More than words

For local indie band Haya Miller, the most important part of their music is not only the sound – it’s the Hebrew lyrics.

local indie band Haya Miller 370 (photo credit: Michal Shani)
local indie band Haya Miller 370
(photo credit: Michal Shani)
Kosta Kaplan, the lead singer of the band Haya Miller, can count on one hand the number of indie bands that perform their songs in Hebrew.
“There are maybe three or four major ones in all of Israel. Most of the popular bands play in English,” he said in an interview with The Jerusalem Post.
Music fans looking to escape the hype of the Maccabiah games may want to head over to Tel Aviv on Thursday night, where the Hebrew rock band will perform songs from their debut album, Shelf Life, at Levontin 7 at 10 p.m.
The band has been a staple of the indie music scene in Israel for a long time and has performed all over the country, gaining a following for its Western sound.
“The music we make is formed by the clash of different genres,” said bassist Udi Bonen, himself a fan of 1980s music. Kaplan prefers pop songs from the early millennium, and the drummer, Stav Ben-Shachar, is influenced by 1960s rock and roll.
After five years of recording, the genre-defying trio will finally release their 11- song album.
The tracks have the tousled, danceable quality of something you might encounter in a curtained New York City or London lounge. The band likens themselves to Arctic Monkeys or The Strokes, groups popular from the early 2000s. Kaplan calls it “pop music dressed in rags.”
However, the most revolutionary aspect about the music is not the sound – it’s the Hebrew lyrics.
“Some people are trying to write lyrics that speak to the rest of the world. Some people are just trying to do it locally. That’s what separates us from other bands,” Kaplan said.
The group is more concerned with capturing the idiosyncrasies of the Hebrew language than appealing to the international scene.
The songs concern the desperation of routine – the pain of waking up in the morning, of going to work, meeting women. Growing pains.
“We are grown up now, but not sure how grown up,” said Stav.
The lead single, “She doesn’t dance when nobody’s looking,” has an upbeat feel, even though the lyrics are tinged with heartbreak.
Despite the passion of the lyrics, Haya Miller never expected to rise to the same level of popularity Western bands enjoy. Although there are myriad exciting groups touring around Israel, there is no real thread attaching them.
“There isn’t a lot of collaboration,” Bonen said. “The only way to connect to other musicians play at clubs as often as possible.”
There are one or two festivals that happen twice a year, like In-D-Negev. Bands get a bit more publicity there, maybe an audience of 3,000 to 5,000 people. But it’s not a scene with buses and tours and flailing fans.
“No one has a lot of money. We have to do everything by ourselves,” Bonen said.
Still, after five years of intense recording in Beersheba, the group’s hard work has finally paid off.
For those who cannot make it to the Thursday concert, where the trio performs their debut album, there will be another show in Jerusalem at HaTaklit on July 26. Tickets are available at the door.