Israeli underground king Ryskinder releases sixth album

The Jerusalem Post talks to the musician.

Asaf Eden aka Ryskinder (photo credit: NOA FURHRER)
Asaf Eden aka Ryskinder
(photo credit: NOA FURHRER)
Asaf Eden aka Ryskinder doesn’t take himself too seriously. His Facebook page lists his interests as “taking care of mental patients” and his biography begins with “born in a cave.” But he takes his music very seriously, which is probably why he’s been consistently putting out creative, layered, lo-fi albums from the Israeli underground for over seven years.
Ryskinder is currently touring to promote his sixth album, Mad and Hypnotized. He played a show at Tel Aviv’s Barby Club on April 7 and found some time to sit down with The Jerusalem Post to discuss finding a balance between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, Jerusalem’s musical fanaticism, and recording in a studio for the first time.
Have you played the Barby before?
Yeah, one time I was headlining when a previous record came out and I’ve also played there in more of a supporting role. I really like the venue actually, I really like playing there. It’s cool.
I want to take it back to the beginning: What are your early memories of music?
I was always into music, even as a little child. I always had bands.
I had a guitar with three strings in my house and I mastered it. I always really liked music, but I didn’t like studying it formally. I always had a passion for it. It’s a process in many ways of growing up when you realize that this thing you like doing for fun can become some sort of an occupation and you start doing it in front of an audience. Then you realize that you can record it and after many years, you realize that it can be your profession. This was over time; revelation after revelation.
Do you remember that first moment when you realized that this could be what you devote your life to and that you could do this?
It was many moments. I was living in an environment that was very interesting in that regard. I was born and raised in Jerusalem, which was a very good starting point for me. In the year 2000, there was a lot of stuff happening in the underground music scene that was very inspiring for me. Realizing that I could make this into a profession or something more than a hobby was really from seeing other people doing it.
Growing up in Jerusalem, did you go out and hear a lot of live music? Yes, but I’ve always been kind of an outsider. I was very shy.
I still am, but I guess less. As a teenager I was really introverted.
I went to a lot of record stores and bars, and gradually, I went to see live shows. That was simultaneously when I learned to love music and also when I started to come out of my shell a little bit.
They were connected.
Do you remember the first concert that you went to?
That’s a hard one, but I do remember when I first heard Monotonix live. They were a punk rock band. I went to their show on a first date. It was a terrible date; a disaster. The show was really, really wild and I got carried away and completely forgot about my date. So it wasn’t a successful date, but it was a really good show.
That’s one of my first memories of hearing live music.
Over the years, have you seen the underground music scene in Jerusalem changing?
I don’t know if it’s changed, but the people change. There is new blood. What I like about Jerusalem is that it’s very stubborn.
In Tel Aviv, everything is about trends and fashion. Jerusalem is solid and you feel that in the music. I really like that.
The alternative music scene in Jerusalem is really small, which makes it concentrated. There’s a fanatical vibe to it. I think it’s in a very positive way when it comes to music. It’s not postmodern; it’s the real thing.
Do you still live in Jerusalem?
No, I actually moved to Tel Aviv [laughs]. I also like Tel Aviv a lot in a different way. For me, finding the balance between the two cities and going between them has been really important for me.
What can you tell me about your new album, in terms of the creative process and the recording process? It’s my sixth album. People say that it’s the most communicative one and the least lo-fi.
It’s also my first studio album.
All the previous ones, I recorded either in my house or a friend’s house. This is the first time that I stepped into a recording studio.
It took me a long time to figure out how to carry myself in the studio in a way that feels comfortable and that captures what I’m trying to capture. Because in the studio you can easily get lost with all the options, instruments, and ways of recording.
So it was a big challenge to find my voice.
I also really wanted to keep my sense of style that I established in the previous albums.
I didn’t want to give that up and suddenly have everything sound different. Luckily, I work with some really good, creative, open-minded people. I’m really proud of this album.
You had the show at Barby and then you have a lot of shows coming up in Europe. How is it performing songs from the new album?
Some songs from the album I’ve been running with for a long time and others are completely new. At the Barby, I performed almost the entire album, but it didn’t sound like the album at all. When I go to a concert and it sounds like the album, I don’t like it, it’s boring for me. I like the show to be different. On the album, you have many layers and production, so you can’t recreate all of that in a live show and I don’t think you should.
That’s album stuff. The things that make a live show great are different than the things that make an album great. So that’s what I’m trying to do with the live shows.
Why is the album called ‘Mad and Hypnotized’? It’s kind of hard to say. These two words just jumped out from the lyrics and I realized that inside these two words is the DNA of the entire album, at least the way I perceive it. This is what I’m trying to talk about. The album has many songs, so it’s hard to find the thread that connects everything. But I think it captures it. In all of my albums, I don’t look for a name, I wait for the name to come to me. If I’m trying hard to find the name, nothing feels right.
For more information on Ryskinder, including his new album and upcoming concert dates: