war song – noga erez’s bold music ignites the senses

Inspired by the unease in her homeland of Israel, Erez's music expertly channels the unease that's crept over the world like an itchy blanket – plus watch the premier of her video Pity 

Noga Erez's bold debut single Dance While You Shoot is an echo-laden slice of MIA-esque agit-pop that communicates, via the prickling of senses, a feeling of anger and fear without ever being explicit. Almost in-built into the song's sonic tapestry is an unsettling sense of the threat of violence, but refracted into something more positive

Do you view music as a way of communicating or entertaining? Or both?

It's a bit of both. I think music plays an important role in a) helping people process the world and b) escaping what's happening in the world. Both can happen at the same time.

Is it important that someone who doesn't understand the language can still understand the intention of a song?


Is that hard to do?

It's not very hard to do because the way we do things is that I write the lyrics after we've written the music. So our first language is music and we express ourselves through that, and we communicate what we want to communicate through music first of all.

What inspired Dance While You Shoot?

I was sitting in a room with this beat we'd made the day before and I had some free time. The beat was very intense and it had been influenced by a very intense time in our lives – a lot of shit was going on and I was starting to get very anxious about things that were happening around me. You'd hear sounds of helicopters in the music, and you could imagine a whole violent scene around it, and so I just sat in this room very angry and stressed. I sat for a long time trying to do something and then the minute I stopped and walked to make coffee the lyric “can you dance while you shoot” came to me. I had this allegory in my mind of combining this energy of anger into something good. It was inspired by a state of mind, essentially.

Why is it the first single?

We were initially quite afraid of the statement it made as the first song, but then we just decided to go with the music and release what we feel is burning right now.

Do you need to be in a specific mood to create?

I need to be in a very confident mood because I can only complete a song when I feel that I can do it. For a long time when I was young I'd write little bits of music – a chorus, a verse, a melody – but I didn't finish a whole song until a few years ago. That's when I started to gain confidence in my abilities. So I need to be in that mode of trusting myself and knowing that I can do it because otherwise voices in my head tell me that I can't.

Can you work if you're angry or upset?

Oh yes. Anger is a theme in my music because it helps me deal with my emotions. Anger is an interesting place to be. It makes you burst, whereas sadness makes you go inwards. When I'm sad I can't write music because it's more about going inside rather than spilling things out. Anger triggers me creatively more than any other emotion.

Because of where you come from, do people assume your songs are all political? Did you want to challenge that?

I think that referring to it as political is weird because it's not political. I'm not an activist through my music – I have very solid opinions but I keep them out of my music completely. I just express something very personal that has to do with things that happen where I live and where both of us live, ie. the world. I don't chose to write it so it can be global, I write it this way because it's my personal point of view and personal points of view tend to be more global than opinions. I'm not choosing a side, I'm just observing something and expressing what I feel about it.

How in tune are you with your senses?

I'm very in tune. I'm sensitive but I'm very realistic and I guess I'm on the sane side of that. But I'm very in tune with my feelings and senses – I notice a lot of what's going on around me. Except, of course, when I'm using my phone, and I think that's one of the big negatives of our obsession with phones is that our senses are being numbed.

Does visual media inspire you?

Yes absolutely. Every form of art inspires me but I actually have a song I wrote right after I saw Shawshank Redemption. It's a song called Noisy, which is about the mind as a prison and the various stages you need to get out of that prison.

Have you come up against any resistance as a woman in the music industry?

(Long pause) I don't feel it in everyday life so much, but I know for a fact that when we get to a venue and we set up – and I have a lot of technology in my live act – sometimes I'll tell the sound guy where things need to go and he'll be like 'erm, I don't think so'. Or it's the other way around, and I'll set everything up and they'll go 'oh wow, how did you know how to do that?'. Also, in my case, I have a full-time musical partner who is a man, so I can't take all the credit anyway (laughs).

Are you a perfectionist with the songs? Or is it better to keep a sense of spirit in them?

Most of the vocals on the album are the first takes we did and that's a combination of being a non-perfectionist and a perfectionist, because after you've done it once it's really hard to get to that same place again. You only have that one chance at that first take. In the case of Dance While You Shoot, the verses were recorded into the laptop mic and I've tried to re-do it so often with a proper microphone, but you can't recreate that. So we just left it.

What are your top 5 smells?

1) My mum's pillow. There used to be a time she was working from morning to evening and when I was a little girl I'd missed her a lot. I'd feel her absence so much and so I'd go and lie on her bed and smell her pillow and just cry. Her pillow still smells the same. It throws me back to the feeling of missing someone.

2) Gas/petrol. The smell of both of these makes me feel happy.

3) Halloween. Generally I don't like perfumes, but I used to wear one called Halloween because I liked the fact people could recognise my smell and I was very recognisable by it, but then a few years ago I decided that this concept was not a good thing. You don't want to force your smell on someone. It's invading someone's personal space. I really believe in the natural scent, although I love it when my sister wears Coco Chanel because she wears just the right amount.

4) Pizza. I've given up everything that has to do with dairy. I've been vegan for a very long time and I don't miss anything apart from when I smell pizza. I start to drool, basically. If something ever breaks me it would be pizza.

5) Rain. It doesn't really rain in Israel, so when it finally does it's like breathing again for me because it breaks the intense heat.


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