Photo cred: Tonje Thilesen
Noga Erez is an artist to keep on your radar in 2017. Described by DIY Magazine as “the outspoken, uncompromising sound of Tel Aviv,” the 27-year-old Israeli multi-instrumentalist is known for the uncensored commentary on life in Tel Aviv in her experimental dance-pop music. “I talk about [politics] from a very, very personal point of view and never from an opinion point of view or a knowledge point of view,” said Erez in that same DIY article regarding her debut album, Off the Radar.
Others tell her not to discuss the tensions she witnesses in her homeland, but that hasn’t stopped the artist from making music that truly speaks to her and gives her space to process the world at large. Her work is a collaboration with co-writer, composer, and producer Ori Rousso.
Erez’s Off the Radar, out on the label City Slang, has been warmly received by a number of publications and deemed by others as ahead of its time. Tom Tom took a journey through the artist’s music videos and formulated questions around immediate reactions to each visual. We ended up having a great chat about music, technology, and the freeing nature of dance.
Tom Tom: “Off the Radar” is such a colorful and vibrant video! What do you feel are the pros and cons of being off the radar?
Noga Erez: Pros: Being off the radar means you have the ability to disappear, be whoever you want to be without adhering to the rules of society. It means you are free, in a way, to live your life the way you want to live it without worrying that you will be judged. Cons: ‘Off the radar’ could also mean that no one cares about you or what you do. It can mean that people have lost interest in your well-being. There are a lot of people—groups and individuals—who live under or off the radar of society, but, if we take it to a more personal level, feeling off the radar means feeling lonely and insignificant.
The video for your song “Toy” has some really great choreography. Has dance always been a part of your work and life? How do you feel movement elevates your work?
Dancing was a part of my life from a very early age; and the love for it came together with the love for music, but at some point music took over. I see response to music through the body as something so genuine and wild. Not all music is music to dance to, obviously, but I think that music that makes you want to move is such a powerful thing. Freestyle and completely improvised dancing are things that so many people are connected to for a reason, regardless of where they are coming from. When there is choreography, it’s just amazing to watch. Also, when a beat really makes me move, it’s usually a sign that I need to develop it and make a song out of it.
“Noisy” has a great message. It’s for sure very easy to get caught up in all the “noise” surrounding us. How do you mute the voices that may get in the way of your art and living your best life?
I don’t really know. I’m still trying to figure this one out. That’s really the trickiest of skills; knowing how not to get so distracted by everything that’s going on from the inside. Sometimes I’m just able to do it; usually after I try and fail many times. If I am being consistent about something, it can beat the noise, but I can’t say that I’ve really found the way to make that transformation without it taking so many attempts. I guess that’s why I wrote that song—still haven’t found the solution for that one.
While watching the video for “Pity,” I thought about how we’re always watched and critiqued in various parts of life. During this supremely digital age, what do you feel advanced technology and social media has added to life? What do you feel it has taken away?
What technology gives always has to do with comfort. Technology is meant to make our lives easier, create a solution for those things in life that take away time, energy, and money. Being connected to each other is something that we need, something that makes all aspects of life easier—to help us develop as a society, share ideas and grow. But it makes us vulnerable; our privacy is taken away in many ways whether we choose it or not. But what’s more important is our individuality, our ability to put aside the enormous amounts of information—opinions that we are exposed to—and just take a moment to connect to who we are, what we feel.
“Dance While You Shoot” is such a killer video and, like all of your videos, looks like it called for a really solid team to put together. How do you pick and choose the folks you work with?
Luckily, I don’t have to pick and choose the whole team. It took me a long time to choose the directors. My partner, Ori, people from my label, and friends went through tons of videos and talked to many directors and eventually found Zhang + Knight. The directors and their production company brought along talented people who made the video what it is. Takes a lot of luck in the music video business. There has to be a true teamwork element between many people. We have had a lot of luck on that side I think.
This article was featured in the Outlaw issue of Tom Tom. Purchase it online.