7 Israeli singers to watch in 2018

The singers aren't household names yet around the globe, but they soon may be.

Nathan Goshen (photo credit: ELAD RUBIN)
Nathan Goshen
(photo credit: ELAD RUBIN)
Quite a few Israeli singers have fans across the globe and perform in North America, Europe and Asia. But for every success story like Idan Raichel, David Broza, Ester Rada or Noa, there are dozens of other talented vocalists working hard to get recognition abroad by getting their material on social media and adding English songs to their repertoire.
Here are seven acts to keep your eye (and ear) on in 2018.
Nathan Goshen
Six years after releasing his successful self-titled debut album, which contained numerous top singles in Israel, Nathan Goshen enjoys a growing fan base worldwide for his electronica-tinged pop.
His first English-language song, “Thinking About It (Let It Go),” amassed a huge following, including a remix by Dutch artist KVR that has clocked more than 102 million plays and led to Goshen being picked up by Scandinavian imprint disco:wax.
His new offering on the Home label is accompanied by short documentaries depicting people for whom the word “home” has a hard-hitting meaning.
As well as starring on The X Factor in Ukraine as a guest mentor/judge assistant, Goshen was named Man of the Year and Singer of the Year by Galgalatz radio and has been tapped by filmmaker Avi Nesher for his first movie role.
Noga Erez
Last November, Apple Music chose “Dance While You Shoot,” the first single by Israeli singer-songwriter Noga Erez, as the anthem for an advertisement featuring album covers of such stars as Eminem and Dr. Dre.
Trained at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance, Erez became interested in music software and has won a place on the global electronic dance music scene.
Members of the US-based electronic pop band Son Lux heard a cover Erez made of their track “Weapons,” and invited her to open for them at Tel Aviv’s Barby Club in February 2014. Since then she’s headlined her own show at the Barby.
The 28-year-old Erez partners with producer Ori Rousso to create beat-driven songs – all in English — whose lyrics touch on controversial political and social issues.
During 2016, Erez performed at the Rio Olympics with the official Israeli music showcase and signed a record deal with Berlin-based City Slang. Erez has been touring Europe and releasing additional titles from her Off the Radar CD.
Yonina – Yoni and Nina Tokayer (often appearing in videos with their baby, Ashira) gained surprising popularity after posting weekly homemade music videos in which they sweetly harmonize and accompany themselves on a variety of instruments.
“To our growing astonishment, our videos began receiving a huge amount of exposure, the record being our most popular ‘One Day’ video with over 40 million views from all over the world,” they report.
Pretty soon, Yonina branched out from doing covers to writing and recording their own compositions in Hebrew and English. Their debut album, supported by a crowdfunding campaign, is titled Emet Pshuta (Simple Truth). A second album is in the works.
Over the past year they began performing live in Israel and other countries, including sold-out concerts in New York and New Jersey. Yonina performed in Switzerland in December and has a gig in Florida this March. Then it’s on to the US West Coast and Vienna next summer.
Pronounced “Jonesy,” JonZ consists of Jenia Vasilenko and Yoav Or. They started writing melodic music together in an isolated house above the Carmel. Following their first EP live recording, a debut album recorded in Tel Aviv is scheduled to be released in March 2018.
JonZ has played festivals in Israel and Europe (including Colours of Ostrava, Rosa Laub, InDnegev, Haifa 100 Live, Ye’arot Menashe and the Songbird Festival in Davos), toured the south of France last winter and most recently performed in Germany, the Czech Republic and Switzerland. The couple debuted the first single from their forthcoming album at Cuckoo’s Nest in Jaffa.
Itamar Haluts
Guitarist-singer-songwriter Itamar Haluts, 26, last year released his first album in English, Alexandra Clyde, featuring hard-driving rock ’n’ roll songs written during a one-year post-army sojourn in New Zealand, during which he supported himself by picking apples.
Haluts played most of the instruments and recorded the tunes in his father’s Rosh Ha’ayin studio. He also did all the mixing and over-recording, mastered the album online in conjunction with Abbey Road Studio, has made two music videos from the album so far, and is touring Israel with his four-man band. Among the venues they’ve played are the Ye’arot Menashe, Tel Aviv Blues and Jacob’s Ladder festivals.
“I’m working on a new project right now,” he says.
Clash Magazine recently described the music of DORJ as “sultry, emotional, trip-hop inspired neosoul.”
Highsnobiety included him in an October 2017 edition of “10 Under the Radar Artists to Discover This Week.”
DORJ already has a sizeable following in Berlin, where he has performed live, and played to a sold-out house in Poland. He appeared on the Swiss and German summer festival circuit and has gotten airplay on BBC Radio 1. His latest cut, “Shadow,” was co-written and produced by London’s Subculture Sounds and was released via the London imprint Twisted Hearts.
Currently, DORJ is working on a live show and an album with electronic hip-hop artist Melodiesinfonie, whom he met in Switzerland.
Gili Yalo
Combining his Ethiopian roots with soul, funk, psychedelic and jazz elements, Gili Yalo released his self-titled debut album in November 2017 on the Dead Sea Recordings label and has been touring around Europe based on the disk’s success.
Backed by a band of five musicians, Yalo sings in English and Amharic, the Ethiopian language that best expresses his personal story of making the perilous journey to Israel from his native land when he was a child.