and 2005's It's Not the Same. Lider is a master mixer of styles. His albums include rock, acoustic sounds, computer and synthesizer beats, and on his latest, a live orchestra. His lyrics voice the concerns and thoughts of the modern Israeli. "I derive inspiration from every day life," says Lider, who despite being a superstar insofar as talent is concerned is a wholly unpretentious guy in person. "Sometimes I'll hear something, or I'll see something that sparks my interest. People inspire me. I try to be like a sponge. Even if it looks like I'm not doing anything, I'm absorbing information. I can't pinpoint where I get inspiration from, but I hope it continues." Musically, Lider gets inspiration from domestic and international acts. Here, he likes talents including Efrat Gosh and Daniel Salomon. Currently his favorite overseas artist is the American, Bright Eyes (Conor Oberst). Lider has his heart set on moving from "Israeli singer known at home" to "Israeli singer famous internationally". He is off to a good start. In the last month alone, Lider has made two jaunts to London, England to record material with musicians there (they invited him). Moreover, in the upcoming Eytan Fox/Gal Uchovsky film, The Bubble, Lider makes his silver screen debut with a touching rendition of the Gershwin classic, "The Man I Love". Lider also penned the soundtrack to The Bubble, which follows his two other successful soundtracks for Fox/Uchovsky's other films Walk on Water and Yossi and Jagger. And while he's already collecting songs for a new album, Lider says he doesn't see himself mixing Hebrew tracks with English ones. "People here are still sort of afraid of Hebrew-speaking singers who sing in English," says Lider, noting that in order to succeed in English on home turf the Israeli attitude toward local musicians singing in English must change. "In Europe, on the other hand, it's very common for musicians to sing in English even if they're from [non-English speaking] countries like Germany, Sweden, Norway, or Denmark. Europeans understand that Europe is a one marketplace. There's no reason we shouldn't be a part of that. But to be a part of that, one has to sing in English. I'd love to sing in English. I'm already doing a bit of recording." In the meantime, Lider will continue to blaze the tour circuit with his many hits. Local fans can still catch him as he traverses the country on his winter tour for "It's Not the Same". Fans abroad will be happy to know that Lider is gearing up for a North American tour some time in spring.