Doesn’t it scare to come a corporate background and dive into the deep end of entertainment?
I’m not scared, I’m excited, besides my main focus is still my work, which I am very passionate about. And in terms of fear regarding the music, what’s the worst that can happen? Every time you make a move or try something new - like moving from a government job to private sector, or even moving between countries - there will always be something to worry about, so best to listen and trust your inner voice.
So what do you eventually expect out of your music career?
At no point did I have any expectations, so how can you have disappointment, where there are no expectations? You trust your own intuition. I knew ‘Unajua’ was a song people would like, but I never imagined the response would be like this, this is a bit surreal and a little overwhelming.
It’s interesting that you speak Swahili... How did you learn it?
First of all I’m here, I live here. When I was Head of Administration for Amiran, I interacted regularly with close to 400 staff and in Nairobi no one speaks Swahili Sanifu anyway, we speak ‘kitchen Swahili’, so I picked up a lot. I’ve taken ‘beginning Swahili’ three times already, but I’m always trying to learn and improve. When it comes to music, I find Swahili to be a very romantic language, there are words, which describe so much in such a beautiful way and have a wonderful musicality to them.
How long have you been singing... It’s new to us.
Around the time my 16-year-old son was born, I put music aside and except for the occasional Karaoke and ofcourse singing in the shower, I focused on my career. Once I sang as a diplomat, while attending a UNEP gathering in Bali, Indonesia, and I remember feeling that one song had managed for a little while to tear down all international barriers as friends from countries Israel had no relations with, came up and congratulated me for the performance.
About four years ago while out with friends in Nairobi, I went up to sing a song with Calabash Band, who was performing. I am now an officially ‘adopted’ member of the band. Over time I began to sing Swahili cover songs, such as Kidum’s ‘Haturudi Nyuma’ and part of Juliani’s ‘Utawala’.
So why Kenya then?
It’s hard to put a finger on what’s special. I would compare it to the feeling I get when I go home, to Jerusalem. Even people who are completely removed from religion and are distant from all things spiritual will walk into the Old City of Jerusalem and feel something. I get the same Vibe here in Kenya. What keeps me here and what I like most is the people; I feel very comfortable among Kenyans.
At this stage of my life I’m more at home here than anywhere else. I often insist on hosting close friends personally when they visit from abroad, so that I can show them Kenya through my eyes. I’ve never had a visitor who hasn’t wanted to come back. Also, I came to Kenya first in 1996 backpacking as a student in University. My girlfriend and I, took a month off and came to Kenya and when we returned to Israel, I proposed and we got married a year later.
What would be your advice to an upcoming Kenyan Musician then?
Whatever you create make sure it comes from the heart, let your passion for music come first and everything else will fall into place!
Do any of your children like music?
My 16-year-old son is a very talented musician, he plays guitar and saxophone and has a great feel for the energy of the music. He has jammed with Calabash in the past. My 12-year-old daughter is no less talented and has a sweet singing voice.