‘X’ marks the spot

Australian-born Ben Goldstein rises up the ranks on Israel’s ‘X Factor.’

Ben Goldstein (photo credit: X FACTOR ISRAEL)
Ben Goldstein
(photo credit: X FACTOR ISRAEL)
Recent Australian immigrant Ben Goldstein has made waves across the country with his stellar vocal performances on the current season of X Factor Israel.
Goldstein grew up in Bondi, Sydney, with an Israeli mother, but admits that it has only been since making aliya that his personal connection to the land and country has been solidified.
While living in Australia, Goldstein auditioned for the Australian reality TV show The Voice where he made it to the top 24 contestants.
“When I play music people can understand how I feel much better than when I speak,” Goldstein said at his audition.
Goldstein was a keen sportsman but after an unsuccessful hip surgery and losing his place on the Australian water polo team he turned to music and meditation as a coping mechanism.
“I do meditate, I think that there are a lot of spiritual aspects in this world and it definitely has developed my sense of music,” he says.
Living next to one of Australia’s most popular tourist beaches, Goldstein was exposed to travelers from all over the world who influenced his constantly evolving style and broad musical awareness.
His musical interests further expanded while touring Europe, Israel and Australia both solo and with reggae group The Barefoot Band.
While Goldstein admits he was doing well with his music in Australia, he says that the feelings he had about Israel were that there was “something different here that I had to experience.”
“I came to Israel because this is my home, I am one-hundred percent connected to this place and I can’t escape that feeling.”
The atmosphere and people create a “family orientated society where you treat the person next to you as you would treat your brother...it is something that is very rare and isn’t found anywhere else in the world.”
When his fellow band members decided to take up more conventional career paths, Goldstein decided to move to Israel and work on his music.
“Israel is in the middle, it’s the center of everything, and it is the most appropriate place for me because of my Jewish heritage,” said Goldstein who has already made connections in Belgium and Amsterdam.
The singer came to be on the X Factor in Israel by chance, after a stop off at Eilat’s Ice Mall where he saw an open stage.
“There wasn’t much thought in it” says Goldstein. The show welcomed him with open arms, with Goldstein musing that “in a country like this they really thrive on their reality TV,” as opposed to in Australia.
The X Factor has tested Goldstein’s performance versatility, with the singer admitting that while he is generally fairly laid back, song choices on the show have not necessarily reflected his original style.
“On a brighter side I can see that it’s accentuating on my versatility.”
His first performance on the X Factor featured Maroon Five’s “This Love” and was greatly received by the judging panel, with renowned Mizrachi singer Moshe Peretz praising his “unique voice” and stating that he has “something special.”
As of Saturday night Goldstein is one of only 11 performers left on the show.
Goldstein is currently working on a new album called River Jordan, which he hopes to release next winter.
River Jordan is being described as a funky acoustic folk/blues mix, while incorporating elements of electric guitar, base and drums.
“The album has been evolved by the culture of the country,” Goldstein says.
On working on an album in Israel, Goldstein says “everyone’s so much more accepting of new projects,” though he plans to give himself enough time between finishing on the show and releasing his album so that he can clarify his style and the genre of music so the fans don’t get shocked.
For Goldstein, music is a universal language that everyone understands.
“I’m a big believer in music bringing people together...If I can make the tiniest bit of difference in influencing people to think differently about other cultures, about conflicting cultures, then I’ve done my job.”
X Factor live shows air every Wednesday and Saturday night at 9 p.m. on Channel 2.