Don’t try and find a genre to place Tamar Eisenman‘s music into, because you probably aren’t going to find it — particularly when she sings in two languages.
The Jerusalem-born singer-songwriter-guitarist recently moved to New York and has, this year, released two new albums — one in Hebrew and one in English. Eisenman will be back in Minneapolis on Nov. 3 for a show at the Cedar Cultural Center for their “Women of the World Unite” show, where she opens for award-winning Israeli/Canadian singer-songwriter and activist Yael Deckelbaum. TC Jewfolk was able to catch up with Tamar before she comes to town.
TC Jewfolk: This is at least your third trip to Minneapolis in less than a year; what is it about playing here that makes it so appealing to keep coming back so often?
Tamar Eisenman: This would be actually my fourth trip to Minneapolis. I recently ended a short Midwest trio tour there at the Icehouse venue; it was a lot of fun and I am thrilled to come back. Fortunately, thanks to friends and colleagues also in the Jewish community, my first visit to Minneapolis was a year and a half ago and I feel the romance is still in the air. I guess music attracts music and I always get the sense Minneapolis’ folks are true music lovers, welcoming and curious about anything new that is going on in the music world. That’s the best crowd a performer could ask for.
When I hear your music, especially listening to “On My Way,” I hear a combination of pop and soul — something similar to Norah Jones. What genre do you see yourself fitting into?
Lately, I’m kind of trying not to define anything that I do within any cultural context. But yes, I relate and love Norah Jones’s music – especially her recent album. When I write I like going far with the imagination, not looking for the familiar chord or sound, and exploring the edges of my soul. The interesting part is taking it home from there.
I listen to a lot of genres, but mainly I look for honesty and the aesthetics in the music arrangement. I try to have that in what I do too.
Is it difficult to go back and forth between songs in English and Hebrew?
It’s interesting. Sometimes it’s more fun than other times. When performing, singing and playing it’s great- it’s like changing an instrument in the middle of the show.
But when writing, it’s hard to live both languages sometimes, although I have almost always done it in a way and I probably have gotten used to it by now. It’s also interesting how different ideas are born in Hebrew and others in English.
What’s the challenge of writing your songs in Hebrew?
Technically speaking, there are fewer words in Hebrew than in English, but much more syllables in each word. This could affect the groove and sound. For me it’s also more intense, Hebrew resonates more with my everyday life, past and memories. So it is like a built-in melody. It’s such a beautiful language, words with double meanings, innuendos, and layers. Therefore I think it’s sometimes more challenging for me to combine it with music.
What are the differences, musically speaking, between your Hebrew and English albums?
My English albums engage with my sensitive, romantic-funky-blues side, and my Hebrew album reveals a darker side.
Has moving to the U.S. changed how you write or give you a different perspective on writing music?
Yes. It shuffled a lot of things in my life. I’m rearranging my cards, excited to play a new game. New York, in particular, has endless colors, millions of people, it’s noisy and rough, harsh and edgy, it’s so international it could be whatever you want it to be. Filled with exciting people from all over the globe, and people are where stories come from, therefore where the music is.
For people who have never seen you live, what can they expect from your show?
I know some people are at first surprised by my live shows, maybe they don’t expect someone like me to play the guitar the way I do or something in the visuality of the show is rare. As I am very much enhanced in the moment of creating the music live on stage with my hands, body, and mind, I feel also very much engaged with the audience as part of the show… well, music has this ability, it can remind us – also in our collective memory – something or shed light on a completely new thought or feeling.
Want to see the Nov. 3 show at the Cedar? We’ve got two pairs of tickets for you to win! Share the article on Facebook and e-mail us at [email protected]jewfolk.com to get entered to win! The drawing will be held on Oct. 31.