Matisyahu returns to the Sultan’s Pool

‘Music, to me, is always a spiritual experience whether I’m playing in Arkansas or Jerusalem.’

Matisyahu (photo credit: PR)
(photo credit: PR)
Fall is when the kids go back to school, the High Holy Days are just around the corner, and Matisyahu comes to Jerusalem.
Following up on last year’s October appearance at the Sultan’s Pool, the American reggae-rapper has a concert scheduled at the capital’s ancient water basin turned summer performance venue located just outside Jaffa Gate.
Over the phone, in an interview with Billboard, Matisyahu spoke quietly and thoughtfully. The sound of children playing was audible in the background.
“I’ve been good,” he says of the year since his last Jerusalem appearance. “I moved to New York a year ago, I’ve been raising my kids and touring with my band and writing new music.”
He’s released a new single, called “Love Born.” The song was recorded this summer and was put out to tide people over until there’s more new music.
“I have a new record that I’m going in to [the studio] to write and record this fall.” He expects it to be out next year. “I mean, next year according to the not-Jewish calendar,” he laughs.
“Playing in Jerusalem for me is a big deal,” he says. “I play a lot in the States, in small towns. It’s different. Coming to Jerusalem is a big deal.”
Even so, the singer says that his show in Jerusalem doesn’t change from shows in the US or Europe.
“I don’t do anything differently in terms of the music. I don’t cater the music differently. Music, to me, is always a spiritual experience whether I’m playing in Arkansas or in Jerusalem. That doesn’t really matter to me when it comes to the music. I always approach it the same way,” he says.
“I don’t like to have a set list at all,” he adds. “I don’t like to have a script when it comes to music. I like to just see what happens… Kind of like life.”
Although Matisyahu is coming all the way from New York, he’ll only be in the country for three days.
What does he have scheduled for such a short trip? “There’s an artist that reached out to me to do some recording, so on October 11 I’m going to be spending a day in the studio. The 12th is Yom Kippur, so I’ll be with my close friend in Jerusalem, Ephraim Rosenstein. I’ve mentioned him before. He’s sort of been my mentor and teacher over the years. So I’ll be with him, and we’ll go to the Kotel probably at night and then daven and get out, back to his place and just chill. And then the show.”
Matisyahu says that he’s put in a great deal of effort into changing as a performer over the last year and that the dozens of shows he’s performed over the last 12 months have helped him to evolve. So even if you caught last October’s show and plan to attend again this year, you might not get the same Matisyahu.
“The main thing for me is the live performance; that’s what I’ve been focused on over the year. I try not just to go out and play songs but to create a dynamic journey for people,” he says.
Will he play the hits? The songs written when he still sported a beard and black hat? “I have a lot of songs that people want me to play and sometimes I do play, but I find as a performer that I have to work with the emotion that I have, and I can’t really fake it or create some kind of false emotion,” he says.
Even so, it’s Matisyahu, in Jerusalem, the day after Yom Kippur. Signs point to it being a special show.
Matisyahu will perform on October 13 at 8 p.m. at the Sultan’s Pool in Jerusalem. Opening for the show is Israeli musician Ishay Ribo. For tickets, call *6226.