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Introducing 'Muzika'

Shalom Life chats with Igal Hecht about his new TV show that spotlights Israeli musicians

By: Ilan Mester
Published: November 7th, 2011 in Culture » TV » Interviews
David Broza

Muzika is a brand new TV show that features dozens of interviews with some of Israel’s hottest artists -- including Idan Raichel, Ivri Lider, Asaf Avidan and Karolina. The show premieres on Nov. 20 at 9 p.m. on CTS in Canada (it airs in the United States via Shalom TV). Shalom Life caught up with Muzika’s producer, Igal Hecht, to talk about his new TV series and the Israeli music scene.

What drew you to make the show?

I always wanted to make a documentary about Israeli music. In late October 2010 I wrapped up my documentary film The Hilltops. It was a very political film. I needed a break from politics and decided to return in December of that year to film a new movie. That project fell through, and I knew that I was already going to be in Israel. I called my co-producer and fellow filmmaker Lior Cohen and told him I have this crazy idea for a series. A biography series about Israeli musicians that'll be completely in English. I love Israeli music, I always wanted others to be exposed to it, and now I have the time. I contacted Shalom TV in the U.S. and they gave me the green light.

The original plan was to shoot only 13 episodes. As I started contacting various Israeli musicians and their PR people, the reaction was overwhelmingly positive. People were very excited to take part in a biography show about Israeli musicians that's aimed at a North American crowed. Within a few weeks, we lined up over 20 of Israel's hottest musicians. People such as Idan Raichel, Ivri Lider, Izhar Ashdor, Hadag Nahash, Noa, David Broza, Karolina and many others. After shooting twenty eight episodes initially, I returned to Canada and showed the episodes to Cross Roads Television (CTS). They loved the concept and agreed to air the show in Canada. That motivated me to return to Israel this past summer, shoot some more, and we ended up with fifty two episodes.

How would you describe the music scene in Israel?

The Israeli music scene is the most exciting scene in the world. The fusions of east and west, European, Middle Eastern and American influence, along with a variety of people from all over the world, are creating something that does not exist anywhere else. Music that is exciting, pounding and gets your ass moving. It's no surprise that there are so many Israelis succeeding on the world's stage. Music is a way of life in Israel. In addition there isn't just one type of Israeli music. One of the things we really showcase in Muzika is the diversity of musicians. From rock to alternative to pop, reggae, chassidic and religious music, Yemenite, Ladino, hip-hop, electronic and so much more. There's such a long list of exciting Israeli music that even with 52 episodes I'm not sure if we captured it all.

Who are some of your favourite Israeli artists at the moment?

After doing the show the list has just been growing and growing. I always loved the icons. Shlomo Artzy, Shalom Hanoch, Poliker, Broza etc. But by doing the show I was exposed to the sounds of Asaf Avidan, Rona Kenan, Karolina, Geva Alon,and so many other people. In my car I usually blast Subliminal, Hadag Nahash, Izhar Ashdot -- who is amazing -- Idan Raichel, Ivri Lider, Peter Roth and the list just goes on and on.

What was the main challenge of filming the series?

The original main challenge was getting the artists to say yes. I thought it was going to be hard. But everyone was so welcoming and open to the idea. It was unbelievable. Once we got help from Ophir Kindler of Dice Marketing, people were very open to helping out. It's funny, people ask how I reached the artists. Sometimes it was as simple as going through their site, Facebook and contacts. One of the most amazing aspects of filming in Israel is that somehow, someone always knows a person that can help you. Once the hurdle of getting the artists was lifted, the major challenge as it always is was financing. The show had very little financing. Most came out of pocket, but somehow Lior and I were able to pull it off. It meant long days, couch surfing in the homes of family and friends, but we got it all done at the end.

What do you think is the biggest misconception people have of Israeli music?

One of the main reasons I wanted to make this show is the misconception people have of Israel and by extension Israeli music. Let's face it, Israel is not the most popular place out there. I believe and have believed for years, that people's perception of Israel is a skewed one. It is based on lies, propaganda and a general lack of knowledge or understanding of the place. So I wanted Muzika to reflect the true nature of Israel and Israeli music. It's diversity of sound. Diversity of singers. Many people think that you can only hear Hebrew in the Israeli music scene. But nothing can be further from the truth. People in Israel sing in Ladino, English, and so many other languages. The music varies from rock to Middle Eastern to Ethiopian and everything in between, and Muzika explores all of that, through Israel's amazing artists and musicians.

Who was the most insightful artist that you interviewed?

All of the artists were welcoming and wonderful. So it's hard to say who the most insightful was. However, Izhar Ashdot is an artist who was just amazing to chill with for over an hour and talk about Israel's music scene. David Broza was so candid as were Asaf Avidan and Subliminal. Again it's hard to pin point just one. All of the musicians who took part were insightful and interesting in their own way.

What’s next for you?

I am currently finishing a new documentary film which will air on the Documentary Channel next year and a new show called Fraud Squad TV which I had the pleasure of editing and segment directing some of the episodes. The show will air on the Discovery channel in early 2012. I also still need to complete all of the editing for Muzika. For 2012 I am going to be working on a few TV shows (that are not related to Israel or Judaism) and I am currently in post finishing a documentary film for OMNI TV and developing three new documentary films to be filmed in 2012. As always I try to have projects on the go and get involved with as many productions as I can.


Muzika premieres Nov. 20 at 9 p.m. on CTS, followed by a second episode at 10:30 p.m. The show airs in the U.S. through Shalom TV.

Related articles: Igal Hecht, Musika, tv show, Israeli music, Idan Raichel, Ivri Lider, CTS, Shalom TV
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