Garden party

Tel Aviv-based electronic gurus Garden City Movement have some surprising arrangements up their sleeves for this week’s Tel Aviv Piano Festival.

Electronic band Garden City Movement  (photo credit: MICHAL TOPYOL AND EILON BREGMAN)
Electronic band Garden City Movement
‘You can call it a project or a band, it doesn’t really matter to me,” said Jonathan Sharoni, music journalist, Radio DJ, and member of the electronic indie pop trio known as Garden City Movement.
“As long as it feels right and fascinates us,” co-member Roy Avital chimes in.
Whatever you want to call it, there’s no denying the alluring quality of GCM’s electric grooves and hypnotic vibes – the kind that has you begging for more before they’ve even finished the gig. Under the guidance of BLDG5 records, the trio has produced a beautiful blend of mixes, played major festivals worldwide, and been featured in Majestic, Pitchfork, and Stereogum.
Constantly on a journey to find their sound – one that Avital views as “an ongoing thing: making art, defining what you do and who you are” – the boys continue to surprise followers with their ambitious endeavors. Their most recent: a special collaboration at this year’s Tel Aviv Piano Festival, featuring a string quartet.
The Jerusalem Post
caught up with GCM to find out how three electronic musicians wind up in a rehearsal room with two violinists, a violist, and a cellist.
From Primavera Sound to the LA Film Festival to even Glastonbury, you guys rose to fame quickly. What do you think helped put (and keep) you on the international platform?
Sharoni: Making music that people can relate to. When you can create something good and honest you don’t need to do much to gain attention. When you combine that with accurate visuals and aesthetics it just works.
How does it feel to come home?
[Yoav] Sa’ar: I really like being on tour, but part of it is coming home and being with your loved ones. In fact, the more we tour around the world the more I feel like Tel Aviv is my favorite city.
Speaking of which, you’ve got this incredible show coming up in Tel Aviv this Thursday. What prompted you to take part in this year’s Piano Festival?
Avital: It was an opportunity to make something different that I always knew I wanted to make, but never had the time or means to make it. Our latest productions are much richer in terms of textures and instrumentation, so from the start, I knew they needed a string quartet.
Do any of you have formal classical training?
Sa’ar: Yes, I learned to play classical piano when I was in the second grade and from that moment on I heard music differently.
Avital: I grew up in Jerusalem in the 90’s. It wasn’t the safest time to hang out outside, so I found myself mostly at home jamming on my guitar and listening to music – I guess there’s a bright side to everything. While I don’t have much classical training, there’s some quality to classic instruments – especially bowed instruments – that make me cry pretty easily.
The Piano Festival’s classical demographic might not be as familiar with your work. What do you hope for them to gain from this show?
Sharoni: We may be new to an “older” classical crowd, but we want them to be able to experience the complete idea of combining and balancing classical arrangements with new electronic vibes. Actually, [our show] could be really exciting for people who know their way around the classical world.
Which preexisting songs have you chosen to rearrange?
Sharoni: A lot of our old songs are getting the treatment. The string arrangements were done by the amazing Uzi Feinerman and we took care of the piano stuff. I think the song I am most excited about is “Love + Loss” from our second EP. We never got to play it live because we were waiting for an opportunity like this – strings and all.
It’s been some years since you released your first single, “Move On.”
How have you grown as a unit since those very early years?
Avital: “Move on” was the first song we wrote and the main reason we decided to work together. It was clearly the beginning of a journey, and in such a journey there’s no good or bad, better or worse, just growing and evolving every day.
Sharoni: As a band, we try to grow as people [not just musicians]. It’s not always that easy, but I think we’re constantly improving and learning how to do it.
Each of your tracks really differs from the next – in genre and the story it sets out to tell. What is the glue that holds Garden City Movement together?
Avital: Being able to work in so many genres is our great privilege. Perhaps this is the glue that keeps it all together – not knowing what comes next. It’s always so new and exciting.
Sa’ar: I think it’s the fact that we are three individuals who hear and experience music really differently from one another.
Your new album is scheduled for release this winter in 2018. What has been the biggest difference in producing an album rather than an EP?
Avital: In my opinion, the emotional changes you go through in this period. From the time we started this album until the time we finished, I’ve changed so much. Who knows what would have happened to me by now if we didn’t make this album.
The first three EPs were described as somewhat of a trilogy. Is the new album a continuation, an epilogue, or its own animal? Sharoni: Great question. The new album is definitely its own animal – a different and complete journey.
Garden City Movement will perform at The Cameri Theater on November 9 as a part of the Tel Aviv Piano Festival. For more information: